Going Deeper With God: Cultivate

Perhaps there is a longing in the soul and you are not quite sure what it is that has caused this stirring or disconnect. In my earlier days when I would have this emptiness, I would seek to fill it in natural ways. A new job, a new project, reaching out to other people, or feeling there is something wrong with me. I have since learned that, the longing in my soul, is when I am desiring a deeper connection to the Lord. It is those moments that I can now recognize it is time for more… He is calling.

Just like any relationship, it takes effort on our part to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord. It is important to cultivate the relationship. God is always waiting. There are no limits to his depth. But we come to him by our own will and choice. He is not going to push us into more. But He does have more available.

Some ways to cultivate your relationship with God that have brought me to a deeper connection and understanding are:

SEEK Sometimes, it is simply a matter of seeking Him. Since God does not hold himself away from us, as we seek Him, we will find Him.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

1 Chronicals 16:11- Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

SURRENDER/OBEDIENCE As we hear God’s instructions and obey His Word, we walk in freedom. Often to know God more deeply is to recognize the areas in our life that may be holding us back. Now mind you, HE is available, but our acts of rebellion can hold us back from going deeper with God.

James 1:22- But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

REMAIN- Walk continually in the love relationship with God. Love is work and is an action. Keep steadfast in your affection.

John 15:9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

PRAYER– We can talk to God and can confidently know that He hears us.

1 John 5:14 -This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Jeremiah 29:12 – then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

WORSHIP It is important to honor the Lord as we set our hearts on him.

Hebrews 12:28 -Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

2 Kings 17: 38-39 – Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”

PRAISE Lift up your thanksgivings! Shout for joy what the Lord HAS done. Shout for joy what you know in faith according to His will that which will be done!

Colossians 3:16- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God

Psalm 34:1- I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

READ HIS WORD- The Word is a living connection to God. When we read His words, we are allowing Him to speak to our heart.

Psalm 119:130- The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Hebrews 4:12- For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

One of the most valuable revelations for me these past few years was to find the value of communicating with the Lord in many different ways. I am a worshiper in my very being. I think I must have been born singing to the Lord. This was most often my go-to for connecting with the Lord. It wasn’t until, through conversation that I understood not everyone feels the most connected this way. My friend feels her deep connection through prayer, my husband feels the most connected to the reading of the word. I would find reading the word a blur at times as I tried to remember the chapter and verse, or I would read scripture that would strike a chord and start singing again.
Many times, I would start praying and the prayer would almost always turn to worship.
Now I don’t find that there is anything wrong with connecting to the Lord in the way that is most natural for me. I have no concern or guilt over the fact that I would slide into what was my favorite form of connection.
However, if I want to hear more from God, perhaps entering into communication with Him in different ways could be beneficial. I have all kinds of expressions to communicate my love to others; touch gifts, service, time, etc. So is it possible that by stepping out more from our comfort zone that we can experience God?

When I started being mindful to focus on reading the word, I found my spirit rejoicing in new ways as the words leaped off the page at me.
When I started being mindful to focus on my prayer time, I found again that my spirit would stir with his answers.
Lifting praise and thanksgiving to God, completely change the mindset.



I have learned that results are not found seek after the deeper, as much as I seeking after God. The deeper comes as a result.
He is already there waiting to take us to our more with him. It is often us that can get complacent or comfortable.

Going Deeper With God: The Relationship Factor


Ugly confession time, but I know that hidden things coming to light can bring life to not only myself but others as well.
Many years of my marriage were wasted as I held my love for my husband back. I didn’t even consciously know I was doing this until the revelation came that I was waiting for my husband to leave me.
I was always on edge, expecting him to see all the ways that I did not measure up. I would even lash out in fear, pushing him away and retreating to what I thought was safe, behind a wall of pride and control.
Thankfully my husband took the words in scripture literally and followed the call for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
He would patiently and gracefully walk me through all the emotions and pain. Even when the hurt was so evident on his face he would not take his love away from me. He would also show his love, by letting me process my emotions and give me what I needed at the moment.
Suddenly one day I realized I was equating my husband’s compacity to love me to those that would not. I was waiting for him to leave me like the others that chose to walk away, mock, or torment me. I was doing this in other relationships as well and destroying good things the Lord had in store. But it wasn’t until I recognized it within my marriage that the blinders came off.
When this revelation came, I also realized I had believed this was how the Lord’s love for me worked.
I always thought I had to do everything right. I thought if I messed up too big, the Lord would retreat from me. I waited for God to leave me as well. But through my husband’s amazing love, I suddenly saw with my own eyes, how God’s love worked and the key was understanding my identity. I am HIS child. I am wanted. I am created for fellowship with God almighty!
He always wants the relationship. He never retreats. He always waits.

We are created FOR a relationship with God. When we have repented and come to Him, He is there. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Romans 8:38-39
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We can’t go deeper with God until we realize we were created for a deep relationship.

We can’t go deeper with God until we let the walls be removed that try to separate us from His love. He does not love us with a human capacity, but a GOD capacity. It is us that retreats. It is us that hides behind walls (sin and disobedience). 

In the beginning, God created man. Sin separated man from receiving all that the Lord had in store. 

SO… God in His great love, sent the very one that could bridge the gap for all of our shortcomings. We can not measure up, but God sent the one that made it so that we would not have to.

This is how Grace works. The unmerited ( free and not deserved) favor of God is a gift for his CHILDREN

He so loved us that He made a way that we would not have to retreat behind a wall of ugly to avoid being exposed. He already knows all of our mess and STILL wants us. 

So to go deeper with God, I pray you to realize how valuable and wanted you are. He is waiting with His arms open, with no condemnation (strong disapproval), for there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ. 


Now it is with great joy and freedom that I am blessed to love my husband. It is in this kind of freedom that I get to love God and allow His love to wash over me.

This is what we were created for, to fellowship in His goodness and glory.
We were created in the likeness of God. We don’t need to stay in the ugliness but walk into the freedom of a relationship. It is important to realize that just as I want to do the things that bring great joy to our marriage, I want to bring joy to my heavenly father.
I want to serve him. I want to bless his day and see a smile on his face. When we are rejoicing over the good things the father has for us and are eager to love and serve him it is then that we can go deeper and not focus on every action, but the one that gives us the ability to stay in freedom.

I mentioned in my previous post, think of a bride hiding behind a veil her whole entire marriage. What if this bride never let her husband see her true self or feel her lips on his lips without a barrier? Not only would she be hindering her husband’s joy in connection to her, but she would also be limiting her great joy as well. This was exactly what I had been doing.

Ask yourself if perhaps you are hiding behind barriers that hinder you from going deeper into your connection with God. Do you see your relationship through judgment, fear, and a master waiting for you to do wrong? Or do you see your relationship as one of a great connection that is to be treasured, revered, and rejoiced over? Because I know the gift is there for those that are willing to receive.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom

This season has been one where I just want to rest in worship and prayer. Everthing else pales in comparison. I go about the daily and the musts but in my resting I just sit and open my heart to an awareness of Him. I can sit in those moments for hours and it feels as if only moments have gone by.

The words that have been rising in my heart these last few weeks are;
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

When I am stressing over the medical testing, finances, politics, COVID restrictions, family, my next, or whatever other thing that comes to my mind at any given moment, I stop and just acknowledge that presence that indwells me.

It is not about the ‘rules’ but the relationship. I don’t have to have everything figured out in the coming. I come and He meets me, every single time. There is freedom no matter my mess as the atmosphere is changed when I am aware that He is in it.

The amazing thing about the new relationship with God that we have through Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, is that the veil has been torn. We don’t have to go through all the hoops to enter into the glory of God. We have access to the father at any moment that we are taking the time to be aware of Him.

Think of a bride. How would the intamacy in marriage be if she wore a veil over her face at all times? What if her groom had never felt the tenderness of her lips without the barrier?
So often we keep our walls up because we are afraid we are not doing everything right and don’t want to be exposed. But never forget that the father already knows and still waits with his arms opened wide.

Now mind you there are things that we can do to enhance our intimate times with the Lord, and I will be going over that this month on the topic “Going Deeper With God.” But, we have access to Him at all times. We are the ones that let the barriers rise. He has given us FREEDOM in His Spirit. He has given us access to the glory. The Spirit of the Lord is our gift and connection.

As for me, I am going to drink from that life. I will stop and let the concerns of this world fade away as I just commune with the Father and rest in His glory.
He is a good good father, that desires us to recieve the freedom that he has offered us.

Lift your veil my friends. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom!

2 Corinthians 3

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our[a] hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.[b]

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one[c] turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[e] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[f] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Hope in Times of Uncertainty

Epesians 1:18 – I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
There is no doubt that in some ways we are living in one of our worst moments this generation has experienced. We have been hit with the ugliest fight in politics that I have ever seen. There are enormously heavy hidden things coming out that are often too much for the mind to absorb. We have had unprecidented natural desasters, wild fires, and hard hits in the economy (again).
Not to mention the required isolation during COVID-19, and an increase in major depression and suicide.

There is so much on the shoulders of mankind in 2020. So how can we walk in hope with the weight that is baring down on us?

We must stir our hope up!

We stir up hope by walking in an expectation for a positive future. We stir up the truth that we will see the victory. We rejoice. We declare and walk with our head on what we are expecting rather than what we are having thrown at us.

We must not look at these times, and sit back with hands thrown up declaring it is hopeless. It is not hopeless!!!
There is so much in these situations to learn and grow. Businesses are being birthed as people are home and needing to redesign their income. People at home are becoming more creative, getting things accomplished that before they had no time available for. Families are valuing their time together in new ways. We are now longing for true connection, that without COVID-19 we allowed to go dormant. Communities are coming together to help those that have faced loss and disaster.

It is important to remember that in our waiting God is there. We are not forgotten. We have a purpose and in this time some of us are just now awakening to what that purpose is.

HOPE– Let us pursue with expectation God hears us and meets us where we are at.
Jeremiah 29:12- Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

HOPE-Let us pursue with expectation we DO have a purpose in all this. We have been created for such a time as this. Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

HOPE– Let us pursue with expectation the kind of person that we want to be on the other side of this weighty and heavy time in history.
Colossians 3:14- And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

HOPE – Let us pursue with expectation that there is a victory ahead of us. We will overcome and be stronger because of what we have grown through.
1 Peter 5:10-  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Hope moves us forward. It pushes into our next. When we are feeling all is lost or we are miserable in our situation, it is up to us to look to where our HOPE comes from. We cannot afford to stay dormant and hide. Others need us and we will not function in our best if we hang our head down and walk in hopelessness.
Psalm 121:1- I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.


One way to generate hope is to invest in others. With Covid-19 this may mean some creativity. I have seen all kinds of online support groups and opportunities to connect.
Book clubs, bible studies, hobby interests and ministry pages. There is opportunity even at home to socialize and take the time to instil hope into others. Stirring hope for others stirs hope within our own hearts. Ask yourself if you are called to contribute in a new way to a social outlet. Perhaps start something that has been on your heart for some time. Now is the time to go after it!

God is a God of HOPE. He genertes hope within us as we give thanksgiving.
Start today, thanking for that which you expect and want to see.

I just know we will begin to see great things!


She is clothed in Strength and Dignity

Writing4Joy
“Strength and Dignity”

Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
She makes me laugh. She gives hope when I feel discouraged. She reminds me that my mind needs to have redirection when I am thinking of the things that are not life-giving. She is a woman of Grace.  She understands my struggles, either because she has lived them or because she is walking close to the one that knows my every moment and breath.
She is my friend. She is my warrior in battle. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. A woman fully clothed in strength and dignity.

Who is she? She is many. She is the many women that the Lord has put in my life to edify, encourage, build up, and strengthen me in this thing we call life.
In the presence of these mighty women, I can’t help be changed and transformed to be the woman that God had created me to be.

Just as the scripture says bad company corrupts good character (I Cor. 15:33), so can a strong woman influence the ladies within her circle.

Because she spent the time to cultivate my walk, I am able to say that I too am a woman of strength and dignity. I too can laugh at my future without fear.

I have been blessed to have women in my life give of themselves and take the time to instruct and teach the truth. They have spoken into my nows, for the development of my next.

Who the Lord chooses to place in my life has taken turns over the years. But each one that has imparted has made a lasting impact. I remember the women, that taught a young girl, how to raise my hands in worship. I remember the women that taught me how to go to the scriptures in all of my trials, longing, and joys. I remember the women that taught me how to be a wife that saught God’s plans for my family. I remember the woman that spoke to me as a young mother and reminded me that the seasons would go fast and to enjoy each moment. I remember the woman that taught me how to retrain my thoughts. I remember the woman that told me I was assuming another’s heart was ill-intentioned and that I  needed to trust in God for other’s motives and love without restriction. I remember the woman that spoke into my life, teaching me about my identity in Christ.

These many women changed my life from the victim to the victorious. From the mundane to the extraordinary. To a life full of expectation rather than a focus on what was lost or left behind.

Because she was willing to invest, I too can boldly say that I  am a woman clothed in strength and dignity and I can laugh without fear of the future. Because of the Holy Spirit within her pouring out, I was changed.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.
She can walk in this truth as she listens to the instruction of the Lord. She dwells with the Holy Spirit. Letting His power be at work within.

She may not even know the impact she has made. For her efforts may have seemed so small in the grand scheme of things. But to the one that had her life changed, it meant everything.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.

Loneliness: Call Me

 

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Awakened Arts: Call Me Anytime

 

Sometimes the damage of rejection can have roots that run deep. I have had seasons of extreme loneliness. Many times, it had been a lingering feeling of not having a place in the world. The mind can play games when you have a lot of time on your hands. The silence can be your biggest enemy.

Often my loneliness had been my own making. I have hurt others by canceling plans due to my illness. I understand their frustration, it would break my heart to cancel and the lies start wreaking havoc about my worth. So then I would not make plans, and the invites never came.
Also,  I am not one to love talking on the phone, in fact I cringe at the thought. I get anxious about the onslaught of sensory overload that inevitably follows phone conversations. My form of communication is writing, or time together, but not everyone works the same way.

Society teaches us to not invite ourselves. And I have done the inviting more times than I can count, only to sit back and watch everyone else gather time and again without an invite. I have traveled 8 hours twice to go spend time with a friend, only to have them unable to go 10 min out of their way to come see me when we were in the same town, they rather take a picture of a building (their bucket list item), than allowing a few minutes for a quick hello and hug as they passed through. It has hurt extremely deeply. And the enemy would use these moments to attack, the remembrance that others didn’t want me, and actually preferred I didn’t exist at all, would ring loud in my head after every new rejection.

There have been times I even voiced my loneliness to others, to only receive empty stares back at me or a nod of understanding but then weeks of silence followed. Even if I was unable to do, the invite would have been a treasure.

I have beaten myself up with lies that I am unlovely and unwanted.  I surely must be annoying or boring or any other ‘thing’ that would keep others uninterested in spending time with me by their own choice, would fill my head.

I even ordered a book titled: Uninvited- Lysa Terkeurst which I have yet to read as I lost it in some transitions.

Imagine my surprise, when a friend heard my words, “I am lonely”, and acted on them. She heard my cry and invited me to coffee.
She shared her own seasons of loneliness. And admitted that the Lord told her if you are lonely do something about it. This truth touched my very core.
I had been letting the enemy lie to me so much I stopped reaching out. I was waiting for everyone else to notice me, in a world where sometimes, this just does not happen.
To see someone so charismatic, beautiful, fun, well-loved, talented, gifted and all other things lovely, to deal with being lonely was a shock to me.

It was a few days later the Lord had revealed a life-giving truth to me.  When loneliness rises up, it is often a tugging and call from the Lord.
He wants to spend time with us. Loving and healing us through our inner hurts. He wants the opportunity to sit in His presence. It is in those moments with Him that I have been given hope, peace, joy, healing, and revelations. It is in those moments that I discovered my identity. I discovered that I am wanted. My pain has melted away and new life rises up.
When I get so wrapped up in the fact that I am sitting in silence and the invites are not coming, I miss the most important invite of all. He tells me I can call anytime. He is there and faithful to seek us out. To draw us near. And meet us right where we are at.

One of my favorite scriptures ‘rings’ so true at this moment.
Jeremiah 33:3-  Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.  

We are now in a season where loneliness is knocking on our doors. We can not reach out and gather the way many of us value. We can’t busy our thoughts of isolation away. It is the forefront in our mind.

I want to encourage you this day my friend. Call to the Lord, ask Him what new treasure He may have for you. What hidden truths does He want to bring to light? How can only He fill the innermost needs in your life that are missing?

The time will come, we can be busy, social and all the good things fellowship brings. This is a time to call on Him, like never before. There are so many great things to discover.

I am spending time today…. just calling…listening and enjoying.
Here is a song to enjoy in the journey. Call Me 

 

Help

88965519_10221713207884450_7997061159045824512_n Art by: Shaey Anthony

Help. Why has this word been so tainted? Why does the word “help” represent weakness to many instead of strength?

When you have exhausted all your own efforts and still banging your head against the wall, asking for help can move you into the greater faster. With help, there comes the opportunity for support and can often bring better results.

I have a vision of a giant city bridge. It is beautiful in structure. But without the support underneath that bridge, it will not stand and extend to fill the gap and do all that it was created for.

There are times I have been frustrated that help has not come. I have been the hamster on the wheel getting nowhere with all my efforts. I wonder, “why am I in this alone?” The answer is simple. I was in it all alone, because I didn’t bother to ask for help. I kept plugging along trying to figure it all out when some of the answers were not attainable to me.

It is wise to reach out for strong counsel when you need help. It is comforting and encouraging to reach out the God that created you to rest in the Lord’s promise that He comes to help in your time of need.
You can rise with confidence that you are not in this process alone. Help has arrived. Asking for help allows a deeper connection. It reveals our humanness. It leaves you with room to focus on the solution rather than the struggle.

I encourage you my friend, don’t walk in your struggles alone. When you have done all that you can do, ask for help to see you onto your best self. Ask the Lord to comfort you, encourage you, give you wisdom and open the doors to propel you on.

Think of the bridge again. This time we are thinking of a draw bridge that is open. You can make it part of the way, but you can not cross to the other side until the bridge is lowered and connected. You are on one side, standing it alone. Your hopes, dreams, and goals are waiting on the other side. Ask for help to connect your bridge.  Use the effort you have put in, and the effort, wisdom or support of another to fully arrive.

Along with resting in the Lord and His promise of help, sometimes He will use others.
Ask those around you for help. Look to a professional for help. But please stop trying to do it all on your own. Depression, isolation, and defeat is not a sign of strength, rather, it will take you longer to arrive (if you even do). And you may just have been striving for so long and hard that you show up too exhausted to enjoy the fruit of arrival.

Asking for help is not a weakness, in fact, it just may be the strongest thing you ever did in your life. I will start my mornings asking God to help me when morning dawns and I will not be moved in my strength!

Sorry… Not Sorry

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An open letter of apology, for those who were before and those yet to come.

Authentic: not false or copied; genuine; real: representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified: reliable; trustworthy:

I am sorry I had spoken too quickly, I will now be more aware. I am sorry that I thought our relationship was at a level that we could speak openly into each other’s lives, the good the bad and the real. I am sorry that you were hurt. I am sorry that you feel that I was not the kind of person you wanted to be around because in your words; “we are too different”. I am sorry you didn’t feel bold enough to tell me I crossed the line or anything was wrong. I am sorry that I thought you understood my physical limits, sometimes my smile hides the reality.

I am not sorry that I am authentic, it is who I am. I am not sorry that I seek a community that is bold and truthful with one another, I am not one for a smile and the fake.
I am not sorry that I can’t measure up to your expectations, especially if I don’t know what they are.   I am not sorry that I am human, flaws and all. I am not sorry that I want to know all of you; the good the bad and the real. I am not sorry that when I see one hurting and pouring out their heart to me, I have wanted to share that I too have been there and where my truths and personal victories came from. I am not sorry that when I share all of me, my hope is that you will share all of you. I am not sorry that I am open to the fullest connection. I am not sorry that I told the blunt truth even if it hurt, because others have done so for me and it was my defining moments of clarity. I am not sorry that I must grow and learn from this and now know that not everyone wants the same kind of relationship.

Yes, we are called to encourage, lift up, edify and bring joy.  However, if I saw you walking straight into oncoming traffic, I would grab you and pull you out of the danger zone. I would not smile and wave you on.

Let me say to the ones that are absolutely completely my polar opposites, that love me just as I am, to those that can discuss everything under the sun, even if we don’t agree and still smile across the table without being offended, that will tell me when I am too much, or that they flat out believe I am insane because I believe in a God that speaks to me and they don’t believe in one at all, thank you. Thank you for loving me, and making the effort to be true with me. Thank you for not discarding me like so many have. Thank you for the lesson that just because you want someone to love you, it doesn’t mean they will, but others are waiting. I am sorry for the disconnect, but I am not sorry for being me.

Lord help me walk in this truth. Reveal where I lack and give me the wisdom needed to know who is my community. 

Ephesians 4:20-32 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

10 Ways to Bless away the Stress

I mentioned in a previous post that by being a blessing and serving others, the focus was off of me and my ‘issues’ that were leading to anxiety. I literally was able to bless away the stress. To be quite honest though, that was not my intent, but it was the fruit of it all.
Now mind you, the motive is key.  If you bless others hoping to get something from them in return, you can be very disappointed and if you are not careful it can sow seeds of resentment.

10 ways to Bless away the Stress

1. Get involved in a local fundraiser in your community.
If you are not able to give financially, you can see if there is an area that needs your involvement through volunteering.
My favorite events from the past have been fundraisers for child abuse prevention, cancer research, rare disease awareness, newborn advance screening efforts,  youth groups, pregnancy counseling, school supply drives, and holiday gift baskets.

2. Send texts, cards, or letters of encouragement.  One of my hardest seasons left me very lonely, so I wrote letters to strangers. I encouraged them and shared what was on my heart. I had a PO BOX set up specifically. Remember the key is to encourage and edify, building someone up.
I had many replies back and corresponded for some time. I even obtained a very close friend as an added joy.
If strangers are not your thing, perhaps a pen pal to soldiers, prisoners or the many efforts asking for cards to those that are ill.

3. Leave flowers or your favorite craft on a doorstep to surprise someone. You may want to leave them for a friend, neighbor, or even local business that you frequent.

4. Serve someone that is ill or has a recent loss in the family. Meals, babysitting, dog walking, and house cleaning are all ways that you could bless someone with this need.

5. Give health packs to the homeless. I have handed out packs with water, wipes, soft granola bars, feminine products, socks, hand warmers, etc.

6. Visit the elderly. You could ask the staff at your local elder care facility if there is anyone that has a need for visitors. Or you can offer to set up activities in the common area. We have held Christmas Caroling in the lobby.

7. Far and away. It can be life-changing for you and a blessing to those you serve, to go on a mission trip. There are many options out there to serve all interests. If you are not one that feels comfortable or able to travel, consider supporting someone else’s trip financially.

8. Purchase gift cards and give as the needs arise. Often if families are out of work or have loved ones in the hospital, receiving gift cards can ease the burden.  Grocery stores, Gas stations, and restaurants are some of my favorites. If you know someone that has been under the weather, gift cards for self-care are great too!

9. Engage in conversation. Some of my most blessed moments are conversations in the grocery store with the clerk or encouraging my waitress in some small way. You don’t have to talk for hours. Just a kind word and a thank you can go a long way.

10. Host a community event giving others the chance for connection: Christmas caroling followed by hot chocolate,  lead a bible study or book group at a coffee shop, organize a block party for your neighborhood, or host a game night at a local meeting place are some examples.

I would love to hear more creative ideas, so please share!

Even If…

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These last few months the words resonating in my heart are, “Even If.”

We have had many changes in our life recently and I hate change. My body reacts even when I tell myself everything is fine and all the changes have been for a great purpose and plan.

One of those changes involved us leaving a church of the last five years and follow the Lord in His leading to our next. We knew that we were called but not the why, to our calling.
I told the Lord, even if I don’t have the answers, I will listen to your voice. So in faith, we stepped forward in the plan for our life.

Even though leaving the team of people we had grown to love hurt my heart, I had to obey what I knew to be true and serve my God and husband first. Even if it meant uncomfortable change and new people, a new place and a new level of finding my self in the midst of ministry, I had to say yes.
Even if it means admitting that I took on roles at our previous church that were not my own to take on, in order to try to fill up the restlessness within me.
Even if it meant stepping into a new realm of vulnerability. Even if.

I know there are many purposes for following the Lord in the Even If seasons of our life.
I know that God has done many amazing things in the last 4 months and He has not even touched the surface. But in this process, He has stirred a call I had felt at 15 years old in youth group. Life happened and the leading faded but was never gone. I had begun a collection of paintings in the last few months and titled them “Women of the World.” Little did I know I was painting the very call within my heart…
The call to serve with mission teams.

Here the thoughts would rise up as the stirring would come, but then so would the excuses. Most of which was linked to how I am doing in this season physically. But the thought would not leave that I was called to go and serve.
The stirring rose afresh as I sat with the new church congregation and heard about the heart of serving in Baja Mexico at the Door of Faith Orphanage.
I had every excuse, but the tugging kept coming.
We had no money in savings and the trip was coming fast. I have been in an unbelievable flare physically. We just received additional fees to add to a huge bill from hospital tests and then a few days before DHS sent a bill for overpayment when we were foster parents. This doesn’t account for all the other life needs on hold at the moment.
But mostly my heart I didn’t want to hurt over leaving the orphans and I felt as if I had nothing to offer.
I felt that with my physical limits Dan would have to go and he has absolutely told me over the years this was NOT his area of calling. All these thoughts and excuses rushing my head and I still felt my heart-tugging… EVEN IF. Even if there is no way, God can make the way. Even if there seemed to be too many obstacles, God is able to move those obstacles. Even if I have my doubts…HE is faithful despite them.

So I prayed. I said, God if you truly want me to move in faith as your word says, faith without works is dead, then I am going to be as Gideon and request that you show me without a doubt that it is you that I am hearing and not just my over compassionate mama heart.

These were my conditions as I spoke to the Lord:
I need Dan to go with me. I will not ask.
I need the leader to come to me directly who I have not yet met and tell me that He feels I am to join the team.
I need the provision.

Service was over and Dan leans to me and says, ” I feel like I may be called to go on the mission trip.” I kid you not my mouth about fell to the floor. I may even have laughed out loud. You have to know this is absolutely a tugging from God. He would have not been opened to the idea otherwise.
I was stopped by a friend and visiting after church. I looked over at Dan and He was talking to the leader. Dan called me over and as I was introduced, the team leader said, “God highlighted you to me, I feel you are called to go on this trip.” (paraphrasing as I can’t remember exact words). At this point, I knew and I just nodded my head and said as much.
Now we are waiting on provision and believing for the plan to unfold as we walk out the little hiccups of life in the planning process. The trip is coming fast!
With my lack of knowing where the funds would come from and a time crunch, we had started a go fund me even though I felt so foolish in doing so, I said again…Even If.
The fees for the passport came in first at the Go Fund Me site as well as the cost of plane tickets that were mailed to us. I saw how it was exactly what we needed when we needed it.
We are over halfway to our goal and I know the rest is already accounted for. We are praying for the paperwork we need to move forward will come quickly as Dan had to order his birth certificate before getting a passport. We are on a time crunch. But of course, God already knows this.

I am excited. I know there are many purposes for following the Lord’s leading. But I am still reminded to hold fast to those words… Even If… because often His call does not match my human understanding. Even If I don’t see it, I can rest assured that HE knows it. Even… If.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.