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What Can We Do In Times Of Crisis?

I really wanted to title this post The Power of Compassion or the Power of our Words.  But in reality not many will google, ‘how can I show more compassion,’ or ‘how do my words effect others?’  When I write these posts I’m at the mercy of google to help people find content they are in desperate need of.  I hope this post finds you in your place of need where you are right now.

The answer to this question is compassion.  In any type of crisis, compassion is always the best remedy.  But what does compassion look like when the world is falling apart?

What We Can Do In Times Of Crisis

You never know how one act of compassion or the impact of your words can effect others.  Recently I’ve had to transition from the OR into the ICU to be able to take care COVID patients.  I’ve had to see some really heart wrenching things over the past couple of weeks.  But I’ve also seen the heart of compassion rise when people are hurting.  Nurses have to be some of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met.  What they do in times of crisis is just incredible.

Nine years ago when before our son passed away, a nurse thought to record my son’s heartbeat on a recorder and put it into a teddy bear to give to me.  Her thoughtfulness and act of compassion has given me a precious gift that I am forever grateful  for and has touched me deeply.  This past week I witnessed another nurse do the same to give to a little girl as she recorded her loved one’s last heartbeat.  Although nothing can replace our loved ones, these acts of compassion in the last moments of life are what we will remember and cherish.  These acts of compassion give their loved ones’ lives dignity and show them your life matters, I see you.

Our words can show compassion during these times when others are hurting.  Never underestimate the power of empathy in times of crisis.  Just telling someone, “I’m so sorry,” or “I am here for you,” are words that will stay with them and let them know you care and see their suffering.

'But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion' (Luke 10:33) Click To Tweet

Many have read the parable of the Good Samaritan.  After reading the parable many think, ‘I would never walk by a man half naked and dead lying in a ditch.’  But yet two godly men do, a priest and a Levite.  The unlikely person, the Samaritan, who was viewed as someone who was lowly, not to be associated with because of wayward ways, was the person who stopped to help.  Out of the three men the Samaritan was the only one who came to where he was, in the ditch.  The others passed by, for reasons unknown.  Maybe they couldn’t be bothered?  Or maybe they were in a hurry?  Or worst yet, maybe they didn’t care?

But the Samaritan didn’t just come to the hurt man, he bound up his wounds, poured oil and wine on them, brought him to an inn, paid for his room, and came back to check on him.  Why would someone do this?  Because he had compassion on him.  These actions remind me what Jesus has done for us.  When we are moved by compassion, we do things for others we normally wouldn’t do.  We see things we normally wouldn’t see.  When we can see others in their pain and hurt through the lens of compassion, we become God’s love.  We become a friend and a neighbor.

When Jesus asked in Luke 10:36, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  “He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”  And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

Because of the act of compassion my nurse did for me by taking the time to record my son’s heartbeat and put it into a bear and the compassion I witnessed this week, now others will have a bear with their loved one’s heartbeat in their time of need.  This is made possible through the foundation associated with the hospital I work for that will help fund for more bears when you donate to this specific cause.

During these times of unknowing and crisis, it’s so important to let others know, I see you, hear you, you matter, through our acts or words of compassion.

How can we be a good neighbor to those around us who are hurting?

Would you like to know how you can be more compassionate in times of crisis?

Join me this month in the 12 Days of Kindness, where you will be challenged to do one act of kindness a day.  Kindness can move us into areas of compassion for others.  Here are the Kindness challenge prompts below.  Post Act of Kindness with Hashtag #12DaysofKindness

 

 

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What Do You Want To Be Known For?

What do you want to be known for?  A Habakkuk Bible Study By Dannah Gresh

Isn’t it interesting what’s revealed when our world is in chaos, going through extreme circumstances?  Somethings not so good, but there’s other blessings that come out of hardships one would never expect.  I’ve been studying the book of Habakkuk, what a perfect book for these unprecedented times.  It’s a book about uncertainty, feeling forgotten, wondering if God is ever going to intervene.  Sounds a lot like what we’re all going through right now.  

The meaning of Habakkuk means to ‘embrace,’ or to ‘wrestle.’  Seems appropriate in the times we are in.  We can either embrace our situations and make the best of them or wrestle with them and suffer.  In the beginning of the book, Habakkuk cries out to God and asks,

“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?”  “Or cry to you, “Violence!” And you will not save?”  “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?”  “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous;  so justice goes forth perverted.”  Habakkuk 1:1-2, 4.  

In other words, ‘God where are you?’ ‘There’s a lot of messed up stuff happening right now, why are you allowing it?’  

Sometimes waiting for God’s response when he seems silent can be excruciating, and an arduous process.  We can question, why isn’t God DOING something about all the violence, suffering, and injustice?  But here is some truth while we wait for those answers.  God is an eternal, faithful, mighty, holy God who is good all the time (Habakkuk 1:12-13).  No matter what is going on the world we can trust He is coming back and there will be a day where there is no more pain, suffering, or death (Revelations 21:4).  

Something from the study CONVICTED me.  Dannah Gresh talks about the book of Daniel and how he chooses to be resolved in front of king Nebuchadnezzar and not partake in their feasts.  Resolved means to settle or find solution to the problem.  One of the reasons why is because their feasts partook in idol worship in which Daniel would only worship his one true King, God.  King Nebuchadnezzar’s tantalizing tactics to seduce Daniel into a life of worshipping luxury failed.  Was it because Daniel was more faithful than the rest of us?  I mean who wouldn’t want to indulge in some steak and wine nightly and engorge themselves?  But Daniel referred back to what had kept him grounded, God’s TRUTH.  

What we're known for and what we WANT to be KNOWN for can be two different things. #known #LovedClick To Tweet

What Are You Known For?

Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule?  A book written by Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers addresses what sets people a part from being average to excelling at something.  The short answer is being disciplined.  They become experts by spending more than twenty hours a week learning their craft.   We are what we invest ourselves in.  What activities do you invest your time in?  I admit during quarantine there was a lot of Netflix binge watching, baking, and maybe even the mindless scroll through social media, because there wasn’t the other daily activities of life to keep me busy. 

Here’s the shocking reality of what on average other American’s invested their time in: Scrolling through social media per week (21 hours), shopping on-line (20 hours), watching Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (20 hours), Eating, food prep, thinking about eating (15 hours).Click To Tweet  

This kind of makes me feel like a sloth!  

I’m also guilty of not being intentional during this time.  The shutdown highlighted areas of my life where I lacked discipline.  It was important as ever to stay in a workout routine even though the gyms were shut down, to keep eating healthy even though restaurants were closed, to stay in God’s Word (have no excuse for this one).  It was easy to get out of the routine when one wasn’t established.  I had all of these high hopes of things I would accomplish with my family.  Some got done others did not.  

Wherever you live right now we don’t have to stop gathering together just because things shut down.  We can still gather just in a different way.  I am excited to do this Bible study with other women in my neighborhood some of us through zoom and some are in person, but we are still studying God’s Word TOGETHER!  It’s so important to still gather (in the safest way possible), stay connected in God’s Word, and BUILD RELATIONSHIPS!    We don’t have to stop growing just because things shut down. 

I don’t want to be known for my bad habits or things I regret from my past, or how many hours of Netflix I watched.  Does it really matter how many miles I run, or how many sit ups I do?  None of that makes me valuable or worthy.  I want God’s love to be known in me and to others so they know GOD LOVES THEM.  I FEEL like I’m failing at that right now, I could do BETTER.  

Spending time in Scripture allows me to hear God’s voice for what He wants me to prioritize and how to be intentional right now.  In my prayer time I’m asking God, ‘how can I love others well right now?’  ‘What do you want to be focused on?’ ‘How can I serve you when things look so different?’  

What do you want to be known for? What are you known for?

Are you struggling with being disciplined in any area of your life right now?

One of the ways I can do better is to be apart of the healing of our nation/world by educating myself about the wounds of racial diversity and unity.  I’m reading the book “Be the Bridge” by Latasha Morrison.  How can I say I want to do better if my life doesn’t reflect that?  I can say the words all I want, but if my actions don’t support it, then I am just a hypocrite.  The only way to have unity in diversity is to LISTEN, show empathy and compassion, get to know others who aren’t in my circle of comfort and LEARN  from them.  If your desire is to do better consider reading Be the Bridge, or start studying God’s Word and make it apart of your healthy habits.  

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10 Bible Verses About Grief

With so much going on in the world, it seems everyday we wake up there’s something new we have to grasp about realities we don’t want to face.  Or we just want a break from what’s going on around us.  We are not in control and have no say in what’s happening which can be HARD.  We may not like what’s going on, but I know God is still doing a great work in us.  He still loves us, wants the best for us and will never leave us in all this mess.  He’s refining us and using this chaos for His greatness.  Even though we know all of this, being real with the heaviness of our struggles is a necessary process to go through.  We can’t pretend our struggles aren’t our struggles for them to magically go away.  Stepping into the pain of our struggles with Jesus is our best chance at healing and peace.

Grief is on the rise especially now with all who are sick and with holidays coming up.  I want to acknowledge your grief–I am so sorry for what you are going through.  I pray for God’s healing and hope to fill you and for your willingness to let Him walk you through your pain.  Losing a loved one is never easy nor is dealing with grief.  Holding on to God’s promises of what He’s able to do will allow more room for God’s HOPE to be working in our lives.

Here are 10 Bible Verses About Grief:  That will Provide More Hope and Healing

  1.  “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33- I love how this verse says we won’t have difficulties here on this earth but it is possible for us to have peace in Jesus despite what we’re going through.  No matter what happens in this life Jesus has overcome.
  2. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelations 21:4-  This verse gave me so much comfort after our son passed away.  Grief can be so hard and painful.  One day there will be no more pain, crying, or mourning in heaven.  This life is so short compared to the eternal life we will have in heaven.  God is taking care of our loved ones and that is so comforting.
  3. “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”  John 16:22-  There will be times the pain of missing our loved ones is so great.  This verse is a great reminder there will be times to grieve and times to rejoice.  When we have Jesus to walk through this journey with us, nothing can take away our joy.

 

4.  “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to weep, and a time to laugh;  a time to mourn, and a time dance;”  Ecclesiastes 3:1,4-  I love how this verse depicts the highs and lows of the seasons of our lives.  There will be times we’re weeping then laughing, then mourning then celebrating.  The emotions and feelings we go through don’t limit us from being able to still experience the joys in life, but are necessary to go through the process of our new normal.  Learning how to embrace the roller coaster ride grief, instead of being in a constant state of wrestling is a good place to be.

5.  “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:17-18-  This verse has helped me so much.  When I’ve felt at my lowest point of brokenness I’ve repeated this verse to myself so many times.  I’ve never felt closer to God during my times of brokenness and heard Him so clearly.  He is with you in your times of hurting and will never leave you.

6.  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28- I love this Bible verse so much, our family had this verse engraved in our son’s headstone.  This verse reminds us there is no pain without a purpose.  God doesn’t waste anything.  He is always working for our good, no matter what.

7.  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”. Romans 8:18-  Nothing that happens in this life can compare to the life that God has prepared for us.  He cares about every hurt, every pain, any suffering we go through.  There is nothing we go through, Jesus hasn’t been through already.  He would never allow us to go through what we go through without having a plan for our pain to turn it into something better.

8.  “In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the LORD. “If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,”  says your God” Isaiah 66:9 NCV.  In the same way childbirth is painful, the birth of a new baby is worth it.  No one gives their baby back and says no thank you that was too painful.  The birth of something new, the joy you receive in the new birth, far outweighs the pain we go through to birth it.

9.  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. Matthew 5:4-  It is so comforting to know God is with us when we mourn.  He is close to us and is there for us in our sorrows.

10.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is see, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18-  The struggles we go through when we are dealing with grief are hard, heavy, and painful.  God doesn’t want us to have pain, but knows the path towards eternal healing.  Any pain we go through He knows how to heal us!

Grief can be all consuming and overwhelming.  There is no pain God can’t heal.  Learning to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, focusing on what He’s able to do even when we can’t see it, allows for His eternal hope and healing.  God is able.  He is in the business of all things eternal.

Are you struggling with grief?

What Bible verses give you hope and healing?

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Why Is It So Hard To Heal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-Care conference

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

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

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

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

 

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

 


3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you able to be emotionally honest with yourself?

Do you struggle with being instead of doing?

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

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

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

How can you have more joy in 2020?

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


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You Are Known And Loved

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

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

You Are Known And Loved.

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

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

Have you ever felt not seen or heard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want a heart like Mary’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you struggle with being known and loved by God?

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

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

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

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

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

What Are You Most Thankful For?

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

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

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

Can you relate?

What are you Most Thankful For?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What am I Most Thankful For?  Jesus.  

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

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

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

No Jesus + Everything = Nothing.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

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

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

Behind every trial, there is a greater blessing.

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

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

A Thanksgiving Prayer-  

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving?

Do you give thanks despite your trials?

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He Makes All Things NEW

He Makes All Things New

Ever wonder why we go through what we go through?  After our son died,  I was left with a lot of questions, “Why?” “How could this even happen?”  When bad things happen in our lives, we can question if God is a good God then how could he allow something like this to happen?

I’ll never forget when someone gave me a little story book called, “Water bugs and dragonflies.”  I wondered, ‘why would someone give me a children’s book after our son just died?”  As the story goes, there was a family of water bugs.  Every so often the water bugs would venture off up the stalks of grass, above the surface of water to never return or be seen again.

When it was time for the water bug, narrating the story, turn to leave, he discovered when he went to the surface, something amazing happened.  He gained wings!  In his excitement he realized, ‘wait, I have to go back to tell my family!’  Then he realized he couldn’t because of his wings, and in his transformation, no one would recognize him anyway.  He would have to wait until the rest of his family went through their transformation to see them again.

Something New will be Born

Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. Isa. 66:9 NIV

He Makes All Things New

When life hurts and we think God’s promises have failed us, one person in the Bible reminds me that God never leaves us and uses everything we go through for his greater purpose.  Job was a man of great wealth, blameless, upright, feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).  He had a big family, a big house, lots of cattle, and servants.  Everything Job touched was blessed.

Then Satan comes along and wants to test Job, put him through trials, to see if he would still praise God and stay faithful.  God granted Satan access to Job to be allowed to test job in ways that were beyond imaginable, knowing whatever Satan did, Job would never turn away from Him (Job 1:8-12)

Satan’s first set of attacks on Jobs targeted his family (killing all his children) and cattle (all were taken and stolen from his property).  Imagine losing all your children and cattle all at once.  The depth of despair and loss must have been heavy and great.  Despite this Job still cried out to God and said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;  blessed be the name of the LORD” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22).  

Satan’s second set of attacks, targeted Job’s health leaving him with sores all over his body (Job 2:7).  Job’s wife even said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).  But he said to her, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive  evil?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  

In other words, life encompasses good and bad.  Are we to only embrace the good parts of life and not the bad parts?

Jobs’ his life had been good up until this point, just because bad things were happening now, does that mean God wasn’t good?

When Job’s three friends heard of his suffering and turmoil, they came to support and mourn with him.  For seven days they sat in silence, wept with him and comforted him (Job 2:11-13).  After those seven days, Job starts opening up about his heartache and hardship to his friends, questioning, ‘why was he even born?’ or ‘why must he go through all this suffering?’ 

Then his three friends chime in and given their own opinion and reason for Job’s suffering.  If Job was the target of all this suffering, he must have done something in his life to deserve all this.  Job’s circumstances must be a result of not being right before God and he needed to repent of any sin to make his suffering go away (Job 4).

“As I have seen, the who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8).  His friends believed somehow God was judging Job’s character and he was now reaping the consequences.  It is true there is a law of sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7 and 2 Corinthians 9:6, whatever effort we put into things we sow what we reap.

To turn that around and apply this concept to God implying he punishes and condemns us for our past mistakes is not the truth.  God is a loving forgiving God.

'We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are' (Romans 3:22 NLT).Click To Tweet

Yes it is true God allows certain circumstances to happen in our lives, but that does not mean God is evil and wants us to suffer.  There is nothing we can do, that would make God Not LOVE us.  We can be forgiven no matter what we’ve done, how lost we are or how far away from God we are.  His love is for everyone and anyone has the choice to be saved and forgiven.

The part of Job’s story I love the most, is how he remained faithful and praised God despite is horrible circumstances.  I love what Job says,

'I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted' (Job 42:1)Click To Tweet

In the end, God restored Job’s fortunes and blessed him with twice as much as he had before.

Our past does not define our future. #quote Pastor Rick Warren

Job may have endured a lot, but he persevered because:

  1. He praised God even in his darkest moments
  2. He didn’t listen to naysayers (his friends)
  3. He held onto the goodness of God and trusted what God had for him was greater

God may allow us to endure hardships, but will use them to refine us and rid of us anything getting in the way of His greater purpose.  Job never turned his back on God and allowed his story to be all for God’s glory.  God can do all things and no amount of evil can ever stop God’s purpose and plan of what He’s already done for us.

No trial, no heartache, no struggle is ever wasted. Just as a woman goes through the pain of labor, God doesn’t allow anything to happen in our lives without something new to be born.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelations 21:5).

I love how God can turn the most tragic circumstances into His greatest plans ever.  Just like the water bugs, God makes all things new.  

Have you ever had a trial or hardship in your life that God used for his greater purpose?

How has God made things new in your life?

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In Him,

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Have You Ever Been a Holy Mess? Interview with Michelle Rabon’s New Book: Holy Mess

 

Have you ever just felt like your life was a mess?  Or maybe even a Hot Mess?  But a Holy Mess?  That’s a whole other level!  Just reading the title makes me relate!

What if our Holy Messes were apart of God’s Holy Purpose for us?

What if God’s Holy Purpose could not be carried out in us if we didn’t have our Messes?

Our messes are God’s platform to carry out His greatest plans.  He doesn’t need us to do this, He WANTS US to carry out His plans.  He could have chosen to live anywhere in the world but He chose to reside in our hearts.

I want to introduce you to Michelle Rabon the author of a Holy Mess.  She actually wrote “Holy Mess” as both a traditional book with a coordinating Bible study. The benefit of the book is to help women find freedom from the messes of their life through Christ and walk forward in faith. It will help women see that God meets us in the midst of every mess we will face in this life and He will walk us through it all.

So let’s get started!

Heather:  What is the story behind Holy Mess?  What drove you to write this book?

Michelle:  I never set out to write a book in all honesty. I accepted Christ at the age of 19, but it took until my late 20s to really understand what it meant to be a woman radically changed by the Gospel. I know God saved me and changed me, but I didn’t know how I was supposed to live that out. 

From the time I was 19 to my late 20s, I was married, had three children, lost my father, brother, mother in law and had two miscarriages. There was a lot of life, a lot of hurt and little understanding of how the Gospel could meet me in the midst of it all. Holy Mess really is 10 years of hard fought lessons in one book. Everything God has used to teach me about what the Gospel really means for our lives every day. 

I wrote the idea on a piece of paper three years ago. I knew that all I walked through was not without reason and it was meant to be shared. The desire of my heart and the burden God placed on my heart was to help other women see the power of the Gospel for every area of her life. 

Heather: What does it mean to be a woman who is radically changed by the gospel?  

Michelle:  Being a woman who is radically changed by the gospel is a reflection of the power of what Christ can do in a woman’s life. When we accept the gift of salvation and surrender our lives to God because of Christ,  who went to a cross on our behalf – God begins to shape us into His holy daughters. Our perfection isn’t required because He meets us in the midst of our messes. 

When we are radically changed we are moved from our old way to a new way, a new life. A life of abundance and hope. It does not mean God is offering us a perfect life, but He says I will meet you in it. He says I am with you every step, and He will be faithful to bring the holy to His radically changed daughters.

Heather:  What was your favorite and least favorite part of the process of the Holy mess?  

Michelle:  My favorite part of the process was learning so much about the women of the Bible. There is so much that God will teach us through the people in the pages of Scripture. Their stories resonate with us because they are like you and I, just a few hundred years between us. 

My least favorite, having to walk out what God was teaching me, every word I wrote I lived out first before it found its way onto a page. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. 

Heather:  If there is one take away message you can share from the Holy mess what would that be?  

Michelle:  That if God can change the women of the Bible then He can change you, and when He changes you, He will walk this life with you. 

 

Michelle is a wife and mom of three who is learning to embrace the messiness of life and walk in the grace of God. When she isn’t chasing or homeschooling her little ones, she is writing, drinking coffee, and serving women in her local church. You can find her at Displayinggrace.com, Instagram @displayinggrace and Facebook @displaygrace

All book information is at www.holymessbook.com

 


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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?

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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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