Can We?

Can we give thanks for opportunities to forgive? Can we give thanks for the times we’ve felt the loneliest? Can we give thanks for the times we’ve been betrayed and felt the most hurt? The ultimate thanksgiving.

For the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2) Mentally, physically, spiritually, it took all He had and He did it for us.

God is the Giver of all good things. (James 1:17) He is also with us when things and people are taken away. (Joshua 1:9) When we can see these difficult situations as times to deepen our relationship and increase our dependence on Him, we can view them through different lenses. The lenses of thankfulness. Thankful that our God never changes. Thankful that our God is the same God in the good times as in the bad. Thankful that He still died for us. And thankful that He is coming back to take us home.

Can you, like me, look back on your worst times and think, “Wow, I lived through that and I came out closer to Christ. Leaning on Him harder than ever.” I have different trials now. We all do. Can I look at each of these and say “Thank you, Lord.” “Thank you that You hear me and although You have the Power to remove them completely, You may not. You may walk beside me instead.” Either way, Lord, I say thank You.

Those “opportunities” to forgive mean someone has wronged us. That’s never pleasant. Can we, instead, view them as opportunities to catch a glimpse of how much grace God lavishes on us? How often we let Him down and how His love never fails or wavers? Can we forgive someone and say thank You, Lord, for forgiving me…?

Can we say “Thank you God, for what you give. And, thank You for what You do not.” It takes great faith that God IS love to do that.

Be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (GNT)

When our child turns away, runs away, or passes away….When our spouse leaves, when our health fails, when our job is uncertain, when money is tight, when tension is high. As tears roll down our face, can we say, “Thank You, Lord, for never forsaking me.”

Because, no matter what, I have this blessed assurance that Jesus is mine…’O what a foretaste of glory divine’…

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Stay In Your Lane!

What do you feel the Lord calling you to do? Where is your passion? What are your interests? How can you glorify Him in those? This is your lane. The friends God has blessed you with will cheer you on. They will run alongside you, pick you up when you trip, and bring you water when you’re parched.

When we look around at what others are doing, we increase our chances of tripping. When following our God given purpose, remember that rejection is imminent, obstacles are par for the course, and distractions will come out of nowhere. We aren’t supposed to run our race like others, run it like God wants you to. Our yesses and nos should be formulated around our whys.

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Then adjust, avert course, or run with all your might. Run like you’re running for the Lord.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Remember that the Lord will give you as a reward what he has kept for his people. For Christ is the real Master you serve.  Colossians 3:23-24 (GNT)

Eyes on your lane, following the passion given to you by God, is running in His will for your life. People pleasing and comparing can slow us down. It can stop us completely, if we let it. But, if we ask our Father in heaven what He wants for our lives and sense His “Go, I AM with you.” Run. Run like there’s no tomorrow. Only then, will we feel the peace, exhilaration, and excitement of a life lived in adventure with Him. Life with Him is surely an adventure. He is quite the Master Guide in this safari we call life.

I am here to urge you on when you’re exhausted, cheer you on when you succeed, and hug your neck in the defeats. Only with failure can we succeed. Getting and staying honest with God and our motives will direct our hearts towards His lane for our lives. And, we all have a lane He wants us in.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

When God changes your life, gives you a testimony, reveals your gift, and gives you a purpose. Run. Run your race. You never know the hearts you may touch along the way, so run. God is with you.  At the blessed finish line, your gold medal will be the blessed words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Same Kind of Different…

I look at hearts for a living…Every day, I take an ultrasound probe and I look into people’s chests. I look at the blood flow through the valves and chambers. I assess size, shape, function, and Doppler velocities.

After 17 years, I’ve come to realize that when I’m looking at the screen, it doesn’t matter what the person looks like laying beside me. Our hearts are all designed the same. The person I’m scanning could be black, white, Asian, overweight, anorexic, 95 years old, 18 years old, Catholic, atheist, smoker, vegan, a millionaire, homeless, a cheater, or the cheated. I can’t tell by the way their heart looks on my screen.

If I was only looking at a case study on a screen or was scanning through a sheet, I could only guess what that person looks like or lives like. It could be the cardiologist who reads my tests, for all I know!

This got me thinking about the God we serve. He knit us together in our mother’s wombs. He created our hearts physically and spiritually…the same. To physically pump and fire in a certain way. To spiritually crave Him. To seek Him for satisfaction when the world fails us. To love others and to find our greatest joy in serving Him. So…we are the same.

Yet, this same God who created each one of us in His image also thrives on variety. He made us to look different, gifted us differently, walks us through different stories, gives us different passions and interests. He loves variety. So….we are different.

I look at hearts everyday, but I am so relieved that nobody knows my heart like the One who created it. He sees it, He sees me, and He loves me anyway. He supports and heals my heart. He inspires and strengthens my heart. He pushes it to share and He helps it to rest.

The next time you see someone who looks or acts differently than you, think about their heart beating in their chest, it looks like yours. And, it is loved like yours.

Help Me Walk….

We are studying the armor of God in our women’s Bible study this fall. Each piece of armor correlates with protective and offensive maneuvers we can use against our enemy. We all have One Savior and we all have one enemy who likes to disguise himself and his ways as the angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He entices us and ultimately deceives us. That’s his thing, his m.o.

This week we’ve been learning about the shoes of peace…For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. Ephesians 6:15 (NLT)

When I think of peace personally, I tend to think of rest, calmness, stillness, less movement. While this is true and ever so necessary in this chaotic world we live in, peace is also what it takes for us to move forward. We need the peace of God to take chances, to share, to reach out, to move forward, to take that step, to ask that person, to try something new, to try again, to walk out our callings.

We need the assurance and peace that He IS with us (this is the Good News/Gospel of peace) to rest physically and mentally, but we also need it to walk forward after disappointments, in the midst of fear, and resistance.

The roman soldiers back in Paul’s day had stakes in the bottom of their sandals that helped them to walk on uneasy terrain. Muddy, mountainous, rocky, wet, these stakes helped them move forward.

Just like it takes strength to step out, peace is also required. The peace that God is with us allows us to jump in. The peace that successful or not, we have asked God to lead in our endeavors and He has promised to never leave us high and dry. Even if that person says “No”, even if that business or relationship tanks, even if that idea was not welcomed, even if the one person you’re hoping responds, grabs on, or validates you, never does, God is with you. And, He is proud of the faith you put in Him.

So, let’s walk. Let’s ask God for His peace to do so. When you feel stuck in the mud or see no way across that raging river, remember the shoes of peace described in the armor that God has provided us with. Ask Him for these shoes of peace. These aren’t high heels, these aren’t platforms, or flip flops, these are the shoes we need to climb rocky terrain, to walk through the mud and the muck, these are the shoes that will get us there…with HIM. In Christ alone….

 

Storms Take Many Forms

“The lightnin’ flashes in her eyes and he knows that she knows…..and the thunder rolls.” Just like in the Garth Brooks hit “The Thunder Rolls”, we are made aware very soon in life that storms come in many forms.

We take physical cover in hail storms. We watch helplessly as windows and cars are hammered. We can hear the sirens and sounds of freight trains when a tornado comes close. We rush to the stores to stock up when there is talk of an ice storm hitting the metroplex. We batten down the hatches to prepare for hurricanes. We do all we can do, but are still left to watch and see how nature will take it’s course.

Relationships go through storms. Marriages, friends, family….Eventually, someone will get hurt and find themselves in the eye of the storm needing to ask for forgiveness or grant it. And the thunder rolls……

Some make it, some don’t. Kids and others are left to watch helplessly in the wake of lost friendships and divorce. The relationships that do make it come out stronger because the love is made more evident in the willingness to ask, receive, and bestow the forgiveness. Asking isn’t easy, granting isn’t easy. Both take humility and grace.

Financial strains cause storms. The stress associated with being out of work, working when you don’t want to, working at a job you dislike, or for a boss who doesn’t seem to care at all about you, wondering whether or not to go back to work. Asking for help with bills. And the thunder rolls….

Storms come in many forms. May we always look to Jesus in them. May we take cover in His Name, like we do in the closet with our babies covered by a mattress. May we go face down before Him when the storms come and ask Him to carry us through. May we stock up on scripture and prayer warrior friends like we stock up on bottled waters and batteries. These are the storms where an umbrella won’t cut it. These are the storms where we do all that we can do and then hunker down and wait and see what the damage is.

Hurricane Harvey ravished Houston a couple weeks ago. Hurricane Irma plowed through the Caribbean yesterday and is moving towards Florida this weekend. Last I heard there are two coming up behind her. Just like tropical storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and ice storms are expected on this earth, so are all the other kinds of storms. Sometimes they seem to come one right after another.

Strengthen us, Lord. Batten down our hatches. Help us to ask for and grant forgiveness in our storms. Show us how to reflect you when we inevitably mess up or someone else does. And, thank You for Your grace. Your grace is like the first responders running in when everyone else runs outs. Your grace is the rescue helicopters and semis pulling in with diapers and blankets. Your grace is the food we feast on when famished and in dire need.

And, if the storm rages and ultimately takes us out, may we still look to You because then we will be able to see You looking at us.

My Love Story….

My love story will be different…It won’t be a “married to my high school sweetheart” story. It won’t be a “rocky marriage and reconciliation” story. It won’t be a “happily ever after right after divorce” story. No, my love story will be different.

My love story will be learning about how much God loves me, even in the midst of painful losses and rejections. My love story will be learning to love myself in the midst of them to0. Learning to love myself even when made to feel unlovable. Learning to love myself after being torn down to a nub by men in my life. Learning that not all men and women are the same….

Right after my divorce, I fell hard for a guy. He gave me more attention that I’d ever received from my ex-husband. We dated over a year, but he refused to commit. So, heartbroken again, I knew I had to stop the rollercoaster of not knowing what he wanted from me. Cue the next few guys who wanted to marry me after our first date. And some even before. What was going on?!?

First guy turned out to be on parole for double homicide (his wife and another guy)! Next two had mental issues, so much so, that suicide was mentioned after ending things. The fear of God set in. What was a single mom with two daughters to do?  Just stop? Or keep trying, trusting God. I chose the latter……My love story will be different.

The only way I could trust God with my romantic life after these stories was IF I loved Him enough and trusted His love for me. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve cried out, thinking it won’t happen for me. It just can’t after these stories…The fear would be too great or the rug would be yanked out from under me, again.

I dated a guy who truly loved me, but we split over spiritual beliefs. I’ve dated a guy recommended by one of my best friends. I thought that he was my reward for standing up for my beliefs. That turned out to be false too and ever so painful and confusing all over again. What was going on?!?

The guy before has come back around. God spoke to his heart in my absence and it turns out our spiritual beliefs aren’t as different as we thought. Surprisingly, close. He knows all my fears, issues, and concerns. His love still rings true. God’s will be done.

My love story will be different….God will be my first love. My love story will be an open book of the love we share. I will run to Him when I hurt. I will lean on Him when I’m scared. I will share who He is to me. I will trust Him with my life. And, if it turns out that He just wants me all to Himself, my love story will be complete. I will live to please and honor Him all the days of my life.

 

 

LOVE Yourself…

Getting to know Jesus will definitely impact how we view and love others. On the flipside, He will also teach us how to view and love ourselves. The more His love sinks in, the more we realize our value. Our value to Him.

I didn’t know my worth until Jesus showed me. Because of this, I felt constantly at the mercy of others to love me. This is a set up for disaster. Thank God, He continues to show me. He shows me by showering me with grace and help and love like I’ve never known.

If He loves me like that, I must be worthy of love. Not only from others, but also from me. Healthy self love propels us to do what feeds our souls and inspires us. It pushes us to grow and spread our wings. It teaches us to enjoy our alone time and to love others unselfishly. I don’t love to get love anymore, I love to love. And, that is freeing.

Love yourself enough to….walk away, make a decision, admit a fault, cry in public, cry in private. Love yourself enough to…disagree, set a boundary, stick to said boundary, rest in God’s love for you.

Love yourself enough to….follow a dream, set a goal, try something new, forgive that person, take a nap, find a babysitter, open up to a trusted friend.

Loving ourselves properly is vital in loving others properly. Love the man or woman God created you to be. Work on yourself with God’s help. His connection and correction comes from a personal relationship with Him. This relationship will change your heart and inevitably your life.

You are already loved and you were created beautiful ❤