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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?

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!

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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Why Do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

Have you ever been behind the scenes to a concert or TV/movie set? Going behind the scenes really gives a different perspective of what actually goes into producing a live performance or show. You get so much more in-depth information and details about the performance going behind the scenes.

Prophecies in the Bible do the same thing–they give us a behind the scene glimpse of what is to come. The Christmas story is the fulfillment of many prophecies foretelling the birth of our Savior.

In Micah, we learn Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.

In Isaiah, we learn Jesus would be born a king of the line of David and that a child would be born of a virgin.

One of my favorite prophecies of the Christmas story is in Psalms, when we learn Kings would bring him gifts and fall down before him.

Psalm 72:10-11 “The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”

Over 2,000 years ago there was a lot going on behind the scenes of The Christmas Story. Baby Jesus had already been born in Bethlehem and the Magi had already set out on their journey following the star that had come from the east (Matthew 2:1-2).

Why do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

The Magi were a group of wise men probably from the area of Persia, who were some of the most intelligent men that existed during their time. They studied astrology, maps, and stars things most of us wouldn’t pay attention to.

Have you ever wondered how did the Magi a group of Gentile men, end up in Jerusalem in search of the king of the Jews?

Matthew 2:1-1 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him”

According to the prophecy in Psalms, the kings were to come out of Tarshish, a land very far from Jerusalem. They merely had one single star from the east as their beacon to guide them to the location of Jesus.

It makes me wonder, how did the Magi end up in Jerusalem?

Did they have copies of Old Testament Manuscripts and closely follow the prophecies that a star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17)?

Or did they have a revelation from God Himself?

It amazes me the far distance these non-Jewish men traveled, to worship the newborn King of the Jews and how they recognized the star as the announcement of Jesus’s birth.

The Magi’s question, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” caused the priests and Jewish scholars to provide the answer they were looking for. They referred to the prophecy in Micah, that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:9-10 “….After they went on their way, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed.”

This star from the east was quite the miracle, now leading them to the actual house where Jesus lived! Contrary to what modern day nativity scenes display, the Magi did not visit baby Jesus in the manger the night he was born. Because of the distance of their travels, they did not arrive until months later.

Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

In Matthew, we see the prophecy in Psalms being fulfilled–kings will present him gifts, bow down to him and all nations will serve him.

Can you even imagine traveling for months, carrying the weight of these treasures, not really knowing where you’re going and depending on a star for directions? Click To Tweet

The Magi went far lengths to not just offer these gifts to Jesus, but to open them in His presence. These gifts were worthy of a king depicting the picture of what one day will be given to the Messiah. The Magi give us a wonderful example of what distance are we willing to go to worship and give God gifts the way He has given us.

Sometimes I think our intelligence can get in the way of facing our issues honestly.  We can rationalize and think we’re smarter and know best, preventing us from seeing what’s really in front of us.  Not the Magi.  They knew.  They recognized the miracle of the new king.

Even the wisest men were seeking Jesus the new king.Click To Tweet

How do you seek Jesus during Christmas?

What distance would you go to receive God’s gifts?

Has intelligence or wisdom ever gotten in the way of seeking Jesus?

Even wise men need Jesus. I hope you enjoyed behind the scenes of The Christmas Story! May you open the abundant gift God has given you this Christmas, the gift of Jesus! Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

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 and what it means to you? Message me below, “I want more information,” or message me privately. Merry Christmas!

Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 22). 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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3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle

The crazy cycle.  You know that cycle of insanity of doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome to happen, that never happens.  Instead the exact opposite happens a downward spiral of nowhere good.

We’ve all been on it.  We’ve all engaged in it.  So how do we stay out of this crazy cycle?

I’m no expert.  Even though I’ve been married 16 years, I still get caught in the trap of the crazy cycle, if I’m not careful.

If we know the crazy cycle is detrimental to our relationships then why do we continue to get caught in this trap?

I think because we each want to be heard and see each others hearts, but somehow craziness erupts instead leaving us feeling hurt and frustrated.  Over the years I’ve discovered what works, what doesn’t work and what I’m still working on.  Marriage isn’t a one and done, I’ve got all the answers and figured it out kind of deal.   It’s a forever refining process that reveals our flaws and weaknesses and if we allow it, transforms us into the best version of ourselves.

Here are 3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle:

Respond don’t react.  “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (Proverbs 29:11).

I don’t know about you, but I never feel good about myself when I react in anger.  What I have learned over the years getting angry at the situation will never get me closer to the outcome I desire.  Whenever I stop, calm down, then respond, I never regret it.  The best thing we can do is recognize when the crazy cycle is about to happen.  Instead of reacting out of emotion and engaging in the crazy cycle the better response is BE CALM.

Come up with statements, ‘Let me think about that first and I will get back to you.‘ Or, ‘I need to calm down, I’m going to go for a walk, then I will address this when I get back.’  By temporarily walking away (not avoiding) it helps dial down the heat of the moment.  I am also a big fan of acronyms.  Here are two that have helped me.  Before responding use the *THINK acronym, is it TRUE, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, or Kind?

There is also the HALT acronym, am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?  Chances are if we are one of these things we will not react well.  Identifying and recognizing underlying factors can help tremendously in our responses.

Listen and Be Available. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” (James 1:19).

Over the years I’ve had to really work on this one.  There is an art to listening.  Listening can be so powerful.  It just lets the person know I hear you and I empathize what you are going through.  We don’t have to offer advice.  We don’t have to fix it, we can just make ourselves available so the other person can vent.  Allowing for opportunities to hear one another in non-confrontational scenarios creates a loving environment that has potential for growth.

Forgive.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Without forgiveness, marriage wouldn’t be able to exist.  Forgiveness is the crux to marriage.  To forgive is to love and to love is to forgive.  Forgiveness allows us to turn away from destructive habits, allows us to take a step back and see what is triggering this cycle again, and gives us a glimpse into how God’s grace continually forgives us.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in looking inwardly at ourselves to learn from our mistakes and unlearn bad habits that keep us in the crazy cycle.Click To Tweet

In the Bible, there is a story of a crippled man who sat by a healing pool.  By this pool laid multiple invalids who were blind, lame and paralyzed (John 5:2).  However this one day, Jesus arrives to the scene and approaches one crippled man in particular.  Jesus knew this particular man had been there a greater part of his life of 38 years and asks a very important questions, “Do you want to be healed?”

The invalid man, didn’t know how to respond, of course he wanted to be healed, he was sitting by a pool that could heal him.  But this isn’t how he answered.  He responds to Jesus, not with an immediate yes, but with a few reasons why he can’t quite get down to the healing pool.  Jesus replies, ‘that is not what I’m asking you, if you want to be healed pick up your mat and walk’ (paraphrased John 5:7).  

This man was hesitant to accept this miraculous gift of healing because the only thing he’s ever known was dysfunction and disability.  He’s lived his entire life begging and making a living as a cripple, which has served him well until this point.  Talk about crazy cycle, doing the same thing over and over for 38 years expecting something different to happen!  If he was healed then he was going to have to learn how to provide for himself instead on relying on others.

Just because this crippled man became comfortable living in the chaos of the crazy cycle doesn’t mean this is what God intends for us or what is good for us.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33Click To Tweet

Let me say that again, Chaos does not need you.  The crazy cycle will only keep us in a state of chaos, which is exactly what the enemy wants for us.  When you feel the tug of the chaos, that crazy cycle pulling you in, don’t react, respond when calm, listen and forgive.

Chaos is the enemy’s way to get us engaged in his plan to pull us down and lure us away.  Don’t fall for it.  Be smarter than the crazy cycle so we can engage in God’s purpose and plan for us to transform our lives.

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!

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When Unconditional Love is the Outcome

Have you ever had to swallow some hard truth?  A truth so hard to grasp you didn’t want to hold onto it?

When we truthfully sit with hard questions to examine our hearts to search for anything ruminating in the spaces that belong to God–we discover the fears, doubts, worries and anxieties holding us back from the ultimate outcome of receiving His love.

Have you ever been in a place of desperation or despair, wondering are God’s promises and miracles even for real?  When I get to these places of doubt or disappointment I have to take a step back and see what am I holding onto and where am I really placing my hope?

Honestly I’ve been afraid of the truth of what might never will be.  I’ve had to process what’s really God’s will verses my will and ask do they align with one another?

I’ve had to give A LOT of fears and doubts over to God over the years and Trust He know what’s best.  Believe what He has for me is better.  But when you’re in the daily grind and the cycles of brokenness continually perpetuate overtime, you feel like you’re just running on the treadmill and get weary and tired.

3 Ways to Allow Love to Be in the Outcome-

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?  Who may live on your holy mountain?” Psalm 15:1

1. Sit with the Truth by Asking Hard Questions–  Where are we dwelling in pretend world or reality?  Where are we putting our hope and trust?  What do God’s Promises and Miracles mean to me?  Am I really committing to God or tweaking his plan to fit my own conveniences?  Is my way to do things more important than my obedience to God?  Truthfully answering these questions helps empty our hearts of anything getting in the way of receiving God’s love.

My answer-  I think we try to fit God into a box of what we want, demand he does them and then get frustrated when what we ask for doesn’t happen.  I think we can stand on sides of God’s promises and miracles.  One side is doubt and we dwell outside of his miracles thinking they are not for us and will never happen.  The other side of God’s promises/miracles lies entitlement, we want his Promises and Miracles NOW.  And when they don’t happen when we want them to, we become disappointed.  Click here if you missed last month’s post Why we should let go of the miracle.

Are we truly living in his promises and what he's able to do or putting our own expectations on what God can do? Click To Tweet

When we put our hope and trust in God’s outcome, love is always the outcome.  Any other outcome we put our trust in will only be temporary and leads to disappointment every time.

2.  Peel back the labels.  Just because we label or call ourselves Christians or believers doesn’t mean that is the fail safe for our relationship with God.  Labels aren’t our identity or our truth– our identity in Christ is.  We like to claim things over lives and believe we safely fall within this realm of ‘I’m a Christian’ so I’m safe, when in reality we hide behind the labels of false-images, status and accomplishments all the time.

Instead of hiding behind the labels, we need to stand in front of them and say ‘I’m broken and I need Jesus.’  So many of us (me included) want to stay safely protected behind these labels clinging to them like they’re the gospel.  When in reality, we’re clinging to what is comfortable in fear of being shamed, not accepted or condemned for who we really are.

Are we more concerned with our own comforts or God’s glory?

What are we really holding on to?

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.”  Jonah 2:8

3.  Love Anyway, Embrace the process.  Just because we don’t like our circumstances doesn’t mean we’re defeated or God doesn’t love us.  Any outcome where love is the choice gives power for change.  How do we do this?

When we choose to love knowing we will endure pain but God will use it for his greater good.  When we pray for our enemy, hearts and perspectives change.  When we accept the things we cannot change and surrender them to God, outcomes change.  When reside in what God has for us and accept his plans are good enough, we receive his everlasting grace.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Is God’s grace enough?  When I truly live under the umbrella of God’s truth and grace–Freedom becomes My Reality.  I can CONFIDENTLY say, ‘I’m Free, no chains or anchors here.”  In order to live under the banner of truth and live in the reality of it, we have to release any false pretenses, perceptions, images, identities, labels, disillusioned fears, anxieties, worries, doubts (that’s a lot to release), when we do WE ARE NO LONGER SLAVES TO OUR FEARS and THE ENEMY LOSES ALL POWER OVER US.

The reality is what we’re praying for may never happen the way we want it.  Or maybe what we go through is part of God’s plan to prepare us what we’ve asked for.  We have to release the OUTCOME to God and say, “I’m OK with YOUR OUTCOME God, what YOU have for ME is ENOUGH.”

When we CHOOSE God’s OUTCOME and ALLOW GOD’S OUTCOME for our LIVES, we can trust God’s Love will ALWAYS be apart of the OUTCOME.  In God’s Plans, LOVE is ALWAYS the OUTCOME.

When we choose and accept God’s outcome, we are choosing a life of pain.  No one willingly signs up for this type of life.  We will have trials and heartaches that seem out of control and unbearable.  It is a life that requires complete surrender and dependence on God BUT will be the most eternally rewarding.

Where we receive God's love

Please rest on these nuggets of truth when you’re in situations of relentless turmoil and need to make more room for God’s love in your life.

God’s will, will never take you where His grace cannot protect you.

Every one of God’s plans will have his love in the outcome.

There is freedom and peace when we live under the banner of truth, when we are truthful and honest with ourselves.

We will no longer be slaves to fear when we accept God’s plans and His grace as enough.

We will always regret playing it safe by choosing comfort.  We will Never Regret pursing and following the Will of God.

God’s love ALWAYS Prevails.  

I pray and hope this is a safe place to leave your comments and start a conversation where no one has to fear being judged or condemned.

What is your number one struggle you cling to and haven’t released to God?

Do you trust God’s Outcome is enough for you?

Have you peeled back the labels to see what’s really underneath them?

Did you like this blog post? 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.

I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.   ​In Him,

In case you missed it here is last month’s post Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle


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5 Things I’m Doing This Summer to be More Intentional

Now that school is out summertime can be a busy time of the year.  As a working mom, if I’m not intentional with making plans, summer will be over and kids will be back in school before I know it.  I’m entering into a new stage of life, where my kids are becoming ‘tweens’ and I have the joy parenting bad attitudes and arguments with their sibling.

I want to make summer fun, but I also want to use it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

5 Things I’m Doing This Summer to Be More Intentional:

1. Making Day Trip/Weekend Getaway Wish Lists:  This year I’ve asked the kids what are some fun activities you want to do this summer or some local places you want to visit we would normally not do during the year. We have an RV and want to go on weekend camping trips so we’ve made a list of places we want to visit.  We are a military family and never know how long we will be where we live, so we want to visit as many places as we can!

If you live in Colorado, places that have made the list are The Denver Mint, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Durango, Estes Park, Aspen, trampoline park, Royal Gorge train, Cave of the Winds, and indoor sky diving.

2.  Making a reading list.  I love to read.  Summer is a great time to catch up on books, I haven’t had time to read.  So the kids and I are making a summer reading list of books we would like to read.  If you have any recommendations for a 12-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, Please leave in the comments below.

My kids aren’t the most avid readers so we have to be intentional about making time to read.  Their school has a point system where they receive points for reading which goes towards a grade which is a wonderful incentive for them to read more!  And also the fun day trips we planned can be a fun incentive.

Books I want to read this summer Thirst by Scott Harrison, Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors, A Case for Miracles by Lee Stroebel, Dear Wife by collaborative writers and Boys in the Boat.

3.  Making a Chore List.  Boring, right?!?!?  As a parent if I want to help build character in my child, chores are one of the best ways to do it.  Doing chores helps us all be a part of a team that helps contribute towards maintaining the household, it’s not just one person’s job to take care of everything.  We pick age appropriate chores (and they receive an allowance), and make sure they’re done daily/weekly.

Giving them an allowance also helps teach them how to manage money by saving towards something they want to buy themselves (which they always appreciate more than when something is just given to them).

4.  Setting side an intentional time for family games and devotionals.  Do you have any fun favorite family games you like to play together?  Going camping has definitely got us more motivated to play games together.  But at home my favorite game to play is SPOONS.

It’s a card game, where everyone sits in a circle.  One person has the deck of cards.  Each player has four cards in their hands.  The purpose of the game is to get 4 of a kind.  Whoever gets 4 of a kind first takes the first spoon until all the spoons in the center are gone.  Whoever is left without a spoon gets a letter.  Whoever spell the word SPOON first loses.  Sometimes this game does not always end well.  There may be the occasional fighting and tears, but the more we play, the more we learn it’s not always about winning, but just being together.

Setting side a time to do family devotionals is an ever evolving process.  The time that usually works best for us is right before bed.  We’ve picked You Version Bible App   Bible reading plan we can read together as a family and have meaningful conversations that really work on our hearts.  Two Bible reading plans we’ve picked to read together are Compassion: 30 days of heart work and Homegrown: Cultivating Kids in the Fruit of the Spirit.

Does your family read devotionals together or a Bible reading plan?  Which one do you do?

5.  Joining a Bible Study Group.  This summer I’ve opened my home to a group of women from my church to complete the on-line Bible study by Kelly Minter “No Other gods,” by Lifeway.  This summer Lifeway is offering the videos for “No Other gods,” for free when you sign-up to do the on-line study.  It is a great way to connect with other women who I would normally not connect with and we get to complete a Bible Study together!  And if you’re schedule is too busy sign up to do the on-line study! Just click on link above or image below.

No other gods by Kelly Minter

What Bible study are you working on this summer?

I would love to hear what you are doing this summer and what steps you are taking to be more intentional.

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What Is One Answer You Want To Know?

What Is The One Answer You Want To Know?

There are so many questions, yet so little answers.  Have you been waiting on an answer from God about a question that burns deep within?  Seven years ago when our son died, I had a question, “Why?” Oh how I was on a search and mission to discover the answer to the why.  Do you know what happened in my search?  I got further and further away from the answer.  I sank deeper and deeper into the despair of my grief.  My life became utter chaos, everything was out of order nothing was in my control.

In these moments I take matters into my own hand, God so gently whispers into my ear, ‘dear child, if I told you the answer to the why you still wouldn’t understand.  The only answer you need to know is I LOVE YOU.’

There are so many times in the Bible questions were asked and do you know how God responds?  With a another question.  I’ve wondered why does God answer with another question, then it dawned on me.  He answers with a question to reveal the answer within us he already knows.  How well would we understand if he told us the answer?  We understand so much better when we come to the answer ourselves.

I love how God meets us right where we are.

He Sees Us In Our Despair

In Genesis 7-13, God sent an angel to Hagar after she was sent away by Sarai and asks her- “Where have you come from and where are you going?” God already knew the answer yet asked anyway, to give her a very important message.  God sees us in our despair.  In God, He reveals himself as El-Roi, the God who sees us.

He Sees Us When We Hide

In Genesis 3:9-13, God asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” after they ate the forbidden fruit.  He then asked, “What is this you have done?”  God already knew the answer yet asks the questions anyway, to let them know, hey I’m God, I know and see everything, there is nowhere you can hide where I can’t see you (Jeremiah 23:16-24).

He Meets Us in Our Unbelief

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus approaches a situation of a crowd arguing and asks a few questions, “What are you arguing about?” “How long have I been with you?” A father desperately wants healing for his son who is possessed by a demon.   Right before Jesus arrived, the disciples were there trying to cast out the demon but were unsuccessful.  Jesus asks the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” The father responds, “But if you can do anything….”  Wow IF you can?  Jesus knew all the answers to every single question yet the crowd and disciples didn’t even know what they are arguing about until Jesus draws out the answer.

'All things are possible for one who believes.' Mark 9:23Click To Tweet

Don’t you wish God had a telephone number you could call him up at anytime, ask him any question and he provided an immediate answer?

In all of these situations, God knows the answer.  He knows what’s in our hearts.  He sees what we’re going through and what we’re struggling with.  He pursues us.  Meets us where we are and yet we still pursue the answer to what we want to know.

There is no harm in pursuing answers to our questions, but when the pursuit of the answer consumes us and brings more despair, maybe it's time we give our pursuit to God.Click To Tweet

We let him lead us so we can hear what He has to say.  We allow Him to ask us the questions so we can discover the deeper answer within us.

God is close to the broken-hearted.  Our brokenness draws us closer and nearer to him to hear him.  We may not always like God’s plans or what He has to say, but know the only answer we need to know is He LOVES US.  He knows what’s best for us.  We may not like it or want it, but know God is good all the time and desires the best for us.  There may be times when we suffer but know God knows the way through our suffering.  Jesus suffered too.  If anyone knows anything about suffering, it’s God.

Only God can turn our suffering into a door of hope.  Into His glory.  Into His greatest blessings.

What is the one answer you want to know?

Where has the search for the Answer led you?

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A Letter From Jesus: A note to my inner Enneagram

 

This year has been a really hard year for me in regard to discovering things about myself I never knew.  It’s been a year God has been using to grow me in ways I never knew I needed.  I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, reading and just spending time with God.  I’ve read books like “Kill the Spider,” “Soul Detox,” “Nehemiah,” and “The Road Back to You.”   Based on the titles of these books you can guess what kind of person I am, which ironically I didn’t know about myself until just recently–I’m a perfectionist.  Anyone who knows me would say, ‘there’s no way you’re a perfectionist’ based on what they see outwardly, but inwardly quite frankly, I beat myself up every day.

In Kill The Spider, I learned I need to kill the spider creating cobwebs in my life.  If I never target the very thing creating the mess, the mess will just keep reoccurring over and over.

In Soul Detox, I learned I need to get rid of the things contaminating my life, whether it be relationships, things in my environment, or what I’m goes into my ears and eyes, holding onto things that are toxic will only make for more toxicity.

In The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, I learned I am a one with a two-wing, which in enneagram language means I am a reformer at heart, I want to change the world and I have helper qualities.  For anyone who has taken a personality test and doesn’t like to be pegged to a number, this is more than labeling you into a certain category.  This book has helped me see myself the way God sees me, to not allow my flaws and inadequacies define me or make me stumble, but embrace them to be used the way God intended for them.

My flaws make me closer to God and more dependent upon Him. If I didn't have inadequacies, I wouldn't need God. Click To Tweet

I can be overly critical or judgmental of myself at times.  I constantly go over in my head how I could have done things better, how something could be improved, what I wish I would have said.  It can get tiring hearing these voices in my head over and over pointing out mistakes I’ve made, telling me whatever I did wasn’t good enough.

Sometimes I just need a break from myself and replace these nagging voices with what God says about me.   I have to be careful not to allow the inner critic in me or my constant comparison to unrealistic standards pull me down to the point I can’t hear God’s voice.  So I turn to the One who knows me best.

A Letter From Jesus:

Dear Child,  You are loved.  I want to remind you, you are good enough.  You are more than your failures, you are more than your past mistakes.  You aren’t the labels you have put on yourself.  You are definitely not the lies the enemy has told you.  You are who I say you are.  I have created you just the way you are for a reason.  Your flaws don’t define you, I do.  I will use your flaws for my greater plan.  Stay close to me.  Depend on me for all your needs.

Find refuge and peace in my presence, don’t go ahead of me.  I have the greatest plans for you.  Trust in my goodness and in what I’m able to do.  Don’t focus on your obstacles, your mistakes or flaws, stay focused on me and my purpose for you.  I will guide you if you let me.  I accept and love you for who you are.  Don’t allow your flaws to hold you back or keep you from participating in the plans I have for you. Don’t beat yourself up.  Don’t seek your value and worth in the comparison of others, find your value and worth in Me.  Be gentle and forgiving with yourself when you make mistakes.

Surround yourself with my truth in who I say you are.  I created you.  Seek your identity in me, guard yourself against the lies of the world surround yourself with my truth.  You may not be where you want to be, sweet child, this is a journey, not a race, enjoy it.  You are one of my best creations.  I find joy in you.  I will be your strength.  You are loved whether you succeed or fail.  It’s okay if things aren’t perfect.  I will use you to display my perfection. You are loved and you are good enough.  I will never leave you.  I am here for you, hold onto my promises, we will do this together.

Love, Jesus

A couple pieces of advice I give myself to help battle through the process of perfectionism are,

  1.  Give yourself permission to laugh at yourself.  I tend to be serious at times and just need to have a good ole chuckle when I do make mistakes or don’t say things perfectly.
  2. When the volume of your inner critic starts getting loud, smile and say I appreciate your help but I am learning how to accept and embrace my imperfections.  Say, “I am who God says I am, He loves me just the way I am, it’s okay if it’s not perfect.”
  3. Find a hobby you enjoy doing just because you like doing it.  I have picked up card-making (I’m not that good at it), but it’s one of those hobbies I enjoy and give myself the liberty to mess up and be okay with it, because the cards I give to people give purpose to the reformer in me, helping others when life hurts.
  4. Surround yourself with God’s word of who He says you are.  Read Scripture about who God says you are (Psalm 139:14 and 2 Timothy 1:7).  Listen to Lauren Daigle’s song, “You say,” or Hillsong’s song, “I am Who You Say I am.”  

If you know anyone who struggles with perfectionism or who they are in Christ here are other helpful articles I’ve written that have helped me in the process.

Failures Don’t Define Us

You Are Not Qualified

God is refining us.  One of the best lessons I am learning on this journey is to embrace God’s purpose for me despite my flaws and obstacles.  If you are a One on the Enneagram and can relate to this message please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.  Authors of The Road Back to you write, “May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, behind every facade of your life is something eternally beautiful.  May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride and expectation which God sees you in every moment” (Cron and Stable).

Join me in the journey of embracing who you are in Christ by taking the Free Enneagram test and reading “The Road Back to You.”  It’s not about labels but living in the healthiest version of yourself and allowing God to use all of you including your flaws.

Can you relate to this article?  Please share.  Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE mini E-book “The Jericho Prayer,” and a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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Parts of Mark Batterson’s Whisper How to Hear the Voice of God 5-day Reading Plan from the You Version Bible reading plan were used for this post.
Cron, I. M. (2016). The road back to you: An Enneagram journey to self-discovery. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press

The Power of God’s Word

I will never forget the first time I opened my Bible to read for the first time.  I didn’t know where to start or what to read.  I felt overwhelmed and lost.  There were so many words and pages.  How did I even begin?  

Once I opened the Scriptures and started reading, a whole new world was open for me.  At times I put prayer and reading the Bible on the back burner.  I let life get the best of me.  I was distracted by everything the world offered me.  The truth is, I’ve been a Christian my whole life and didn’t truly see the value in opening up the Scriptures and reading them until brokenness entered my life.

Nothing makes a person examine their priorities more than when tragedy enters their life. Click To Tweet

Tragedy makes us listen and pay attention.  My brokenness exposed what was I really filling my life with?  What was the meaning and purpose of my life?

The words on the pages of my Bible took on a whole new meaning in my life once tragedy got my attention.  The Bible verses I read became living and breathing in my life.  Opening the Scriptures is where I really met Jesus.  I began to see all of God’s promises, His heart, and character. I realized His words aren’t meant to stay on the pages of the Bible but be made alive in us.  His words are what transform our hearts, minds, and lives.  

I was always so impressed by people who could memorize and recite scripture like it was second nature.  Somehow along the way, I became one of those people, because God’s words became engraved in my heart.  I became hungry and thirsty for more.

From the beginning of time God’s Word has existed and speaks life into our lives.Click To Tweet

God’s words became light.  

And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.  God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day and the darkness he called night.  And there was evening and there was morning—the first day.”  Genesis 1:3-5

God’s words became life.  

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures, according to their kinds:  livestock, creatures that move along the ground and wild animals each according to its kind.”  Genesis 1:24

God’s word became flesh.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

God’s words heal the broken-hearted.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

God’s words transform hearts and lives.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from  your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26

God’s words feed and nourish our souls.  

“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;  if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;  and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  John 6:51

God’s words are eternal.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  John 1:1-4

God is The Word and The Word is God (John1:1).  God’s word cannot be changed.  They are eternal and everlasting.  His words sustain us and give us life.  God’s word speaks truth and life into our lives and have existed from the beginning of time.  Wherever we are in life we can always meet Jesus right where we are by opening up the Scriptures. 

His Word is perfect.  His Word will guide us.  His Word provides for all of our needs.  

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

His Word completes us.  In God, we lack nothing!

How has reading the Bible changed your life?

Do you struggle with making time to read your Bible?

Do God’s Words speak life into your life?

Nothing opens our hearts more than an open Bible.  Staying in God’s word transforms hearts and lives.  Open your Bible and discover God’s truth and love for you!  Join the Bible reading plan and get started!    

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are.  In Him, we will have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10).  Have a blessed week!

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Where Do You Keep Your Faith?

This post was very convicting to me.  In my quiet moments with God, parts of my heart reveal my weak flesh and flaws that I can’t hide from.  These moments expose areas of my heart that need tending to and areas I still need to grow.  I am guilty of not always being open and truthful with who I am, trying to keep it all together so others can’t see.  In the end, I am left empty-handed, with the only option to surrender it all to God, allowing him to have every crevice of my heart, burdens and all.

The struggles we go through can seem never-ending in a world filled with evil and deceit.  In my trials, I question, do I really give it all to God and where do I keep my faith?

Where we keep our faith determines how we are going to make it through to the other side of our trials.Click To Tweet

I can honestly say in my walk with God, my faith has been all over the place.  There have been times my faith has wavered, I walked away and I even coward to worldly pressures to follow the crowd.  Looking back I can see standing firm in my faith was the very thing I needed during those times–but yet I chose the other way.

These soul-searching moments are when we ask ourselves if it’s so easy to walk away where are we really keeping our faith?

  1. Do you keep your faith in a Box?  I know this sounds silly, but really there have been times I try to put God in a box.  I limit God’s abilities by putting parameters on His timing or asking for things the way I want them.  Really His divine authority over all things goes way beyond my limited vision.  Faith doesn’t always fit neatly into a box.  Having faith doesn’t make my life easier or even pretty, in fact, my life can look pretty messy at times.  Keeping my faith in a box doesn’t allow for God’s full potential to be working in my life.  Limiting my faith to four walls of a box doesn’t allow me to experience God’s greatest blessings that go way beyond that box.  To experience the awesome and crazy moments I have to step out in faith and allow God to lead me to where He is asking me to go.  Stepping out of my comfort zone takes courageous faith that will always lead me to God’s greatest blessings.
  2. Do you keep your faith in a Corner?  Have you been guilty of only calling upon God when you need Him?  I sure have.   Life is going well then tragedy strikes and we ask God, why did you let this happen?  I then look around and realize the question to ask is why have I been so blessed up until this point?  God isn’t someone we take out when we need Him, but a constant presence and relationship.  He desires to be in our daily lives, not an occasional passing.
  3. Do you put your faith in the evidence you see?  I have also been guilty of not trusting in God and putting my faith in what I see.  Our circumstances can pile up and seem so defeating when our own eyes convince us that our situation is impossible;  there is no hope.  But then God intervenes and shows up in ways we couldn’t even imagine.  I am ashamed that I have doubted that He is able.  I may not always understand God’s plans, but I know when we put our faith in His abilities it drastically changes our situations from hopeless to hopeful.
  4. Do you keep your faith locked up?  Have you been guilty of keeping your faith so tightly locked up you don’t ever let it out for others to see?  I have been one to coward to worldly pressures and persecutions.  I’ve kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken up.  All for what?  At the expense of me possibly feeling embarrassed or not part of the crowd?  I am ashamed of my response because I know Jesus would never turn His back on me and yet I turned my back on God.  Can you relate?  Keeping my faith locked up doesn’t allow others to see the light of Jesus or allow God to have all of my heart.  What’s the point in having faith if we never let it out from being shackled?
  5. Do you keep your faith in your heart?  The only time I have ever been able to stand firm in my faith is when I have kept faith in my heart where it can grow and prosper.  God never intended for us to keep our faith hidden under a rock, but transparent for others to see–all for his glory.  Our faith isn’t just for our own benefit but for others to experience the love of Jesus.  Our faith is no good when we keep it to ourselves, it’s meant to be shared with others.  Keeping our faith at the center of our hearts allows God to grow us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

Faith isn’t faith when we keep it in a box, in a corner or shackled up in chains.  Faith is trusting God in advance. These questions have challenged me, where do I really keep my faith and is my faith evident in my life?  How about you?  Can you relate?

Where do you keep Your faith and is your faith evident in your life?

Have you ever walked away from your faith?

Don’t worry you’re not the only one who has abandoned their faith.  Join me next week as we take a closer look at the disciples who also wavered from their faith.

Keeping our faith no matter what our circumstances allow us to experience God’s greater blessings waiting on the other side.  Stay faithful, I promise God always has something better and greater on the other side of our trials.  You are loved!


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