In Your Heart

It’s not in your day job or side gig. Your credentials or diplomas. It’s not in your trophies or alma maters. It’s not in your bank account or retirement account. It’s not in your likes or followers. It’s not in the concerts you attend or the books that you read. It’s not in the movies that you watch or the instruments that you play. It’s not in the spouse that you have or the child that you raise. It’s not in the school you attend or choir you join. It’s not in your social status or relationship status. It’s not in the car you drive or the boat you own…

It’s not in your parents choices or your grandparents wishes. It’s not in your past heartaches or future concerns.  It’s not in your mistakes, accomplishments, regrets, or failures. It’s not in your report cards or paychecks.

It’s in your heart.

The decision each one of us makes day after day as to whom we will serve, lean on, and trust is our own. Your spouse can’t make it. Your parents can’t make it. They may try, but they can’t. As a parent myself now, this is terrifying, but I turn this over. Over and over. My kids will make their own choices. As will I. As will you.

To love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul may look different to people. It may lead to choices others may not make. He gives us different gifts, passions, and paths. When we ask Him to lead, our lives may take directions we’d never choose on our own. But, the beauty before us is a life lived trusting Him. Let God be your guide.

We find Him in our trials, we help others with what we’ve learned, and we choose Him day after day. In the ups and the downs, we have faith He is with us. And, it’s in THIS faith, that our strength is found. Our callings may be every bit as different as the circumstances we face. But, pointing to the same God, brings us together in one accord.

Brothers and sisters. Hearts to hearts. Trials to trials. Victories to victories. Peace and strength abounds. In one name. The name of Jesus.

 

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Faith of a Child…

Last night I was feeling crummy, really all day. I worked all day, picked up my girls and let them know early on that dinner would be easy and I needed to go to bed early. Allergies, exhaustion, pre-flu, I wasn’t sure, I just knew I wasn’t myself.

They were helpful and understanding. It was the second time that I can ever remember going to bed before them. They are 11 and 6 and I left them on the couch, blew a kiss, closed my door and went to sleep. Having no idea if they would sleep there all night, brush their teeth, change their clothes, anything. I decided they would survive, no matter what, and crashed.

I woke up at 5am feeling much better and stumbled out to the living room to see what the sleeping arrangements ended up being. I found neither one on the couch, but both of them asleep in my oldest’s bed, PJs on, sound asleep, their heads at opposite ends of the bed. Warmed my heart so…

When they woke, I shared how much better I was feeling, completely unsurprised and unphased, my oldest said “Well, we prayed for you, so….” Like there was no other option except for Mom to feel better this morning. Thank you, Lord, for her faith and Your answer to that prayer. We all know it could have gone either way and does often.

Not only did they change their clothes, they brushed their teeth (I could tell by the leftover toothpaste in the sink), she said they also read a book and prayed before bed. Like I always do with them. With me completely dead to the world, my girls connected and shared their typical bedtime routine. And prayed for Mama! All the feels this morning…Lord, I thank you.

Sometimes His answer is “Yes”, sometimes it is “No”. Sometimes it’s “Not Yet”, but He is always faithful. He loves us and hears us. Garth Brooks has a song that says “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers” when he runs into an ex girlfriend after years with his current wife. Truth is, God answered that prayer. His answer was “No”. A no from a loving God is a blessing that we can only see in hindsight and may never understand this side of heaven. Most of our prayers that receive a “No” feel like rejection at the time. But, lean on the truth that God loves you. Lean towards Him rather than away and trust His answers in your life.

Seeing how my girls took care of themselves and each other last night made me proud. Hearing they prayed for me last night was humbling. Seeing and feeling it answered encourages my faith. Thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness! And for my precious girls that prayed for me without me last night, together. ❤

Painful Dealbreaker

dealbreaker

I find myself on the outskirts of another painful breakup. Another reason dating is hard. Another risk I’ve taken, put my kids in the middle of, and opened myself up to. This is very hard because he was a wonderful boyfriend. He treated me better than I’d been treated before, he respected me, committed to me, and loved me well. Marriage was on the horizon. Yet, here we are…

I go between sad, irritated, and thankful. Sad that it’s over. I miss him. Irritated that it came to this. Yet, thankful it came to a head before a wedding and not after. This didn’t come down to lack of love, rather compatibility. I have no doubt he loved me, all of me. All of me except my faith. That’s what it came down to. My church was our issue. He doesn’t agree with it and I do. The more he searched, the less he did. The more I pray and ask, the more I do.

No church is perfect. They are all set up by and filled with imperfect human beings, but I feel called in to serve and to help, not called out.

Once it finally came out that he wouldn’t/couldn’t marry a person of my denomination, I knew there was a change that needed to take place. Either I leave my church or we part ways. It came down to lack of peace vrs. pain. I knew in my heart, that I would feel a lack of peace walking away from my church.  Leaving would be turning my back to truth I believe in and that I want my daughters to learn as well. I also knew we would both feel pain letting this relationship go. We loved each other, no doubt. Pain doesn’t necessarily mean lack of peace. Peace may lead to pain if it means letting go of something you wanted so badly to work out.

This has been hard for us both. We both want what’s best for each other and I guess it’s not us together. I’ve learned another painful lesson. Two people can love Jesus with all they have, but if other beliefs are polar opposite, it can lead to unrest in a marriage and confusion for the kids. To be equally yoked is more than loving God. To be equally yoked is to be able to have a conversation about core beliefs and nod rather than shake your head. It makes sense to me that if you’re both following God and it’s leading you in different directions, it must be best to let that happen. This narrows the dating pool down even further than age, location, love, and tenderness. And, we all know how hard those are to come by.

I know in my head that I’d rather be single than forsake a faith that I believe in. But, my heart is grieving this loss and I pray that God will heal us both. I want us both ready for the ones He knows will meet our deepest desires in Him.

Giving In Is Not Giving Up

acceptance

There’s a big difference between giving in and giving up. Giving in is about accepting reality. Giving up is throwing in the towel on reality. When reality is too much to bare, we tend to switch over to denial or fight modes. We look for anything that helps us deny what we don’t want to face. Anything from regrets to betrayal to rejection. All extremely painful.

Giving in is accepting a relationship for what it is and what it is not. Giving up would be blaming, shaming, and criticizing the other party without owning our part in the dissolution. Giving up is also assuming we must be unlovable because it didn’t work out or that it was all our fault.

Giving in is accepting a diagnosis, whether God physically heals or not. His will be done. Yes, He has the power to physically heal, but the “healing of acceptance” is just as potent to the patient and those looking on. Giving up is blaming, shaming, and criticizing God for an outcome that hurts His heart even more than our own.

Giving in is accepting our strengths and weaknesses as a child of God. Leaning into our strengths and gifts with humility and honor while asking and receiving His sufficient grace for our weaknesses. Giving up is bragging and flaunting what we have and can do while “hiding” our weaknesses from others and God.

Giving in is watching the news today and focusing on the fact that there are still good people in this world and an All Mighty God who sees every single injustice. Giving in is leaving retribution in His capable hands, and praying for all including our enemies. Giving up is cowering in fear at the rampant evil invading our world just like the Bible has already clearly told us it will.

Giving in is having our eyes wide open to what was and what is. And, accepting that. Giving up is closing our eyes tight to what we don’t want to know, see, or feel.

I’ve done both. I’ve given in and I’ve given up in different situations and circumstances in my life, but I want to do better. I want to give in and accept what is without ever forgetting God’s love for me. I want to give in to what God has for me today and cherish it without ever forgetting that He’s actively aware of my concerns. I want to give in to His Spirit’s movements within me and step outside my comfort zone without ever forgetting the price He paid for me and how special I must be to Him because of it.

What is on your plate today? Who is in front of you right now? What is the very next step? Just do that….in reality with prayer.

The “healing of acceptance” is a beautiful thing.

  • Accepting the past for what it was
  • Learning from it
  • Moving forward from it
  • Forgiving yourself and others
  • Taking courageous leaps of faith
  • Trying rather than retreating
  • Running your own race
  • Hurdling obstacles
  • Helping others along the way
  • Growing aware of the enemy’s schemes

There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Matthew 6:26 (MSG)

I started writing this entry close to a year ago and didn’t have the words to finish it. I knew I was struggling with giving in vrs. giving up and wanted clarity on the two. Letting go vrs. holding on. I write when concepts become clear in my mind and I’m so thankful these words flowed out today. For myself and for others, I hope it helps you like it does me. Now, I have a personal reference to look back on when I question myself and the decisions that we all deal with on the daily.

Giving in is not giving up. Giving in is accepting what is and what is not. Faith is being open to what’s to come. And, hope is looking forward to it!

There is a specific pace and a very special grace for your personal journey. Cherish this. You are loved……no matter what.

 

Master Plan

assembly required

Don’t we all have a master plan?? A plan for our career, an age we’d like to be married or remarried by, a plan of when and how to raise kids, a plan for the perfect wedding or perfect vacation? The perfect Christmas card, birthday party, or neighborhood to live in? One thing I’ve clearly noticed is that our master plan may have nothing to do with the Master’s plan for our lives.

Our plans feel very similar to a “some assembly required” list of instructions that can drive us crazy. We start out with great intentions and expectations and then end up inevitably missing a part, can’t make sense of the verbiage, or lack the skills to build it at all, much less easily. I’m in awe of people who can whip out the instructions and build a dollhouse or easy bake oven from scratch, no biggie. They make it look so simple! That’s, not me.

One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is: “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

To untangle or not, that is the question. I’m not typically much of an untangler. I’d rather someone untangle them for me or just buy new ones. But, I’m learning that wisdom is determining whether it’s worth putting the time and effort in to untangle the lights you already have or let them go and start new. I think both are wise depending on the circumstance. I’m also finding that if God is at the center, it makes sense to put the work in.

Untangling may make you appreciate the final product more while buying new feels exciting and easier, but can also be scary. With new, you never know what you’re gonna get. Kind of like a box of chocolates. It may be the sweetest thing you’ve ever tasted, but you have to try to know. It takes endurance and commitment to untangle. It takes tremendous faith to start new. Both necessary at times, and both part of the Master’s plan for our lives.

Sitting down with someone to help me untangle lights sounds a lot more inviting than doing it alone. Find people who help you. Find people who love you for you. Find people who have marriages, relationships, and friendships like you desire and learn from them. Ask them questions. Read their books. They will help you discern if it’s wiser to untangle or start new. So many of our life situations are similar to tangled Christmas lights and sometimes there’s only so much we can do.

Sometimes, we need to put the work in and sometimes we need to let go. Sometimes we are missing a crucial part. Sometimes we need to work on our verbiage and communicate better. Sometimes we need to be patient and sometimes we need to work on our own personal skills. It may never construct easily, and that’s okay. As long as we are building what we desire most to build and to the glory of God, He will step in where we can’t. Follow your peace, His peace.

Our Master’s Plan will lead us in directions we never thought we’d take through situations we never thought we’d face. Knowing He’s walking alongside us, turns it into an adventure of a lifetime.

We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go. Proverbs 16:9 (CEV)

I’m not much of builder, but I’m learning. I’m learning not to be afraid to build. I’m also learning that if it all crashes down, then the Master has a different plan for me. I’m learning that His plan requires a lot of patience because it has a lot of moving parts. I’m learning that His plan touches other people through our own personal journeys. I’m learning that His plan beckons us closer to Him and leads us to an eternity with Him. I’m learning that His plan brings purpose from our pain. I’m learning that His plan provides peace, even in the midst of the unknown. I’m learning that our Master’s plan will simply amaze us.

I’m learning every day that His plan is, hands down, better than my plan ever was or ever will be.

 

 

What Does That Mean??

god is for us

Romans 8:31 says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I’ve been pondering what this verse means lately and this is what I feel God has spoken to my heart about it.

People and things do come against us in this life. There will be times we have trouble and there will be times when we fail. There will be times we cause problems and times we are affected by others problems and actions. There will be innocent victims and there will be times we flat out rebel against what we know we “should” do.

But, what I’ve received lately about this particular text, is that if we look for a solution to our specific issue or emotions in His Word, He will show it to us. And when we choose to do what He says, it is in our best interest. He doesn’t ask us to do anything out of any reason but love. Because He IS love. Any command He gives, is given for our protection and healing. In other words, He is FOR us, not against us, not fighting us, not preventing joy, but promoting it.

His love covers us when we fail and convicts us to full repentance. This is where change comes in. Full repentance leads to us doing things differently because we actually believe He has forgiven us and we don’t want to hurt his heart by turning back to what He’s revealed as hurtful. Pleasing God is recognizing His love for us and acting accordingly. Recognizing His love enough to make us think twice before turning back to what was hurting us. When we hurt ourselves that also hurts Him. He longs to protect and deliver us from what we look to for comfort and security and point us back to Him. He is a jealous God. He is jealous for us. He longs to be our first love, because He is. He loved us first and He loves us most.

When we are hurt by someone, He asks us to forgive for our own benefit and healing. Leaving the offense with Him and moving forward leads to the abundant life that He promises. Living without forgiveness bonds us to pain, anger, and bitterness that He died to save us from. He asks us to guard our hearts, not to prevent love, but to protect them from the counterfeit. To wait and seek His face and His love in the other person because only then can we know that the person knows what real love is and where it’s found. He asks us to tithe so that we learn to trust Him. He doesn’t need the money, but He does know we struggle with trust. He also knows that the stingier we are, the stingier we become. Giving with a cheerful heart is very good medicine to our selfish and scared hearts.

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10 (HSCB)

Doing what He asks us to do, is for our own good. He isn’t out to kill our good time, take all our money, or prevent us from having relationships. He is all for developing our character, growing our faith, and providing healthy relationships. He is all about coming first in our lives and when we truly make Him #1, He promises us an abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of joy and peace that can only come from Him.

Is following Jesus easy? No. Is it worth it? Completely. Because He is FOR us. The enemy is against us.

 

Angels Among Us

angels

This week my dad came over to fix my broken television and my brother fixed my broken toilet while I was at work. What a blessing these things are in single girl world! Angels. I also received a series of texts from a friend that floored me. She nailed EXACTLY what I needed and I didn’t even know I needed it. What a blessing that is! Angel.

This week I had a patient ask to pray over me and that has NEVER happened. I’ve had patients say they’ll pray for me as I have them but after this particular patient’s test was finished she literally took my hand, looked me directly in the eyes, and said “Guard yourself against hardness of heart. God will protect what the enemy wants to steal. In the name of Jesus Christ, you will not be harmed.” Angel. Her words brought immediate tears. I didn’t even know I was struggling until she called it out. I’m so grateful for this woman’s BOLD faith and strength to speak that over me. There were no words after, only tears and hugs. It took me a good 30 minutes to just catch my breath after that. What a blessing she is! Her boldness blew me away….. Amazing faith. Amazing strength.

I received a phone call just this morning that confirmed once again that there are angels among us. Yes, we have guardian angels watching over and protecting us, but God also uses us, His children, to do His work and show His love in each other’s lives. When someone helps you, encourages you, prays for you, forgives you, shows you grace, speaks truth over you, lifts you up, they are doing God’s work here on earth. Recognize it and thank GOD for them. I am BLESSED to have a couple friends who text Bible verses to me faithfully, family who pray for me, friends who love me (all of me). These are priceless. Money can’t buy love. God graciously gives when we need it most. He gives when we don’t even KNOW we need it. Thank GOD for the seen and unseen angels in our lives.