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!

This is Love

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He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief…..

Isaiah 53:5

Have you felt the pain of rejection?  Has your heart bore the pain of being broken by those you love the most? Have you lived with regret over your past?  Have you experienced sorrow and grief?  If you have lived on this earth for very long you soon realize your heart will not go untouched.  To live and to love brings the opportunity for pain.  There is no getting around it.

The good news is, there is hope. You are not alone.  There is One who sticks closer than a brother.  Do you know HIM?  His name is Jesus.  He loves you so much that He suffered and died for you and now is seated at the right hand of God interceding for you!   JESUS KNOWS about rejection.  JESUS KNOWS your pain.  JESUS KNOWS your sorrow.  Not only does He know about such pain, but He, Himself, has experienced all of these and MORE.  The amazing, beautiful thing about Jesus is that He experienced pain, rejection, and sorrow by CHOICE.  He chose to experience these things in order to set your heart free.  He chose to suffer because of His amazing love for you and for me.   No one would choose the pathway of pain. No one would choose to walk through the door of grief and sorrow.   We all know, It is one thing to experience pain at the mercy of others but to choose to be broken, to be wounded…  Who would do that?

Jesus would. And He did.  For you.  For me.  For the world.

Hebrews 12:2 says “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross… what joy could there possibly be in the excruciating death He suffered? YOU…you were His joy!! Joy which compelled Him to walk the pathway of darkness…to endure the suffering of the cross…. He was filled with joy at the thought of redeeming you and me and of saving a lost world.   He knew you needed a Savior to heal you, to deliver you, to take your sins and my sins upon Himself.

He went through it all so that He could write your love story.  He came to rescue you.  He came to save you.

Do you sometimes have issues with self esteem?…Do you sometimes feel like no one cares, no one loves you?  Turn your eyes to the cross and see His love poured out for you. You are so very valuable to HIM!! Because He CHOSE this kind of suffering, there is healing for you, there is beauty awaiting you in the midst of your brokenness.

There is no one, nor will there ever be, anyone who loves you like Jesus loves you!  At the cross, He meets you there and He offers extravagant love, forgiveness,  rest for your weariness and healing for your deepest wounds.  Place your hand in His….His nail scarred hand, and allow your heart to be captivated by His love.

Will there be more pain in your life?  More struggles?  Yes.  The difference is Him.  He will give you strength and peace in the midst of your storms. There will be treasures to be found in your trials.  He will never leave you, nor forsake you.  He will turn all things around for good in your life.  Your life of surrender will have purpose and meaning.  

But you must Choose.

Are you going to hold on to your life, your ways, your sins, your pain,  or will you surrender ALL to Him and allow Him to give you His beauty for your ashes.  You will find His grace is sufficient for you.  Look into His Word, get to know Him and fall in love with your Savior, your Lord, your King.

Just as Jesus was resurrected from death to life, He can bring life to the dead places of your heart.

How do I know these things?  I know them because I have experienced His love and mercy in my own life.  His forgiveness has freed me from the chains of guilt and shame. He has brought life to places that were dead.  I have seen His power and love change hearts and turn brokenness into beauty.  He has given hope where there was no hope. His love has captured my heart.  The dreams I used to have as a little girl of the “happily ever after” have been resurrected.  My future is secure in Him,  My prince has come and rescued me.  He offers the same love to you.

Run to His arms, my friend, experience TRUE love…. say YES to the extraordinary love He died to give you and allow Him to write your love story.

For God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE His only begotten son, that whosoever would believe in HIM, would not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

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.

No Fretting Allowed

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Psalm 37:3-6

Do not fret because of evildoers,

Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,

And wither as the green herb.

TRUST in the Lord, and DO GOOD;

DWELL in the land, and FEED on His Faithfulness.

DELIGHT yourself in the Lord,

and HE SHALL GIVE you the desires of your heart.

COMMIT your way to the Lord,

TRUST also in Him,

and HE SHALL BRING IT to pass.

HE SHALL BRING FORTH your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

REST in the Lord, and WAIT patiently for Him;

DO NOT FRET because of him who prospers in his way,

Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;

DO NOT FRET—it only causes harm.

Before I get into these scriptures, I want to preface it by making it clear that the words above have been my anchor and my guide throughout what seemed like a very long and difficult season.  Going through a divorce and the aftermath that goes with it is full of obstacles and challenges.  I have been brought back to these verses time and time again!  In the get go, I embraced solid and loving advice that was given to me ….”Don’t shoot arrows back no matter what! Take the high road and God will take care of everything else.”  Good, Godly wisdom, right?  Well, Psalm 37 shows us what that really looks like.  As I am sure you are aware,  social media can be used as a blessing or a curse and even for ministry or misery.  As Christ followers, no matter who is coming against us, we must be careful what we post and how we respond to the posts of others.  Many are creeping on your Facebook page. Especially when there is drama going on! Many want to see if your actions line up with who you claim to be as a follower of Christ.  I can tell you that as I have chosen to take the high road and put these scriptures into practice I have seen God reveal truth and clothe me with strength and dignity time and time again.  Thank you, Lord!!

Friend, God has made it so very clear as to what we are to do when faced with opposition and it applies to EVERY Christ follower including you and me. Those who say that Christianity is just a crutch obviously don’t get it.   Let them try holding their tongue, to forego the opportunity to seek revenge,  to not be easily offended, to not worry themselves right into a full blown panic attack, to turn the other cheek or to determine to think on good things in the midst of the mess!  It takes a woman of strength and courage to believe God when all hell is breaking lose!  Okay, this rant is over…let’s dive into this scripture.

No matter what your life looks like this very moment, The above scriptures can help you experience abundant joy instead of discouragement, peace instead of chaos, rest instead of panic and calm instead of confusion.  They contain the antidote against anger, revenge and bitterness and even fear.  Yuck, yuck and yuck!!! However, it won’t just happen because you have read them and checked these scriptures off of your daily reading list.  NOR will they help you just because you call yourself a Christian.  There are things YOU have to DO.  You see, my friend, we cannot be lazy disciples of Christ and expect to receive ALL that God has for us.  We cannot be passive and just allow our circumstances or emotions to rule our lives.  We must be intentional.  It is work.  It is hard.  It is warfare.  It is not for the faint of heart.

So why this Psalm of encouragement? Obviously, those David was addressing were really struggling with some of the people that were in their midst, evil-hearted people to be exact.  It seems that these certain people were causing so much alarm in the camp that David decided to step up and say enough is enough! Maybe those he was addressing were wanting to escape their homes and run away in fear because of the evil doers. Maybe they were fretting over things that were being said to discredit their character.  Though we don’t know exactly what their enemies were up to, we know it was causing an emotional response by those who were getting the brunt of it.  Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and fretting with them, David shows them how to handle their situation God’s way!  It seems that the real battle here is in their own minds which is where most of all our battles take place, as well. SO what does he tell them? Don’t fret about them, your enemy, because God will take care of you.  David mentions the word “fret” three times in this Psalm.  In verse 6, the bible tells us it can lead to harm.  Obviously, we need to take these instructions to heart. When we are fretting, we can be anxious, worried, upset, displeased, troubled, angry, and even grieved.    He is telling us to NOT fret about the actions of others…..GOD will take care of “THEM” as we choose to trust in HIM!! It won’t happen by accident.  It goes against our flesh.  However, as followers of Christ, it is who we are and what we do! It is a life of day in and day out faith in our God.  Subsequently, we TRUST Him but we don’t just trust Him…we do good!  DO good, really?  That’s asking a little much, HA!  So, I can’t try to fix this MY way?  I can’t put them in their place?  I can’t go after them the way they have come after me? How many times are we tempted to make wrong choices in the midst of being attacked by the enemy?  We allow ourselves to dwell on them and become consumed with what “they are doing or saying” and find a way to get back at them.  This is not God’s way. His way is actually quite the opposite!

SO, what do we do?  We trust, we do good and we stand tall and courageous…not ducking our tails and running away in fear and shame.  We stay put.  We dwell in our place in peace, while feeding on God’s faithfulness.   How do you feed on God’s faithfulness?  Honestly, you are feeding on something at all times.  You are choosing what you think about, what you dwell on and what you allow inside your Spirit.  You can choose to fret and live in fear and allow your enemy to consume your every thought OR you can choose to feed on God’s faithfulness.  SO, in other words you can choose junk food or healthy food to feed on?  David’s menu recommendation is to chew on what we know to be true about God and his character. His very nature is faithful, steadfast, and constant.  He never changes.  When we remind ourselves of that and choose to have a steady diet of His Word, we then can’t help but do the next thing….DELIGHT in HIM instead of focusing on “them”.

Delight yourself in the LORD and you won’t be fretting about your enemy! THAT is what we are called to do.  No excuses will suffice.  Either you are going to believe God is who He says He is and choose to delight in Him OR you will lead a miserable, less than, defeated life.  It’s a no brainer, right? Again, I know first hand, that it is not at all easy to do.  Our flesh wars against our spirit constantly.  Thankfully, God has given us the grace and the keys on how to overcome and live victorious!

The next few verses go onto say commit, trust, rest, wait and again do not fret!  As we trust and commit our lives, our circumstances, our loved ones and even our enemies to our gracious Father, we will find rest for our anxious souls.  Rest that enables us to wait patiently for HIS plans and HIS will to unfold.

Now the good part…..tucked in the middle of what we are called to do is a sweet but bold word of encouragement that we can lean into that will help carry us through.  God tell us the HE will bring forth our righteousness and justice as the noon day sun! There it is.  This is God’s promise to you and to me! Our righteousness is God’s character shining in and through us that invites His light into every messy and unwanted moment. It is God who goes before us and will extinguish every fiery dart that is pointed our way.  He will do that!  His justice will be demanded….we do not have to seek it for ourselves, God will do it!

I do not know about you, but Psalm 37 helps my anxious heart to rise up and say no to the enemy and his attack on my life and and big yes to God.  Friend, can I encourage you to read it, study it, learn from it and DO IT!!! Go and Fret no more!

 

 

 

 

 

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