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Am I Living By Faith or By Fear?

Take the first step in faith.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.  #quote Martin Luther King

Recently I finished a Bible Study Habakkuk by Moody Publishers by Dannah Gresh.  At the same time I read a You Version Bible Plan Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel which also followed in the book of Habakkuk.  I didn’t realize the plan would be about Habakkuk as well, but how amazing when God orchestrates His plans.

The book of Habakkuk is in the Old Testament and only three chapters long, but it is packed full of godliness and wisdom.  Each chapter has an important pattern of ask questions to God, WAIT, and Praise.  The chapter starts out with Habakkuk crying out to God, asking why all the violence, all the iniquity, injustice (Habakkuk 1:2-5)?

God responds-

This study was so timely for me.  I’ve been working in the COVID ICU’s taking care of very sick patients.  I wouldn’t wish what I do or see on anyone.  All of it is so heavy and hard to watch over and over.  I feel like Habakkuk, looking around seeing all the suffering, the injustice, and loss of life at the hands of a violence but in my case a virus.  I can just picture him on his knees before God crying out, ‘how,’ ‘why,’ ‘when?’  It’s hard at times not to focus on the fear of it all, am I next?  Am I exposing others? How many more will suffer? When will this all end?

It can be difficult to see that God will use all of this pain and devastation for His greater work in us and the nations.  It’s hard to believe God will use all this to strengthen our faith when we wait and trust in His timing.  Physically, logically my brain can’t comprehend what is going on around me, but by faith I don’t have to have it all figured out and answers to all my questions.  The only thing I need to know is God’s outcome is loving and good.

I admit there are times I have to catch myself and question, Am I Living More in Fear or in Faith? Click To Tweet

Being honest, I’ve focused a lot on my fears of what surrounds me.  It FEELS as though God has left and I’m walking through this battlefield ALONE, just waiting for the explosion to go off.  BUT I KNOW, these thoughts come from a place of FEAR.  They are NOT God’s TRUTH or what He PROMISES US.

It’s easy to look around at what the world is doing and Fear there will be more spread of the virus.  People are at their wits end and just want to be TOGETHER.  I believe God doesn’t want us to LIVE in FEAR, but He wants us to also practice Discernment and Wisdom.  He wants us be in community to support one another by giving empathy and compassion.  God is the creator of universe and science. We will all have a different opinion and comfort levels on what we believe is safe for our health and well-being and that’s okay.

It's Not my JOB to FIX the outcome, control people, or take away others' FREE WILL. My Job is to Love them and Trust God's outcome is BEST. Click To Tweet

When the world of chaos feels out of control, I have to stay anchored, centered, and grounded in the ONE who IS in CONTROL.  The balance of trusting, surrendering, having faith, and standing firm can be a fine line to walk.  My HOPE will never be found in the ability to figure it all out.  When I CHOOSE to LIVE in FAITH and not by FEAR, there is always HOPE.  When I TRUST and ALLOW God to GROW my FAITH way beyond anything I could ever do on my own.

He is the God of HOPE.  He is the God of PEACE.  You are loved.  You matter.  You are KNOWN to God.  What you are going through Matters and He will use for all for His good.

“His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.  His brightness was like the light;  rays flashed from his hand;  and there he veiled his power”. Habakkuk 3:3-4

I will ask.  I will wait.  I will praise.  Just like Habakkuk.  My faith will carry me and  take me further than any amount of fear can.  When I am troubled by what surrounds me.  When I waiver at the battle before me. I remember the one who has it all in His control.

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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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What Does the Bible Say About Self-Care?

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

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

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

Self-Carr Bible Verse

Jesus Himself teaches about self-care #selfcareClick To Tweet

What Does the Bible Say About Self-Care?

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

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

What Are You Struggling With?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Stay Connected In A World Filled With Loneliness

Feeling disconnected? Lonely? Apathetic?

Are you feeling un-motivated?  Apathetic?  Loneliness is huge right now.  It’s an ever expanding abyss getting bigger and bigger as each day goes on.  We may all be experiencing pandemic fatigue.  It’s a real thing and you are not alone.  With the winter season approaching, the days will become shorter and darkness will increase.  Sickness will surge as flu season and our pandemic numbers rise to alarming numbers.  Seclusion and isolation are utilized to protect us physically but are harming us mentally and emotionally.  Why?  Because we were never created to be ALONE we were made to be TOGETHER.

In the Bible when God created Adam, his plan was never meant for him to be alone.

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.  ” I will make him a helper fit for him” Genesis 2:18

Adam had all the livestock he could ever want, but there was not a suitable companion for him until God made Eve.  “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man (the first anesthestic 😂), and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;  she shall be called Woman, because she was take out of Man”. (Genesis 2:20-23).

In the book “Together:  The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World,” by Dr. Vivek Murthy (19th Surgeon General of the United States), he talks about studies that show the power of healing in human connection and community.  “When people feel they belong to one another, their lives are stronger, richer, and more joyful.”  People who have strong family structures, are apart of supportive groups or communities do better as opposed to those who are alone.  With our ever increasing need to physically isolate to stay safe from what’s to come, our need for connection is growing stronger than ever.

Loneliness magnifies our pain, contributes to emotional burnout and exhaustion.Click To Tweet

Feeling Apathetic?

How to Stay Connected In A World Filled With Loneliness

With all the social distancing and quarantines going on, more and more people are feeling apathetic and un-motivated.  It’s easy to slip into patterns of laziness and not wanting to engage with others because this is becoming the norm.  We were created to do life together not be isolated.  Even though there are nationwide mandates to socially isolate and distance, we can still be creative in how we gather together.  Life still happens even amidst a pandemic.  People still need surgery, they still get cancer, accidents still happen.  You can’t stop babies from being born, people finishing their education, or weddings from happening.  Life continues on despite our world falling apart.

We need to stay connected.  We were made for connection.

So how do we stay connected when the world is telling us to stay apart?

Be real with our emotional and mental state.  The best thing we can do right now is to be honest with our emotional state.  Be real with how this pandemic is affecting your emotional and mental well being.  Talk about it with someone you trust.  Whether it be a friend or a counselor, connecting with someone who feels the same way is so powerful.  Allowing someone to come alongside you will let you know I see you, I hear you, your problems are known and validated.  Your anxieties and fears will be met in your loneliness when you bring them out of the darkness into the light.

“Let light shine out of darkness,” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Acknowledge the struggle.  There is power in acknowledging the struggle.  There is healing when we can recognize, we aren’t super heroes, we’re human.  We won’t be able to always handle the burdens that this pandemic brings, the isolation, the interrupted routines in our schedules, schools, lack of community, connection, the emotional break-downs, financial hardship, the list goes on.

Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks about how the majority of our fears, anxieties, and chronic illnesses are rooted in loneliness.  Loneliness was an epidemic before this pandemic even started (the pandemic just unearthed what was already there).  The underlying dark common thread of loneliness gives rise to the more overt issues we see on the surface such as addictions, depression, anger, and anxiety which are only the symptoms we see not the root of our issues.  These struggles seem to stay in a a cycle of despair because these symptoms and behaviors are believed to be shameful (Murthy, xv).

Find where you belong, join a group. We need each other right now.  Finding where we belong is imperative to our mental and emotional states.  Find a mentor, join an online community where you can zoom face to face, get outside and do something active to unlock your dopamine supply and connect with others.  We may not always be able to meet face to face but we need to be creative in staying connected with one another.  We are having to recreate how we meet, how we exercise, how we receive our education, new ways to work from home, how we dine, how we engage in our everyday lives.  And it’s tiremsome.  It is draining us, making us all weary.

Something changes when we have to wear masks, we lose the ability to see each other’s smiles.  Mirror neurons are a real thing, when a person smiles it stimulates another person to smile.  We aren’t able to shake hands, hug others the way we used to and it becomes isolating.  We are turning off our cameras when we’re in meetings or school so others can’t see we’re really in our pajamas or didn’t put our make-up on and don’t want others to see the real us.

Staying healthy and connected are vital to our emotional and mental health right now.  Staying motivated and disciplined to be intentional about the well-being of our health is necessary for our future.  This time of isolation does not give us an excuse to stay hidden from our struggles but a perfect time to bring them into the light and be real with them.

To learn more how we are made for connection to do this life together read the book Together by Dr. Vivek Murthy.  I learned so much how we are not alone in our loneliness and ways to build community and connect with one another on a deeper level.

Are you feeling un-motivated and apathetic or lonely?

How are you preserving your emotional and mental health right now?

How are you staying connected in a world filled with loneliness right now?

 

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 on Facebook and Instagram.  I will be doing LIVE chats and giveaways!  Let’s get the conversation started!

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3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you able to be emotionally honest with yourself?

Do you struggle with being instead of doing?

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

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

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

How can you have more joy in 2020?

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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.

Why Do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or did they have a revelation from God Himself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you seek Jesus during Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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Jesus Is The King

With Christmas approaching, we may have certain expectations of how everything will turn out—baking cookies, playing Christmas music, sending out cards, wrapping gifts, hanging lights, decorating a tree, etc.  These things set the stage and prepare us for the celebration of Christmas.

Imagine if we didn’t decorate for Christmas, send out cards or bake cookies, would anyone recognize it’s time for Christmas?

Jesus is King

Two thousand years ago many were anticipating something great to happen, the arrival of the “Messiah the Prince”  of the “Anointed One, the ruler” (Daniel 9:24-27).  People were expectantly waiting for a new Messiah around 30 AD when Jesus was born, based on the prophecy of Daniel.

Jerusalem had a lot of preparation to do before the arrival of their new king.   The arrival of their new king, meant a new hope for their nation.

Little was known of how their new king was going to arrive or what he’d look like.  Was he to arrive in a chariot of gold, or on a cloud from heaven?  Was he to be surrounded by royalty and clothed with robes and riches?  A worldly expectation would be for a king to be surrounded by all these things.

The Israelite’s only had the prophecy of Daniel to prepare their hearts for God’s timing and that their Messiah would be a descendant of David (Matt. 1:6, Luke 3:31).  They were not given a description of what their new king looked like only His titles of what He was to fulfill when He came.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV Click To Tweet

The Israelite’s weren’t looking for some lowly figure to be their new king, but someone of great importance such as a great military leader or a mighty politician (MacAruthur p. 130).  They were not expecting or looking for a baby to fulfill God’s promises.

The Israelite’s didn’t know, their new king would not meet any of their expectations. Because they put their own worldly expectations on who their new Messiah would be, they didn’t even recognize their Messiah when he arrived.

Luke 2:11-12 NKJV
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you:  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manager.”  

Their new king didn’t make a grand entrance announcing his arrival by riding on a horse, being surrounded by royalty, wearing a crown or holding a septer in his hand.  Instead He was born of two peasants Mary and Joseph.  His birth was announced by an angel to shepherds and born in a stable amongst barn animals.

God fulfilled his promises of a king, but the only Israelite’s who recognized and “understood that Jesus was the Messiah at His birth were Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna,” people of no significance (MacArthur p. 130).

Can you imagine waiting for your king to arrive and not even recognizing him?  

God’s plan wasn’t to have Jesus raised up on a pedestal and be brought into this world among royalty (even though he was a king), but be born among the humble and to dwell among us (John 1:14).

God has the most amazing plans ever. He used a baby to change the world. Click To Tweet

God was fulfilling a greater plan for His greater purpose.  Imagine all of the Israelite’s who missed out on the birth of their Messiah because they were expecting something different. They inserted their own expectations and definitions of a king, not allowing for God’s greater plan to unfold.

Have you been in the presence of Jesus and didn’t even recognize Him?

We don’t have to wait, our king is here.  We can rejoice because, our “Savior has been born!” (Luke 2:11).  He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!

Is Jesus your King?  If He is type Hallelujah below!

Praying your Christmas will be filled with all of God’s greatness and glory of our king, Amen!

 

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I would love to hear from you!  Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur by Thomas Nelson Publishers


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Why Do We Struggle with Being Authentic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do We Struggle With Being Authentic?

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

Ask yourself these questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We struggle with being authentic because……….

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

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

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

To hide our brokenness is to hide Jesus.

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

To deny our brokenness is to deny Jesus.

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

Do you know your TRUE self?

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

Do you struggle with being authentic?

How can you be more authentic today?

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

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

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

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

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

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