Death AND Goodness in the Land of the Living

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Psalm 27:13-14  I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.

What does despair really mean anyway?  The dictionary defines despair as losing all hope.  Have you ever been there? Does that describe how you are feeling today?  If so, I believe that it is by no accident that YOU are reading this right now! David declares in the above Psalm that he would have been in the same place you have found yourself in (without hope) had he not BELIEVED that he would see the goodness of the Lord this side of Heaven.  He made a choice to believe that He would see God’s goodness even though His circumstances did not change right away.   Believing meant he had to wait on God.  I know we do not like to wait. ever. But believing followed by waiting is key.  I believe that our God super-naturally and graciously imparts to us just what we need to push through and push forward when we choose to believe.

Believe + wait = strength + courage + hope + peace + trust + Joy

Though, at the moment, you may not be able to see anything “good” IN your circumstances, we know that God IS good and because God is good, His goodness CAN be experienced in the midst of our darkest moments, in the here and now, no matter what that “now” looks like!  As Christ followers, we believe to see not see to believe!  SO, look for Him, wait for Him….EXPECT to see His goodness revealed even BEFORE your mess changes.  I understand that some of your hopes and dreams may not be alive and well in the land of the living.  I get it! Actually, you may be having to grieve the death of some of them, BUT God!!  Friend, no matter how painful, hurtful,  devastating and unwanted your losses or you mess may be, GOD desires to pour out His goodness upon YOU, His beloved daughter!

Psalm 23 is often quoted at funerals and rightfully so,  but I have come to love this scripture in walking through my own valley of the shadow of death.   Death of my marriage,  death to my dreams and death to what I thought my life was supposed to look like.  Despair tried too many times to count to take up residence in my heart and mind.  Believing that God was with me and that His Word trumped my feelings and despairing thoughts helped me to rise up from the ashes in the valley and keep walking through the darkness…  Sometimes, actually many times,  it took the prayers and encouragement of my faithful friends and church family upholding me and pouring God’s love into my broken heart.  That, my friend was part of God’s goodness that I was blessed to experience.  His goodness is there all the time, we just have to have eyes open to see it!

What about you?  What hopes and dreams have you had to grieve over?  While the enemy roars defeating accusations to your vulnerable self,  God’s Word for you declares that there is reason to HOPE in this valley of death.  HE is our shepherd, HE walks with us in the valley and He comforts us.  He brings us through to bring us out and when we come out we are never the same.  As God’s chosen daughters, His invitation to walk us THROUGH brings transformation and treasures we take with us as He leads us OUT.

Psalm 31:19  says “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You and worked for those who take refuge in You, in the sight of the children of mankind!” I want to draw your attention to the word ABUNDANT.  You could easily exchange that word for plentiful, liberal, bountiful,  or even galore.  Let me ask you, do you fear God?  Are you His child? Do you take refuge in Him? Then this promise is for YOU! God has an abundance of  Goodness galore…that is stored up just for you! Stored up means it is ongoing, it will never run out! It is there when you need it! OF course, the devil would like to shout to you otherwise and cause you to lose all hope and stay and live in his prison of despair.  Don’t do it! Believe God’s Truth and live in freedom that keeps you free no matter what you are facing! HE is with you my friend, and HE will not fail you, no, not ever! EXPECT to see God’s goodness galore, WAIT for it. Be strong, be courageous, TAKE refuge in GOD and HE will bring you through this valley with goodness and mercy as your faithful companions.  Rise up dear sister, and believe that you WILL see God’s goodness in your midst! There are many rising with you!

Helpless But Not Hopeless

At the end of the day

There are days when life throws unexpected drama, issues, troubles, pain, and you name it.  There are moments that rip a momma’s heart right out of her ever loving chest. Moments that cause anguish, worry, and can totally freak us out. Most moms, myself included, like to feel that they are in control and when a situation arises that can’t be fixed and made all tidy with a little gorilla glue or pretty designed duct tape, we get our ugly cry and this-can’t-be-happening-to-MY-family on real quick.  True Story! Just when you get through one difficult season a new one is on the horizon.  Different circumstances but the same helpless feeling that tries to attach itself to us and steal our peace and joy.  No one is exempt.  This. is. Life. We all have been there and will be there again.  How is that for encouragement, ha!

Sweet sister, may I remind you…as a beloved daughter of God, though your circumstances may cause you to feel helpless, you are not hopeless! Not. Ever. The enemy would like you to believe that the two are interchangeable but that is far from the truth. The fact is, you were never meant to be in control in the first place.  Our place of helplessness invites us to a powerful and beautiful place of undone abandon to the One who knows all and cares about the tiniest details.  In one act of surrender, God reminds us that HE is in control.  It is in this place of humble surrender that enables us to exchange our helplessness for God’s hope.FULL.ness!

Phillipians 4:6-8 has been a special scripture to me.  While attending a connect group at my church we were challenged to memorize it.  In doing so, these verses became a life line to me that has given me hope and peace for many situations that has left my heart feeling helpless.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The Word of God tells to not be anxious about anything……that means there is nothing that we should allow ourselves to be anxious about.  Easier said than done, right?  So How do we do that? It pretty much spells it out for us.  We pray! We bring our anxious thoughts, our mound of worries, our list of fears, and our helplessness before God.  We thank Him because thanking Him takes our mind OFF of our burdens and on to our Burden-bearer.  Thankfulness helps us to align our focus back to our gracious, faithful and loving Father.  Thankfulness infuses the trust that we have in our Mighty God.  Thankfulness reminds us of ALL that He has done for us in the past.  When we are thankful, we find peace!  That peace…God’s peace,  will actually set a guard over our hearts and minds! However, in order to keep our peace we have to keep reading.  What does it say? After praying and releasing our worries to God we have to be proactive with what we allow ourselves to think about.  We are to think GOOD thoughts…not the what if’s, why me’s or how-can-this-be thoughts.  Stinkin’ thinking will take you right back to that pit of anxious thoughts, again!  I get it. It is not at all easy. When you feel as though your world is falling apart it takes determined faith, stubborn courage, and stark discipline….but isn’t peace so worth it? Your peace and hope is important to God and it should be important to you.

Faithfulness in the Midst of the Messiness

 

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Not so long ago, I found myself in a hard place. Maybe you can relate.  It’s one of those times when your whole life seems off kilter. You try, you pray, you surrender, you try some more and STILL can’t seem to have peace and respond in a manner that lines up with who you are as a daughter of God. Well, it was in the midst of that hard place that God showed my stubborn self what my problem was. You see, I was praying for God’s help…I wanted to choose HIS ways over my own and to be faithful and obedient to His Word with my actions, yet I failed many times over. Why? Because I kept allowing my thoughts to center around what was right BEFORE me instead of the ONE who was FOR me! It doesn’t work! Faithfulness comes only by keeping our eyes on GOD and desiring obedience to His Word MORE than attempting to control our circumstances. Honestly, we can say all the right prayers but if we get up from our knees and go right back to focusing on our mess then our strength and courage will be quickly depleted.

Can I encourage YOU today? Sister, if you KNOW God has called you to remain FAITHFUL where you are, don’t challenge your obedience by focusing on the situation, the difficulty, the person, or the pain. That is just a set-up for defeat. Instead, focus on GOD and you WILL move forward in PEACE and in HIS strength and favor!

As a wife, mom, friend and daughter of God, walk worthy of your calling! Yes, it may be painful and difficult, however, if you are at a hard place where you KNOW you can’t move one inch forward without the Grace and presence of GOD almighty then get ready to experience Christ in a brand new intimate way! This is called growth. Your burdened heart WILL experience beautiful blessings as you push through. Don’t miss them. Stop long enough to SEE them, to see HIM….Jesus in the midst of your mess. He IS right there with you!! Focus on HIM!

It is SO easy to get distracted, to become so preoccupied with what is right in front of you that you forget what God has previously showed you about the season that you are in. I get that!

Your marriage may be difficult.
Your child may have broken your heart.
You may be sick in body.

Dear one, I do not know what your facing this very moment but what I do KNOW is that the ONE who calls you to be FAITHFUL is the FAITHFUL One! He will equip you, empower you, and sustain you to respond in faithfulness to who you are as His beloved daughter! The TRUTH is, in Christ you have ALL you need to be who He has called you to be right now, in this place, in this moment, in THIS season!

Friend, there is beauty and blessings to be found in your midst, all you have to do is change your focus and be willing to be obedient to God right where you are.

Faithfulness brings favor, fruitfulness, and freedom!

Let’s be intentional with our thoughts and walk in faithfulness in ALL areas of our lives starting today, no matter what our messy looks like! Because our messy invites God’s mercies as we choose to act in obedience to HIS Word… to God be the Glory!!

Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

Now the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

As a prisoner for the LORD, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1

Bitterly Broken Woman or Beautifully Beloved Daughter?

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All of us have been wounded at one time or another.  All of us have been hurt by someone who was supposed to love us.

In the rawness of our pain, we begin to believe the lie that we are the ONLY one and that our hurt is GREATER than anyone else’s.  We become angry as our self talk screams that life is NOT fair and someone needs to pay for our brokenness.

We can hold so tightly to the pain that the weight of it keeps us in a PIT of despair threatening to destroy the very core of who we are.   The chains soon wrap around our broken hearts as self-pity consumes us and a root of bitterness begins to grow.  Been there!! What do we do?

Will your life portray a bitterly broken woman or a beautifully beloved daughter?

One is trapped in a prison of her own making, the other is free not because there is no pain but because she has learned the importance of surrendering her broken heart to her Savior.  She understands the reality of our journey on this earth was not guaranteed to be pain free.  We were NEVER promised that. Not here. Not now. Not this side of heaven.

The truth is the resentment, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness that is trying to destroy you is MORE toxic than the actual source of your brokenness!  In other words, it is not the action of someone else that will harden your heart…it is YOUR response to it that will do the most damage.  Oh, sister if we can only get a picture of this! Your enemy will try to use other’s hurtful choices to blacken YOUR heart   He is out to destroy YOU, as God’s beloved daughter. Let me just stop here and say, it is okay to have those feelings…you have been deeply wounded!  It is okay to be angry, to cry, to have emotions you didn’t know you had but the key is not to stay in that place.  Don’t deny how you feel! Pain causes all kinds of things to surface on the get-go.  I just want to encourage you to give yourself some time to deal with those feelings and work THROUGH them.  Determine in your heart that you will NOT let your pain destroy the YOU that God created YOU to be!

The truth is, the enemy would love to destroy the beauty God desires to bring from your ashes. But, seriously, hasn’t the enemy stolen enough from you??  Think about it! Isn’t enough, enough???

No matter what has broken your heart and left it in pieces, there is HOPE!!  This WORD is for YOU!!

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; HE HAS SENT ME TO BIND UP AND HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the (physical and spiritual) captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound.

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (the year of His favor) and the day of vengeance of our GOD, to COMFORT ALL WHO MOURN,

To grant (consolation and JOY) to those who mourn in Zion, to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of BEAUTY INSTEAD OF ASHES, THE OIL OF JOY instead of mourning, the garment of PRAISE INSTEAD OF A HEAVY, BURDENED, and FAILING SPIRIT, that THEY MAY BE CALLED OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the LORD, that HE MAY BE GLORIFIED.

Sweet one, did you get that? Read it again!! Jesus came for YOU and for me….for the broken! You do NOT have to allow “THIS” to destroy you, whatever your “THIS” is!!! Friend, JESUS already purchased your healing and wholeness! He CAME to HEAL your brokenness, to give you beauty for your ashes, JOY instead of mourning, the garment of PRAISE instead of the heavy burdened failing spirit that you now may be experiencing!  Oh, how HE loves YOU!!! He knows of your brokenness, He SEES your tears, HE understands your pain!

WHAT is His purpose for this promise??  “that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Here, God likens His people (HIS daughters) to Oaks of righteousness. This speaks volumes about the way HE sees YOU!! Oak trees are known for their great strength and stubborn durability. Their strength and life do not come from what you can see on the outside but from their deep roots that are hidden underground. The root system grows so deep into the soil as to reach the water and nutrients that is needed for them to be what they were created to be. These deep and large roots provide the foundation for this tree to withstand all kinds of conditions from wind, drought, storms, and even earthquakes.  That is God’s heart for YOU and for me and for all of His beloved children.   Jeremiah gives us an even clearer picture of what this looks like:

                                                Jeremiah 17:7-8

(Most) blessed is the man (woman) who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the LORD and whose hope and confidence the LORD is.

For he (she) shall be like the tree planted by the waters that spread out its roots by the water;  and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green.  It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.

Friend, I believe YOU desire to live out your God-given destiny as His beautiful beloved daughter! Your hope, your trust, your confidence and the ONE you rely on MUST be in the ONE who loves YOU like no other!!  Even now.  It’s not your husband, your best friend, your pastor nor your parents! THE ONLY ONE who can bring light to your darkness is the ONE who is LIGHT!!  Don’t waste another moment.  Turn to Jesus, tell him of your hurts, release your bitterness and allow Him to grow your roots deep within the soil of HIS unending, unrelenting, unchanging love for YOU!  Don’t allow those unproductive roots of ugly emotions to poison and infect the strong deep roots in Christ, that He has for you.  Invite Him to set YOUR heart free and stand strong against the storms, the wind, the rain, the hurt, the pain, the anger, the bitterness… so that the display of HIS splendor is revealed in you and through you!  That is timeless beauty that no person, no circumstance, no pain can ever take away! You go girl!

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  Hebrews 12:15