Freedom in Surrender

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He came unexpectedly and out of nowhere.  She uncomfortably and bashfully squirmed with a smile as she tried to embrace the extremely sweet and generous affirming words coming from the other end of the phone.  Her heart undeniably longed for them to be true and trustworthy but her heart struggled to believe.  And rightly so.

Over the years, she had gotten used to feeling less than and undervalued.  It was her normal.  All the while, masking the deep desire she had for her spouse’s love behind stubborn faith and her Father God’s unconditional love and acceptance.  After all, as a woman of faith, God’s love was what mattered most.  So what if her then husband’s actions broke and wounded her heart time and time again?  So what if she could not trust him?  She tried really hard.  She wanted that with all of your heart.  On several occasions, she even prayed to have a bride like love-like-you-have-never-been-hurt kind of trust but the truth is, trust has to be earned and earning it was not something her, then husband, did very well.  However, she had God. She could trust HIM.  We are never told in scripture to trust man, anyway, right? She was called to love the unlovable and just maybe her love would be the catalyst for the deliverance she adamantly waged war for.  Her battle scars were many, with wounds that never stood a chance of healing with each new discovery and reminder that she would never be enough.  Nothing could fix this.   Each season of counseling and accountability gave her hope but hope that quickly would turn to despair again.  Nevertheless, she did not let that stop her.  Consequently, she even began to wear that as a type of prideful badge of martyrdom after years of the same brokenness.  BUT just maybe that is what helped her heart to survive each new season of pain.   She wanted so badly for God to be glorified in her life and in her marriage.  And for her, if that meant sacrificing her own heart, then so be it.  To some, she came across as strong and whole but inside there was a different kind of story to tell.

She kept believing after every revealing that maybe THIS TIME would be the LAST time.  After years of the same destructive cycles repeating,  it had become obvious to her that she could not control his last time  but she could control HER last time, and she did.  She finally gave up on her dream that change would permanently come.  She knew that the final revealing was her prayers and the prayers of others being answered.  Freedom and bravery came to her that day.   You see, God always answers our prayers but it may not look like what we had envisioned.  Nevertheless, His ways are so much higher.   She knew she was being released and rescued and she embraced it.  For her, it was bittersweet.  Tears of relief but yet tears of sadness realizing how far unchecked sin can takes us.

And Now.

After nearly two years following her divorce, she meets him.  Their meeting was nothing but miraculous and still yet, she was determinedly cautious and understandably fearful.  Looking for red flags and any reason to run, she did what she could to find out about this man who was awakening things in her heart that she had long ago determined to let go of.  And slowly but surely, it happened.  She began to imagine life with someone whose values and love for God were similar to her own.  She began to dream again.  She hesitantly allowed herself to believe that just maybe there was someone that could love her as God intended.

She is still learning. She is still growing.  She is moving forward.  She is intentionally surrendering her past at the feet of her Savior and He is setting her heart free. Free to believe in love again and free to hope in new beginnings.   And, even though she is not fully confident she can trust again, there is a glimmer of hope in her heart that just maybe she can.  SO it is with that, that she is bravely allowing her soul to be awakened to love and her gut tells her, it may just be worth it!  Let it be so, Lord!

What about you?  What is it in your life that you need to let go of in order to embrace the good plans that God has for you? Are there fears from your past that are holding you back from your tomorrows?  Friend, God is faithful and He can be trusted to take your mess, your hurts, and your disappointments and work them together for good and for a future that has His blessing and favor interwoven throughout.  No need to fear…God’s got you! Today, will you be brave and choose to surrender all the ashes from your past and give your heart freedom to experience life to the full? With God’s grace, you CAN do it! There is truly freedom in surrender…freedom to embrace this new day, new beginning, new chapter and new you!  Let’s do it! Are you with me?

The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].  Psalm 37:2

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:18-19

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

Lay Your Burdens Down

Are you heavy burdened today? Me, too!  It started last night for me.  Dealing with the repercussions of divorce is hard.  However, getting a front row seat and sitting by helplessly as you watch your children deal with it is just too much.   I thought by the time I went to bed that I was good.  I had prayed and surrendered their broken hearts with determined trust.  However, this morning the heaviness was back. What I appreciate is that God knew we would have moments and even days like this!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken”.  Psalm 55:22

I am so thankful that the heaviness I was feeling this morning was unwarranted and became obsolete in the presence of my Lord.  The song below is the song that God placed on my heart to hush my anxious thoughts and sound the battle cry of my heart.  An invitation to lay my burdens down in complete surrender.  Honestly, the first few times I listened to it involved the ugly cry….laying down those we hold so dear is hard! Especially for us momma bears! But, I was determined. By the 10th time of repeating it (okay, it wasn’t quite that many times, ha!) my heart finally found release.  This ole flesh is stubborn, ya’ll!  The struggle is real! But God! He is so patient and gracious!   What about you, my friend?  Can I encourage you to make the time, find a song, and worship your King in the midst of your troubles! Choose to cast your burdens at the feet of Him who longs to be your Burden-bearer!  Your circumstances will most likely not immediately change, but God WILL sustain you by His sufficient grace and His powerful presence! You were not meant to be the one to carry those heavy burdens.  Jesus paid a high price to take all of your unwanted baggage upon Himself.  Sweet one, you are free! God’s got you and will take care of the things that compete for the consumption of your mind space.  How are we able to cast those burdens onto Jesus?  We can do this because we trust that He cares of us and those we love.  It is a beautiful act of faith! It is strategic warfare!  As we lay our burdens down we rise victorious!  Go and be victorious today!

 

Hardened Hearts and Those Who Love Them

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What do you do when your loved one’s heart seems to be hardening towards God and towards you? Maybe, your marriage was previously redeemed from brokenness and betrayal but now you are seeing red flags that indicate things may be going south again.  How do you relate to your spouse without being consumed with trying to rescue them and save your marriage in the process? It’s tough!  The following is just some thoughts with regards to what I have concluded from my own journey.

WAIT for the leading of the Holy Spirit…
Sometimes it is more HURTFUL than USEFUL to try to speak TRUTH and have an intimate conversation or confrontation with someone you love who’s heart is hardened. This is especially true if you are hoping for a certain response that would give you some indication that their heart is softening.   Please don’t tell me I am the only one who has done this??  You want hope.  You want to see a glimmer of evidence that it’s not as bad as you think it is.  You do not want to get hurt again by the same destructive patterns that you have experienced in the past.  Without being led by the Holy Spirit, you are setting yourself up for discouragement and even despair.   Many times they will care more about giving you their opinions than taking into account your feelings.  Friend, when God is leading you, He will give you peace no matter the outcome of the conversation. You will be able to share your heart and then be assured that you have did what He laid upon your heart and can trust Him for the future outcome.

Even though your deepest desire is to see them grow towards Christ and your heart is broken by their unloving/selfish attitude and choices, your best response is to LOVE them AS THEY ARE (as Christ has loved you) and continue to PRAY for them. Unfortunately, you can’t expect them to receive truth from you if they are actively running from THE ONE who IS TRUTH.  YOU can’t change them, fix them, or make their choices for them.  I understand how incredibly hard this is, especially in marriage.

The truth is, true love gives freedom not control, manipulation or punishment. The choices they are making may lead to costly consequences and even the demise of your marriage but that is their choice to make.  Subsequently,  these consequences may be the very thing God uses to draw them back to Him.

Friend, until there is a Divine heart change, your words may only push them farther away. Be very careful and pray for God’s wisdom. He will lead you as to when to speak and what to speak and what actions to take, if necessary.  Until then, avoid hurtful conversations and simply guard your own heart and leave theirs to God.  This is where “let go and let God” becomes more than just a good quote but love in action.

May you find comfort in KNOWING God hears your prayers! In ONE sudden moment HIS LOVE can change even the hardest of hearts! HE is able! TRUST Him! BELIEVE He is working beyond what you see! My hope is that one day you will find that it is truly a BEAUTIFUL thing to witness the transforming power of God’s amazing grace as YOU have a front row seat!

No matter what, you can be assured that just as HE is working in their heart, he is working in YOUR heart, as well. You can trust God to help you handle the outcome even if it is not the desired outcome your heart longs for.  Continually surrendering our loved ones to JESUS is not easy but painfully stretches our faith towards maturity that wasn’t there before. Though it may be hard to see now, your growth in Christ is priceless and purposeful. Embrace it and never stop believing! Our God is FAITHFUL!

God, your God will cut away the thick calluses on your hearts and your children’s hearts freeing you to love God, your God with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.
Duet. 30:6 msg

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (Pr. 18:2).

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.
Eph 1:17

Don’t waste your breath on a rebel. He will despise the wisest advice. Proverbs 23:9

And I (God) will give you a new heart—I will give you new and right desires—and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love.
Ezekiel 36:26

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