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What Do You Give To The One Who Has It ALL?

Have you ever gone Christmas shopping and had a hard time finding a perfect gift for someone who has everything they could ever want?  They are someone special in your life so you want to find that unique gift, that something special, to let them know how much you care.  What do you give to the one who has it all?

The One whom I’m thinking of is God.  He is the Maker and Creator of all things, has all the riches He could ever need, has the largest house and kingdom anyone could ever imagine, and yet there is something He desires more than anything–YOU.

Why would the One who has it all want anything to do with our undeserving, sinful selves?

Because He loves YOU.

This Christmas as we focus on what the meaning of what Christmas is all about, the birth of Jesus, I’m taken back to one Bible verse that says it all.

John 1:14 “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.”

 

I am in awe that God could have chosen to live anywhere in the world, but He chose to become one of us and DWELL among us.  Not to sound funny, but if I were God I would have just stayed in heaven.  He doesn’t need us.  There is nothing we can offer Him that He doesn’t already have, yet He wants us.

There is something so amazing about the places God dwells.  God has made his dwelling place in the light (1 John 1:7), in heaven (Psalms 123:1), in his church (Psalm 9:11), on earth (John 1:14), but his permanent residence where He dwells is within our hearts!  (Ephesians 3:17-19).

I still can’t believe He chooses US to be His dwelling place! Something happens when we become God’s dwelling place.  He becomes our refuge and our umbrella of protection from the evil one.  He becomes our light, our hope, our joy, and freedom.

Psalm 91:9-10 “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place–the Most High, who is my refuge–no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now.  Maybe this holiday season doesn’t seem very festive because you lost a loved one, your job or aren’t near family.  Maybe you received a new diagnosis you’re still processing.  Maybe you’ve been distant from God for a long time and don’t know how to get back to Him.

Whatever your circumstance God loves you and cares for you very much. If He didn't He would have never came to earth and dwelled among us. Click To Tweet

Every day God invites us into His presence.  Whether we enter into His presence or not, a door is opened for us to enter.  When we come to Him in prayer we step closer into His presence.  When we praise Him in our storms of life and thank Him despite our struggles we step further through the doorway.  When we open up God’s Word, we allow an opportunity for His Words to dwell richly in us, to plant seeds and grow within us (Colossians 3:16).

So what do you give the ONE who has it ALL?

Your HEART.

God could have anything He every wanted, Lived anywhere he desired, but He chose to live in our hearts. Click To Tweet

Have you given God your heart this Christmas?

What do you give to the One who has it all?

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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.  


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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

Praying Like it Counts

Have you ever prayed so hard for a prayer you desired God to answer?

Not just any ordinary prayer haphazardly thrown up to heaven, in hopes God will answer. But praying like you believe God is able to move the mountains. Praying as your life depended upon it.

Maybe you’re praying, for your marriage to be restored, for someone to be healed from a sickness, or for a struggle or temptation to be removed from your life.

Whatever circumstance you’re praying for, do you believe God is able?

One person in the Bible who reminds me what happens when we pray like it counts is Nehemiah. Two main events happen in the book of Nehemiah, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and the return of the Jewish exiles, none of which would have happened without prayer.

When Nehemiah heard about the suffering of his people and the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls, his heart was broken.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel”. Nehemiah 1:4-6

This was not the first time the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed. They had been rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra in 516 BC which took almost 20 years.

When Nehemiah heard the news the city wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed and his people were in exile, he prayed for an entire 4 months, before making any decisions. After the 4 months of prayer were over the wall was rebuilt in just 52 days.

What was the difference?

  1. Nehemiah didn’t let the knowledge of the previous wall under Ezra’s care deter him from rebuilding the wall.
  2. Nehemiah never lost sight of God’s purpose of doing this WITH God not FOR God. He stayed in prayer to receive God’s mission until the job was done.
  3. Nehemiah’s strong leadership skills- He knew his team. He dealt with noblemen, priests, tradesman, servants, etc. Although they didn’t have the enneagram personality test to determine what everyone’s skill sets were, Nehemiah had wise decisive skills that allowed him to use his team to the best of their abilities. When the complaints and doubts poured in, he put a stop to them before they could undermine the work.
  4. Nehemiah never allowed the obstacles of the wall to be bigger than God. Even though Nehemiah faced a lot of inward and outward opposition during the wall rebuilding, staying in prayer allowed him to discern when someone or something was trying to throw his mission off course.
  5. Nehemiah’s story is a testimony of what God is able to do when we pray like it counts. His fervent prayer was enough to move God’s heart, to help him stay focused on God’s purpose in completing the wall. When we embrace God’s purpose for us, staying focused on his purpose and not our obstacles, God will move our obstacles.

Click To Tweetit, and it will be yours’  Mark 11:24.'” quote=”Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a]it, and it will be yours’  Mark 11:24.'”]

 

What obstacles are you facing?

Do you believe God is able?

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How Do I PRAY?

Have you ever sat down to pray and just didn’t know what to say? Or felt like your prayers were empty and meaningless? Or if God was even listening?

Prayer is one the most important things we can do in our lives, yet when life gets busy, its one of the first things we omit out of our daily schedules and what we give up when we do don’t see ‘our prayers working.’

Maybe one of the reasons prayer can be so difficult is because of it’s meaning.

In English, Pray means ‘to ask or beg.’

In Hebrew, the word for Pray tefillah means to ‘self-examine.’ The root word for tefillah is tofel, which means to ‘attach, join or bind together.’

In Aramic, the word for Pray salah means ‘to bow, worship.’

In Greek, the word for Pray proseuchomai means to ‘supplicate, to worship.’

As one can see, the definition for pray has a variety of definitions. So which definition is correct?

All of them.

Prayer is way to worship God, it is a way to sit before God to self-examine ourselves and how we ask God to intercede on our behalf and bow before Him in His presence.

Nonetheless, prayer doesn’t have one singular definition and fit into a box. Making prayer fit one singular definition would limit God’s abundant meaning, purpose and power for prayer. The purpose of prayer isn’t solely meant to just ask God for our own needs and personal gain, or just to ‘self-examine’ ourselves or just to worship. Prayer goes way beyond that.

Prayer is our invitation to God to open the door for His divine power to move the mountains in our lives and others. Taking our struggles to God through prayer invites Him into our lives, brings us into His presence and binds us closer together with Him.

So How Do We PRAY?

God doesn’t judge our prayers. They don’t have to be filled with eloquent words or with verbatim Scripture. We don’t have to be on our knees, bow our heads or even fold our hands. The prayer posture and how we pray is God’s least concern. God is more concerned about when we don’t pray and the condition of our hearts. Our prayers are a way to get our hearts right with God and communicate with Him.

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help.

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help. Praise Repent Ask YieldClick To Tweet

PRAISE
If you don’t know what to say, start with the very nature of what prayer is, praise. Some of the best prayers written in the Bible are prayers of praise spoken by David in the Psalms. Start telling God everything you are thankful for. Praising God first, sets our hearts and minds on our Creator and His greatness and puts us in His presence. Praise purifies and softens our hearts, so we can hear what God is saying. (James 4:6-10)

REPENT
Next comes the hard part of what prayer is—repentance. No one likes to admit their wrongs or even speak them out loud. Confessing our sins to God, opens a door for His forgiveness, so we don’t allow sin to reign in our lives but allow more room for God’s truth and grace. Confession allows us to humbly come before our Lord, lay our burdens at His feet, so He can do something greater than we ever could on our own. Confession invites God in to intervene on our behalf. (Matt. 3:8, Isa. 30:15).

ASK
Next, tell God all that is troubling you. He wants to hear what is in your heart. He wants every part of you, struggles and all. Ask God for help and healing, to supply for your needs, your provision, safety, wisdom, discernment, guidance, direction. God is always bigger than our struggles and can handle anything we ask of Him. (Phil. 4:19)

YIELD
Lastly, yield to God. Submitting our ways to God to His will and way, allows for God’s greater plan to happen through us. Pray for God’s desires to be your desires. At the end of the day, it’s about God’s plans, not ours. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)

We may not always know what to say, but know when we are silent that is what Satan desires for us.

Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. ~Zig ZiglarClick To Tweet

Next time you pray, don’t allow Satan to keep you silent. Cutting prayer out of our lives, cuts our direct communication and relationship off with God, which is exactly what Satan wants. Your prayers matter and make a difference to God. Never stop praying, He is listening.

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It’s Not About the TACO

Embracing God’s Purpose in Life’s Biggest Messes

Every week in our household our family has a tradition–TACO NIGHT!  If there is one meal we can count on every week, it’s tacos.  We always have the staples for making tacos in our house at any given time.  What I love about Taco Night, is our family sitting down eating the same meal together.

One particular Taco Night, we served the hard shells instead of flour tortillas.  We usually have all the toppings for our tacos on the table–sour cream, salsa, cheese.  One can put on their taco, whatever their heart’s desire.  Our son has a method to how his taco is made and the other sides arranged on his plate. Nothing on his plate can touch each other.

Have you ever watched a scene unfold in slow motion, knowing how it was going to turn out?  As our son lifted the taco to his mouth I could see and hear the taco shell crack and then fall apart spilling the contents onto his plate, which did I mention he doesn’t like other food touching each other?

As this scene unfolded I could see the melt-down process unravel.  He was upset and required a whole new plate and taco because doesn’t like to eat food that’s broken and messy.  If his food has one crack, one bite in it already, forget it he won’t eat it.  (Don’t judge we all have our quirks). There was no rationalizing with him, the food was perfectly fine, but in his mind, it had been ruined.

It’s Not About the TACO

The melt-down my son had nothing to do with the taco and everything to do with an inner struggle of wanting everything perfect and not dealing with the mess.  Our son focused on the broken, messy taco which kept him from enjoying the great meal before him.  The meal was going to taste the same whether it was messy or not.

That disappointment, that argument or disagreement you just had probably isn’t what you’re upset about at all.  The scenario of my son reminds me of the Israelites–an all too familiar pattern that has happened within all of us from the beginning of time.

The Israelites spent 430 years as slaves in Egypt under the rule of the ruthless and mean Pharaoh.  When God sent Moses to deliver them out of Egypt, they left with all of their cattle, their precious valuables and their families!  Which doesn’t happen!  Their exodus resonated God’s power all throughout the land of Egypt.

Little did they know they would be tested further by God by wandering in the desert.  It was hot and tiring traveling through the desert.  They were hungry and thirsty.  They whined and complained about their conditions which made God angry.

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic”  Number 11:4-5

I get it.  Maybe tent-camping for 40 years in the desert wasn’t their thing.  They just wanted some good food, a flushing toilet, or a full-hookup camper with a hot shower.  Even though their immediate comforts were uncomfortable, they were missing the point of God’s purpose.  How soon did they forget they were just freed from 430 years of slavery!

The Israelites never went without provision of food, shelter, water or clothing.  They had everything they ever needed.  God wanted The Israelites to depend on Him for their daily bread, NOT MAN.  Instead, they focused only on what was before them to satisfy their souls instead of what God was able to provide for them–The Promised Land.

Sometimes I think our focus can get off.  We get lost in our problems, stumble on our inadequacies, caught up in our roadblocks, and caught up in our own desires.  We become like the Israelites entering into patterns of grumbling and complaining, losing sight of God’s purpose of what He’s able to do in our lives.  And before you know it, life becomes unbalanced and we fall apart.

What if that’s the point?  To discover God’s purpose for us within the mess?

Our struggles, inadequacies, and roadblocks will always get in the way of God’s purpose and plan for us.  But what if we embraced God’s purpose among the mess?

'And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose' Romans 8:28Click To Tweet

I guarantee there will always be another mess.  When we embrace God’s purpose, we can stop using our messes and struggles as an excuse to hold us back, but allow our mess to be God’s platform in what He’s able to do in us. Just like the whole taco fiasco with my son, we too miss out on life’s biggest blessings when we allow our struggles to hold us back.  God will use our struggles as a catalyst for his greater plan.  We don’t have to worry about how everything will work out, He’s got it all within His grip.

Let’s Taco About it:  

What’s your one thing getting in the way of God?

Do you sometimes fall apart?

How can you embrace God’s purpose when you’re life is a mess?

It’s not about the Taco.  It’s not about our next performance.  It’s not about doing things with our own strength.  It’s not about waiting until the mess is over but embracing God’s purpose for us even in the mess.

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What’s My Focus?

 

The other day I had the most vivid dream.  I’m not much of a dreamer, but for some reason, this dream was so vivid and clear.  I could remember the details and emotions elicited by the dream like I was there experiencing it first hand.  From past posts I’ve shared, I like to run.  In this dream, I had trained and prepared for a race.

I remember being in a car driving to the race, trying to get there, but something was always getting in the way–traffic, crowds, roadblocks.  I remember feeling anxious thinking I wasn’t going to make the start of the race.  Then the race started and I wasn’t at the start line.  The crowds of runners passed by me.  Feelings of disappointment and failure rummaged through my heart as I watched the runners pass me. I had prepared and trained for a race I could only watch and not participate in.  Every which way I turned, every time I tried, something got in my way to prevent me from getting to the start line.

After I awoke from my dream, I felt like I failed (nice way to start the day).  I felt the devastation of not completing the race, thinking what does all this mean?  I spent time in prayer asking God the meaning of the dream and heard his gentle response.  He asked me a very simple question, “Are you going to continue to focus on your stumbling blocks or allow me to take care of them?”  “Focus on my purpose for you, I will take care of your stumbling blocks.”

God was right.  At the time of this dream, I was a hot mess.  I was in an ugly rut of taking matters into my own hands, trying to handle things my way, amplifying the stumbling blocks that laid before me.  God was trying to show me, my struggles, my inadequacies, my unbelief will always keep me away from His purpose for me.  Focusing on my struggles making them bigger than God will always take me out of the race, not allowing me to participate and worse yet not finish.

When we live in God's purpose for us, it doesn't matter what struggles or obstacles lie in front of us, if it is His will, He will move them. Click To Tweet

At the time of my dream, I was studying the book of Nehemiah.  If you haven’t read Nehemiah, it is such a wonderful reminder of what God can do when we discover and live in His purpose.  God chose Nehemiah to carry out what He had promised to Abraham.  The Jewish people spent many years in exile and now it was time for God to come through with His promise for restoration of Jerusalem, their holy city.

Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he received news his people (The Jews) were in great trouble and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down.  Once Nehemiah heard of the turmoil, his burning desire to help his people became the sole purpose of his existence.  Two qualities I admire most in Nehemiah were his wise, decisive leadership skills to lead people in the hard work of completing the wall and his prayerful heart.

Before taking on this task of rebuilding this massive wall, Nehemiah devoted four whole months in prayer, praying and fasting before taking action!  Once the four months was over, it only took 52 days to rebuild the wall!  What is so amazing about this task, about 60 years prior Jerusalem’s wall was destroyed and rebuilt which took 20 years to rebuild!

What was the difference?

In both occurrences of the wall, there were obstacles, inward and outward oppression getting in the way of God’s purpose of rebuilding the wall.

Neh. 2:10-  There were enemies getting in the way of rebuilding the wall

Neh.  4:10-11 There was doubt, discouragement, laziness, and fear

Neh. 5:1-5-  The Jews and their families were being exploited as slaves

Neh. 6:1-8- There was an evil conspiracy plotted against Nehemiah to lure him away from the wall

Neh. 6:10-14- Lying prophets tryied to tempt Nehemiah to sin

Nehemiah 6:9 'For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands.'Click To Tweet

Nehemiah was successfully able to complete the task of finishing the wall because He stayed in prayer and focused on God’s purpose, not the obstacles.

Our obstacles will always prevent us from finishing the race.  Satan will throw obstacles in our path to prevent us from living in God’s purpose for us, to keep us from His plan because He knows God’s ways are greater and better than anything we could ever imagine.

When our focus is on what God is able to do, God will move our obstacles out of the way.Click To Tweet

We have a choice– Focus on our problems or Focus on God’s purpose.

Nehemiah never lost sight of completing the wall WITH God not FOR God.  He stayed in prayer and asked for God’s wisdom never faltering from His purpose.  Our struggles, our unbelief, our doubts, our past, and insecurities will always keep us away from God’s purpose.  We can choose to amplify our struggles or allow it to be God’s platform for what he’s able to do.

What is your focus?

Do obstacles get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

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My Hiding Place

Do you have a hiding place?  A place you like to retreat to?  To get some peace and quiet? To be able to decompress?  Process things?  Or just get away?

I have a hiding place that doesn’t seem like much of a hiding place.  It’s a place I always seem to come back to and find hard to stay away from.  It doesn’t seem like much of a retreat and yet I always come back to it.  Busyness.

Why do I keep coming to this place?  I constantly struggle with making my no, be no and my yes be yes.  I struggle with the balance of just because I can doesn’t mean I should.  I struggle with my heart being pulled in a million different places and where I should prioritize being present.  I constantly allow myself to be reeled back into this place time and time again.  The only thing I accomplish in the end is the feeling of not being able to accomplish the task well, weariness and guilty for spending valuable time away from the ones I love.

Why do I do this?

It’s who I am.  According to my Enneagram personality test, I’m a reformer by nature and have a desire to change the world.  I’m also a helper, who likes to help others at the expense of neglecting the needs of myself or my family.  Busyness also keeps me from dealing with the core issue of who I am–my perfectionism.  If I had a conversation with you, worked on a project, or been allotted a task I’m going to analyze how I could have improved the situation relentlessly in my head over and over.  It becomes tiring and quite defeating not living up to these always changing expectations.

When is it ever good enough?

At some point I just need to be okay with how things are, and accept it's enough.Click To Tweet

So how can I prevent getting into the tangled web of busyness?

Before I say yes to anything, I need to consult with God and my husband FIRST.  Because really when I say yes to something I’m really saying no to my family.  I need to spend time in prayer asking God, is this how I can make the most impact right now?  Is this how I should be spending the time you have given me?

My story reminds me of the Mary and Martha.  Whenever a guest comes to visit your home, there are so many preparations and tasks needed to be done before their arrival, especially if Jesus is your guest!  Jesus came to their home.  While Martha was distracted by all the preparations for their guest, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he had to say.  Martha became annoyed at Mary and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  (Luke 10:40).  

Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. (Luke 10:41-42).

I’ve asked myself would I have responded like Mary or Martha?  I want to say I would have sat at Jesus’s feet listening to every word He had to say, blocking out any distraction focusing on what was most important at that moment–Jesus.  But being the reformer, helper I am, I know I would have been distracted like Martha, missing the very point of Jesus’s visit–to be with Him.

Over the years It has become easier the more time I spend with God, discerning his voice over what I need to do and not do.  But if I’m not careful can fall into the trap of busyness once again missing the very essence of God’s desire for me–His purpose.

My value and worth aren’t comprised of how much I accomplish, but in who God says I am and His purpose for me.  There will always be another task to accomplish, but if I lose focus of God’s purpose for me then all is lost.  The biggest obstacle I can be aware of is if life starts to get chaotic, then probably I let my balance off of being more performance driven than purpose driven.

I will never regret when I make a choice in Jesus name in the direction of God’s purpose for me.  I will never say I wish I performed more tasks.  I will never say I wish I had more time to do more.  I will always regret not spending enough time where my time is needed most with my family or I didn’t get the rest I needed.

Do you struggle with busyness or distractions?

I want to be attentive to what God desires for me and not distracted by where the world wants to take me.  God’s purpose will eternally satisfy more than any highly successful performance ever will.

Where is your hiding place?

Who do you relate most to Mary or Martha?

Prayer-  Lord help me please guard my time, protect the time our family has together.  Help me find rest in you and not my hiding place.  Help my no be no and yes be yes and not feel bad about it!  Help me be present, not go before you and be released from the burden of how I can always do things better.  I love you Lord, trust in who you are, you’re promises and love.  Thank you for keeping me balanced and grounded.  I love you, God, in Jesus name, Amen.

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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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3 Valuable Lessons Failure Can Teach Us

Failure.  We have all been there.  We never forget when we fail at something.  Even though it seems horrible at the time, it can be one of the best learning experiences we go through.  Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Dr. Seuss are among some of the most successful people in history who accredit their success to their previous failures.  

A failure I will never forget is the day I failed my nursing boards (this was 19 years ago).  I had studied so hard, the result was devastating.  Three valuable lessons I learned in my failure, I carry with me to this day.  

3 Valuable Lessons Failure Teaches Us
Failure:

1. Builds character– It makes us mentally tougher.  It Prepares us to be able to do hard things.  It teaches life is not easy and we have to keep trying.  Failing my boards made me try harder.  It taught me the value in working harder, pushing myself to reach my goal.  It taught me perseverance.  Perseverance teaches us how to get through tough times.  It helps prepare us for what lies ahead.  “God doesn’t care about our achievements while we’re here on this earth. He cares about our character.” by Rick Warren

2.  Never allow numbers on a piece of paper define who you are  Whether it’s a grade you receive in class, a class rank you receive or what’s in your bank account, you are more than numbers on a piece of paper.  Take that all away, you are still who you are.

Never allow present failure define future success.Click To Tweet

Failures shape our future, prepare us for what lies ahead and make us stronger.  (The enemy) wants us to believe that we are no good, not worthy and are not able to do it.  Just because one door has closed doesn’t mean another one won’t open up.  Sometimes our failures will lead us to better paths ahead.  Allow failure to Shape your future, not define it.  

3.  Never allow failure to stop you from moving forward or accomplishing your goals.  The best way to respond to failure, is to ask, ‘What can I learn from this?’  Apply it and Keep Going. How many times did the Apostle Paul get thrown into jail and was persecuted for what he believed?  A lot.  He could have looked at his many situations as failures.  That never stopped him to on Keep Going.  He didn’t look at his situation as failure, but as an opportunity to learn, become stronger and persevere.    

God always has something better ahead. A closed door now doesn't mean another one won't open in the future. Click To Tweet

Hard work, perseverance and commitment, pays off in the long run.  You never know where your failures might lead you.  Looking back, I realized how important the lessons I learned from failing.  I learned failure….  

  • Prepared me for my future.  
  • How God used it and turned it into something better.  

I went on to obtain my Masters Degree in Nurse Anesthesia.  After the failed nursing board attempt, I never failed another test again.

I have been a nurse for 19 years, not once has a patient asked me, What grade did you get in Anatomy Class?  Did you graduate Summa Cum Laude?  Or did you pass your nursing boards the first time?  What a patient will ask you, is how long have you been a nurse?  They care about my experience and will I take good care of them, not if I’m valedictorian.  
Patients grade me on how I treat them, which is the most important grade I could ever receive.  

You are Important, Worthy and Valuable.  No matter what another person says or what failure has occurred, You Matter.  You are God’s workmanship.  He created you with a Purpose, not to be defeated but to to be Victorious.  He designed you to Succeed.  Even if you fail Now, it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed in the Future.  God will use your failures for future successes.  Take this from someone who has been on the other side of failure.  

Has Failure been apart of Your Life?

In What Ways has Failure Helped Shape Your Future?

Has God used your Failure and turned it into something Better? 

Don’t Give up, Don’t lose hope, Keep Going.  “For I know the Plans for you, plans to prosper you not to harm, but to give you Hope.”  Jerimiah 29:11 NIV

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The Scars of Life

 

Everyone has a scar.  Whether it be a scar from a childhood fall or an old battle wound, we all have them.  Some scars are more visible than others, whereas some scars are not.  Some scars are intentional to mark a rite of passage into manhood, to indicate which tribe a person is from, or worn as a badge of honor.  Some of the most painful scars of those that lie deep within a person’s soul that they don’t dare let out for fear of the pain it would cause.  Whatever the origin of the scar, there always lies a story.

After trekking 3,000+ miles from Alaska crossing Canada and the United States this past summer, my son had his good share of mosquito bites from all the campgrounds we visited.  Unfortunately, my son is the type of person who has allergic reactions to mosquito bites and as a result, there are welts and scars left behind.  Many times I had to remind him to stop picking at the bites because they would leave a scar.

He said, “I like my scars because they remind me of my stories.”  He was right.  We may not always like the stories behind the scars, but they make up who we are.

Do you have scars?  What story do your scars tell? 

I will never forget a woman I met on an airplane ride on the way to a friend’s wedding.  I sat next to her and her son–in which it was obvious they had both been in some type of accident that resulted in burns on their body.  At the time, I was a nurse in a trauma/burn center so I had an idea of what burn victims went through.  As the plane ride progressed I introduced myself to the woman that I was a nurse who worked with burn victims.  She immediately seemed relieved when I told her who I was.  I asked her, ‘do you mind telling me your story of what happened?’

Behind Every Scar Lies a Story.

Her story is unimaginable one that is a living nightmare.  Her family was driving home when a person under the influence of narcotics crossed the center line of the highway and hit the driver’s side to driver’s side head-on.  Her husband had been driving, she was in the passenger seat and their two sons were sitting in the back seat.  The vehicle burst into flames immediately upon impact.  Nearby witnesses rushed to the scene. Leslie and her son got themselves out of the vehicle.  No one could even go close to the vehicle because of the flames.  Leslie walked toward a Good Samaritan on the highway and asked, “please get my husband and my other son!”  The Good Samaritan saw Leslie wearing a cross necklace and said to her, “ma’am they are in a better place.”

In an instant, she lost her husband and her son.  Because of this man’s negligence, Leslie not only had to deal with multiple surgeries and heal from her burn wounds but also deal with the grief from the loss of her loved ones.  My heart broke for Leslie as she told me her story.  When we were about to exit the plane, I noticed Leslie had a little limp.  I asked her, “Do you want me to get a wheelchair for you?”  She said, “After all my hours of physical therapy, once I was able to get out of the wheelchair, I never had any intentions of getting back into it.  I don’t care how long it takes me to get somewhere, I will never return to that wheelchair again.”  Wow!  Her response amazed me.

Leslie’s story reminds me of the man who was paralyzed for 38 years.  Jesus approached the man and asked ‘Do you want to get well?’  At first, the paralyzed man doesn’t answer yes or no, he responded that he had no one to help him get into the healing pool.

“Then Jesus said to him, “Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked”  (John 5:5-8)

Why do you think Jesus told the paralyzed man to pick up his mat first and then walk?

The mat, in this man’s story, represents a place of dysfunction which allowed him to lay paralyzed for 38 years.  Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat, so he couldn’t revisit his place of dysfunction again.  Jesus desired for the man to be fully healed not stay in a place of sickness.  It was probably hard for this man to live his new life as a healed walking man.  The only life this man knew for 38 years, was one of begging and lying paralyzed on his mat.   But then Jesus came and changed everything not only for this man but for us as well.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed”  Isaiah 53:5

Jesus desires for us to be healed wholeheartedly in Him–He was wounded for our transgressions.  Our scars tell our story.  When we hide behind our scars we omit God’s greater story.

How do you choose to present your scars?  In shame and disgrace?  Or to tell God’s story of restoration, healing, and grace?

Jesus came to heal the sick–he was bruised for our iniquities.

“When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17).  

There is healing found in the wounds of Jesus--by his stripes, we are healed. Click To Tweet

Our scars remind us of God’s story of what He is able to do in our lives.

Not every scar is visible.

Do you carry around deep scars that lie within afraid to reveal your story?

Leslie told me she was glad her scars were outwardly visible.  She said these scars were a reminder to others of the deep scars she had inside.  The scars she had outside were nothing compared to the pain of the scars she carried around inside.  I love how Leslie’s story progressed because she allowed for God’s love to progressively heal her.  It wasn’t a quick and easy process, it has been a long hard journey and continues to be hard some days.  If you can imagine she even came to the place of forgiveness to the man who took her family away from her.  Her willingness to forgive and trust in God’s plan allowed for her to stand on the path to wholehearted healing and never live in that place of brokenness again.

How do you carry your scars?  Do you allow for God’s greater story to be told?

Jesus has scars too.

The scars in life can be hard and painful.  Nobody knows our scars better than Jesus because he has scars too.  His scars tell the greatest story ever told–one of redemption, forgiveness, healing, love, restoration, and grace.  There is healing in the scars of Jesus.  He died for all of us–so we could be healed.  In verse 53 of Isaiah “by his stripes we are healed,” the Greek word healed is sózó which is translated saved, healed or rescue.  The origin of the word comes from safe or well.  Jesus came so we could be saved, healed and rescued from our iniquities and pain!

You are loved, my friend! I pray you seek Jesus for your wholehearted healing.  He has the power to heal, forgive and resurrect our circumstances into something greater!

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The reference from the Greek word sózó came from the website http://www.biblehub.com/greek/4982.htm.

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