How To Heal From Hidden Hurts: Half the Battle Book Review {& Giveaway!}

Have you ever faced a battle in your life and wondered ‘why me?’ or ‘when will this ever end?’  Well today you are in the right place.  I’m excited to share with you a book written by Dr. Jon Chasteen, Half the Battle:  Healing From Hidden Hurts.  A lot of us go through life discrediting the hidden hurts and trauma of our past, stuffing it down to hidden areas where it can’t hurt us anymore.  We tell ourselves lies, ‘they don’t matter,’ or ‘I’m fine, that was the past,’ when in reality we keep those hurts hidden away, not healed from them, just put in a different area of our hearts.

Funny thing how the body works.  It wants to heal.  Although this method of suppression will serve you well for probably many years, it never lasts.  God has a way of surfacing those hidden areas we’ve managed to keep ‘safe,’ by nudging us into areas of His eternal healing.  It’s our choice whether we want to be healed or keep sitting on our mats like the paralyzed man.

“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time thee will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”  John 11:38-40 ESV.

In biblical times, the dead weren’t necessarily buried but put in caves with large stones to seal them (cave burials were for the wealthy).  They did this so there wouldn’t be the horrific odor from the dead that was buried there.  The odor was kept hidden by the stone.  Dr. Chasteen calls this the ‘stench behind the stone.’  He uses this example as a parallel of our undealt with pain.

'Jesus is not okay with permanently sealed tombs.' #quote Dr. Jon Chasteen #HalftheBattle #healingClick To Tweet

How To Heal From Hidden Hurts

What’s so amazing about the story of Lazarus is, everyone had started the mourning process, there was no possibility of a miracle, their loved one was dead, end of story–Jesus entered the scene and changed everything.  So why allow Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, and all his loved ones go through all that pain in the first place?  To show us what it looks like to invite Jesus into our pain.  Dr. Chasteen, uses the story of Lazarus to paint the picture of what we do with our pain.  How we try to bury our pain and seal it off in a grave without truly healing from it.  He wants us to see what happens when we invite Jesus into our pain, how miracles and healing happen when we do.

Jesus can resurrect any pain and bring it back to life Click To Tweet

Our pain is Jesus’ pain.  You’re pain matters to him.  “Jesus knows where you’ve hidden your pain” (quote, Chasteen).  He wants us to take Him to that exact place where we stopped believing and gave up hope.  Healing isn’t healing if it’s done half-way.  Jesus knows the way to heal because He is our Healer.

Maybe your pain stems from the pain of rejection.  Or from the pain of being abandoned or forgotten.  Maybe you’ve been the victim of abuse or racism.

Whatever the root of our pain, 'God can take whatever pain, whatever rejection, and whatever shame you carry and use it for His glory and for your good' #quote Chasteen #halfthebattleClick To Tweet

The enemy will always use our pain for his evil plan.  He’ll whisper lies it’s better to keep our pain hidden, attach shame to it, not allow Jesus in to help us, and to carry this burden on our own.  We can’t change the pain of our pasts.  We can’t pretend our past didn’t happen.  We can only take steps towards allowing Jesus to have access to all areas of our hearts so He can heal the forgotten hidden areas of our heart.  What the enemy uses for evil God will use for good (Genesis 50:20).

I will never forget when God did this for me in my life.  I knew there were areas of pain and hurt I was holding onto.   I knew God was nudging me to deal with them and allow Him to lead Him to the root.  I kept saying, ‘no,’ until one day I couldn’t say, ‘no,’ anymore.  He had brought me to the very place our son died in the hospital, when our daughter had broken the tip of her finger.  God asked me in this moment, ‘Do you want to heal?’  I finally said, ‘yes.’  He then nudged me to walk into the place that caused so much of my pain, the room where our son died.  The moment I stepped into the room, God gave me an overwhelming sense of peace, letting me know, you don’t have to hold onto your pain anymore, I have your son, I’m taking care of Him, you will see him again one day.

The key to healing is our willingness to heal.

Healing is hard but so worth it.  Half the battle is being willing.  Our willingness allows for places of honesty and vulnerability places where Jesus will do His amazing work in us, when we allow Him.  We don’t always have to know how only trust that God knows a better way.  We will never find healing and restoration in shame and pride.  Everlasting peace and freedom will only happen when we partner with Jesus and let Him in, not when we try to carry our burdens on our own.  We were created and made to have a holy dependence in God not a holy independence (kind of never works out when we do).

God doesn’t always provide the front door approach to our pain, because He knows many of us won’t walk through it!  Sometimes He uses the back door approach, allows us to go through the battles, pain, and struggles so we can draw closer to Him and invite Him in.  If you struggle with allowing God to have your pain, Half the Battle will help lead you to those place where hidden hurts reside.  Dr. Chasteen will help you roll the stone away so you can deal with those hidden hurts that don’t allow one to heal.

Do you invite Jesus into your hidden hurts?

Where do you keep hidden hurts?

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What Does the Bible Say About Self-Care?

Do you struggle with taking care of yourself or putting your needs as a priority?

Taking the the time to preserve our mental, emotional, and spiritual health is HUGE right now.  Any normalcy or routines of life we’ve had before 2020 have drastically changed for a time frame unknown.  That in itself, the unknowing what to expect, the outcome of all of this causes heightened anxiety!  It seems harder and harder to catch a break from all that’s going on in the world to escape the realities of what’s going on around us.  

I recently had the privilege of being apart of the 2020 Christian Women’s Virtual Self-Care Conference.  I was one of the 55 plus women speakers teaching workshop from body image, to eating right, to taking care of the forgotten areas of our hearts.  I was beyond blessed learning from these women and the messages God had given them to pour into others.  The main takeaway of the whole conference was God places high priority on self-care.  Jesus modeled this for us while he was here on earth.  

Self-Carr Bible Verse

Jesus Himself teaches about self-care #selfcareClick To Tweet

What Does the Bible Say About Self-Care?

In the gospels, there is a pattern, there’s a message, then a miracle, a message, then a miracle.  In Luke 5:16, Jesus withdrew to a lonely (desolate) place to pray.  Why?  Because he had just healed a man with leprosy.  The news spread of Jesus’ ability to heal and the people wanted more.  Jesus retreated because He didn’t come to earth for people to ONLY SEE the miracle of HIS HEALING.  He also wanted them to HEAR the message of HIS TRUTH, that He came for people to have life and have it to the FULL.  Seeking ONLY the miracle doesn’t allow for growth within us.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to DWELL among us to show off, or perform a bunch of miracles.  He came so we could also hear His message of joy, love, peace, hope, freedom, and salvation.  When the crowds came looking for Jesus, He retreated.  

We as well, can retreat to places of solitude and prayer to replenish, be restored, hear God’s voice and just be still with HIM.  We don’t have to keep performing, doing more to earn His love or to love us more than He already does.  Investing in ourselves so we can invest in others will reap rewards more than we could ever imagine.  

What Are You Struggling With?

Are you struggling with procrastination, self-doubt, and apathy right now?  Then you may need a boost in your dopamine levels.  Dopamine is the reward hormone in your brain that motivates you to achieve your goals, reinforces good behavior.  When all things life related are converted to on-line or cancelled, when decrease our dopamine ‘hits,’ that keep us motivated!  When procrastination seeps in (like it does for me), and you’re feeling unmotivated, set your goal and reward yourself at the end (like put a book you want in your amazon cart and buy it when you’ve reached your goal).  It will keep those dopamine levels up!  

Are you struggling with loneliness and depression?  Chances are your serotonin levels may be decreased.  Serotonin is our happiness hormone and makes us feel significant.  When activities and celebrations get cancelled, our happiness levels levels go down when we don’t have much to look forward to.  Increasing your Vitamin D intake by either supplements and/or UV light has been proven to improve serotonin levels.  

Are you struggling with stress, strained relationships, and decreased immunity?  Oxytocin may be the culprit.  Oxytocin is the ‘bonding hormone,’ which creates intimacy, trust, and builds healthy relationships.  We need each other.  We were meant to be together.  We miss out on those human connections and interactions when we have to be isolated.  This is why there has been a puppy surge and all the SPCA’s are empty.  Petting an animal increases oxytocin levels!  Experts recommended to maintain oxytocin levels by giving 8 hugs a day!  

The burnout we are all experiencing is real and need to find ways to reduce our stress so we don’t cause further damage to our bodies.  How we treat ourselves matters and to those around us.  Your family needs you.  Your loved ones need you.  Be gentle with yourself and others at this time.  These are some stressful times.  Being real with how the pandemic is affecting us is crucial to our well-being.  Emotional honesty is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.  If you’re feeling lonely reach out to someone, pick up the phone, be intentional, let someone know how you’re feeling.  Are you feeling depressed, increased anxiety, overwhelmed?  Ask for help.  Don’t wait for a break down to happen to take care of yourself.  

God is in control.  He is the greatest Restorer and Healer.  Trusting in what He is able to do is vital to our overall well-being.  You are loved. You matter.  You are worth it.  Want to know more what the bible says about self-care here are 100 Bible verses about Taking Care of Yourself by OpenBible.info.  

Give yourself permission to take care of you. You won't regret it. Click To Tweet

Do you make self-care a priority?  How or in what way?

Are you able to give yourself the gift of emotionally honesty?

Did you miss the Self-Care Conference?  Watch the Re-cap Below of the conference’s highlights.

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Why Is It So Hard To Heal?

Hello!  It’s been a while.  I’ve been taking a much needed break this year from blogging to concentrate on a deficient area of my life, self-care.  A moment of honesty–there were areas of my life I didn’t realize needed healing and attention.  I kept hitting walls that wouldn’t allow me to move forward or I would build walls to protect me from any hurts in my life.  There would be times I was losing a grip on keeping my sanity and serenity in a healthy place.  I had to ask the question, Why did this keep happening?

Well, nothing changes when nothing changes.  I had to be real with the adversity in my life.  I couldn’t ignore emotional scars from my past or traumas that trickled into the hidden corners of my relationships in my life.  Whenever a trigger or hardship evolved these past hurts hiding in the corners came out like a raging river.  Over these past months and years, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on how adversity changes the emotional landscapes of how we cope and heal.  I’ve had to look within myself and do some self-discovery of why am I the way I am?

Growing up a horrible lie was born into my life, I wasn’t wanted. Nothing my parents did make me feel this way, but it’s the message I received because of my circumstances.  My parents were very young when my sister and I were born, divorced by the time we were two, we lived with my grandparents for a couple of years until my father remarried and we moved back in with him in our new family and visited our mother on the weekends.  We didn’t talk about our problems or address them much because no one knew how.  My parents are a byproduct of my grandparents who grew up in the great depression where you don’t complain and you just kept going.  Problems or mistakes were to be hidden so no one knew our flaws.  No one talked about the fact there was mental illness and struggles with alcohol that affected our family.

“Am I a God at hand, delcares the Lord, and not a God far away?  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?  declares the Lord.  Do I not fill heaven and earth?  declares the Lord”. Jeremiah 23:23-24.

No wonder why it’s so hard to heal!?!?!  No one likes to talk about their flaws and problems.  But it’s such a necessary step in accepting how God made us and how He will use our circumstances for good.  I became really good at hiding from what was hidden beneath the surface for so many years.  I was a people pleaser.  Helping others and pleasing people became my hiding place.  If I could please others and make sure their needs were met, I didn’t have any problems.  If I could fix, solve, save, or rescue others from their problems then I was good.  The problem with this method of dealing with problems was I wasn’t dealing with my own problems.  I wasn’t depending on God to mend my hurts, I was co-dependent on others to mend me.  This method will never serve anyone well in the end, because it bypasses Jesus and doesn’t allow Him to be the Mender and Healer.

There is only One Healer and He is Jesus.Click To Tweet

It wasn’t until I started counseling, I discovered I was a co-dependent.  I had developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to get my needs filled, to heal the wound I wasn’t wanted, which gave birth to other lies I was inadequate, not good enough.  I was a mess.  I had to unravel years of dysfunctional unhealthy behavior.  It has been very hard to peel back those layers, but so worth it and necessary in my healing process.  If I wasn’t willing to go beneath the surface and ask the question of why I do what I do, did things start to change for me?  I had to identify I wasn’t really putting my trust in God when I was going ahead of Him trying to heal myself through others.  I had to acknowledge there was a difference between just treating symptoms to get by or really do the work to heal.

We will never discover the fullness of our worth when we hide from God's healing.Click To Tweet

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;  save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise” Jeremiah 17:14

What you do isn’t who you are.  The effects adversity has on our lives is real.  Even if you don’t have a life born into adversity there still are stressors and hardships that make life difficult.  Being real with who you are in how God made you and learning how to maneuver through the adversity in your life is crucial.  I want to introduce to you the ACE score. It stands for Adversity Childhood Experience.  This score is on a 10 point scale, 10 being the most and 0 being the least. The higher your ACE score before the age of 18 determines based on statistics whether you are more prone to criminal activity, alcoholism, mental illness, and other chronic diseases.  Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician, and California Surgeon General has dedicated her life work to adversity and making it apart of integrative health, looking at the person as a whole, getting to the root of underlying issues, not just treating symptoms.

My ACE score by the time I was seven years old was a six.  My score put me into a very high-risk category or being susceptible to a whole slew of addictions and chronic illnesses.  Dr. Burke explains the neuroscience behind our stress, adversity, and why we do what we do.  She also explains why it’s so important to lower our ACE scores so we can leave behind a healthy legacy for the next generation.  I encourage you to take the ACE quiz to see what you score.  To take the quiz click here.

You are loved, my friend.  You are worth it!  You are an overcomer in Christ.  Your circumstances and adversity don’t define you, God does.  You are known in his love.  We don’t have to hide from who we are in Christ, praise God for that!

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Do you struggle with co-dependency(aka self-love deficit?  I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

Self-Care conference

Need a Break? Do you feel like this world is getting more chaotic and you just want some peace and rest?

I am so honored to be one of the 50+ Women Speakers at the 2020 Christian Women’s Self-Care Conference.  There will be live workshops filled with lots of much needed goodness!  And get this, it’s FREE!!!!!! (But for a limited time only). Take advantage of watching this conference in the comfort of your own home.  Take time for yourself.  Learn what areas of your life could use a little healing and attention.  I am excited about my workshop:  You are Known:  Loving Yourself Well which will be on day three and I address the struggles of co-dependency.

To register either Click Here or on the image.  To view, a complete list of speakers and workshops click on the link at the bottom of the page near the registration button.  Make sure to join me over the next 12 days on Facebook and Instagram.  I will be doing LIVE chats and giveaways!  Let’s get the conversation started!

What area of your life do you need the most self-care?

 

I am so excited to see what God will do in your life through this conference.  Please share in the comments and start a conversation.  You are loved, my friend!

 


3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020


 

“The best news in the world is that there is no conflict between your greatest possible happiness and God’s perfect holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus magnifies him as the greatest treasure and brings you more joy—eternal, infinite joy—than any other delight ever could.”  John Piper

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s holiday.  I’ve taken a few weeks off from writing and it’s been nice.  We all could use breaks and rest to be able to recharge and be refreshed.  How has your new year been shaping up?  Have you set goals, made resolutions?  Whatever your aspirations are I pray they are blessed beyond measure and filled with joy.

I’ve been reading a YouVersion Bible Reading Plan by John Piper called 15 Days in the Word with John Piper.

He talks about the secret of invincible joy and how our greatest rewards are in Jesus.  This message is something I’ve heard before, but never had I heard joy described as rescued.  Nothing can destroy or take away our joy, even in our suffering when it’s anchored in Jesus.  It is possible to keep our joy protected and safe even in the most painful of times when heaven is the reward.

'Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ' quote John Piper (paraphrased John 17:24).Click To Tweet

Our greatest fulfillment will always come from what God can provide.  Nothing in this world could ever compete or compare to the eternal joy in which only God provides.

3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020

1.  Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and not beat yourself up over them.  To all the perfectionists out there write this down on a notecard and put it somewhere you can see it.  Say this to yourself everyday until this sinks in.  If there is one thing I struggle with, it’s being gentle with myself when I don’t make good choices.  I have a constant message in my head on repeat on how I could have done things better.

Thank goodness for God’s grace.  His grace was never meant to be abused to continue with bad behavior over and over but to help refine us and mold us through Him, not ourselves.  Joy will always be found in what God does in us.  Our mistakes don’t make us bad, they make us human.  God can do so much more with our mistakes when we surrender them to Him, then we could ever do ourselves.

2. Learn how to be emotionally honest with yourself.  Let’s face it, if we struggle with the ability to give ourselves grace when we mess up, we probably struggle with being realistic with our emotions.  Our emotions and mistakes don’t define us but what we do with them matters.  If we’re being honest with ourselves we’re able to own our own stuff and not constantly use blame or criticism to take the focus off ourselves.

Are you critical and judgmental of others?  Do you like to point out others mistakes in front of others?  Do you create chaos?  Looking within ourselves we might  discover when we’re critical of others we’re probably critical of ourselves.  Pointing out others’ flaws, doesn’t make your flaws as bad and then you don’t have to focus on yourself.  When you point out others mistakes, you probably aren’t secure with yourself and when other’s mistakes are magnified, no one is looking at your messes.  When patterns of chaos are created, then you don’t have to deal with your own problems when chaos is around.  If you want to have more joy in 2020, learn how to be emotionally honest, it’s the best gift you can give yourself.   Emotional honesty allows us to be emotionally available for others which is very enriching for relationships.

3.  Learn how to ‘BE’ instead of always doing.  Girl, if there’s one thing I could write to my younger self this would be it.  I’m ashamed to say how much of my energy has been wrapped up in doing, performing, and achieving.   Again if my focus was on the accomplishment I didn’t have to focus on myself.  Somehow my identity got tethered to these things and life became about doing.  God didn’t make human doings, he created human beings.  We were created ‘to be.’    We can be free in how God made us when we learn how to be.

We don’t always have to be the solution to every problem, the rescuer or savior (roles that were never meant for us in the first place).  Learning to be, means learning how to have balance when there are problems in your life.  Being means learning how to have more empathy for others when they are going through hard times.  Learning empathy allows for more compassion to be in our lives.  God wants us to learn how to BE love not DO love.  When we do, we put our own efforts into it and bypass God.  When we be, we allow God to work through and within us so His love overflows not the other way around.

Do you struggle with giving yourself grace when you make mistakes?

Are you able to be emotionally honest with yourself?

Do you struggle with being instead of doing?

Me too.  You’re not alone.  I struggle with every single one.  This is the beauty in our journey when we EMBRACE THE PROCESS.  It’s not about being perfect, getting it right all the time, it’s about learning to be well and allowing God to use EVERYTHING in His time.

How about you?  Do you desire to have more joy in 2020?  I do.  Learning to trust in the process God has put forth will always allow for His abundant joy to fill us, satisfy and complete us more than we could ever imagine.

Are you able to receive God's joy in your life?Click To Tweet

How can you have more joy in 2020?

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I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

I will be taking a little break from blogging to be able to work on a project that God has been pressing on my heart.  In order to be obedient to what God has for me, I need to be realistic with my time.  I may post a new post from time to time, but it won’t be weekly.  I will keep you posted on what I’m doing and thank you all who read and subscribe to the posts, it means so much to me.  I am grateful.


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You Are Known And Loved

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

You Are Known And Loved.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Have you ever felt not seen or heard?

Two thousand years ago a peasant girl named Mary might have felt this way until …….

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.

God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.

She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan, instead asked how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!

She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her, by submitting her heart to God.

How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself?

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.  I wonder how many times has God sent me a message I didn’t recognize was from him.  Letting me know I am known and loved and I just ignored Him?

Friend, you are known and loved by God who loved you first.  This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.

There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts with JOY and will fill our souls with PEACE, when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy. Click To Tweet

Do you struggle with being known and loved by God?

If God sent an angel with a message to you, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Why Do We Struggle with Being Authentic?

Have you ever struggled with being honest with yourself?  And wondered why is it so hard for me to be vulnerable and real?  Chances are you are not alone.  Many of us struggle with showing the world our real selves (me included) for fear of being criticized or judged.  For fear of not being liked or even outcasted from circles of friends.

If you work in any kind of team setting chances are you’ve already taken a Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, or HSP personality test to determine where you fall in the spectrum of being a team player or coachable.  How we perceive and receive information is vital in how we respond and grow.

Knowing who we are helps us to be the truest version of ourselves and not try to be something we’re not.  Most recently I’ve taken the Myer-Briggs test and discovered I’m an ENFJ which means I’m an extrovert, I’m intuitive, I process things through feelings and I have good judgement.

I actually scored very low on the extrovert making me closer to an introvert than I realized.  I get recharged by retreating to a quiet place by myself instead of throwing myself into a big crowd of people.

On the Enneagram I’m a 1 with a 2 wing.  And on the Highly Sensitive Person test I scored a 13, meaning a process information at a higher degree of emotion than others.

To not know who you really are, is a lonely place to be.  Chances are if there is a struggle in your life, maybe your struggle isn’t about what you’re really struggling with but a deeper conflict of denying your own self in how God made you.

Why Do We Struggle With Being Authentic?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of authentic is:  true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

Ask yourself these questions.

Do you allow others to see your real self?  Do you allow them to see not just the good parts about you, but the broken pieces, flaws and everything in between?

Are you a ‘doer’?  Meaning do you play the role of a ‘fixer’ and try to ‘do’ compassion for others by doing things for them, or can you just ‘be’ compassion for a friend?

Are you a chameleon and try to blend in a crowd (depending who’s there) or do you let your real personality come through no matter what situation you’re in?

Do you allow anyone to see your emotions when you’re happy, sad, frustrated or annoyed?  Or do you only share emotions with certain people you consider safe?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions.  They are merely to probe a deeper response to ‘why’ do we do what we do?

Chances are many of us are afraid to show our real selves for fear of not being accepted or wanted by anyone.Click To Tweet

Sadly I think many of us adapt our personalities depending on our situations, to conform to the worldly ‘normal’ of what’s acceptable.  We deny who we are at the cost of fitting in.

We struggle with being authentic because……….

We don’t give ourselves the liberty to be honest and real.  When are busy being busy, we’re not able to sit and peel back the layers of what really lies beneath.  When we do we’ll be surprised to find there is a lot of good stuff under all those layers!  There is nothing under those layers God can’t mend!

We become human ‘doers’ instead human ‘beings.’  When we ‘do’ love instead of ‘being’ love, we become the rescuers and Saviors, two roles that are meant for Jesus, not us.  When we become love, we become a vessel for God’s love showing others the love that could only come from Jesus.

We hide our brokenness, keep our flaws hidden.  When we protect our flaws from being seen and not allow them to be brought into the light, we deny the essence of who we are, broken.  I’m not saying stand on a stage with a megaphone and shout to the world all of of your ugly secrets.  What I am saying is exercise wisdom by having people of accountability in your life that can help be a voice of wisdom.  Someone you can share your junk with who can pray for you and keep you straight.

To hide our brokenness is to hide Jesus.

Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross in secret.  He died on the cross for all the world to see to let them know salvation is a FREE gift for EVERYONE.  

To deny our brokenness is to deny Jesus.

We can never be authentic or live in God’s original design in our lives when we aren’t able to be honest with ourselves.

Do you know your TRUE self?

Do you feel like you have the FREEDOM to live how God created you?  Why or Why not?

Do you struggle with being authentic?

How can you be more authentic today?

If you struggle with being who you are, try taking a personality test.  Try writing a letter to yourself, telling yourself it’s okay to be you.  Write down your personality traits.  Which ones do you allow others to see?  Which ones do you hide and ask why do you hide these traits?

Or find an accountability partner, a wise mentor, or a life coach to help in your journey in getting back to your TRUE self.  Start journaling and seeking God in prayer of what He desires for you.

When we deny who we are in how God made us we are missing out on God's original design and purpose in our lives. Click To Tweet

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:12

Praise God, when we embrace God’s purpose for us, we will always be able to live in our most authentic selves.

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What Are You Most Thankful For?

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s a season for giving thanks, fellowship, serving one another and sharing a meal with each other.  It’s a time we can enjoy each other and share what we are thankful for.

Or maybe it’s not.  Maybe Thanksgiving reveals everything we don’t have and haven’t accomplished.  Thanksgiving may be like a magnifying glass examining the little details of our lives that expose everything we are not.

To cover up our flaws, we assemble the perfect table and meal, making it seem like we have it all together, but really we’re falling apart on the inside.

Can you relate?

What are you Most Thankful For?

Of course, I am thankful for my family, our health and how abundantly blessed we are.  It’s so easy to thank God when things are going well in our lives.  It’s not so easy when they are not.

When things are falling apart and I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread, I am most thankful for Jesus.  I am thankful that even in my messes, I am complete in Jesus.  Even in my suffering, I am blessed.

It’s amazing when Jesus meets us in our messes, our storms, and flaws–He turns them into life’s greatest blessings.

If I never experienced failure, I would never know the deeper meaning of perseverance–How God makes the impossible, possible.

If I never trained for a marathon, I would never have known the power of God’s strength.

If I never went through the loss of our son, I would never experience the deeper meaning of God’s love and His glorious plan that one day we will see him again.

If I never had trials in marriage or as a parent, I would never have realized the value in growing my patience and building a stronger foundation in Jesus.  

To remove our messes, our struggles and flaws are to remove God’s glorious blessings.  


What am I Most Thankful For?  Jesus.  

I am not thankful for my trials but am thankful to have Jesus to walk with me in my trials.

When I struggle, I think of Job.  When his cattle was destroyed he still gave thanks.  When his family was killed he still gave thanks to God.  When his crops were destroyed he gave thanks.  When his health was at stake, he gave thanks.

When everything was taken away from him, he never stopped thanking God.  His thankfulness in his devastation produced a greater blessing he could have ever received than if he focused on everything he didn’t have.

No Jesus + Everything = Nothing.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

Even when I have nothing, I have everything in Jesus.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I am nothing without Jesus.
  

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:18)Click To Tweet

Behind every trial, there is a greater blessing.

When we GIVE THANKS in our trials, it helps us focus on God’s GOODNESS and that His LOVE endures FOREVER.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1)Click To Tweet

A Thanksgiving Prayer-  

THANK YOU, Lord Jesus, not only for our family, our health and the food we will eat this THANKSGIVING But also for our TRIALS we have endured this year.  We are not thankful for our suffering, but thankful that you are good and know what is BEST for US!

THANK YOU for giving us what we NEED not what we WANT.  You Always have the best plans ever!  THANK YOUfor going AHEAD of us and PREPARING  a place for us, even in our STRUGGLES we know this is only our TEMPORARY HOME.

THANK YOU for our circumstances that are beyond our control, they TEACH US to depend and lean on you making us closer to YOU.  THANK YOU for unanswered PRAYERS, they help us to TRUST in you, in your PERFECT PLAN.

THANK YOU for WALKING with US in the fiery furnace.  If you we didn’t have your hand to hold onto we would never know you are ALWAYS with us and will NEVER leave US.  THANK YOU for your FORGIVENESS when we fail and make bad choices.  THANK YOU for your LOVE and ALWAYS being there even in our MESSES.

THANK YOU for our DESPERATE Moments when we feel like we have nothing left, we can always depend on YOUR STRENGTH.  THANK YOU for our roadblocks and detours, they show us that when we follow Jesus, He knows the WAY!

THANK YOU for our failures and losses, they show us there is no greater reward than Jesus.  THANK YOU for your perfect gift of ETERNAL LIFE!  No matter what we go through it does not compare to the glorious reward of HEAVEN when we accept Jesus as our Savior!  THANK YOU for your PERFECT LOVE AND PLAN!  AMEN

What are you Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving?

Do you give thanks despite your trials?

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What To Do With Unsolvable Problems

“The thing I love about God is He intentionally guides people into failure.”  Bob Goff, Love Does

Do you ever struggle with having unsolvable problems in your life?  You know those problems that keep coming up over and over that don’t ever seem to get solved?  The more I’m getting to know myself the more I realize, I can’t stand having unsolvable problems in my life.

You know what I do with those problems?  I try to solve them myself!  Yup.  For some reason I think it’s my job to attach myself to the solution, the outcome, and the problem itself and try to fix it!  I try to control these things I have no control over.

As a result of me trying to exert my non-existent authority and weakness over these matters a mess happens.  Why do I think I can do a better job than God?   I don’t know, but it never works.  God doesn’t need my help, yet I interfere to offer my services where they don’t belong.

Have You Ever Been There?  

What To Do With Unsolvable Problems:

We’re not the only ones who struggle with problems in our lives we can’t solve.  The Israelites had A LOT of problems and they ALSO tried to take matters in their own hands MANY times.

In Exodus 32:1-2, The Israelites went before Aaron, Moses’ brother and said, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

“So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.  And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and make a golden calf.  And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”  (Exodus 32:3-4).

If you have been following my posts we have been following the Israelites through their journey of their captivity, deliverance  and waiting.  In Letting Go, Letting God The Israelites had to let go of their expectations of how God was going to deliver his promise of The Promised Land.  Here once again, The Israelites were waiting for Moses (which seemed like forever) to return from Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments.

They got impatient, seeking an alternative to God.  And instead of seeking their one true God, they looked elsewhere to a less than false god with their own belongings.

What a mess they had made when they got impatient, taking matters into their own hands.  Instead of waiting for God’s greater and better plan, they decided their plan was better and went ahead of God.

How many times do we do this as well?  We think we know better.  We think we have a better way.  And then our fruitless efforts of making God’s plans better become an entangles mess.

If only The Israelites took their unsolvable problem of wanting to worship a god NOW was taken to their one and only true God FIRST. Click To Tweet

If only when we have Unsolvable Problems we take them to God FIRST instead of trying to solve them OURSELVES with our own accord and strength.

“For I know the plans for you, declares the LORD, Plans to Prosper you and not to harm you, Plans to give you a Hope and a Future.”

God does not need my help, nor did He ask for it.  Yet I run ahead and involve myself to try to ‘fix’ or make it ‘better.’

We all have unsolvable problems.  The balance is learning how to live life WITH these unsolvable problems.  It’s okay to have problems, because I know the one who can solve them.  I know the one who has the solution for them.  I know the one who has the answer to them.

When we allow God to have our unsolvable problems, He’s able to mend, to mold, to refine, use them, restore, redeem, reconcile them into something so much greater.  The only problem to the unsolvable problem is US when we continue to get in the way and don’t allow God to do His thing.

His ways are greater, His plans are better.

What should we do with our unsolvable problems? Give them to the one who is able. Click To Tweet

What do you do with your unsolvable problems?

Do you try to ‘fix’ your own problems?

The best thing we can do to allow God access to our problems is to GET OUT OF THE WAY.  When we do, we give God the authority to solve our problems in His power and in His way.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I know I have unsolvable problems that only you can fix.  I know that I’ve been guilty of trying to fix my problems my way and have been getting in the way.  I know I’m not the authority in my problems but yet I try to take control and fix my problems my way.  Please forgive me Lord, for taking the steering wheel out of your hands.  Take my hands off of anything where they don’t belong.  I pray I will allow for your timing, your plans to mend and restore my problems.  Thank you God for caring so much for me and walking through this with me, I pray this in Jesus name.  Amen

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Dear Lord, Even If You Don’t……

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song “Even If” by Mercy Me?

I know You’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand, But even if you don’t, My hope is you alone…..

Have you ever felt like these words?  Ever felt like giving up thinking to yourself, what’s the use?  What good is it to do what I’m doing?  Or It’s hopeless, my situation will never change!

Maybe you’ve prayed the same prayer a thousand times and never seen any results.  Or maybe you’ve been on the crazy cycle doing the same thing over and over, not getting anywhere.

In the midst of it all we are never hopeless, we are never powerless when we have the one who is able with us.

Sometimes the road of devastation we walk can seem like an endless road to nowhere but I can promise you these roads of brokenness are always paved with his glory.

Even If you Don’t…….

“On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.   The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout!”  For the LORD has given you the city!”  (Joshua 6:15-16).

What if God told you I will give you everything you could have ever imagine (and then some)?  How would you respond?  What if He told you, The Promised Land I’ve promised you is right at your fingertips.  But first you must………

Ahhh, there’s always a catch right!?!?  Yes and No.  Last week’s post Letting Go and Letting God addressed Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and wandering the desert for 40 years.  At this point The Israelites had already crossed over the Jordan River and were thinking, ‘Yes! We’ve made it!’  Well not really first they had to face some giants a whole army of them.

So God gives Joshua the instructions to march seven times around the ginormous walls of Jericho for six days.  And then the seventh day march 7 times around!  For six days the Israelites marched in silence until the seventh day.

Can you imagine after marching for 7 days straight in a row their surprise when those walls of Jericho came tumbling down?Click To Tweet

I think I would have been feeling quite tired and weary of marching around a huge city for 7 days straight to see nothing happening.  Not being able to speak and just march in silence day in and day out.  It makes me think how heavy their feet felt, each step they took.  How heavy their hearts felt each day that passed, thinking why must we keep doing this?!?!?

Haven’t we’ve been through enough Lord?!?!?!?

I can’t imagine the thoughts that must have ruminated in their minds as they marched.  What if God doesn’t do what he said he would?  What if God isn’t going to come through?  What if this is all for nothing?

How glorious it must have been to see those walls fall, after enduring everything they had been through year after year and to have the faith to keep on marching!Click To Tweet

Maybe you are running out of fuel and have nothing left.  Maybe you can relate to The Israelites, the trials they endured in the waiting, in the wandering, in the when will this end?!?!  Even in their despair, in the unknowing they kept placing one foot in front of the other and kept on marching.  When they did, they saw God’s amazing plan unfold, the indestructible city of Jericho’s walls fall down.

Have you ever felt like giving up?

Have you ever felt like what you go through is all for nothing?

Every road of brokenness is paved with his glory, we just have to stay on it.  Don’t give up. Whatever road you are on towards healing, restoration, redemption, reconciliation stay on it, it’s so worth it.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know you are good.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know your are faithful and keep your promises.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are still my Maker, My Creator, My God in whom I love and am Thankful for.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are MY God in whom I trust and know your ways are greater and better.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, 

I know you’re able and I know you could just wave my pain away right now and that hurts.  I know that you can see me And have been watching me year after year go through what I’m going through.  I know you have heard every prayer I’ve cried.  Even if you don’t answer my prayer, even if you my sorrow doesn’t subside, I know you are faithful and good. My hope is in you alone, Lord.  Despite what I’m going through I want to believe there’s a better way, a better outcome, you’re glory refined.  I know you don’t need me, but you chose me. I know your way is better, your plans are amazing.  I pray for your unsurpassed peace to supersede in the midst of the chaos, in midst of the pain. When my hope is in you, your glory will arise and make the most beautiful masterpiece ever out of my situation.

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The Jericho Prayer


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Letting Go and Letting God

I will never forget when my family and I went on this one camping trip.  We had a golden retriever named Ginger.  My dad handed my eight-year-old sister the dog leash and gave her the instructions, ‘don’t let go.’  I was standing next to her and a squirrel ran across the parking lot up a tree.  You can only imagine what happened next.  The dog chased the squirrel, the only problem was my sister was holding on to the leash.

My sister was then drug across the gravel parking lot holding onto the leash.  I yelled, “Let go! Let go of the leash!”  I couldn’t believe it.  If a dog who weighed as much as me ran across a gravel parking lot, I would have let go of the leash.  But for some reason my sister held on and endured scrapes and injuries from the gravel as a result of holding on.

This picture of my sister holding onto the leash shows me this is what a lot of us do in life when we are going through hard times.  We think we have to hold on so tightly to what God is allowing in our lives, and just take the injuries along the way.  In reality we have a choice to let go of what we’re holding onto so tightly and allow God to handle it or keep holding onto it and endure more suffering.

Recently,  I was in a group discussion about what it means to “Let God and Let God.”  This phrase is used all the time but what does it really mean to be able to accomplish the task of letting go and letting God?

According to Psychology Today, Letting go means, being willing to allow life to carry you to a new place, even a deeper more true rendition of self. Holding on means trying to push life into the place of your making or be damned

In our group discussion we determined letting go meant, trusting in God that things will get better, to accept the things we cannot change and having the courage the courage to change the things we can.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep holding on and hoping for the best.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep walking around your problems hoping God does his part.

Letting go doesn’t mean sit back and wait for God to do all the work.

Which part do you struggle with, the letting go or the letting God part?Click To Tweet

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28 NIV

Letting go might feel like you are walking away and don’t care, but in reality it’s the exact opposite.  Letting go allows God to do his job of what he was intended to do in the first place.  When we hold on, we just get in the way.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Letting go might mean to let go of expectations or resentment.  Letting go may even mean one needs to forgive to be able to let go of un-forgiveness.  We may even have to let go of the outcome.

One group of people who learned the epitome of letting go, were the Israelites.  They had expectations God was going to deliver them from Egypt into The Promised Land.  God is a God who ALWAYS keeps His promises we just might not agree with His timing.  God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt but not immediately into The Promised Land.

“Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the congregation and their livestock were able to drink” (Numbers 20:11).

At this point the Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for 38 years.  Over the years God had provided food, protection, etc. for them time and time again.  This time they were groaning for water complaining they were surely going to die if they didn’t receive it.

Moses and Aaron went before God with their request.  God instructed Moses to take the staff and TELL the rock to yield water.

As you can see in the above verse, this is not what happened.  Instead Moses took the staff and struck the rock twice.  Although there is only a slight difference in what God told Moses to do and what he actually did, this caused a BIG difference in the outcome.

I can relate to Moses.

Maybe he was frustrated the wandering was taking so long.  Maybe he couldn’t handle the Israelites complaining anymore.  Or maybe he held onto pride, let it get in the way and wanted to deliver the water the way he wanted instead of how God intended.

Whatever the reason, we can see God honors our obedience. God says to them, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”  (Numbers 20:12).  Ouch.  That consequence had to hurt.

Because Moses wasn’t able to let go of frustration, resentment, pride and/or expectations, he acted out because of it and received a heavy consequence.  When we hold on to what God is asking us to let go of we aren’t trusting He is able.

Letting go may be one of the hardest things we do, but allowing God to have whatever we're holding onto is trusting He is able to accomplish anything.Click To Tweet

Letting go will never pull us into a direction that will intentionally hurt us.  Letting go will allow room for God’s original plan in our lives to fill us with His joy, peace and freedom.

What does letting go and letting God mean to you?

Do you struggle with letting go and letting God?

What has God asked you to let go of?

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