Out With the Old…

out with the old

…..and in with the new. The new year is fast approaching and it always feels like a fresh slate. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned this past year. Each experience and leap of faith has strengthened me and reined in my focus. The holidays this year were tough for me. Just emotional. I cried tears of joy, sadness, sentiment….all true. There is truth in tears. I came to the conclusion that the heaping dose of emotion was because Christmas highlights families. When our families are broken in any way and most of ours are either by death, divorce, or estrangement, the feelings associated with the brokenness are also highlighted. God’s design was for us all to be together in peace, harmony, and love. When this isn’t the case, our souls understandably grieve.

The more we love, the more we grieve the loss of love. I found myself leaning on the Everlasting Arms more than ever and asking for a real life squeeze. I also found myself relishing in my blessings more than I had before. Getting emotional over my girls getting older and their Christmas lists changing…I found myself in tears over the birth of Jesus and wondering what more I could give to Him and others because of His gift. I know Jesus rescued me. He’s been with me every day whether I’ve felt it or not. In the physical loneliness, He is still there. Protecting me. All this I know in my brain. At certain times, like the holidays, our hearts are harder to convince. And, He knows that. He’s still there.

I’ve spoken to several friends who were also struggling or know someone who is during this season. The compassion and stories we shared, felt like a special gift. Coming together, relating, listening, and welcoming honesty is so healing. Having a safe place to share our feelings is priceless. Because we all have them. Our feelings make us human, our actions show our strength.

Take your feelings to God first. Get them out and be honest with Him. I’m so thankful that He welcomes our neediness. He craves it. Needing Him is how He created us. He longs to comfort and fulfill us. This is also His design. Then, cherish the friends you can share and be honest with. Cherish the ones who love you on your worst days. Cherish the friends who pray for you, cry with you, send you scriptures, and point you to the Jesus. They truly love you and want to spend eternity with you. We usually can’t fix each other’s deepest issues, but we can point each other to the One who can.

Regardless of our relationship status, we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only He can fill. OUT with the old ways of trying to fill it, mask it, cover it, or deny it. And IN with the only way to live and love in this broken world….and that is with the love and strength of Jesus. Living in His strength all things ARE possible. Family members can reunite, siblings can bury the hatchet, new families can form, and healing can take place. A fresh slate is a beautiful thing and heaven is on the horizon. In with the new…

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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.

Mary’s Perspective

mary

I was thinking about Mary’s personal journey today. As a young woman engaged to be married, she was visited by an angel who tells her that she has found favor in God’s eyes. Because of this favor, He has chosen her to carry and deliver His son. She had questions…how can this be possible? I’ve never even been with a man! What will my fiancé think? Will my family believe me? Why would God pick me? Do all these questions really mean I’m favored….or in trouble? She only asked Gabriel one question…how can this happen? I am a virgin. Luke 1:34. His response was The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Once she accepted her divine yet incomprehensible assignment, God went to work on all the rest of her concerns. He sent an angel to inform, soften, and strengthen Joseph’s heart. And, he accepted his assignment too. People talked. Mary and Joseph both knew they probably always would.

People’s questions and accusations didn’t deter either of them. I read that one reason Joseph may have taken his extremely pregnant wife with him on the treacherous journey to Bethlehem was to protect her from a possible stoning because of the infidelity she was accused of. Joseph was the supportive and God fearing man that Mary needed him to be. Both of their reputations were at stake. Still, he protected her. He covered her. Just as God told him to. It took radical obedience from them both and that’s exactly why they were chosen. God knew they had it in them. I’m sure, at times, they questioned that as well. God didn’t.

Do you ever think about the humans involved in the nativity story? The living breathing human beings that allowed themselves to be ridiculed, judged, misunderstood, and turned away?? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable surrounded by animals. It didn’t matter where He was born. His delivery would deliver His people regardless. God, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the angels, and the wise men all knew that. Soon, the world would know. But now, imagine with me the people in this story that allowed their lives to be truly turned upside down for His Glory alone.

As a mother myself, I imagine Mary rocking her new baby to sleep and wondering “why God, why me?” I’m sure most mothers can relate to this feeling. but this story takes it to a whole new level. How could You entrust Him (Your Son) to my care? As the song goes…”Mary did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered , will soon deliver you.” Our kids have a way of doing that…..they readjust our priorities, they drive us to our knees, they change us. Their innocence is enough to make us crave ours again. Their curiosity arouses ours. Their answers teach us new insights. We never think we are ready, yet God entrusts us to more than we can comprehend.

It comforts me to know that questions are normal, they make and keep us human. God’s favor is not dependent on perfection, only willingness. His overwhelming love imparts obedience. If Mary hadn’t trusted God’s love for her and desired to please Him more than anyone else, the angel’s message would have sounded like a nightmare. Why would I do that, Lord? Why on earth would You put me through that? Instead her response was I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true. Luke 1:38

It was for His Glory, not hers. She found favor in His eyes. The rest, as they say, is history…..

Sex is the Icing…

icing

The more I learn about and dabble in the current singles scene, the more I have come to this conclusion. God meant sex to be the icing on the cake. Sex is a beautiful gift. It was His design and He did not design it to be accompanied with shame, regret, or remorse. If it is, we’re not doing it right! Plain and simple.

Sex IN marriage is designed to bond committed spouses, enhance intimacy, release stress, make up after disagreements, and many other wonderful and constructive things. When it’s had outside of marriage, the physical pleasure alone doesn’t fulfill the rest of what sex is intended to do. It may feel good physically, but it hurts our hearts because the mental, emotional, and spiritual components are lacking. So….the fulfillment isn’t what God intended it to be. We are left with more questions than warm and fuzzy feelings. Sex should be the ultimate commitment between two people. It’s designed to affect our hearts and if it doesn’t affect our hearts anymore, there is a bigger problem going on.

I’m also blatantly aware that this opinion is not shared by the majority of people these days, especially now. I know from personal experience how much sex can bond you to someone regardless of how they treat you outside the bedroom. I think that for women, we tend to put up with a lot more from a man we are sleeping with than men that we are not. Outside of marriage, we confuse sex for love. We think they love us when we have sex even when their actions speak completely differently at other times. Be careful ladies!! I don’t just write this for myself. I’m writing for my daughters, my nieces, and my other single friends. I want us all to know that when God asks us to wait, it’s not to deprive us of a good thing…it’s to prepare us for His BETTER thing in it’s most fulfilling form, completely free of shame. Just as He intended it to be.

I’m also not writing in judgement, I’m as guilty as anyone and still struggle. I haven’t always had this conviction. This is new to me since my divorce, probably as a byproduct of having daughters to think about and my stronger relationship with Jesus. Now, I trust His love for me enough to know that He only asks me to do or not do things for my best interest. Dating is much harder with this conviction. My biggest fear in writing and sharing this entry, is that it will deny me the icing forever! But, I feel like it’s a topic that God has asked me to share. So I will. Perfect love casts out all fear and He is with me regardless of the consequences. I’m trusting Him with all that I have and am….

We all want the total package and that includes sex. But….if we have it before the cake is fully baked and cooled, we risk not enjoying it to it’s fullest potential. Or worse, staying in a relationship we aren’t supposed to stay in and committing to a counterfeit. When sex enters a relationship, all other aspects seem to cease growing and it becomes the main focus. If you break up, the heartbreak and regret lasts longer and if you do marry, the other aspects of the relationship may be lacking.

How do you know if you are mentally, spiritually, and emotionally compatible based on physical compatibility alone? How will you know if he’s in it just for the physical benefits if you don’t gather enough information on the other stuff first? Commitment is so much more than physical pleasure. How do you two mesh the rest of the time? Now, THAT is the question. And that question is very difficult to assess when sex is involved.

He who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord. Proverbs 14:22

Women, we are the treasure. If we are giving ourselves away to every guy we date, what’s in it for our husbands? What makes marriage important? What motivates a man to get down on his knee and ask for our hand in marriage if he’s already getting what he’ll get from us married? What honors God? The world wants us to think…who cares? It’s just a physical act. We were told to “wait till marriage” growing up mostly to avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies. While those are both good reasons to refrain, birth control and condoms don’t protect our hearts. God wants us to respect His gift of sex and marriage. Wouldn’t it be an awesome feeling to know that your future spouse is already thinking about you enough to wait for you? That goes both ways.

Moral of my story today is when a new relationship comes along, take the time to really get to know each other (gather ingredients), if it proceeds and you decide to be exclusive (mix the ingredients), enjoy each other and pray for direction (bake the cake), if it proceeds and you get engaged (let the cake cool), and if you get all the way to the altar….ice that cake and enjoy!! God wants you to 🙂 If you don’t make it to the altar, at least you tried and you’ll have much less to regret. Prayerfully moving on….