It is Enough

enough

Jesus is our example and He kept the commandments. All of them…..Perfectly. In His heart and with His heart. He shared how hating one’s brother is the same as murdering him in the heart. He taught how lusting is the same as adultery in the heart.

He also kept the seventh-day Sabbath perfectly. As only He could. He often rebuked the Pharisees for their hearts over it. We read about Him doing that more than anything else regarding the Sabbath day.  Their rules took precedence over their heart for God and others. He had multiple issues with inconsistencies and hardened hearts regarding the Sabbath. My own convictions on the Sabbath have been challenged lately. What is ok? What is not? Why or why not?

Ultimately, it comes down to what Jesus asks of us. If your heart leads you to do or not do something out of your love for God, praise His name. I have nothing but respect for people who keep the Sabbath differently than me. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it has made me question my own convictions and personal relationship with my Creator. The One who created me and the Sabbath. (Genesis 2:3) It has. So much so, that the anxiety led to a three hour prayer session with a friend. Asking for answers. Asking for God’s guidance and direction in this area.

As a child, I was told to keep certain rules on the Sabbath without the heart or understanding behind it. They changed depending on where we were, who was around, or who’s house I was at. It led to so much confusion and even then I remember wondering if God wondered why so much effort was placed on outward actions rather than what was going on inside of us. Only God knows our hearts and why we do what we do.

My heart accepts, honors, and remembers the Sabbath day as holy and God’s special day. I could never please everyone with what I choose to do or not do and that bothers me greatly being the pleaser that I am, so I will rest in the fact that God told me “it is enough”. He knows that I am the type of person that would feel even going the extreme conservative route would never be enough. I could never do enough. I would lose every ounce of rest in my soul trying to please Him with my actions. I just need Him and to rest in His love for me.

Do I think the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord our God? (Exodus 20:9) Yes. Do I think that we should remember it and keep it holy in our hearts? Yes. What does that mean as far as external actions? That is between you and God. Me and God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37)

I’m pretty sure we could put twenty Sabbath keepers in a room and there would be twenty different personal convictions on what activities are okay, what’s not, and why. The judgment associated with how it’s kept pangs me deeply. It obviously panged Jesus too.

When I struggle with this I can feel Him ask me the question: “Where is your hope?” “Is your hope in the Sabbath?” “Is your hope in perfection?” “Or, is your hope in Me?”

In my opinion, if we base our relationship with God solely on keeping the Sabbath and how to keep it, a lot gets missed.

What about those who haven’t or don’t? The Christians who go into enemy territory. Just by proclaiming Christ they put their lives at risk and many die. The Christians who’s hearts are all in and willing to prove it. Their motives are pure before God. The truth they want to proclaim with all their heart, mind, and soul is the truth that Jesus died for us and is the Only Way, the Truth, and the Life. They are brave. They are warriors. They give their all for Jesus. Which is what I want to do.

What is more important to you? The truth of the gospel? Or the truth of the Sabbath? I believe both are truth. But, to me personally, the truth that Jesus died for us should come first. Then, when we keep the Sabbath (or any of the commandments) out of love and reverence for the One who died for us, we are keeping it in the “right” way, whatever that may entail. Out of love and because of love. The Love that gave His all to live with us forever.

I would rather my husband remain faithful to me because he loves me, not just because he’s “supposed” to. We can never keep the law perfectly, Jesus pointed that out. Because of our sinful tendencies, we lust, we hate, we dishonor, we all fall short. Thank God for His gracious forgiveness.

Because of His love for me, I WANT to keep all of His commandments in my heart. I live to please Jesus and He says, for me, it’s enough and to rest in Him. I believe that each commandment (new and old testament) is given for a purpose, keeps us dependent on the blood of Jesus, and points our lives to God’s will for us. I also believe God searches our hearts. And, wants them most of all.

 

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Beauty in the Struggle…

struggle

Have you struggled?  Have you wondered if a lack of peace means you’re headed in the wrong direction? Have you wondered if the struggle is because of disobedience or God prompting you to change directions? Does the confusion get the best of you? It has for me. Why is it that when we pray a mighty prayer, make our requests so big that only God could deliver them, wait, wonder if it’s even possible, then actually receive it, that we still struggle? Why is that? Because we are human beings with mere human hearts and minds that have a hard time comprehending what is meant for us, what is best for us.

Have you ever heard, “Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it!” As soon as it arrives, our hearts are frightened and we feel like we’re not ready. If we weren’t ready, why would God drop this in our lap? Something only He could know we wanted. Something straight out of the deepest desires of our heart. Yet, we don’t feel ready. We don’t jump in with joy and excitement and praise His name, like a child would. Nope, we worry. We wonder if it’s right. We wonder if it’s real. We wonder if it’s finally here. And we wonder what to do with it. We pray for discernment, for peace, for direction…for truth.

Have you considered that the struggle may be because you ARE heading in the right direction? We tend to think that once our miracle arrives, it will be smooth sailing, but God has another thing in mind. How else would He keep us dependent?  How else would He keep us humble? By reminding us we can’t do it alone. By reminding us that getting our prayers answered doesn’t mean everything will be easy, but it will be different. With new territory, there will be new issues to deal with and problems to face. This allows us to praise Him while remaining completely dependent. When we feel incompetent to handle our blessing, He is STILL ever present.

Whether it’s a new relationship or an ended one, an unexpected baby or a long-awaited one. Whether it’s your dream job or an opportunity that you’ve waited and prayed so long for, there will be issues. New ones. I’m so thankful that God loves me enough to struggle with me. When my soul desire is to do His will, it means I love Him enough to struggle too. I’d rather struggle with God than silence or deny Him in my heart.

One thing’s for sure, just like Jacob struggled with God, we won’t come out the same. We’ll come out closer, changed, and with a limp that keeps us dependent and reminded of God’s sovereignty in our lives . The people who have stayed by our sides in our struggles will always hold a close place in our hearts. Likewise, when we struggle with God, we come out closer and ever more certain of His love for us. There is beauty in the struggle.

 

Speak!

speak

Who made you feel like your voice doesn’t matter? Like it doesn’t count?

God used Moses who stuttered and was afraid to speak. He tried to get out of it. He even asked God to send someone else. He was afraid and felt incompetent, yet God promised His help.

Moses spoke to the Lord. He said, “Lord, I’ve never been a good speaker. And I haven’t gotten any better since you spoke to me. I don’t speak very well at all.” The Lord said to him, “Who makes human beings able to talk? Who makes them unable to hear or speak? Who makes them able to see? Who makes them blind? It is I, the LordNow go. I will help you speak. I will teach you what to say.”  Exodus 4:10-11 (NIRV)

In spite of Moses’s insecurities, God used him to DELIVER His people from the Egyptians. Moses spoke. His words delivered…what a testimony to tell.

Fear paralyzes my vocal chords. Can you relate? It’s like I can almost feel the enemy strangle me when the truth of how I’m feeling wants to come out. Be free and know that choosing not to speak your truth doesn’t necessarily protect you, it just leaves people in the dark. They don’t KNOW, if you don’t tell. We can’t hold people accountable for something they don’t know. I was SO guilty of this thinking…”Well, they should KNOW that hurts. They should KNOW what I like and don’t like. They should KNOW what I need.” Newsflash! They don’t.

Yes, they should know you deserve respect and honesty. But, they don’t know your preferences, likes, dislikes, or necessities unless you clearly communicate them. I used to think this was rude or selfish, now I see that it’s just plain common sense and necessary. Speaking your truth respectfully is quite the opposite of rudeness and actually mandatory for mutual peace and understanding.

If you struggle with this like me, remembering our value and respecting ourselves, is the best remedy I’ve found. Remember that your opinion, whether agreed with or not, is just as important as the next guy’s. Remember that God created and died for you just like He created and died for the person you are afraid to speak to. Remember that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Remember that we should be respected whether we work for you, with you, or because of you. Remember that we don’t have to befriend or trust a person to treat them respectfully. Remember that just because someone chooses not to befriend or confide in you, you are still worthy of being treated respectfully. Remember that even when you’re wrong about a situation or have been misinformed, you are still worthy of respect and understanding. We all make mistakes. Remember these….and I need to as well.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speak your mind. Speak your truth. God gave you a heart, a mind, and a mouth to communicate with. We are always learning and hopefully growing. Don’t let your moods, thoughts, and words go haywire before laying them out before God, but once you have, don’t let fear hold you back. He gives us power and strength to speak. Your words may be His words. He may use you to correct a situation or touch a person’s heart. God used Moses and He can use you too.

Speak, dear one…..we’re listening.

 

Value of Friendship

friendship

I was asked to speak at a women’s event at church last night by my friend, Sheila. I thought I’d share on my blog as well. Good friends are priceless.

I’m honored to speak about friendships…Especially, friendships among women. What a treasure they are. I absolutely love it when women choose to relate rather than compete. It inspires and refreshes me. I have a true passion for women’s hearts and it burdens me to witness criticism and competition among women. We tend to instinctively compete and compare when it comes to motherhood, appearance, finances, careers, even passions. Just life. It’s exhausting. Personally, I think this desire to compete is driven by a deep desire to know we are loved and reminded that we are lovely. The fact of the matter remains that we are all in this together. Woman to woman. Friend to friend.

We have the power to choose whether we will help each other or hurt each other. Whether we will encourage or criticize. Whether we will uplift or press down. It saddens me to see how often the latter is chosen. Let’s do what we can to change that.

We have a very real enemy and he wants us to step on each other to get ahead, to be seen, to be heard. We have a Savior who wants us to help each other through this hard life. His way is seeing, relating, empathizing, listening to, praying for, and speaking the truth to in love. These are the ways we can truly help each other through our struggles. Clearly, it’s our choice as to whose way we pick when it comes to treating each other. We can step on each other or we can love each other.

In John 16:33, Jesus says In this world you WILL have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts; we WILL have troubles in this life. Being a true friend will not only make a positive difference in the lives of our friends, but also in our own. God designed relationships this way. Being a friend is being the hands and feet of Jesus to a fellow daughter of God. We all have value. I know this, because we are all valuable to Him. He died for each one of us. His death proves just how much we are worth to Him. Therefore, we should love each other. Relating instead of competing is one of the very BEST ways we can show Christ’s love to each other as women.

We are born into this world hungry for love. I know I was.

I speak from the experience of a daughter who craved her daddy’s approval more than anything else. I still crave his approval, I’m 37.

I speak from the experience of a child of divorce and all the difficulties associated with it. I was in the 8th grade and everything changed. It’s still hard today.

I speak from the experience of a girl who was in her twenties and still hungry for love. I met someone who said he loved me and I believed him. Looking back, he tolerated me. I thought it was enough. I didn’t know any different. So, I fell in love, got married, had 2 daughters and he left me 10 years in…..and never looked back. I felt abandoned, alone, unlovable and hungrier for love than ever….and that’s when Jesus touched me. Literally. His presence enveloped me in my weakest, saddest, darkest moment. I’ve been pursuing His presence ever since.

I speak from the experience of a working mom, a single mom, a devoted mom, a tired mom. A mom that wants to raise my daughters the very best I can. A mom who wants to live by example so badly and pour the love of Jesus into them daily so that they never feel unlovable like I did. A mom who feels like I fall short all too often. A mom thankful for God’s grace…..everyday.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ll bet some of you can relate.

I grew up feeling like more of a burden than a blessing. God made me feel special. The enemy did his best to make me feel unlovable and unwanted. But, the healing touch of Jesus and the consistent loving hearts of my friends have saved me, more than once, and they continue to….Praise God!

I still have a deep desire to be married and to have the complete family unit, just as God desires and blesses. My friends know this and they want the best for me, just like Jesus does. They remind me of my value when the loneliness and despair sets in. And, they do. My friends remind me that I’m a daughter of the Most High King and He is protecting me while WE wait for a Godly man who views me the same way.

My friends remind me of how much I am loved, past, present, and future when I forget. They inspire me and they lift me up. They value me and that feels wonderful. Looking back I can see where certain people were placed in my life like pawns to encourage and pray for me and my girls. I am forever grateful. And it makes me want to be a true friend to them in return and others in desperate need….as I was.

We make friends during different seasons in our lives….elementary school, high school, college, neighbors, co-workers, church, friends with young children, friends with high school kids, even empty nester friends. Different friends come with different seasons in our lives. Some turn into lifers and some flow in and out of our lives as we go our separate ways. That’s all normal. That’s just life.

One of my deepest desires for my daughters is that they make and keep friendships that point them to Jesus. That in each season of their lives, God will place pawns that point directly to Him. That they will desire these friendships and keep them close to their hearts. That they will be the kind of friend who loves, relates, comforts, and reminds others of Jesus. Let’s all be those kinds of friends…

I have been blessed to make these kinds of friends. If there’s one thing we do when we’re together it’s relate. We talk dating, marriage, motherhood, work/life balance, seeking a deeper personal relationship with God, finding a few spare moments of quiet time, lack of sleep, health issues, mood issues, whatever the struggle…we relate and love each other through it. These women are some of my truest treasures. My personal prayer warriors. They inspire me, cheer me on, pick me up, and love me just as I am. Who does that sound like? It sounds like Jesus to me. He loves us exactly as we are, and too much to leave us there. He carries us.

Proverbs 18:24 in a few different versions –

The Message – Friends come and go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

NLT – There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

These verses are powerful. Friends are family that we get to choose.

To have and be a friend that sticks, loves, accepts, prays, and perseveres is nothing short of a gift from God. Cherish your girlfriends. Our best friends know how busy we are. They don’t demand our time. They make an effort to be in our lives, but they also cut us slack when it’s needed. Because…they KNOW how busy we are. Our best friends know this because they relate. And like a warm cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire place on a cold and drizzly day, their friendships comfort us. We know they love us.

Can we humble ourselves and relate to each other? Can we hug and listen to another tired mom? Can we text a random Bible verse to someone that comes to mind? Can we pray for each other? Can we vent? Can we laugh our worries away? Can we just relate? I’d rather relate with you than compete with you any day…I’m already tired. Let’s just love each other instead. Because, that’s what friends do.

Once again, I’d like to thank Sheila for planning this event and asking me to speak and share “whatever is on my heart”. I started writing in a blog last year. I love to write and I have shared quite a bit of my heart in it, but I’ve never spoken publicly before.

Sheila knows my heart, she is a true friend. We met a couple years ago, right after I moved back to Burleson after my divorce. We both wanted to start a Women’s Bible Study group here at the Burleson church. Our pastor said we both called to inquire about starting a Beth Moore study one day apart. He told us we should meet and do it together. We met at Starbucks and the rest is history. God is good. I know He brought us together. She has become one of my dearest friends.

I look around this room and I see precious women with precious hearts. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about women on my journey, it’s that regardless of our relationship status, we are all hungry for love. We can’t expect that hunger to be filled by our moms, dads, husbands, kids, or even our best friends. They can all contribute, and they should. But, God is our only source of unfailing perfect love. Our friends and families may have or will let us down. We aren’t perfect and we shouldn’t expect them to be either. Only God is perfect. Let’s keep pointing each other to Him, after all that’s the most loving thing we can do for each other.

What More Can I Give?

give

I was thinking today about how Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, and so much more. God gave us the most lavish gift of sacrifice and salvation when He gave us His son. Jesus willingly became human in our broken world so that we could live with Him forever in His perfect one. He set the bar. Now, that’s a gift!! What more can I give?

When we buy for our loved ones, we try to think about what they would like personally. Some prefer experiences, others food, some sparkly things in little boxes, dolls that walk or talk, or trucks that dump and demolish. My girls asked for Legos and walkie-talkies this year. Bingo! Makes it easy to shop when there’s a list.

But, what can I give Jesus? Does He have a Christmas list? If so, what would be on it? Let’s not forget to give to the true Reason for the Season. I think near the top of Jesus’s Christmas list would be our TRUST, our TIME, and to TELL others about Him and what He’s done for us. Trust, time, tell. These are treasures in all of our relationships. It takes faith to trust, dedication to spend time, and courage to tell others. It’s no different in our personal relationship with Jesus. He doesn’t need us, He wants us. He chose us. He died for us. So, what more can I give?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

God’s gift of His Son was the greatest gift we have ever or will ever receive. The ultimate treasure. What are we holding on to? That is our treasure. What are we holding back? That is our treasure and that is what He wants. Our hearts are naturally stubborn and scared. But, God’s presence in our lives will transform our hearts. He loves us right where we are and too much to leave us there. His presence will prompt us to follow Him and fight our fears rather than succumb to them.

Trust. Time. Tell. Treasure……My heart. What more can I give you, Jesus? Thank You for the best gift ever. You.

Truth in Tears

man tears

“Crying doesn’t indicate you’re weak. Since birth, it’s been a sign that you’re ALIVE”. I ran across this quote yesterday and it got me thinking. There is immense joy in the delivery room when babies let out their first cries. Not only does it mean they are alive, but more than likely healthy. It’s such a relieving and beautiful moment!

My heart is heavy for those of us who have been taught that it’s best to stuff our emotions and just “get it together”. If you’re like me, there is a lot more pain in holding back the tears than just letting them flow. It’s in trying to suppress our feelings, that the real damage is done and the most pain is endured. Telling ourselves we don’t or shouldn’t hurt, when we clearly do, doesn’t help the healing process. While we may need to think twice before acting on emotion alone, feeling it is extremely healthy and the best way to process it. I believe that’s why we feel such relief after a good cry. Something about letting the tears come helps our hearts to heal.

For the men who were told that “real men don’t cry”, your naysayers must have missed the scripture that clearly says Jesus wept. John 11:35. Jesus cried even when He already knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He cried out of compassion for his friends. He cried because of overwhelming grief. He cried because He was human. I love that He wept and displayed this emotion. Jesus is the manliest of all men and He wept……for us. Then, He moved forward, overcame, and brought tears of pure joy by raising his friend back to life!

I believe I can safely speak for most women when I say that when we see a man cry with sincerity and for good reason (especially one we love), we view it as an enormous strength. Whatever you are allowing the tears to flow for means a great deal to you and allowing us to see them speaks volumes to those who love you. We want to know that you are capable of that much emotion and secure enough to let us witness it. If it matters to you, it matters to us. Our hearts naturally go out to sincere love, joy, and grief in the form of tears because we know they are real. We all long to be real.

On a personal note, I never saw my husband shed a tear as our marriage unravelled. I’m not saying he didn’t. I’m just saying I never saw it. I was surprised and greatly moved when he cried during our wedding vows, I saw tears when our first daughter was born, and at the loss of our dog. But, I never saw him cry over the loss of our marriage or me. He had shut down emotionally. Moved on already…..Matter of fact, as tears rolled down my face explaining to our daughter together on our back porch that the split was happening, he told me to “get it together or go inside.” This brought more tears.

I share that very personal information as a reminder to us all. Don’t shut down on what matters. Don’t shut down on what should matter. Pray for the Holy Spirit to come alive and active in our hearts. Ask Him to break our heart for what breaks His. Our families are worth shedding blood, sweat, and tears over. Our families are gifts from God. He pays close attention to how we treat each other as His children. We are all worth tears because we were worth His.

I cry when I feel overwhelmed with God’s love for me. I cried when I was rebaptized. I’ll catch myself crying at church when certain songs penetrate straight to my heart. I’ve cried tears of love just watching my children sleep, I’ve cried over loss of love, and I’ve cried tears of joy over new friendships. Each time it reminds me that I’m alive and I’m grateful to have loved so much that it overflows. I also believe that Godly sorrow, true repentance, the enormity of grace, feeling truly forgiven, and feeling the warmth of God’s true love can and will bring the toughest of us to tears. He alone is worthy. Jesus cried tears of blood in anguish and determination to do His Father’s will. Raw emotion. Raw love.

The next time your brain or upbringing tells you to “pull it together” or “be strong” by holding back tears of joy, love, or sadness remind yourself that Jesus also wept. He created us to produce tears for a reason and I believe it is to help us heal and deal. To cry is proof we are alive and that we love. Let the truth run down your cheeks and may He hold you close, comfort, and continue to bless you. You are loved!

Double Trouble

trouble

Here on earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NLT)

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We WILL have troubles. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that we have troubles. Pick a wallet, pick an office, pick a family, pick a marriage, pick a medical chart, and if there isn’t current trouble, there has been or will be. There’s a saying that goes “if we all threw our troubles in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” As distressing as that might sound, it encourages me that we are in this thing together and that we aren’t struggling alone. Sometimes just thinking we are struggling alone is worse than the trouble itself. We are not alone. We have a Helper, Healer, Deliverer, Comforter, Provider who LOVES us and is fully capable of getting us through them one by one. And we have each other.

To ask for a life without troubles is to ask for heaven on earth. We aren’t in heaven yet, but what we CAN ask for is help with our troubles as they come. He WILL help, strengthen, and comfort us during our trials and sorrows. He WILL supply wisdom, power, and mercy when called upon. He WILL hear our cries and cover us with grace. He WILL open our eyes and hearts to see others as He does with compassion and forgiveness if we ask Him to. There’s no doubt that we will have troubles. The doubt lies on our side. How to deal with these troubles? Who to blame for them?

We have troubles because we are imperfect people who live in a fallen world with other imperfect people. We have hope because Jesus has overcome this world with His sacrifice. We have peace because He loves us in spite of our weaknesses. We have strength because He fights for us. We have an eternity of trouble free living to look forward to…..the ultimate paradise!