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3 Myths About Dysfunction That Keep You STUCK

If you’re anything like me, at one point in your life dysfunction has served some sort of role in your life.  Maybe for a short while, or maybe it’s still a struggle.  Whatever role dysfunction has played in your life, our dysfunction doesn’t disqualify us, make us incompetent or inadequate, it makes us human.  We all have had dysfunction in our lives and most of us probably still do.  But that doesn’t mean we are less than or unable to still be used by God in a mighty way.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve had so much dysfunction in my life, I could write a book about it.  Growing up when we had problems we didn’t really talk about them.  God and good counselors have helped me so much in my journey in learning how to deal with my problems in a healthier way.  I actually didn’t know I had developed an unhealthy coping mechanism of codependency as a way to get my needs met.  I was very dependent on people to receive my approval, praise, and worthiness.

'For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.' Galatians 1:10 Click To Tweet

At one point I was a big time people pleaser.  I also felt very validated if I could rescue, fix, or solve someone else’s problems, because then I didn’t have to focus on my own problems.  Along the way I found some eye opening discoveries about my dysfunction that kept me stuck in my circumstances.  Here are 3 myths about my dysfunction I would like to share with you.

3 Myths About Dysfunction That Keep You STUCK:

 MYTH #1–Dysfunction is functional- This is very true for someone who lives in dysfunction.  Dysfunction serves us all well until it doesn’t.  In fact, sometimes we don’t even realize something is dysfunctional in our lives, until it is no longer functional!  The enemy would like nothing more than to keep us hidden in our patterns of dysfunction and tell us these patterns are totally NORMAL. These patterns keep us stuck and hidden from God’s plan for us.  Dysfunction keeps us in chaos, making it hard to hear God’s voice and plan over our lives.  It’s not until dysfunction starts crumbling all around us and we slowly get out of the chaos can we hear and see more clearly, that dysfunction does not serve us well over time.  Over time, dysfunction can become very comfortable for us, making it difficult to detach from it because it’s what we know.  Learning how to separate from your dysfunction can be one of the most loving things you do for yourself.  Detaching from the chaos will help one learn  healthier ways to deal with problems instead of reverting back to unhealthy dysfunctional patterns.  Letting go of codependency or dysfunctional patterns may feel overwhelming at first, but this is the first step in allowing God to refine and renew us for His eternal plans.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

MYTH #2–Dysfunction is Absent from my life.  Can we say denial?  The absence of dysfunction doesn’t mean dysfunction is absent.  I’ll never forget a forensics file episode I watched.  The detective said, ‘the absence of evidence, doesn’t mean that evidence is absent.’  That statement was so profound to me–just because we don’t see the evidence doesn’t mean someone didn’t try to wipe away or clean up the evidence.  Trying to get rid of evidence doesn’t negate a crime happened.  Just like our lives, we can become really good at hiding and ‘cleaning up the crime scene,’ to look really good on the outside but that doesn’t mean dysfunction isn’t still lying underneath the surface.  We can fake it till we make it all we want, but that doesn’t mean our dysfunctional problems will go away if we don’t address them!  Just because we can’t see or recognize our dysfunction, doesn’t mean it’s not there.  The enemy uses dysfunction in our lives to keep us blind and deaf, to not really see or hear God clearly.  This is why it’s so important to stay close to God.  Draw near to Him by reading the Bible and praying.  Knowing what His truth is will set us free every time.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1

MYTH #3–I’m too dysfunctional to be helped- This couldn’t be further from the truth.  If this were true, Jesus would have never came and died on the cross for us.  No one is ever too dysfunctional to receive mercy and forgiveness from our Savior.  Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed in our dysfunction, that we don’t even know where to begin, and think why bother it will never get better.  This is a lie the enemy would like us to believe, that we are hopeless, not worth rescuing or saving, that we will never be good enough.  It may be true we have dysfunction and make mistakes, but what we do isn’t who we are.  Our dysfunction is an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus.  Our dependence in Him in what He’s able to do, helps us rely on His strength, not our own and trusts He is able.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

Stepping into a place of vulnerability where our dysfunction is revealed can be a scary place to be!  Because that means we have to deal with ourselves and may have to do a lot of work to unravel the mess.  There is no one else I’d rather unravel my mess and peel back the layers of dysfunction with than Jesus.  He knows how to refine, restore, and renew me.

When we allow Jesus into our messes and dysfunction we become crucified in Him. It is no longer us who lives, but Him who lives in us. You are loved, friend! Click To Tweet

Are there dysfunctional patterns that have served you well?

How has dysfunction kept you stuck?

What is one action step you can take today that steps out of dysfunction into God’s presence?

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3 Ways to Meet People In Their Anxiety

Have you ever tried to view and hear the perspective of another person who was different than you?  Someone who had a different background, different beliefs, different upbringing, lived in a different country, different opinion or point of view?  What was your response?  How did the conversation go?  Was there defensiveness? Anxiety?  An argument?  Or were you able to listen to their perspective and validate their experience?

If there is one thing this pandemic brought out in all of us, it was--where is our hope, where are we putting our trust, and revealed anxieties we probably never thought about before. Click To Tweet

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:23

Going through this pandemic brought up a lot abnormal circumstances that were thrown at us all at once.  We all had to wear masks, quarantine, home school our kids, shelter in place, worry about our jobs, businesses, our economy, the health and well-being of loved ones, pause life celebrations such as weddings, graduations, and funerals.  There was stress of finances, how will we pay our bills, childcare, not being able to be with loved ones in the hospital, and loss of loved ones.  There was fear of the unknown, how will this all turn out, how many more people will die, and when will this all end?

There was a high level of anxiety and stress from everything we went through.  And we all dealt with the anxieties of the pandemic differently.  Hopefully, we all came out of the pandemic and still are, a little bit stronger and with a new perspective of what’s difficult.  But what about those who were barely surviving before the pandemic hit?  Those who didn’t know where their next meal came from, didn’t have access to computers for education, or access to healthcare if they got sick?  I hope in all this, the pandemic helped us see and hear others and learn how we can meet people in their anxieties.

3 Ways To Meet People In Their Anxiety

 1.  Listen-  If there is one thing the pandemic taught me how to do better is listen. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” (James 1:19).  We all have the core need to be seen and heard.  We are missing out when we don’t listen to our brothers and sisters in their hurt and pain.  When Jesus was here on earth he offered a listening ear to hear people in their suffering like the woman at the well, or the paralyzed man.  He didn’t just say I’m sorry and keep on walking.  He didn’t give lectures or provide ways to temporarily fix it.  He stopped, listened and said, ‘Come follow me.’  There is power in listening.  It allows others to know I hear you, and you matter.

2.  Acknowledge-  Learning how to acknowledge others when they are struggling, to be able to come alongside them and say I see you in your hurt, is so powerful.  “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”  (1 Corinthians 1:4).  To acknowledge someone when they are hopeless offers empathy and is what Jesus does for us.  Acknowledgement allows their struggle to be known, lets them know you see them, and they matter.  An example would be, “I see you are hurting, there are no words, I’m so sorry.”

3.  Validate-   How lonely would it be it we suffered in silence or by ourselves?  Jesus never intended for us to be alone in our anxieties.  He tells us to cast all of our anxieties on him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  “God will perfect everything that concerns you.” (Psalm 138:8).  When we tell our concerns and worries to God, they matter to Him.  Why?  Because whatever concerns us and matters to us, concerns and matters to God.  When David wrote in Psalms 56:8, “You have kept count of my tossings;  put my tears in your bottle,”  we know that God cares, he sees, and hears our cries, they matter to Him.  To validate someone, means you support them and value their feelings, it lets them know “I am here for you,”  when you validate them.

'When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.' Matthew 14:14. Click To Tweet

There will always be worry and anxiety in this world.  God tells us in James 5:13-14, if “anyone among you is suffering, let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him….” We can model what Jesus does for us by opening our eyes and ears to the hurting and suffering and see what matters to Jesus, should matter to us as well.

Jesus didn’t walk away from the sick and the hurting, he met them in their anxieties by either coming alongside of them or healing them.  Because of Jesus’ compassion and God’s love many have been healed and saved.

Have you considered how you can meet someone in their anxiety?

What can you do to let them know God cares for them, he sees and loves them?

When anxiety gets the best of me, I have to refer back to what God is able to do, stay in prayer and trust He is able.

For the month of April, in honor of our son Bowen’s life we are encouraging others to consider sponsoring a child to not only help honor our son’s life, but to show others who are hurting and living in poverty, they matter.  Sponsoring a child is not only life-giving to them, but to you as well, when you give them an opportunity to an education and food.  It also helps open our eyes to see how someone else lives in another country and see life from their perspective.  It helps us move beyond the boundaries of our anxieties and steps into their world to meet them in theirs.  My anxiety is put into perspective when I see what I am concerned about is nothing compared to what others have to go through everyday.

If you were inspired by our son’s story or this post, Click on the link below and meet your future sponsor child!  You will be blessed!

Want to show more compassion? Consider sponsoring a child to help end poverty.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion


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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Heal From Hidden Hurts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The key to healing is our willingness to heal.

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

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

Do you invite Jesus into your hidden hurts?

Where do you keep hidden hurts?

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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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Letting Go and Letting God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can relate to Moses.

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

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

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

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

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

What does letting go and letting God mean to you?

Do you struggle with letting go and letting God?

What has God asked you to let go of?

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Does Our Faith Save Us?

Is our faith enough to save us?

Earlier this month a beloved Pastor named Jarrid Wilson took his own life.  He was a Pastor of a Harvest Christian Fellowship and founder of Anthem of Hope Ministries, a ministry to help those who struggled with depression and suicide.  He brought many to know Jesus and was an accomplished author of a few books, “Love is Oxygen,” “Jesus Swagger,” and “Wondrous Pursuit.”

As a Pastor and Man of God we think how can this happen?  It goes to show struggles are real and even godly people aren’t exempt.  How is it a man who walked with God so closely, spread His good news, helped hundreds with depression and brought many to Christ take his own life?

Jarrid Wilson’s situation asks deeper questions.

Did Jarrid not have enough faith?

If His faith didn’t save him, then what’s the point of having faith?

So many people in the Bible can ask the same question.

Did Daniel’s faith save him from being thrown in the lion’s den? No

Did Shadrack, Meschack, and Abendago’s faith save them from being thrown in the fiery furnace? No

Did the Israelites’ faith save them from being attacked by the Egyptians? No

Did Jesus’ faith prevent him from being crucified on the cross? No

You may be thinking, then what is the point in having faith if it doesn’t keep me safe?

Samaritan’s Purse put out a movie a couple of years ago called  ‘Facing the Darkness’ which was a documentary of the Ebola crisis outbreak.  Dr. Brantly the doctor and first American to contract the Ebola virus, said something so profound. He said, “Faith is not something that makes you safe. My faith did not save me but got me through it. My Faith actually brought me to the Ebola crisis.”

These examples of faith did not PREVENT them from being put in scary, dangerous circumstances. Standing firm in their faith DID PROTECT them and allow for God’s greater plan to happen.

If Daniel didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to shut the mouths of lions.

If Shadrack, Meshack and Abendago didn’t have faith we would had never seen GOD’S POWER protect them from being burned in the fiery furnace and how God was with them.

If the Israelites didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to part the Red Sea providing a way out from their enemies.

If Jesus refused to put his trust in His Father’s hands, we would have missed out on the greatest plan that ever existed—OUR ETERNAL SALVATION.

Each example of faith, including Dr. Brantly’s brought them to the heart of a crisis where their lives were at stake. Through each act of faith, we were able to see how trusting in God’s plan moves mountains and makes the impossible, possible.

How big is your faith?

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

It’s not the size of our faith that moves mountains, but the size of our God.  

IF our FAITH was enough to save us, there would have been no point in sending Jesus. Click To Tweet

Our faith allows God’s greater plan to play out. Our faith does not save us, but God’s grace does. 

Our faith will not SAVE us from our bad circumstances or GUARANTEE us a life without struggles. Our FAITH will not prevent us from being thrown into a pit of lions, a fiery furnace, being attacked by our enemies or contracting a deadly disease. Having faith does not exempt us from harsh realities of this world.

Our faith DOES allow God to be in control and puts the trust in HIS capabilities. Our faith is the very thing that will get us through to the other side and live in the abundant blessings God has to offer. It doesn’t matter what circumstances we are up against, when we have faith we become OVERCOMERS in Christ. Our faith allows us to experience PEACE in the storms and JOY in our struggles because of what God has already gone ahead of us and done.

Where will you allow your faith to take you?

Our faith may lead us into scary, dangerous places.  Be encouraged……..

God's grace will not take us where his love cannot protect us. Click To Tweet

God’s grace and love are greater and bigger than anything in this world.

1 John 4:4 “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How has your faith protected you in your hard circumstances?

Friends, suicide is never the answer.  If you are having suicidal thoughts please reach out and ask for help, call a friend.  Please know your life matters, you are worthy and valuable.

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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 Felt Like An Imposter?

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  Genesis 4:25 NIV

Come out, come out wherever you are.  Remember the game of hide and seek you used to play as a kid?  The seeker would count to 100 and say, ‘ready or not here I come.’  The object of the game was to find the best hiding place, turn out the lights and not be found by the seeker.  If the seeker found you then you became it having to go find those in hiding.  If you couldn’t be found then the seeker would say…..

“Come out, come out wherever you are.”

Have you ever felt like an Imposter?

Like you were playing a game of hide and seek only it wasn’t a game, it was your reality?  At one point in our lives we all hide from something, whether its to cover up gray hair (to appear younger than we are) or a pesky blemish on our face.  We all try to cover up our imperfections.

There have been so many times in my life where everything from the outside appears like its straight out of story tale when in reality I’ve been so desperately hurting on the inside.  From a distance it looks like I have everything all together but really feel like any moment the life I’ve built is going to crumble and fall apart.  I feel like one of those imposters who doesn’t expose their mess in front of others but instead keeps it hidden so no one will know.

At any moment someone is going to discover I don’t have it all together, nor do I have it all figured out.  Can you relate?

Why do we hide?

I think the very nature of our genetic makeup predisposes us to hide.  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God gave them one command, Do not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” Genesis 2:17.  Well, we know how that all went down.  Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, they became ashamed of what they did and hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees in the garden when they heard God walking in the garden (Gen. 3:8).

The next part amazes me, God then calls out to them and asks them a question which he already knew the answer to–“Where are you?”  Genesis 4:9.  God was the one who created Adam and Eve, giving them life, did they really think they could hide from God?  God is God and knows all things.  There is no where we can hide that he doesn’t see us.  There is nothing we can keep hidden from Him that he doesn’t already know.  

“Am I a God at hand, declares 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 NIV

It’ s so amazing time and time again we think we are safer or better off if we hide instead coming into the presence of God in the first place.  We try so hard to hide behind fake facades, perfectly manicured lives, masks of whom we think others will accept.  And yet we are so weary from trying to keep up with an image that doesn’t even matter.

In my professional life I wear a mask for a living to help maintain the sterility of the room I’m working in.  If one person enters the room without having the proper attire or their mask up to cover their face, there is a breech in the sterility of the room.  There are days I’m thankful I get to hide behind my mask so people don’t know whether I’m smiling or having a bad day.  Just as these masks protect the sterility of the room, our imposter masks protect us from others getting close to us and seeing the real version of ourselves.

These personas we hide behind aren’t really who we are at all.  The imposter masks may help protect our fake image but in the long run only end up falling apart.

The masks we wear don't make it better, they enable us to live as imposters in Fakeville.Click To Tweet

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  Ephesians 4:25 NIV

It’s scary right?  Exposing yourself to others, letting them know your flaws, your deficits, your imperfections?  What if you let others in and they discover who you really are and they don’t accept you?

These are valid concerns and fears.  We must surround ourselves with people whom we trust.  Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment of who you should share your struggles with, whom you can trust.

Where are you?  

When God called to Adam and Eve to come out of hiding, Adam told God he hid because he was naked.  God then responded, “Who told you that you were naked?”

Who told you?

Who told you, you must be ashamed?  

Who……. told………… you?

'But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.' Ephesians 5:13 NIVClick To Tweet

Have you ever felt like an imposter?

Our struggles, our burdens, our trials are not meant to go through alone.  The enemy wants us to feel shame so he can isolate us and keep us hidden in the dark with our troubles.  He wants to whisper lies for us to believe we’re better off hiding.  When we bring our struggles into the light the enemy has no power over us and sets us free from the darkness to be able to live in the light of our flaws, deficits and imperfections they way God created us.   God never meant for us to hide behind our flaws but for them to be apart of who we are.

Have Can I Pray For You?

God does his best work in the light.  If you are going through a tough season or trial have you asked someone to pray for you?  Have you told a trusted individual?  Let another person come alongside you and walk with you in your struggle.
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How Do I PRAY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of them.

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

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

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

So How Do We PRAY?

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

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

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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