Purposeful Faith

Category - Freedom

The Value of Getting Quiet

Getting Quiet

Today, I am delighted to welcome Suzanne Vel from Christian Fellowship Church in Virginia for our Ministry Monday Series. Clearly, God brought our paths together, for Suzanne has a powerful story and a message to be shared. I hope you enjoy it!

“You have everything you need to have freedom and you aren’t doing anything with it.”  God wasn’t yelling at me, or condemning me. He was just calmly encouraging me.

To give some background, at a recent family reunion, I had listened in on a conversation where my husband was explaining to a cousin that our church had started encouraging people to experience God’s presence through a daily quiet time and that the end result was true, personal freedom.

This got me thinking…

My cousin’s heartfelt response was, “freedom that’s what I want!”  But, it wasn’t until the very next morning that God spoke into my spirit and encouraged me to get started.

Due simply to my desire to be obedient to God’s prompting, I started. The initial goal was to keep going for fifty days, but almost immediately the results were too good to stop.

Fast forward 600+ days, now, I have met with God every single day. Can I tell you? My life is a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come. I feel it.

I did not know fear controlled all of my decisions
until I started letting God and His Holy Spirit speak. 

Now when I am prompted to give, I give and it brings me peace.
Now when I am prompted to serve, I serve and it fills me with indescribable joy. 
Now when I am prompted to encourage another, I speak words of life over them and watch us both find our true identity in Christ. 

My journey is overflowing.  Each day, I ask God what He wants me to talk about and I post the words on Facebook.

The devotionals led to many friends encouraging me to write a book.

The book idea led to me thinking it was impossible but instead of choosing fear and worry I let God take the lead and show me the way. 

He led me to a website where I could easily publish an ebook. The ebook website led me to another site where I could self-publish an actual book, and that website led me to the next step (which I plan to take soon) of creating an audio book as well.

As you take it step-by-step by and through the Spirit,
you realize, nothing is impossible with God.

What seems impossible for you? 

Might you consider, what you can’t do – the Holy Spirit might equip you to do? It happened with me.

Jesus’ sacrifice for you and me, it was costly – on that cross. Please don’t make His sacrifice for you a waste because you never take the next step and find personal freedom for yourself. 

Walk in. Step deeper.

I started the journey and it has led to the most peace, joy, hope, love and patience than I have ever known. Will you?

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About Suzanne

FullSizeRender (1) (1)Suzanne is a wife mother and believer in Christ.  She has a passion and dedication to anything she puts her heart to; from early morning quiet times with God to training for five full marathons.  She learned about God on her second date with her future husband, Randy, when she was 22 years old.  She grew in her faith continually, but it wasn’t until she learned why she really wanted to know God as her personal friend and confidant that she found out what it truly means to have faith in the one true King.  Suzanne’s goal now is to show others how to find their why so that their lives can be as dramatically changed as hers was on August 11, 2014.

Check out Suzanne’s book, To Show His Love: Fellowship with God Changes Everything.

Activating the Power of Thank You

Power of Thank You

The poor thing, she had been up all night hacking.

I shut my door.

“I can’t sleep if all I hear – is her,” I thought.

I wasn’t trying to be cruel, but, we all know how mothers end up when sleep gets lost. They turn ugly, mean and tense. I hate being that lady; I get mad at that lady. Anything not to be – that lady.

Hours later, the barks still ensued. Then, an internal battle ensued – do I get up or do I not get up? My mind wrestled: If I get up, I will never get back down. I will never fall back to sweet and delicious sleep again – I know how this game goes.

I climbed out of bed, checked the clock, stubbed my toe and headed to the medicine cabinet. It was the unseen hour that called for more medicine. Moms don’t give up.

power of thanks

Begrudgingly, I kicked open the door, my mind half out of its own mind. I stumbled in, expecting to drop the junk down her throat and stumble out. But, what happened next woke me. It jolted me like coffee.

power of thank youFrom her helpless position, she looked, and said, “Thank you, mommy.”

My heart nearly dropped to the floor. Wow. She sees. She knows. She appreciates.

I felt loved.
 
I felt adored.


I felt alive. I would have gotten up a thousand more times, every single night (well, maybe), just to hear that sweet honey come off her lips.

I mattered.

Do I show God he matters like that? I wonder. I doubt it.


Guilt hits. Then, love arrives. God doesn’t need me to know he matters; but, I need him to know I matter. And, maybe this is the point. It’s probably far less about what he gets from these words and far more about how I feel when I speak these words. It is far more about me seeing the rescues, the panaceas and the answers that arrive out of nowhere. It is far more about me realizing how loved I am and how far out of his way he would go to help me.
Now I see: The small whisper of thank you is the moment you realize you’re daughter – and you’re really cared for.
power of thanks
It is the moment that you realize God would do anything to love you.
It is the joy that comes from receiving instead of striving.
It is the power that unfolds from heaven right in your lap.
It is the realization that kingdom come will come because God gives good things.
It is the inclination to bow down and see how tall God really stands over the world.
It is looking at the might that has might – and acknowledging it.
It is the strong hold of one stronger – that has the power to take hold over your life.
It is you not being you, as you normally are, but being you – with gratefulness.
 It is the uncovering of the jewels you never knew existed.

It is the unwavering trust that he will do it again.

It is seeing him as he is – good.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Ps. 106:1

Thanks gives legs to greater faith, for it believes in the one who gives – and will give. The giver is daddy. He pours out every time. And in the process, as we trust this, we are changed. We become little balls bursting with humility, dipped in his love, coming out covered in good. We become sweetened by grace and full of excitement about who we are becoming.

Thanks is anticipation of God’s faithfulness. It, frankly, is delicious.

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Seizing Resurrection Power

Resurrection Power

What looks without light in your life?

What looks buried over so much that you are convinced is impossible to dig out? 

If you came up with nothing, think deeper. What is it you believe you can’t do?

Remember this thing. 

I am face-to-face with impossible these days. What I want to do, I have tried to do, yet no matter what, I just can’t seem to do it. To make matters worse, the problem sources within me. If it was others – their circumstances, problems or things – those wouldn’t be so offensive, you know, you can more easily brush those off, but what is internal it feels eternal sometimes.

Sure, I said I have forgiven, but truly forgiving is hard when someone keeps on offending.  It is hard when you feel abandoned and ignored. It is hard when those feelings rise to the surface and make you remember stuff.

So I go deep…

I cover my irritation in the darkness, but there it sits.
The pain was a time ago, but irritation sits heavy.
The relationship waits, and I lay immobile to feelings.
The rock lays over me, and I am closed up into myself.
I am tightly wrapped, in my own thoughts about how things should go.
I can’t breathe, I feel upset at myself for not being able to move on.

I feel like I am stuck in a hole. A deep, unscalable, deathly, waterless hole.

But, here is the kicker – so is Jesus.
And, here is the double kicker – he rose from it and will raise you up too! 

In the tomb, where you feel dead,
Christ is ready to rise up in you – to make you alive.

In the tomb where all things seem lost, 
Christ already won that battle.

It is called resurrection power!

“But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb…and did not find the body.” (Luke 24:2-3)
Resurrection power!

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5) Resurrection power!

“He is not here, He is risen.” (Mark 16:6)
Resurrection power!

What looks dead, comes alive.
What seems impossible, becomes possible.
What seems unbearable, becomes bearable.
What seems hopeless, finds hopefulness.

What is it for you that looks dead, dank and dying before you?

Jesus is raising it up to new life. By his stripes you are healed and by his resurrection a new answer to your situation is being revealed.

Jesus both tells and asks you something. Something pointed, like he did to Martha not so long ago, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Do you believe this?

See your situation and believe this verse over it. Grab it like a lifeline. Call it yours.

As you do, he will lift you up out of the pit. You simply: 1.)hand it over to him 2.) let his resurrecting forgiveness wash over it and 3.) feel the promises clean your shame-soaked body.

Here’s what happens – He saturates it with so much light, it nearly blinds you to what was of old. Then, as he raises you to new heights, you move from trauma to transformation (and it doesn’t even feel that hard). Why? Because the power of resurrection sinks right into you…

…if only you believe.

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Sparkling Bright for Christ

Sparkling Bright for Christ

Do you have the sparkle?

It’s the shine of more. It’s the clean of perfect. It’s togetherness and wholeness.

It looks nothing like me.

I look like tiredness personified.
I look like worry building upon worry.
I look like one who tries to trust – but still doubts.
I look like a battlefield where godliness goes up against selfishness.
I look like a girl trying to fit herself into mold “good mom.”

That’s me. Not so shiny. Not very sparkly. Hardly.

It feels hard to keep the glimmer of Christ existent amidst the grime of this life.

But, what if glimmer was not me – or you? What if the pressure was off? What if glimmer was just a matter of letting God’s light bust through our darkness? 

What would that look like?

God’s glory is always found within our tension points (Romans 5:3). It is a hard thing to consider, isn’t it? Usually, we run from these places, thinking they spots sent to inflict pain. Little do we know that sometimes, these exact spots, when pushed are what are going to deliver us to freedom – and to greater mobility to reach the world.

Where we feel pressed, God is working things out, so one day, we land at – blessed.

We shimmer. We shine. We find glory!

Do we believe it is possible?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces
(Romans 5:3)

When great joy emerges out of great struggle, people notice. Glory!
When peace is found over hardship. Glory!
When God grants unspeakable calm in the midst of doggone electricity storm. Glory!
When insight speaks into an impossible situation. Glory!
Glimmer! Sparkle! Shine! Power! Light unquenchable.

When we endure and then endure and then say, “No matter what Heaven awaits!” Glory!

We can lean into pain, knowing that God, by his very nature,will always use it – for spiritual gain. In that we can trust.

Is it hard? Yes. Impossible. No.

It is not, because it is also a work of the Holy Spirit – he makes you go about all Tigger-style, abounding in hope (Romans 5:13).

Hope is:
Seeing Jesus constructing mission out of our pain.

Imagining people changed after relational turbulence.
Standing on God’s masterplan rather than our personal ones.
Believing that God really is at work to make us into Christ’s image.
Going beyond self, to reach the nations. 
Thanking God for the new thing he is building in us.
Understanding the cross and all the pain that came with it. 
Looking at the captives and depressives and wanting to love them.
Getting a feeling that we have to pass around. 
Knowing we found home and longing for the fullness of it to come.

Hope. It is all you need to sparkle, no matter how you feel. Nothing can steal it. No one can rob it of you. It is a knowledge you’ll be blessed, even if you straight up land at heaven’s gates.

Let it sing in you. Let it rise from you. Walk in its fullness and feel its freedom – then hand it out to all you meet.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 5:13

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5 Experiential Invitations to Go Deeper With God

Go Deeper
God. If you look for him, you’ll find him. If you keep looking for him, you will find him some more. If you don’t stop looking, he’ll invite you in deeper and deeper, fuller and fuller and farther and farther.
He invites you.
Do you notice the welcome?
It is a white owl taking flight into the darkness,
a place where you are not sure what will happen.
Are you willing to go?
We don’t have to know where we’re going, just that Christ is taking us.
deeper
Another invitation.
He stands by the water,
arms open,
ready to hug you,
ready to feel your complete innocence, purity and beauty.
Will you allow him to hold you this way?
Will you accept it as true?  

It is often by faith, we receive the fullness of his love.

going deeper
It arrives again.
You may not see it.
You may not notice it.
It sits right outside your window.
The colors are brilliant, the majesty spreads across the sky;
it reminds all of the orchestrator and creator of things big and small.
Will you take a second to look or will you continue to be rushed and busy with other things?
By keeping an eye on the one above our trial, we remember how all things work out under his might.
going deeper
He calls.  
Will you open your heart?
It’s another invitation.
Daddy waits…
Hoping beloved breaks out to run to him.
Seeing a grand return and his glorious rescue.
He doesn’t need strong; he loves weary; he can handle it.
Do you see him waiting to rescue and love you every minute?
 
In every weary and heart-wrecking task, God waits to rescue you time and time again. Will we accept his invitation?
Go deeper
He knocks,
in a way where it nags your soul.
You know you should, but can you? Can you open up?
Surely, it is an invitation, but will you permit it to be so?
For it hurts far more than it feels good to do.
Still, daddy, he is pushing you just a little to step out.
Will you listen or ignore?
Will you forgive or forget and pretend it never happened – like you always do?
He wants to do it for you. He wants to finally unclutter your heart of it’s bitterness to make room for his fullness.
We think our unforgiveness is right, but only one is right and that is Jesus and he says to forgive.
going deeper
The invitations they never end for those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear.
It is a symphony of sympathy that plays the most desired harmony of humanity.
Yet, if you are busy, you’ll drive right past it.
If you are worried, your mind will not have space to receive it.
If you are distracted, you will blab on your phone, rather than hear his whisper.
It is an invitation for those who want more.
Who call out more.
Who long more.
Who ask more.
Who need more.
Who desire more.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

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The Deep Key of Faith (You’re Prone to Forget)

Key of Faith

Listen, This is the News that Breaks Every Minute!
This is a Christian’s Always-Headline News!

Do you know it?

Have you not heard?

There is a King of Glory coming for you. He is coming to love you. To find you. To bring you home.

Have you not heard?

You will not know the hour (Mt. 24:36), but you will know the time, because you will see eyes like flames arrive, the white horses of victory drive in and the sword yielded over the nations. You will know because you see white: white robes, purity and holy arrive with power and might (Rev. 19:12-16)

Have you not heard?

The seemingly silent of God will be silent no more as lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail pour down like a stadium full of the Lion’s booming return. (Rev. 11:19)

Have you not heard?

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:52)

And in a split-second, according to the timing of Jesus, for believers, everything changes. Lives are restored. Pain is wiped away. Time never ends. Days continue in feast. Lives bask in presence. King rules with no obstruction. We are raised to the vision of all we ever dreamed of.

This is not light, fine and dandy, Christianity; this is the deep of our faith. 

Things happen to those who know where they are bound to go:

1. Those who keep their eyes pasted on eternity, find they aren’t as easily torn from what’s right. They wake up with a purpose and then live by it. They see the wrongs, and decide to do right, for they know at the end of their fight, they will see his might.

2. Those with forever perspectives, find a forge-through attitudes no matter the barrier. It’s not so much about what they can do, but all about what God will do as they bow down to him. It is about becoming less, because they trust in the more.

3. Those with the seal of God (Eph. 1:13), know they will be signed, sealed and delivered into God’s arms forever. When you are sealed with the Spirit, there is no killing the Spirit. Soul is restored with the Spirit of God and one day body and mind are too.

Having an eternal view means running victorious marathons
verses short sprints of inspiration
followed by deep fits of frustration.

How do you live?

Do you live by the sound of immediate demands 
or by the trumpet sound that will resound on the day of Christ’s return?

 Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us,
    who blood-washed our sins from our lives,
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father,
    forever—and yes, he’s on his way!
Riding the clouds, he’ll be seen by every eye,
    those who mocked and killed him will see him,
People from all nations and all times
    will tear their clothes in lament.
    Oh, Yes.

(Rev. 1:7 MSG)

He is coming. Do you know him? Love him?

Like a groom at the end of the aisle, he is ready to see the brilliance, the beauty and his beloved, the one he loves. That is you. That is me.

May we live in eager anticipation of his return, not seeing the world as a here and now deal, but seeing the world through the deep of eternal eyes that know what the things we are pressing into are things that are bound to last.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Mt. 18:18)

May it all be so, may it all be just as God has proclaimed it to be – now and forever.

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5 Ways God Cares (More Than You Think)

God Cares

I stared out the window. The outside was about ready to teach my insides a deep lesson.

What caught my eyes were two birds frolicking, jumping and having fun. They didn’t care; they chased, played and enjoyed the beauty of the day. Before not too long, a few friends even joined in. Life seemed to be a blessing not a burden.

I think they had no idea of when the next storm was approaching, but all they same, it didn’t seem to matter.

They didn’t seem worried about what they didn’t have;
they just went about enjoying what they did.

 

What is it you don’t yet have?

What is it that distracts your eyes from beauty?

I know it’s crazy, but wonder if somehow birds have an understanding that we don’t, like:

1. God’s nature is to forever take care of me. It is impossible for him not too.

2. Every season eventually ends and God provides. I will trust that.

3. God is who he is. Just as he makes the sun come up every morning and the moon fall, he will be true to his word.

4. I don’t have to fear I’ll be hungry for my next best thing, God remains my best thing.

5. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

I want to be like these birds – free to fly high. Soaring. Enjoying. Living.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

I try to store away so much: 

Stress.
I fill myself with action plans.

Fear.
I load up on maneuvers to self-protect.

Distraction.
I let it divert my mind from what God wants to heal.

Frustration.
I let my storehouse get shaky because God hasn’t yet shown up.

What do you store in your barn?

When we fill our barns to the brink, we always feel about to sink.
But, when we trust that God will provide the next meal, we are ready to fly. 

We break out of molds. We rise up from our nest. We don’t think about the next storm. We approach the edge of our safety and we jump out to dance in the air of providence.

We remember his voice of faithfulness, the “I will take care of you” voice. We hear it rise to its heights.

It sounds like:

1. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15

2. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

3. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

4. And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… (Ex. 14:13)

5. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

God is calling us to delight in the gap between of uncertainty and his next big gift. Will we?

Will we choose to delight in his faithfulness or die in ungratefulness?

I don’t want to settle for second worst when I have second best. What I want to do is run, jump and fly with God to the places he has set to take me. Care to join me?

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7 Biblical Benefits: Why You Must Get Quiet

Get Quiet

The majority of the time I can seem to keep quiet.

It is not so much that I am always talking, but it is much more that I am always retorting, rebutting or formulating in my mind.

They should do this…
I wonder if he has considered…
I have to say this next…
I can’t forget to mention…

When talking, it is very hard to be listening.
When planning, it is very hard to be receiving a plan.
When speaking over God, you simply can’t hear him.

Yet, when you allow your selfish ways to create space for his sacred will – God has a stage to show off. When you allow dialogue to give way to deep seeking – direction makes an appearance. When you strangle fear – fear of God lets you breathe again.

7 Biblical Benefits of Getting Quiet Before God

1. When your mouth shuts, you appear wise and discerning to others.

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Prov. 27:28

2. You dwell in the the comfy and cared-for knowledge that God cannot and will not leave or forsake you. Not only this, but you find Godly prosperity and good success.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Josh 1:8

3. The filing cabinet of your mind has room to store fear of the Lord – and all the resulting wisdom that accompanies it.

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Sam. 12:24

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov. 9:10

4. By listening, considering and blocking the VIP door to your mind, you make space for things that bring peace, life and renewal.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and  received and heard and seen  in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:8-9

5. The impossible becomes possible by the strength of prayer. You can walk down the painful, but glory-filled, roads you’d normally run from.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mk. 1:35-36

6. You land at transformed, rather than conformed. With more confidence you head towards what is good, pleasing and perfect in this world.

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God–what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Ro. 12:2

7.  You ponder, praise and get passionate about your fist love – and then God delivers you.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Ps. 34:7

Solitude gives way for the magnitude of the gospel to resound.

Rather than God fighting the rush hour of the world, trying to move above fray of a believer’s heart and or squeezing into the small space left for Godly awareness – quiet makes space . In the quiet, God bakes activated love.

We find more than we could ever ask for.
Not by posturing for it, but by seeking him in it.
When we seek him, we find him.
When we find him, we can’t help but share him.
We open our mouths, we speak life. 
We speak life, because we found life.
​Loudly. Confidently. Boldly.

“Quiet” works out loud proclamations of glory.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mk. 16:15

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5 Transformational Tips: Make God’s Word Come Alive

Come Alive

Another day.
Another bible reading.

Skimming. I’ve read it before.
Half listening. I know what to expect.
Not discovering. I know the punchline.

Does the bible ever fall flat because you have flattened out
and read its pages so many times?

 

Does your mind have a hard time idling on God’s Word,
because the world speeds too fast around it?

 

I can’t seem to keep my heart in the place where the heart of God is – and that is the problem.

This problem, if not addressed, will, before long – stamp and deliver my heart to destinations I never intended to arrive at.  Frustrationville or Aggravationmount or some place like that. It could just as easily bring me to Jealoustown or Pridebury. Either way, they are places that reek of self and shame and guilt. Their roads are rocky and tumultuous. Every time, they leave me with a stomach turning knots over itself.

I’d rather not.

So, how do you dive into God’s Word, like a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot day? How do you dive into it, knowing that you have had it one hundred and one times, but still, wanting and needing it? Craving and desiring it? Thirsting and salivating over it?

5 ways to make the Word of God come alive:

1. Let your senses sense what the sentiment was.

Imagine being the lead role in the story. See yourself there. Sense your sin and the idea that you or your family has done something terribly wrong. Feel the judgement of the Pharisees upon you. Wonder if God really can and will heal you. Let your heart beat.

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. Jo. 9:6

2. Take your part in the redemption story.

Hear the words of Jesus leave his mouth. Feel the mud in your hand. Experience vision. Look amazed at what surrounds you. Set your eyes on Jesus.

Then, see yourself run to the masses to share the glory of the only one who could heal in this way. Take a snapshot of the story with your senses. Know that while this was his story, it is also your story.

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Jo. 9:25

3.  Ask yourself, “What about this experience is calling me to think, do or say differently?”

When you take a moment to think of all God has done, you can’t help but think of all he wants to do. His will makes your will jump up and down just at the thought of serving him.

The (once blind) man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”  Jo. 9: 30-31

4.  Believe: He loves you, just as much as he loved them.

Just because you feel less than, doesn’t mean that God sees you that way. Believing that you are worthy of his gifts, love and encouragement, will allow your heart to receive them. Rather than keeping up defenses to his Word, you will lay them down and He will enter in.

The Once- Blind Man: “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.” Jo. 9:32

5. Avoid boxing God in (and you might just find your way out of your box).

When you believe in you heart, what Jesus did through Scriptures, you’ll find in your mind you can conceive the great things he wants to do through your life.

It sounds simple, but simple belief is so often what it comes down to.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. Jo. 14:12

When you approach God’s Word in this way, you realize you hold living water that is not bitter, old or common. Instead, you taste the fruit of what God has done and is about to do. It fills, it satiates and it refreshes. Like lemonade on a parched day – it’s a drink you can’t wait to indulge in, lap up and embrace word by word. It is peace and replenishment all in one.

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Learning to Love Your Purpose, Even When It’s Painful

love your purpose

I am delighted to have Mary Carver join us today for this #RaRalinkup post!

Last night I messaged two friends. I asked them if I was a bad person for getting upset to see other people get attention and accolades for something I had also done (but for which I certainly wasn’t receiving that attention).

Honestly I wanted them to yell and point fingers and join me in my indignation at being left out and overlooked. Instead, they did what good friends do and reminded me that I wasn’t in this business or this life for either attention or accolades.

They also admitted that my feelings didn’t make me a bad person, simply human – but they were right about my focus. I had forgotten that my ministry and work and life are about obeying God and serving Him the best I can. Not pats on the backs and plastic trophies, not awards and atta-girls. But trust and obedience, love and service.

We can easily get distracted from our mission, can’t we? One minute we’re all about following God, no matter where He leads us, loving Him and loving others, doing whatever it takes to help people see Him. And then…bam! Before we even know what’s happening, we’ve heard about someone else’s mission – and all the perks that come with it, and we’re simmering with envy, wishing our call looked like theirs.

My friend and co-author, Sara Frankl, knew something about that. The call on her life was one that was full of beauty and joy – but it was also full of pain and loss. Trusting God and loving what He had given her was a challenge, but she managed to do it with a grace and wisdom that encourages me and teaches me every day.

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I remember the first time I really understood the parable of the vineyard workers. I had heard this Bible story all my life, but it finally clicked in college.

In Matthew 20, Jesus is recorded telling the story of a man who needed help with his harvest. He hired some men for the day, telling them the day’s wage, which they accepted and began working. Throughout the day, he realized he needed more help to get the work completed, so he went out multiple times and hired more workers. Each time he offered the wage to his new workers, they accepted and set out to work.

At the end of the day, he called all the workers together and paid them the same day’s wage. It was the wage he had offered to them, the one they had all accepted. But the men who had worked all day laboring in the fields were angry. They said they were cheated because they worked harder and longer than the others, and should be paid more than those who had worked only the last few hours.

In reality, the problem wasn’t the amount they were paid for the work they did. He gave the workers what was promised to them. The problem was in the worker who only felt cheated when he compared his life to someone else’s. The problem arose when the worker took his eyes off of his own mission, the one he agreed to gladly – and decided he wanted the easier task that was promised to someone else.

I have to remind myself of this story because it’s hard for me not to feel cheated. It’s hard for me to be thankful on a holiday weekend when I have to be alone in this condo. When there is no bustle of family or friends, when I can’t enjoy a turkey dinner, when I have no one to talk with and laugh with and reminisce with and grieve with. It’s hard when I compare my isolated existence with what I know is happening everywhere else.

But that’s not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and He promised He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday. It was the wage He promised me, the wage I accepted – and it’s only when I take my eyes off of that promise that I feel cheated. God is honoring His deal. It’s me who looks at life and says, “I’ll have what she’s having, please.”

Does going back to that Bible story make all the hard-to-deal-with feelings disappear? Of course not. It’s still brutal. But it reminds me of what I believe. I believe that God has a purpose for me, and that my job is to be faithful to whatever comes with my life. I will do my daily task and honor Him as I believe He is honoring me.

I believe it. Even when it doesn’t feel good. Even when it hurts and is lonely and feels unfair and requires me to grieve a life I was never promised.

The truth is that my life is no better or worse than I wanted. It’s just completely and utterly different. The wisdom comes in knowing that it is exactly as it should be. The joy comes in learning to love it, not despite all I’ve lost, but because of all that it has brought to me.

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Excerpt, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver

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Mary and SaraMary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY.

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