Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Seeing With the Wrong Eyes

Why is it that we women tend to struggle so much with our body image?  My beautiful friend and I spent a significant portion of time tonight talking about this issue.  Negative self image is an issue that just screams strings of dishonest and corrupting lies in our ears.  The lies that we have to be thin enough or curvy enough or busty enough…. The lies that we can’t have wrinkles, or gray hair, or (God forbid) a belly bulge!  The lies that in order to be loved, we must be beautiful…aesthetically beautiful, that is.  The lie that we must be *perfect* is what it really boils down to.

*Perfect* —  I seriously think I have grown to despise that word.  Perfection seems to be the great illusion.  There is always more to be done because we have not yet achieved our goal of *perfect* yet.  Who set that goal anyway?  It certainly wasn’t God.  He is making us perfect through the process of sanctification, but that *perfection* will not be reached until the day we stand before Him in heaven!  No, the Bible does not call us to be perfect now.  It does say we must be perfect as He is perfect, but this is a level we attain when we see Him.  We do not become fully Christ-like while on this Earth.  Thank goodness, or I may be tempted to walk on “my own two feet” again, and that is never a good thing.

Anyway, back to the negative self-image issue. Can anyone tell me why I cannot look in the mirror at myself and just be content with who I am?  I mean, I look at myself and within 20 seconds I’ve noted every fault visible.  And don’t even get me started about looking at myself naked.  Forget about it.  The self-loathing kicks in with such intensity that I have actually gotten into the shower thinking I’m about the ugliest person on the planet.  Let’s be real for a second.  Naked is hard.  In any sense of the word.  Whether you are being emotionally naked, physically naked, or spiritually naked – it’s tough.  You become vulnerable. There is nothing there to cover up your flaws.  They are all exposed.  But, I guess what is eating at me right now is this: why can’t I be comfortable in my own skin?  Why can’t I just accept my body as it is?  Instead of seeing the flaws in my body, why can’t I see the unique features that make me, me?

Because I’m looking with the wrong eyes.

I look upon my body with eyes that can only see flaws.  My eyes are programmed to see flaws, because I am a flawed human being.  My human eyes cannot see beauty that exists beneath the surface of the flesh.  My mind has been so programmed by our culture, in that beauty is in *perfection*, that anything less is simply not beautiful. And I am far from *perfect*.  In fact, the Truth is – there is only One who IS perfect.  The Perfect One Himself, Jesus Christ.  He is perfection.  He is the goal I need to be striving for.  But, how do I do that?

I ask for new eyes.

God has this beautiful way of giving us spiritual eyes.  If you read the book of Acts, you will find that when Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus, he literally had the scales FALL from his eyes.  He was given new sight.  God let Paul see life as he had never seen life before.  This is also my prayer for myself and for any other woman out there that struggles with negative body image:

God, you are the Creator of all things!  You are Perfect, the only Perfect One!  Lord, I call out to you on the behalf of all women who struggle with negative body image.  I know that this lie can speak into so many areas of our lives!  I know that this lie can create many sinful thoughts – thoughts against ourselves, and thoughts against others.  Lord, You are our Maker.  You designed us exactly the way You wanted us to be.  Father, right now I just thank you for making us.  And I ask that You would bless us with spiritual eyes, to see ourselves the way You do.  Even if we can only have the slightest glimpse, Lord.  Please show us the beautiful that exists within each and every one of us!  Thank You Father!  In Jesus’ Name I pray!  Amen

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Without Reservation

Prayer.

Without reservation.

Is the most Powerful Prayer.

Ever.

Join me today?

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As I’m Waiting….

I don’t like to wait.

I am discovering this about myself in a way that cannot be denied during this current season of my life.  I am not the patient person I would like to be.  I do not feel peaceful as I wait for God to make His move.  I am uncomfortable in this place, I am restless.  To be honest and transparent with you, I am really struggling with the whole concept of God’s timing and God’s way right now.

And it frustrates me to no end.

Why?  Because I am saying one thing, and I am feeling another. I am doing a whole lot of lip service to God!  I am telling Him each day that I want Him to move in my life in whatever way He wants to.  I tell Him that I lay my life down and that I want Him do with each of my situations as He sees fit.  I tell him these things every day.  I am NOT meaning it.  I mean, I think I mean it when I say it.  I honestly pray these things with a sincere heart.  With good intentions, because this is TRULY what I desire.  So – WHY then am I struggling so intensely with the very things I am ASKING God to do??!!

Therein lies the root of my struggle.

This is a very uncomfortable place for anyone to be.  In any relationship, if we are thinking one way and acting another way – we are going to experience discomfort.  If that can happen in my human relationships – how much more discomfort am I going to experience in my relationship with GOD???  I am saying to God that I want Him to move in His time and in His way.  But, when it comes down to it, I am still trying to do it all myself.  AND I AM MAKING A MESS of things!!  This is no surprise.  The end result of self-sufficiency is always restlessness, irritability, and discontentment.  If I KNOW this, then the baffling part to me is probably the same as it is to you…  WHY do I keep falling into the same patterns of behavior??  I know where it leads me!  As much as I hate to admit it, I think this is about honesty.  

I am NOT being honest with God.  And I am not being honest with myself.

Ooh, that stings just to write down.  I am not being honest with God.  According to His Word in Psalm 139, God knows my heart.  He knows when I sit or when I stand, and He knows every single hair on my head.  He doesn’t just hear my words when I pray – He knows the very heart behind them.  So, WHY am I trying to do lip service to a God who already knows it’s lip service??  It is so baffling.  And just so you know…this is not a piece I am writing after the fact.  I am writing this post right smack dab in the middle of this circumstance.  And right now, right THIS very moment – I am absolutely baffled by my behavior.

Perhaps the root is my people-pleasing nature in combination with my performance-based view of acceptance and love.  These are characteristics of my flesh; my overwhelming desire to be accepted and loved by others and my need to appease those around me.  I think that’s IT!  I am seeing these two character defects popping up in almost every situation that is going on right now.  I think I may have just hit on something.  I haven’t thought much about these characteristics lately because I have been so focused on everything else.  I suppose I thought that just because I had dealt with them at one time, that they would no longer be a significant issue for me.  I mean, I did spend a significant portion of my recovery working through the lies of people-pleasing and performance driven acceptance.  I suppose I will need to get back to basics on this.  Maybe then I might find some peace inside my heart.

This is why I love to write.  This is why I love knowing that GOD moves powerfully when I open up my mind and allow words to fall through my fingers and on to the screen!  He works on me through this avenue…He speaks to me through my own writing – and that just makes me want to fall on my knees and worship Him!

Time to get back to basics!

 

 

****UPDATE****

After writing this post and sharing it with you all and a friend of mine, I was led into prayer…. a 9-day Novena, actually – something I have never done before.  I am excited to watch the Lord move in this!  I have to say – within an hour or so of making the decision to enter into this time of specific and intentional prayer, my entire attitude has turned around.  I suddenly realized that I was feeling peace and contentment…  and as I sit here and write again…. I still am feeling it!  GO GOD!

 

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Blessed by My Own Words?

So, as I wrestle with these resentments that are building up inside my heart, I fell across a post I wrote a while ago.  I was greatly blessed by the words on the page, as they spoke to exactly where I am, right now.  I just love it when God does that!

(Originally written on March 2, 2014)

“Love Journey: Do Not Take Revenge”

19 Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I love the phrase “it is written” because that means that Scripture is quoting Scripture.  I enjoy cross-referencing verses.

Deuteronomy 32:3 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.  and Hebrews 10:30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”

So, it is the Lord’s job to judge, and NOT mine!  Revenge comes out of the heart when someone feels they have been wronged.  Revenge is fueled by anger toward someone, with the ignitor being judgement placed or judgement received.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we could all just leave judgement to the One who actually is the Judge?  Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if we could just step aside and let Him do His work?

I have to laugh a bit at that last question.  As I wrote it, I was thinking of all the time people in recovery circles are telling me to “get out of the way” and “let God work”.  As it is, I have a very difficult time releasing my desire to control the outcome of something.

When it came to forgiveness, I was a slow learner.  I thought, for many years, that forgiveness meant that I had to tell the other person that what they did was OK.  When it really wasn’t OK.  I harbored anger toward myself and others, because I could not wrap my mind around saying that what they (or I) had done was ‘alright’.  It wasn’t until I understood the real meaning of forgiveness, that I was able to actually begin the journey.  I think that meaning is tucked away nicely in this verse:

19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

It is the Lord’s job to handle other people’s sin, not mine.  When I am sinned against, it is NOT my job to handle the “punishment” of the other person.  I am in no position to do anything really, at least not anything to the other person.  I can choose to do something inside myself.  I can choose forgiveness, which is simply the act of taking the person and their sin to God, and letting Him control the outcome.

It’s amazing, when I practice the true meaning of forgiveness, how easily it has become for me to offer forgiveness to others.  God has truly shown me what forgiveness is, and what it isn’t.  He has given me the ability to develop of a heart of forgiveness for those in my life with whom I was struggling to forgive in the past.  Making room for “God’s wrath” instead of my own, has had a positive and lasting impact on my relationships.

So, Love is…

Choosing to hand the person/situation to God and letting Him handle the outcome, instead of wallowing in my anger, which will eventually lead me to a root of bitterness and rage.  

REFLECT:

Are you trying to control the outcome, or are you placing it in God’s hands?

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Harboring Resentment

For the recovering alcoholic, harboring a resentment (or holding a grudge) is no laughing matter.  In fact, a book that happens to be very pertinent to my recovery states this: “Resentment is the number one offender.  It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.”  Those are some very powerful words to a person in recovery, like myself.  I take my recovery very seriously.  Without it, I have nothing.  And without God, I have no recovery.  So, the number one thing in my life must be my relationship with God, and following close after that, must be my recovery. And in the realm of both God’s way of life and my recovery; harboring resentments is a choice that I no longer have.

So what about the person who isn’t a recovering alcoholic?

Is this business of building and hanging on to resentments still an issue?  Well, let’s think about that for a moment.  First, I think we must look at what resentment is.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: A resentment is a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.

The thing that grabs my attention in this definition is the word persistent.  We all, if we are human and exist in relationship with others, have difficulty on some level with people.  In general, it is safe to say that we will have, at the very least, a personality conflict with at least one person in our lives.  We will be wronged on some level at some point in our lives.  We will experience justifiable anger, righteous anger, and bitterness toward another human being at some point.  Anger is normal.  In fact, it is a healthy response when you are put in a situation where you or someone you love has been hurt by another.  There is nothing wrong in anger itself.  Even God gets angry.  Anger is NOT a sin.

Resentment, however, takes anger to another level.  To build a resentment is to re-live the feeling of anger that a situation or person has created in your life, over and over again.  In fact,when literally looked at, the word resentment means to “re-feel”.  So, building a resentment against someone or something is a thing that happens over time,  is deeply rooted and usually difficult to get rid of.  The reason that building a resentment is so detrimental to recovery and peaceful living in general,  is that eventually it creates a hardened heart. Bitterness takes root, unforgiveness clouds rational thinking, and hatred begins to bloom.  Jesus has quite a bit to say on this subject, but one such teaching stands out in my mind:

1 John 3:15  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

If you have never heard this before, you might be as surprised as I was to realize the depth of the problems that harboring resentments can create within the heart and soul of a person.

For the alcoholic in recovery, a resentment that is left unresolved spells out D-A-N-G-E-R.  Resentments are the number one reason that alcoholics drink – we drink AT people, places, and circumstances.  Resentments are also the number one reason that recovering alcoholics relapse – we drink AT people, places, and circumstances.  So, for me – I must get rid of a resentment the minute I feel it brewing.  And, can I be honest with you?  I have some pretty big ones brewing lately.

So, how do I get rid of a resentment?

Well, this is what the program of recovery has taught me.  First, I must look at the resentment and ask myself why I feel the way I do.  Next, I must look at what areas of my life are affected by this situation or person, thus causing me to begin harboring a resentment in the first place.  Last, but probably most important – I must look at my part in the situation. (And believe it or not, I have found that I usually always have some part in the situation, no matter how small)  Once I have figured out my part in the situation, I need to deal with the issue.  I must take ownership for my part, and my part only.  I must make an attempt to rectify the situation to the best of my ability.  The person or situation may not change as a result of my owning up to my part, and I must prepare myself to accept that.  However, many times, the person or situation does change after I have made amends for my part.  Many times I have discovered that the person I am so busy being resentful at is not really the “big mean monster” I perceived them as.  Truth is, I never really know how it going to go.  But, I still need to do my part.  It is imperative to my recovery.  This series of steps to rid yourself of a resentment would work for anyone, not just people in recovery.  Imagine if we could all choose to try living our life without carrying the burden of resentment around with us???

 

 

**If you are following this blog, you might hear a lot from me about the process of making amends, offering and accepting forgiveness, and letting go of past hurts and wounds inflicted by people in my life.  This space, where I come to write, has become a very sacred space for me – a place where I can empty my heart and mind of the things that are cluttering it up.  I am so grateful for the gift of the written word.  I would be a jumbled up mess inside my mind if it wasn’t for my outlet of writing it all down.  If I can help another soul somewhere along the way as well, that is a bonus to what has already become something beautiful!

 

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A Prayer for Release from Bitterness

God!  Lord!  You are the Creator of all things, on heaven, on earth, and everywhere in between!  Everything!  All of it made and inspired by the works of your hands.  God, you know all things.  You are in all things.  You see all things.  You are fully aware of this situation I am in right now.  You know the hearts of every single person involved.  You know our thoughts, you know our motives, you know all!  God, right now I can feel my heart building up walls of bitterness and unforgiveness against this person.  I know that you have commanded me to forgive.  How can I not forgive all, if I – myself- have been forgiven all?  I choose to let this go Lord, I do.  I need your help!  This situation is far bigger than I am.  It is far too much for my simple human heart to grasp, to carry, to try to figure out.  I do not understand the purpose behind this season Lord, but you do!  And that is enough for me.  I pray for the strength to release this person and all they have done to harm me and my loved ones.  I pray for the strength to let go of the pain and anger, and to cling to your truth.  You are God!  You can change every heart!  Every single one!  Not one of us is outside the capability of your love to completely and fully transform!  I pray for that, Lord.  I pray for a complete transformation of hearts in this situation. I pray your guidance and protection each step of the way.  I pray for the right words to say when words need to be spoken, and I pray for you to close my mouth when there needs to be silence.  I trust that you are doing a great work in this, and I am all in!  I love you Lord, and I thank you for the gift of FREEDOM!!  In Jesus I pray !  Amen

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Beautifully Broken: Psalm 107

Psalm 107: 1-3

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Did you know that God – the Creator of Heaven and Earth – values you so much that He wants to have a personal relationship with you?  Do you realize that regardless of your response to Him, He continues to pursue this desire to relate with you?  Do you understand that He will stop at nothing to show you how absolutely and completely LOVED you are?  That He will relentlessly pursue you, calling and patiently awaiting your answer?  Do you realize that, in order to enter into relationship with God – the first thing you have to do is say “Yes”?

If someone would have asked me these questions a little over 3 1/2 years ago, I would not have believed them.  I grew up knowing “who” Jesus was, and that God was in charge.  I grew up being told to pray and to be kind and to love God.  I remember trying to do these things growing up.  I also remember feeling very guilty if I didn’t do these things, and that God was disappointed in me.  I would not have believed that He was continuously pursuing me, regardless of me.  I was always under the assumption that I had to be good enough to get God’s stamp of approval on my life.

Imagine my surprise when someone told me that I would not, COULD NOT, ever be good enough to earn God’s favor!! I could not do enough “good” to earn my way into Heaven either.  This concept did not make sense to me.  Not at first.  But I went with it.  I went with the fact that I didn’t need to understand something in order for it to be true. And I started believing.  I started believing something that I couldn’t wrap my mind around, simply because I wanted to, I NEEDED to.  I desperately needed to believe that God loved me the way that people were telling me He did.  I needed to believe that He was going to do for me that which I could not do for myself.  I could not get sober on my own.  I could not fix my life on my own.  I couldn’t make a single solid decision on my own.  I needed God and I needed to believe that He was going to come through for me!

Slowly, over time, that desperate need to believe that God was who He said He was turned into a solid FAITH and TRUST that God most definitely IS who He says He IS.  Through a period of time engaging in blind faith – taking steps toward a loving relationship with my Creator without fully understanding Him or what I was doing – I found the most incredible peace and serenity begin to weave its way into my life.  I found that the more I stopped trying to figure it out, the more I began to understand this thing called Faith.

Today – I have a Trust in the Lord that runs deep into my soul.  In fact, it is the core of my entire being – my life revolves around my Faith and Trust in our Amazing Lord!  And you know something?  He has never let me down!  He has never walked away from me.  He has never thrown His hands up in the air and given up on me.  He has never left my side.  Not once.  He has proven Himself faithful time and time again.  And for the past 3 1/2 years – He has consistently been doing for me, that which I could never do for myself.

One of the things He is doing in my life right now, is calling me to write.  To write about HIM.  To share His story through the circumstances of my life and the lives of people around me.  He is calling me to share His amazing deeds, His wonderous deeds, His transformational GRACE and LOVE!!  And it is a big job!

I mean – please do NOT mistake me.  I love to write!  I mean, I love love LOVE to write!  I realize that I am not the world’s greatest writer (or even the town’s greatest), but none-the-less, I love to write!  The joy that fills me when I sit down at my computer or with my journals and begin typing whatever God has laid on my heart – that joy is incomparable to few things I have ever known!  But, writing for real is a pretty scary thing.  I cannot contain within my spirit what God is truly calling me to do with Beautifully Broken.  I recognize His hand all over it – and I trust that He will enable me to do that which He has called me to do, but right now it feels like I am standing at the bottom of a mountain that makes Mr. Everest look puny!

A couple of weeks ago, I set my first appointment to meet with one of the people who have stepped out to share their God story with me.  The appointment was set for this morning.  Last night, I was feeling discontent and decided to write in my Praise journal.  This is one of many journals that I write in fairly consistently and I haven’t written in it for a while.  I love this particular journal because it has verses from various Psalms throughout its pages.  Yesterday, it had Psalm 107: 1-3 on the page that I was writing on.  The words jumped off the page at me almost immediately, and I knew that it was related not to the emotions I was struggling with in that moment, but rather to the book that He is writing through me.  It was definite confirmation that I am moving in the right direction.  Especially verse 2:

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

This sentence captures the essence of what Beautifully Broken is all about.  His story, as it is told through our circumstances.  I met with my sweet friend today, and it was nothing less than amazing to sit with her and have her trust me with the fragility of her brokenness.  It has God’s hand all over it.  What is so beautiful in all of this, is how God continues to communicate with me – through a variety of modes.  He is exactly who He says He is, and He is doing exactly what He has said He will do.  And, I – for one, am going to place my absolute trust in Him!

Do you have a God story you feel called to share with me?  Please feel free to comment to this post, including your email, and I will be in touch with you!  I cannot wait to get as many stories as possible on the pages of this book – all FOR GOD’S GLORY!!

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Renew My Mind: Day 10

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  ~ Romans 12:2

 

Today’s message in Simple Blessings was on the power of Encouragement.  There is so much to be said about giving another words that will lift them up and create life within them.  Someone once said to me that the most powerful muscle we have in our body is our tongue.  Now, if you are thinking power as in physical strength, then that statement makes no sense.  However, if you are thinking power as in the power of life and death – you would realize that statement is right on.  Proverbs 18:21 says this:

The tongue has the power of life and deathand those who love it will eat its fruit.

That is a pretty strong statement right there.  The tongue is the most powerful muscle we have in our body.  We can choose to use it for good, or we can choose to use it for evil.  The tongue can spring forth life in the heart of another, and the tongue can crush and destroy the heart of another.

I have experience both sides of this coin.  There is a particular person in my life (who shall remain unnamed) who constantly uses their tongue as a weapon.  This person lives their life in “anger mode” and strikes out verbally whenever they have the chance.  The words this person uses are intentionally meant to harm.  They are darts of fire that I have found myself burned by, on more than one occasion.  This person’s words can be so cruel and destructive, that they have been known to steal joy right from under my nose.  The sad part was, I met this person “nose to nose” by slinging hurtful comments right back at them, in the past. Today, I have chosen a different path, but sadly this other person has not.  The words that this person delivers on an almost daily basis, have begun to stick out like weeds growing in a beautiful flower garden.  I have come a long way with how this person’s words affect me.  Where the weeds used to choke out flower after flower until there was little color left in the garden – today, I recognize the weed for what it is, and I am typically able to take care of it before it gains a foothold on me.

Today, I choose to be very intentional about my words.  I choose to use words of love, kindness, and respect – even if I am not receiving the same.  I choose words on purpose because I know today, that every word I speak has purpose.  I know that my words can wound and my words can heal.  My words can build and my words can destroy.  Especially when it comes to my children, I am so careful to use words that are encouraging, loving, and kind.  I am so cautious about the things my children hear me say to others, as well.  Little ears are always listening!  It is not always easy, and sometimes I mess up.  But, then I make amends – admit my faults – and make a decision to try again.

Thankfully we have a God that extends Grace to us on a daily basis!  Goodness knows, I need it!

 

Action Step for Today:  Today I will choose my words wisely.  I will intentionally encourage others today.

 

 

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Renew My Mind: Day 9

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  ~ Romans 12:2

“Accept the past, trust God to handle the future, and make the most of the time He has given you today.” Simple Blessings pg. 95

Today’s reading was on having the courage to dream.  Hebrews 10:23 says:

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

He who promised.  HE who PROMISED.  I’d like to take a deeper look into that phrase.  Who is the “He”?  God.  What has He “promised”?  Let’s look at verse 22 of the same chapter and book:

22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 

What I see in the context of these verses is that the God of the Universe has promised us that we can come near to Him, we can approach His very Throne of Glory, we can draw ourselves into His presence, we can hold firm to the Faith we have been given… and we can TRUST that He will meet us there.  Why?  Because He has promised! He says it again in the book of James:

James 4:8  Come near to God and he will come near to you.

Further diving into the depths of Hebrews 10, I can see that this promise is a very extravagant one.  One I believe many of us take for granted today.  Even though I grew up without a personal relationship with the Lord, I grew up believing in God.  I grew up knowing that if I needed help, I could pray to God.  I grew up understanding that I could pray directly to God.  I never even gave a second thought to the fact that it was a big deal to do so.

But, think about it for a moment if you will.  Think about a mere human king.  Or the President.  How common is it to get an audience with someone on this earth of elite status?  Think about how many people clamor over celebrities.  Is it a simple task to be able to sit in the presence of a movie star? No way!  And if these mere human beings are so difficult to get an audience with – how much more should it be to get an audience with the GOD of the entire UNIVERSE??!!  I mean, really!

And He does more that just give us a chance to come before Him once in a while.  He is available to us 24-7, 365 days a year!  And He does more than give us an allotted time period in which He can spend with us.  He meets us right where we are at – every second of the day.  He resides within our very hearts, minds, and spirits if we invite Him in.  He indwells us!  He LIVES in us!  How amazing is that??  Seem impossible?  Seem difficult to conceptualize the GOD of the UNIVERSE living inside you??  God is in the business of impossible!  He loves when we think something is impossible, because that is where He really shows up!  Start inviting Him in.  You WON’T be disappointed!

So, why all the fuss about coming near to God?  For me, my prayer life is the very essence of my moments, my hours, my days, my weeks, my months, my years, my life!  I have to tell you something.  I didn’t always pray. In fact, there were years of my life when I didn’t pray at all.  YEARS.  AT ALL.  It’s unfathomable to me now.  But it’s true.  I walked through life thinking that I had to do it all.  I was Miss Independent.  Miss Know-it-all.  Miss Put-On-Your-Big-Girl-Pants-and-Deal-With-It kind of a girl.  Not much phased me.  Not much created passion in me.  Not much moved me, one way or another.  I just kind of floated through my life.  I have to admit, it was a pretty mundane and miserable existence and I was always trying to “spice it up” with the many extracurriculars that I chose to engage in.  None of these things satisfied me, of course, so I continued adding more and more “things” into my life, trying fruitlessly to fill some kind of void – a void I knew was there, but just could NOT put my finger on what exactly it was.

All that changed in 2011, when I came to a place of seeking a new way of living.  I was tired of endlessly searching for meaning in places that always left me empty-handed at the end.  I was ready for a change.  And I discovered Jesus.  I would like to say I “re-discovered” Him, but that would imply that I had any understanding of Him in the first place – which I did not.  After discovering the Lord, and asking God to “re-introduce me to His Son” one day in a prayer I journaled, my life began to change.  And change dramatically.  I began to feel ALIVE for the first time in a long time.  I began to feel JOY, LOVE, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, GENTLENESS, FAITHFULNESS, and SELF-CONTROL (Galatians 5:22) for the first time in my life!  I had a brand new zest for living, and I pursued it with a hungry heart!

The result?  God placed a dream in me.  A dream to pursue writing and speaking in the public realm, all about Him and all for His glory! A dream that scared me and excited me all at the same time.  A dream that I am beginning to pursue here on this blog.  Baby steps.  A dream that has not fizzled for a moment since the day He planted it in my heart.  I have so much to say!  I could talk about the Lord and the absolutely astounding things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in the lives of so many people I know – literally, for HOURS.  Nothing fills me up so much as talking and writing about our Amazing Creator!  Nothing!  I have no idea where this dream is going to land me.  Perhaps this blog is as far as it will ever take me.  And that is good enough.  I bring my cares to the Lord each day.  I have learned to “live a life of prayer”, not just to “say my prayers” each day – a life of constant communication with our God!  It is truly amazing that me, a simple girl from Small Town, USA… can enter into personal communications with the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE any time I want, for as long as I want – guaranteed!!!  How do I know this to be true??  Because HE PROMISED.

He hears you!  And He longs for You to draw near to Him, each and every day!

Action Step for Today:  Today I will spend time with the Lord, just because I love Him and want to talk to Him. 

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INSPIRED by a 12-year old!

Grace, beautiful Grace.  There are so many levels to Grace.  God’s beautiful Grace, which sets captives FREE!  God’s Amazing Grace, which loves us through our brokenness, straight to beauty!  God’s Wonderful, Beautiful, Unfathomable, Immeasurable, Incomprehensible GRACE!!

Today, I want to talk about Grace.

Not the wonderful, beautiful, free GIFT of God’s Grace….but rather today, I want to talk about a wonderful, beautiful 12-year-old girl named Grace.

I’ve known Grace for 3 years.  I’ve seen Grace in some of the most painful times of her young life.   Together, we’ve navigated some difficult areas.  I’ve been a teacher to her, a mentor to her, a leader to her, a disciplinarian to her, a confidant to her.  I’ve been someone she’s loved, and let’s face it… probably someone she’s pretty seriously disliked at times too.  I’ve spoken to her with loving tolerance, and I’ve spoken to her with firm authority.  Yep…pretty much covers it.  I’ve known Grace for 3 years.

When I met Grace, she was a 5th grade student – a new kid to our school.  She was having a very difficult time academically, emotionally, and socially.  I totally understood.  Being a new kid is tough enough, but when you are also having issues with your grades and your emotions – it can be nearly impossible.

I remember one of the first conversations I ever had with Grace.  She was extremely upset because there was a certain girl who was giving her a rough time at recess.  Through crocodile tears, she explained the situation.  I followed through on the story, talked with others about the situation, and came to the conclusion that my friend, Grace, was not entirely innocent.  It was there that a relationship was born.  I began taking her under my wing, attempting to mentor her through the throes of pre-adolescence.  It was not easy.  My sweet friend Grace, was trying very hard to be accepted by her peers.  She was trying everything she could think of.  The problem was, she was a natural born leader….with no one to lead yet.

Grace, from the time I met her, had the best of intentions.  She was always trying to get others involved in her ideas and plans. She figured out what she wanted, and she went for it.  The problem was, the other kids didn’t always respond the way she was hoping.  We have spent a good portion of time together over the past 3 years, just talking about friendships and social situations, how to act in a way that would attract others to her, not push them from her.

I should also mention that she is a natural actress.  A  presence in any room she enters. She does dramatic with the best of them.  And people notice her.  This has not always worked to her advantage, but I hold strong to the Truth that one day – it WILL.  People are drawn to Grace, whether they understand it or not – they are.

Well, here we are – 7th grade.  3 years after the first time I met Grace.  She has grown into a beautiful young lady, and has changed much since 5th grade.  A few things have never changed about her though. Her compassionate heart.  Her passion for leading others.  Her desire to love and to be loved.

Today, Grace walked into my room without hair.  She stood before me, with one of the sweetest smiles, eyes brimming with tears, and excitement written all over her face.  And, did I mention – withOUT hair??!!

How many 7th grade girls do you know who would CHOOSE to shave their head?  (For reasons OTHER than to “prove a point”… that is.)  I don’t know too many, especially girls who are already having a difficult time with social situations.  Well, this morning – Grace stood before me with one of the cutest buzz cuts I’ve ever seen.  And not because she was trying to get attention, prove a point, or anything like that.  Grace did it because she is a deeply LOVING, genuine CARING, empathetic, compassionate, and intensely sweet individual.

She did it for her cousin.  Her cousin who has Cancer.  In true Grace-fashion, she wanted to do something.  She wanted to help.  She wanted to make a difference.  So she asked her mom if she could shave her head at an upcoming fundraiser event for Cancer research, in honor of her cousin’s battle.  Her mom responded with hesitation (as I am sure any mother with a 12-year-old daughter prone to dramatics would do), but told her that if she could independently raise $100  for the fundraiser, and she still wanted to do it – she could.  So, Grace set out and created a flier.  She passed it out at school, asking for donations.  She talked to people.  She worked hard at getting the money, and – as I am sure you figured out – she got it!  And then, she did it.  In front of many people, she willingly had her beautiful brown hair shaved off, for the sake of those who have no choice but to lose their hair as a result of chemo treatments.

As I looked at Grace standing there in that moment, with eyes brimming with tears of pure joy, as I listened to her excitedly share her experience with me, as I watched her light up the very presence in which she stood, something hit me.  Grace didn’t just shave her head because she wanted to be kind.  She didn’t do it just because she wanted to be different.  She did it because her heart has been stolen – by the ONE who steals hearts, transforms them, and creates BEAUTY inside them!  Grace is in love with Jesus, and Jesus has changed her heart.  And her heart is beautiful. And I, for one, am proud to know her.

For today, this beautiful  12-year-old girl, has inspired me to go out there and make a difference.  To live a life of boldness, of courage, of willingness to go to any lengths to show others how much I care.  She has inspired me to keep speaking and writing about the glorious riches of our Lord, Jesus Christ!  She has inspired me to persevere through the tough times and to stay true to who I am.  I am supposed to be the teacher in the relationship, but today – I’m pretty sure I was the learner.

Thanks to a girl named Grace (And rightfully so, I might add).

 

 

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