Accountability?

accountability

Who are you accountable to? A few people pop into my mind…my boss, my kids and when I was married, my husband. Do you ever think about the fact that we are all accountable to God? At the end of time, we will be face to face with Him. Not these other people who we try to live and do right for. What about Him? Ultimately, it comes down to Him and me.

This fact actually helps me with forgiveness when I struggle. We will be held accountable by God Himself for our actions and reactions. How we live and what we do is seen whether we choose to think about it or not. Confession isn’t for God, it’s for us. Newsflash! He already knows. He’s God. And, He loves us anyway. Just get real with Him. Be real with your weakness, ask forgiveness, make amends, and move on….loved.

Knowing we are loved leads to a desire to obey. It rarely works the other way around. “Why should I do what you want me to do? And , if I do, it’s only because you’re forcing me”. We want to please those who truly love us as a way to honor them. We want to show our love, not just say it. We all know anyone can say “I love you”, the truth comes in the actions that follow and/or precede this term. Love is sacrifice. Love is patient and kind. Love perseveres and honors truth. Love never fails. We don’t have to be loved in return to love. We can choose to love anyway through our thoughts and prayers and let them be, if necessary.

As we go through our days and make our choices, remember who we are ultimately accountable to. I could trust a man who knows he’s accountable to Almighty God, not just me. If he is aware and seeking to honor God in his own life daily, I could trust him with mine. Neither one of us would be perfect, but we would both know that our actions towards each other are accountable to God and that would keep us on the same page. That’s a blessing and that’s being equally yoked. Once again, God knows best.

One of my dear friends gave me a book yesterday and on the inside cover she wrote a beautiful note. She signed with “Your accountability partner”. She didn’t know I was writing about accountability. She didn’t know I desired an accountability partner. But, God did. Her gift and love has been a blessing to me. I’m thankful for friends who lean on and look to God for accountability in their lives. They can help me with mine.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. –Proverbs 27:17

Let us continue to help each other, love each other, and look to God for our accountability. He knows best and loves us the most.

 

It’s Your Choice…

choice

Our lives consist of choices…what do we want NOW vrs. what do we want MOST?

Whether it’s that third cupcake, a quick cure for loneliness, or a distraction from boredom, it’s usually a matter of flesh vrs. Spirit. At least, it is for me. Our bodies craves what our flesh wants and we want it now. It takes divine patience and discipline to choose what we want most over what we want now. Following our flesh feels good in moment, but how we feel after is the true test. Satisfaction may be felt in the short term, but if regret and sorrow follow our choices, they were made in the flesh. Choices made in the Spirit may be difficult to make in the moment, but lead to joy and peace afterwards.  The peace that passes all understanding.

Indulgence can be a wonderful thing at times, but not when it’s followed with a load of regret. We all know how that feels…and it usually makes whatever we indulged in not worth it.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it. Isaiah 30:21

It takes supernatural self control to deny our selfish desires and walk in God’s direction. Yet, He has promised to supply that strength. It’s our choice whether we seek His opinion, submit, and/or obey. These are OUR choices alone. God won’t force Himself or His ways on us. There’s no place I’d rather be personally than smack dab in the middle of God’s will. Choices made in light of eternity will always be worth it in the long term. Our long terms are eternal. Our lives here are merely a flash in the pan compared to where we are headed.

Our choices don’t only affect us. They affect our children, our friends, our families, and next generations. If our choices have that much impact, aren’t they worth some prayerful consideration?

Please, Lord, help me listen to Your voice and make choices accordingly. Help me make choices that fit snuggly in Your will. Choices that lead to peace and joy rather than regret and sorrow. Choices that inspire others to live for You. Choices that reflect a loving example to my daughters. Choices that portray my worth in You. Choices that prove I am thankful to be chosen.

Before the creation of the world, He chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in His presence. Because of His love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in His dear Son would be praised and given glory. Ephesians 1:4-6

His choice was us.

 

 

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.

Treading Water…

tread

Do you ever feel like you’re treading water spiritually?

Our Rescuer picks us up out of the depths, we gasp, take a big deep breath of fresh air, and start to breathe. It’s a beautiful and life changing thing…

We PRAISE Him for the rescue. We devote ourselves all over again. We pray more consistently than before. We cherish His presence in our lives. Now, we can actually feel ourselves start to sink if our prayer time fades. Prayer has become our lifeline.

So we are praying consistently, going to church, seeking Him and His will for our lives, loving others, learning to love ourselves as He does, and summoning His strength to share. Treading. Our arms and legs start to tire. We start looking around for somewhere to rest. Our ship to come in. And, we may start to wonder…..what next? What now? I have. I think it’s part of our journey.

When a week goes by and I feel like I’m treading water, I make a conscious effort to remind myself that at least I’m not drowning anymore! I can breathe and my eyes have been opened, Praise God! My weaknesses have been revealed and my mind renewed. I know where to go for true strength. I know where to turn for truth. I don’t fear truth, I cherish it. I’d so much rather receive truth than be deceived one more day.

Then, out of the blue, a raft appears. Jesus says, “not only did I rescue you, I gave you a raft. You don’t have to tread. Rest.” Oh, thank goodness, I need it! And I lie on my raft and I rest. He doesn’t just rescue us from the depths of despair, pain, and deception. He offers a true rest in Him.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Sometimes the routine of our lives and the constant waiting for the next big thing feels like treading water. Still, I’d rather tread than drown. I’d rather rest than tread. I’d rather breathe easily than gasp.

It’s a life long journey and each one of us are on our own. Not alone, but on our own personal journeys between our personal rescuer and ourselves.

Today, enjoy your raft and take a rest with Jesus. 

WHOSE are you?

remember

Whose are you? These words have been bouncing around in my brain for awhile. I think we all go through stages in life where we wonder who we are and who we want to be. A milestone birthday, a new job, divorce, new baby, or any life changing event may provoke these questions. We have the option to be whomever we want to be, but whose are we? When the question of “who am I?” pops into my mind, I can feel God asking me “whose are you?” in reply.

Life is ever changing and we are continually evolving to our environment whether we realize it or not. Our circumstances will continue to change throughout this life. So…who are you? Who do you want to be? What now? What’s working for you? What’s not?

I think all these questions are simplified when we ask ourselves first and foremost “Whose am I”? When we know who we belong to and are truly loved by, the answers will come. It’s an identity issue.

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. As His children, we will receive all that He has for us. We will share what Christ receives. But we must share in His sufferings if we want to share in His glory. Romans 8:14,17 (NIRV)

So, WHOSE are you? WHOSE do you want to be? Whose do you want your children to be? Who do you want them to follow, to respect, to obey, to run to for comfort, to answer to, to listen to? What if something happens to you? Make no mistake, they will go to someone or something for comfort, approval, and acceptance (just like we do). All these answers come easier when we know and remember WHOSE we are, not just who we are.

I didn’t know this growing up. I was raised in a Christian home and went to church schools from elementary through college, but I didn’t have the security of knowing WHOSE I was. I lived to please people, and still struggle with it today. When I remember whose I am, that fear and struggle is put back into perspective and I thank God for that. Living to please people is a self defeating battle. Living to please God is much less burdensome, because I can rest in the fact that I am His daughter and nothing can separate me from His love. Nothing. This makes me want to please Him more. This turns the vicious cycle of trying to please people, failing, and trying again into a refreshing and rewarding cycle of pleasing my Savior.

I saw a quote recently by Dr. Mike Murdock that says “Submission is not ownership, submission is permission to protect.” God does not and will not force Himself on us. He doesn’t need us, He wants us and He wants to protect us…..so He waits. Like the prodigal son’s father, He runs to us when we return to Him, even with our tails between our legs. He desires us. That is mind blowing to me.

I think Murdock’s quote is also beneficial for women because Godly submission is such a tough concept for us to grasp. What is healthy submission? We are called to submit to a man while he is called to protect. The God-given responsibility and calling goes both ways. If a man expects his woman to submit without doing his part to protect her physically, spiritually, and emotionally, she won’t trust him enough to. Another vicious cycle ensues.

We need to know who our husband or potential mate is submitting to before we feel comfortable submitting ourselves. Whose are we and whose are they? Women want to be protected. Men want to protect. It’s the way God created us. If we know our man has our best interest at heart, submission shouldn’t be an issue. It’s a beautiful thing…a Godly design.

Hello, my name is Darla. I’m not perfect and never have been. But, I am honored and relieved to say I am a child of God, daughter of the Most High. It’s nice to meet you. 🙂 So, WHOSE are you?