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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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When You’re Identity Isn’t You’re Identity

In case you haven’t noticed, anyone you talk to nowadays has had their DNA tested by some sort of DNA testing company such as ancestry and 23 and me.  These companies make it so easy, just swab or spit into the container they provide and ship off the specimen in the mail.  They are not only able to test what your ancestral composition is but your genetic health as well.

People choose to have their DNA tested for all sorts of reasons.  It could be they were adopted and want to know more information about where they came from.  It could be to find out if their ancestral heritage is really what they’ve been told.  Or they just want to know if they have a variant for a certain genetic disorder.

Whatever the reason, people are curious about what makes up their genetic DNA, because that makes us who we are.

When You’re Identity Isn’t You’re Identity

I recently had my DNA tested and was very surprised to find out what I discovered.  I knew I was Scottish and British and was told my whole life I was Native American.  Well, DNA is DNA and evidence does not lie.  My DNA did not show one drop of Native American blood.  In fact it showed I was 8% African American and 5% Ashkenazi Jew among 13% French German and 2% Scandinavian and Spanish/Portuguese.

I was quite surprised to discover my DNA didn’t show what I was told my whole life.  What I’ve discovered on this journey, is creating a family tree to trace back who your ancestors really are helps.  I have found there is some truth to what I’ve been told and what my DNA shows.

The only problem is once one starts digging into the past and building family trees, one might discover there’s a lot of skeletons in the closet that some don’t want uncovered.

We all have messed up and broken pasts that may reveal ugly parts of our past.  Even Jesus did.  Check out this short video done by Bible Gateway that shows the messed up past of Jesus’ genealogy.  He was related to Rahab the prostitute, King David a rapist and murder, And King Solomon a big time polygamist. Click here to watch the short video.

One might think how can Jesus our Savior, who never sinned have such a messed up past? Click To Tweet

We may want to dismiss our own broken pieces of our past to somehow make us more ‘holy’ if we didn’t have these things as a part of our lives.  But the Bible doesn’t cover up the brokenness of Jesus’ past or anyone for that matter.  In fact, the Bible leads with the brokenness of the most highly esteemed people in the Bible.

To cover up the broken pieces of our lives is to cover up Jesus.Click To Tweet

We miss out on our true purpose and identity when we deny how God made us.  We may not like our flaws, our idiosyncrasies, or even our past mistakes, but it is how God made us and will use everything for His greater plan.

Our brokenness and past mistakes don't define us, our choices and who God says we are does.Click To Tweet

What’s so amazing about Jesus’ history is no matter who we are, no matter what our past reveals he can identify with our messes!

Our identities will never be found in our past.  They will never be found in what we wear or even how much money we make.  They will never be found in titles, the more we have or how many people we know.

Our true identity will always be found in Jesus in who he says we are.  Hallelujah praise God for that!

We all have different genetic DNA, but when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we all have the same spiritual DNA making us all apart of God’s big family.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

We obtain a new identity in Christ when we accept Him as our Savior.

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

We no longer want or desire our old ways.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:24

We become a new person in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Our old selves are no longer. 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21

To live in Christ is to gain.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8 ESV

Friend, you were made for this.

Your past does not need you, your future does.

You were made and created just the way you are for God's bigger plan and purpose. Praise God our identities aren't in what this world says but in who God says we are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever believed something about your identity that wasn’t true?

What part of your identity do you struggle with?

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What To Do With Unsolvable Problems

“The thing I love about God is He intentionally guides people into failure.”  Bob Goff, Love Does

Do you ever struggle with having unsolvable problems in your life?  You know those problems that keep coming up over and over that don’t ever seem to get solved?  The more I’m getting to know myself the more I realize, I can’t stand having unsolvable problems in my life.

You know what I do with those problems?  I try to solve them myself!  Yup.  For some reason I think it’s my job to attach myself to the solution, the outcome, and the problem itself and try to fix it!  I try to control these things I have no control over.

As a result of me trying to exert my non-existent authority and weakness over these matters a mess happens.  Why do I think I can do a better job than God?   I don’t know, but it never works.  God doesn’t need my help, yet I interfere to offer my services where they don’t belong.

Have You Ever Been There?  

What To Do With Unsolvable Problems:

We’re not the only ones who struggle with problems in our lives we can’t solve.  The Israelites had A LOT of problems and they ALSO tried to take matters in their own hands MANY times.

In Exodus 32:1-2, The Israelites went before Aaron, Moses’ brother and said, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

“So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.  And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and make a golden calf.  And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”  (Exodus 32:3-4).

If you have been following my posts we have been following the Israelites through their journey of their captivity, deliverance  and waiting.  In Letting Go, Letting God The Israelites had to let go of their expectations of how God was going to deliver his promise of The Promised Land.  Here once again, The Israelites were waiting for Moses (which seemed like forever) to return from Mt. Sinai with the 10 commandments.

They got impatient, seeking an alternative to God.  And instead of seeking their one true God, they looked elsewhere to a less than false god with their own belongings.

What a mess they had made when they got impatient, taking matters into their own hands.  Instead of waiting for God’s greater and better plan, they decided their plan was better and went ahead of God.

How many times do we do this as well?  We think we know better.  We think we have a better way.  And then our fruitless efforts of making God’s plans better become an entangles mess.

If only The Israelites took their unsolvable problem of wanting to worship a god NOW was taken to their one and only true God FIRST. Click To Tweet

If only when we have Unsolvable Problems we take them to God FIRST instead of trying to solve them OURSELVES with our own accord and strength.

“For I know the plans for you, declares the LORD, Plans to Prosper you and not to harm you, Plans to give you a Hope and a Future.”

God does not need my help, nor did He ask for it.  Yet I run ahead and involve myself to try to ‘fix’ or make it ‘better.’

We all have unsolvable problems.  The balance is learning how to live life WITH these unsolvable problems.  It’s okay to have problems, because I know the one who can solve them.  I know the one who has the solution for them.  I know the one who has the answer to them.

When we allow God to have our unsolvable problems, He’s able to mend, to mold, to refine, use them, restore, redeem, reconcile them into something so much greater.  The only problem to the unsolvable problem is US when we continue to get in the way and don’t allow God to do His thing.

His ways are greater, His plans are better.

What should we do with our unsolvable problems? Give them to the one who is able. Click To Tweet

What do you do with your unsolvable problems?

Do you try to ‘fix’ your own problems?

The best thing we can do to allow God access to our problems is to GET OUT OF THE WAY.  When we do, we give God the authority to solve our problems in His power and in His way.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I know I have unsolvable problems that only you can fix.  I know that I’ve been guilty of trying to fix my problems my way and have been getting in the way.  I know I’m not the authority in my problems but yet I try to take control and fix my problems my way.  Please forgive me Lord, for taking the steering wheel out of your hands.  Take my hands off of anything where they don’t belong.  I pray I will allow for your timing, your plans to mend and restore my problems.  Thank you God for caring so much for me and walking through this with me, I pray this in Jesus name.  Amen

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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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3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle

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

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

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

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

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

Here are 3 Ways to Break the Crazy Cycle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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This is What Happens When We Trust in God’s Power

This is what happens when we trust in God's power

“Don’t just do something, Sit There!” quote anonymous.

One might think this quote is backwards but it is written exactly as it should be.  It captures the essence of someone who is paralyzed by their fears and makes them think I’m powerless, my situation is hopeless.  This is what fear does to us to keep us exactly where we are, to keep us stuck.

Sometimes I don’t think I give God enough credit.  I’ll be honest, there are times I want to dial a miracle or a drive-by request asking God for a miracle only He can do, but not really put in the work in.  I think, ‘wait you want me to be patient and work for that?’  ‘Can’t you just give it to me?’  Well, that’s not exactly how God works.

If it were up to me I’d have a menu of miracles I could access anytime upon request.  ‘God can I have a slay your giant miracle?  Or how about a bringing down the walls of Jericho, that’s a good one.’  Or better yet, a protect me in the fiery furnace or shut the mouths of lion miracle when I need it, just in case.

If it were up to me, I’d want ALL the miracles God could give me, so I didn’t ever have to be uncomfortable.

God's miracles aren't for my own convenience but to display his power through me.Click To Tweet

From the beginning of time, starting with Adam and Eve, if there’s one thing God wants us to do, it’s to TRUST Him.  When we do, our circumstances change drastically and miracles happen.  A previous post I’ve written called Letting Go of the Miracle may sound like these posts contradict one another.  But there’s a difference.  We can put our hope and trust into a miracle that may never happen the way we want it, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t able.

Putting our hope and trust in what He’s able to do, in His divine power, allows our hearts to be freed from our own expectations and desires, allowing for God’s greater plan to happen within us and through us.

This Is What Happens When We Trust in God’s Power

Miracles happen.  The unexplainable.  The unimaginable.  The unexpected.  But let’s be real.  When we put our own expectations of what God’s miracles should be, we limit His infinite power, putting Him in a box, not allowing for His bigger miracles to happen.  When we put a timeline on his miracles, of when WE think he should answer our prayers, we’re bailing on His biggest blessings.

Have you ever been in a situation, looked all around you, saw nothing but defeat, the enemy surrounding you and thought there's no way out, no way my circumstances can be resurrected?Click To Tweet

The Israelites sure had a lot of these moments.  Especially right before they crossed The Red Sea.  The Israelites had just been delivered from being under the reign and rule of Egypt for the past 400 years.  They had endured 11 plagues that included a bloody river, flies, frogs, darkness and hail.  They had seen God’s miracles and provision first hand.

Yet they knew Pharaoh (the ruler of Egypt) and what he was capable of.  I’m sure as they departed for their journey they kept looking back to see when was he going to come back to get us?  The Israelites knew God was going to deliver them, they just never knew HOW.  God had a plan all along.

As they were wandering in the wilderness they were about to be enclosed by the desert and The Red Sea, with no way out.  Then God told Moses, “For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, “They are wandering in the land;  the wilderness has shut them in.  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 14:3-4).  

Sounds so crazy that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart, yet once again to come after the Israelites he said could go.  Pharaoh had a big army of over 600 chariots.  Imagine this scene, The Israelites who didn’t have any weapons to defend themselves were standing backed up to The Red Sea, with nowhere to go and their enemies were charging at them.

At this point the Israelites were doubting and said, ‘Wouldn’t it had been better if we just stayed in Egypt, instead of dying here in the wilderness?’ (paraphrase Exodus 14:12).

God says to Moses, “And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots and horsemen.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 14:17)

What the Israelites were failing to see, is God had brought them to this place for His own very specific purpose.  God wasn’t going to take them somewhere, where He couldn’t protect them.

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and  made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.  And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.  The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horseman” (Exodus 14:22-23).

And then the unimaginable happened.  Not only did God provide a way out for the Israelites in their impossible situation, He also destroyed their enemies, the Egyptians!  The very sea that provided their escape was the very sea he used as the downfall of their adversaries, so they could never come after or harm them again!

Here’s the deal.  God would have never delivered the Israelites out of Egypt without providing a way for them to get out.  HOWEVER……… Even though God parted The Red Sea, the Israelites HAD TO WALK THROUGH IT ONE STEP AT A TIME! 

The Key to allowing God’s Miracles to happen is TRUST.

T– Thankful.  Being thankful in our trials, giving God our trust in advance.  It says, I know what I’m going through sucks, but I know God is good and will praise in him in trials no matter what.  There’s always something to be thankful for no matter how bad our situations are.

R– Release it to Him.  Admitting and acknowledging our trials are beyond our control, allows us to give whatever we’re going through to God and allow Him to handle it.

U– Unexpected (allow for it).  When we allow for the unexpected in our lives and stop putting God into a box, expecting the miracle and outcome to be a certain way, we allow for His bigger blessings.

S– Satisfy.  When God is the one who is our ultimate provider of all things and when we believe what He has for me is ENOUGH then we will always be satisfied and abundantly blessed in any situation.

T– Trials.  Our trials, God’s glory.  When we allow for our trials, struggles, heartache, pain, scars of the past, suffering, all to be for God’s glory, we allow for His greater story to be written through us.

You may feel OVERWHELMED by your circumstances right now.  You may feel life is just spinning our of CONTROL.

We are not powerless in our situations.  We have the choice to keep taking ONE STEP AT A TIME.  Don’t try to take on your situation by yourself all at once.  Practice this TRUST acronym.  Start being thankful.  Practice releasing your burden to Him.  Allow for the unexpected.  When we do, we learn even if we have nothing, God is all I need (in him we have everything).

You are loved my friend!

How has trusting in God delivered you from your circumstances?

Has Fear ever paralyzed you?

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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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When Perfect Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Have you ever worked so hard towards a goal, reached that goal and realized this isn’t what I expected at all?  The goal you set, you thought the end result was so perfect, if you just achieve it, life will be perfect, joy will be in abundance and all things will be well in the universe?

If there is anything God continually teaches and shows me, it’s which side of humble and I sitting on.  And where am I placing my hope and expectations?

I am one who struggles with constantly trying to ‘perfect’ things and can drive myself crazy if I don’t allow God’s perspectives to lead me.  God is the ultimate perfecter who makes all things perfect, not me.  What he has is good enough not anything I can do with my own hands or strength.

If there is one common theme in the Old Testament that reveals God’s perfect plans, it’s his TIMING.  But I love how God sends messengers to confirm His plans, letting us know I am with you, I have not left you, trust in me and I will lead you into the greatest plans ever.

When Perfect Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Shattered dreams and broken expectations may leave us feeling lost, wondering ‘does God even care?’ or ‘what do I do now?’

Expectations.  We all have them.  Even the Israelites did.  They had an expectation God would deliver them from slavery out of Egypt into The Promised Land.  God promised he would, but His promise was taking a VERY long time, like 400+ years long.  And even when God came through with His promise of deliverance the Israelites waited another 40 years!

Towards the end of the 40 years, the Israelites come to the edge of The Promised Land waiting to enter, thinking, “This is it!  we’re here!”  Then God commissions Moses to send spies into The Promised Land to check it out, to see if the people who dwell there are strong or weak, whether they are few or many (Numbers 13:18).

When the spies returned they reported, “We came to the land to which you sent us.  It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (which is big by the way) (Numbers 14:27).  ‘But there’s a problem.  The people who dwell in the land are STRONG, the cities are LARGE, and anyone is our enemy or adversary lives there!’ (Numbers 14:28-29).

But then Caleb (the whole-hearted one and one of the spies), could see fear filling people’s hearts and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Don’t you love his courage and confidence?  He’s basically saying, Let’s go!  We can do this!

The Israelites weren’t having it.  They rebelled and allowed their fear to dictate their response, and said, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!  Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become prey.  Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-4) 

Wow! Really?  Go back to Egypt?  In other words, they’d rather go back through the wilderness, go back into captivity to be under the rule of Pharaoh in which God delivered them from so they didn’t have to go into The Promised Land and face their giants?

Did they forget what God was able to do?  He parted The Red Sea for them, protected and provided for them in the desert and delivered generations of people plus their cattle and belongings from one of the most powerful rulers that ever existed.

Did they think God wasn’t able to help them defeat their giants?

Then Joshua steps in (another spy), and says, “The land , which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.  If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.  Only do not rebel against the LORD.  And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us.  Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us;  do not fear them” (Num. 14:6-8).

I love how God uses Caleb and Joshua to speak into the situation at hand to put His plan into perspective.  He’s saying, it’s not about how big the giants are, it’s not how strong our adversaries are, it’s about how BIG our GOD is and what He’s able to do.  We don’t have to be afraid.  God has this!  His protection will be with us not them.

Why do you think the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years to then face a battle in order to enter The Promised Land?

This was all apart of the process and God’s greater plan for his promise to be fulfilled in the fullest way possible.  Even though God PHYSICALLY delivered the Israelites from Egypt;  the captivity of Egypt was still in them.  The wilderness is where God SPIRITUALLY delivered them from Egypt.  Generations of Israelites lived four-hundred years of captivity, that’s a lot of oppression that was inbred in them.

What good would God’s plan be if he allowed a bunch of captives to live in The Promised Land?  They wouldn’t fully be living in His Promises He had to offer of true freedom, peace or joy.  

In order for victory to be a victory there must be a battle. God doesn't ask us to fight battles he isn't willing to fight with us. Click To Tweet

Our perfect expectations will never make any situation perfect, only God can.  Putting our own expectations on our situations, trying to do things our way, doesn’t allow for God’s greater plans to work within us.

Living in captivity will cost us.   Staying in places of brokenness will cost us our freedoms and joys in life every time.  We will never be able to live in The Promised Land, the way God intended, unless we allow Him to walk us through the battles we face to rid us of anything holding us back from living in His fullness.

The Israelites had an expectation The Promised Land would just be given to them.  Even though they didn’t want to face their giants and adversaries, God had a plan that was greater than they could have ever imagined if they just trusted in Him.

Have you ever been let down by your own expectations?

Has God ever asked you to fight a battle so you could be used for His greater plan?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s get started!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

All book information is at www.holymessbook.com

 


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In Him,