The other day, as we (meaning my husband) shoveled back the snow from our house, I spotted this:
I was amazed at how, even though 2-feet of snow had covered these daffodils for months, they will were still pushing up from the ground.
How does that happen?
The truth is – nothing can thwart God’s plan. Nothing can hold back his growth.
Things may look covered by foot-after-foot of weight,
but he is still at work underneath it all.
When the time – is the time – his seed will grow.
When our hearts are ready – he will bloom us.
When our life is perfectly prepared – our beauty can be seen by all.
Yet, the deep freeze is part of the process. We sometimes have to endure the cold times to get to the warm times, blooming times. And sometimes we have to endure the cold times, to appreciate the warm times.
So, when life gets grey, dull and gloomy, this does not mean that God is not at work, because he is. Even if we can’t see what he is doing, even if we feel like we are buried under pounds of pounds of snow, even if it seems that spring will never come and our season will never change, God is always at work.
We don’t have to see it to believe it. We believe it because he has promised it.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)
I have felt buried so many times. I have been buried under finances, under a promised diagnosis of MS, under relationship strains, under worries, under anxiety, under my past, under a hopeless future – my friends, you probably name it – and I have been under it.
Yet, looking back, I see that God was always growing me. He was always restoring what should have been dead.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Pet. 5:10)
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)
Whether the locusts ate it, the land froze it or
your heart buried it,
God restores, rebuilds and renews..
He renews the buds that are within and waters them to grow again.
Seasons come and seasons go, but God’s love endures forever.
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I am prideful.
When I see the face of my sins, it nearly breaks my spirit. It burdens.
But, broken pieces draw us to the original crafter –
the one who puts all things back together again.
And in his light I can see:
I did everything wrong, but Christ did everything right.
I did nothing of worth, but he is entirely worthy.
I dropped the ball, but he holds it – the entire earth is in his hands.
I am destined to death, but he took death on the cross so I wouldn’t have to.
I come to him a broken daughter
and he leaves me as a beautiful bride.
Mercy. Mercy after mercy, time after time, minute after minute, offense after offense the Lord never stops extending, keeps offering and keeps keeping on – after a broken heart that continually draws wayward from him.
What I don’t deserve, he gives. What I am not, he is.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (La. 3:23)
He never stops giving. 24-hours later, new mercies arrive.
His ways are greater than our days.
His mercy makes us worthy and his grace keeps us blessed.
Mercy definition (Google):
compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Grace definition (Google):
the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Mercy brings us into the goodness of God; grace is the extension of it. Mercy saves us from punish; grace brings us into joy. Mercy takes what was ours (punishment); grace gives us what isn’t.
What we don’t deserve we get. What we deserve was taken from us. In this, all offenses are seen through a new light, the light of Jesus sitting in glory on high.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Warning: Don’t ever catch a hormonal woman off guard. However, if you do, approach with caution. Be aware that her responses may range anywhere from rage to tears, and possibly temporary memory loss. And be prepared for such.
I thought I was walking up on two friends talking. I wasn’t privy to the firestorm that took place just minutes before with a third-party, and there was nothing to warn me of the impending danger. But like getting too close to a smoldering ember, I got burned.
Because I was in the wrong place at the right time I was thrown an accusatory question that I wasn’t prepared to answer. And when I did answer, it was anything but graceful.
Instead of giving a response that would exonerate me of the accusation (being transparent as Saran wrap), I gave my friend a long pause and a blank look, all the while scrolling through my menopausal, mental Rolodex to see if there was any possible way I could have been held guilty (which in and of itself made me look as much.) Then as if to seal my fate, I muttered something like, I don’t think I did that.
My friend walked away angry and in tears and I felt like I had hurt our relationship and ruined my witness.
It wasn’t a good day for either of us.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV
God’s Word in Colossians reminds us, to always be prepared to speak with grace, our conversation being seasoned with salt. (Not laced with arsenic.)
So why didn’t I know how to answer my friend? Why wasn’t I prepared to answer with grace?
Sure, I could have blame it on my menopausal brain fog but that wouldn’t have been the truth. My blank stare was from the brain fog.
The truth was, though I had never called my friend a gossip as she had suggested in the heat of the moment, I obviously had cause to pause and ponder her question.
This meant that I must have, at some time, listened to or entered into a conversation about my friend that could have been construed as negative.
Being prepared has everything to do with what you do beforehand.
I would have been prepared to answer her question if I had made it a habit to:
Pause and consider the power words hold.Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death…”
Pause to listen carefully before I let my words tumble out. James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
Pause to consider what is wise.Proverbs 10:19 “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the onewho controls his lips is wise.”
Pause to examine every word that comes out of my mouth. Even if I think it to be innocent.Matthew 12:36“I tell you on the day of judgement people will give an account for every careless word they speak.”
Pause to remember that God is always with me and hears every word I say. Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
If I had paused for these things, I would not have had to scroll through an imaginary Rolodex to check what I might have previously said.
I would have known my words were safe.
I would have been prepared to answer my friend with speech seasoned with love and encouragement; words soothing to a wounded heart.
I felt convicted for my run-away words but even more than conviction I felt thankful. This unexpected confrontation gave me reason to examine the cause to pause.
Are you pausing to consider your words before you speak them? Have you ever been caught off guard because you didn’t police your speech? How did you feel? What did you do? I would love to hear your story.
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Christy is a wife, mother, writer, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. She is passionate about encouraging women to move forward, and press on through their struggles, seeking God’s presence in every bump and turn in the road. You can connect with Christy at Joying in the Journey
Fear grips me. I feel rattled.
It holds me.I can’t escape it.
It comes when I least expect it and it won’t leave when I tell it to.
Many times fear leaves me confused, with a heart covered with layers and layers of knots.
I know I am not supposed to do it, but I still do. The more I try not to, the more I do. So, what do I do?
Join me as I discuss my journey through my fears, my journey to beat them and God’s hand in my deliverance. Continue reading as I dive into the depths of my heart to uncover the release of fear on Katie Reid’s fabulous blog,Tightly Wound Woman.
I lived much of my life feeling disappointed in myself.
I heard the message loud and clear, I needed to more than myself.
You got a job? You should have got this other one.
You are doing this? You should be doing that.
You are going there? Anywhere, but there.
You are thinking this? What about that?
You are saying this? I think you should say this.
Underneath the questioning, was the underlying thought that my decisions were not good enough, my thoughts not worthy and my perceptions were invalid.
Over and over again, I heard, I was not enough.
So, either I would follow the safe path, trying to be enough or I would go my own way, knowing I would never be enough. But, either way, I always knew that I would disappoint and not be enough.
All roads led to the same destination – a sea of complete inadequacy – raging sky high with waves of fear and uncertainty.
A standard was set for me and I knew, no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did, I could never meet it.
Have you ever felt this way?
Have you ever felt pulled down by the disappointment that is – you?
In a place where you ask, “What’s the use? I am going to fail anyway.”
It can make us feel powerless and out of control.
I’ve battled these feelings for much of my life, so know I know how it goes. But, now, more often than not, I am seeking to lay these burdens down at the foot of the cross.
I lay down, rest my heart and soak in the height of love, then I see everything – differently. My low, available and open position allows me to see the reaches of something far greater than my hurts of the past – it lets me see the power of my Savior. Here, his power starts transforming and reforming and his light makes things right – failings drop out of sight. Here, I dwell under the power of his healing not feelings.
I see him accept death on the cross.I can see his acceptance of me. I see true love in his suffering.I see his true love for me. I see him high and lifted.I see that he can do all things.
To see Jesus is to no longer see disappointment,
but to solely see God’s divine appointment to use disappointment
as an appointment to humble myself to his will.
The irony of laying it down is that my purpose, my passion, my goals, my hopes and my dreams are actually unveiled as I lay down my ways to his. We expect it to go one way, yet he actually works another.
Everything belongs to him, so doesn’t it make sense?
The more we submit, the more we actually see his direction.
He knows what he wants to do with us. We belong to him. We were bought with a price. We are no longer owned by failings, but by the one who is always prevailing, overcoming and loving. He bought our failings and is shaping them more and more into something of worth.
Here, he confirms our deepest identity. Here, he validates our worth. Here, he says, “It doesn’t matter if you feel powerless and unsure, because I am most powerful and entirely sure.”
Amen, Father, we will go! We will walk through, and by, and for – your power at work. We come in weakness, but leave with your power.
I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. (1 Cor. 2:3)
That power (the power of Christ within) is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, (Eph. 1:19-20)
By the power of Christ at work in us, we can drop pre-conceived notions of who we should be.
By the power of Christ, we can let go of people’s opinions of what we should believe.
By the power of Christ, we can let go of the fear of disappointment.
What area do you feel disappointed? Less than? Unsure? Wavering? Reliant on others? Lost?
God calls you to lay down, open your arms, receive his love, see his goodness, taste his redemption, breathe in his glory and hear his affirmations. He has you.
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I’ve got something kind of embarrassing to say, something I kind of hate to admit, but I am sharing it today in hopes that God’s truth helps me overcome this annoying habit.
Here goes: I can’t stop making everything about me.
How that person responded – is about me.
My ministry work – is about me.
Someone getting chosen above me – is about me.
My husband’s response – is about me.
My children’s behavior – is about me.
The response of another – is about me.
Can you see where this is going?
Somehow everything centers around – me, myself and I. And even when I say it doesn’t, I lie.
I don’t want to do this, but it is almost like I can’t help myself. We live in a “selfie” world.
We take pictures of ourselves in the moment and all we can think about is how we performed, how we looked and what kind of response we will get. It is almost as if our worth is dependent on “likes”. It is almost like others “comments” are vitally important in our missions.
So, I wonder, how do I really die to self instead of pretending all that matters is myself?
God says: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. (Mt. 23:25)
I certainly don’t want to be that dirty Pharisee, but my cup is just the same – dirty on the inside and shiny on the outside. I lure others over with my outer beauty, until they come closer to see what I have inside. Truly, no one wants to be filled by a cup that only pours out black, dirty and tainted water. There is no living water there. Dirty unclean vessels can’t love as Christ would – nor live as he would.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (Phil. 2:3)
How do I get over myself to dive into God’s will?
Because I am tired of swinging on the pendulum of righteousness – either I swing too far to the left and am completely inadequate and selfish or I swing too far to the right and am completely over-righteous and prideful.
Back and forth I go.
Have you ever felt this way? When we ride this swing, we can never seem to rest in the peace of the Lord. We are always striving to be more, to do more and to give more. Both a guilty shame-filled heart and an overzealous righteous heart both have roots in the “me first” mentality.
When one falls down, the other side lifts higher. Back and forth they go.
Yet, the middle place on the pendulum, the still place, is the place of love, grace, mercy; it is a restful place.
God calls us here.
So, how do we come to this resting place of stillness, shamelessness and surrender? The place where we are neither self-centered or self-inflated, but simply self-less?
Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity… (2 Tim. 1:8-9)
Note: – The power of God saved us. – The power of God called us. – The power of God leads us in our holy calling. – The power of God works not through our works but through his. – The power of God works as he purposes. – The power of God bestows grace over grace.
This is the power we walk in. Anything more or anything less than God’s power is just the endless movement of a pendulum that keeps heading in the wrong direction.
It is solely by the power of Christ that we do anything. When we work through his power, his power at work within us makes us selfless, humble and full of grace.
It reminds me of the lyrics of “Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus”:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
We fade, Christ brightens.
We become selfless, he becomes radiant.
He shines, we take the back burner.
Not by the power of our own might, but only by the power of the great God we have in sight.
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The look in his eyes, says it all – he is worried and scared about the perceived “real enemy” on TV.
Fear and worry fills his face, but, my son seems to know that having mommy next to him makes all the difference.
He knows that with the presence of a parent, he is safer. That the TV is not real and that his mommy is. That nothing can come against when is mommy is there.
I love both his faith in me and his desire to draw near to me in this moment.
But, I wonder am I this way when I come face-to-face with worries?
Do I choose to sit with the enemy and dwell on his tactics or do I choose to sit with my Father and dwell on his goodness?
Do I choose to let God protect me, guard me and speak truth into my soul or I do I choose to let the show and all it’s details play on and on and on?
Do I choose to sit with the fear-consuming, worry-ravaging, all-powerful Father or do I choose a screen that replays my worst fears, my worst case scenarios and my enemy’s worst threats?
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps. 16:8)
I keep my eyes on the Lord! I. WILL. NOT. BE. SHAKEN.
Eyes on God can’t have eyes on problems.
Eyes beholding nature’s beauty can’t be beholding life’s injustices.
Eyes beholding God’s love can’t be beholding the world’s hate.
Eyes beholding God’s truth in a still moment, can’t be running circles in fear.
When we have our eyes set on God’s perfect love, and we receive it in a moment of close embrace, fear is cast out. (1 Jo. 4:18).
The presence of God that sits with us when we fear, gives us a new perspective on what looms near. His presence confirms to our soul – we are his.
By faith he (Moses) left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Heb. 11:27)
Moses seemed to know God is “Emmanuel” – meaning, “God with us”. He seemed to know, when God is with us, nothing can come against us.
When we dwell on God’s nearness, worry fades and strength pervades.
Moses knew he could move forward with “God with him”; He could persevere verses cower in fear.
He saw the one who is right there.
Do we see “God with us” in our problems? Do we allow his real and powerful presence to cast aside all our worries?
Because when we pull near, he is there and there is no room left for fear. His love pulls up and fills us up – in a real and powerful way. Then, worry has to leave.
Suddenly, we overcome the face of fear through the power of faith.
We know he is closer than any looming disaster and more powerful than they enemy.
We see him with us as we go through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).
We remain in God – and he remains with us. (John 15:4-5)
Worry and worship aren’t friends. When one comes, the other leaves. Stillness and a racing mind don’t hold hands either. One runs away from the other.
When we choose “God with us”, we seemingly find our way of escape, our protector, our strength, our hope, our defense. We can trust he is working all things out for his purposes, which are always good.
Enemies can try to come against, but when God is with us, we send their bags packing, because God wins every time.
Dear friend, I know what it is like to worry. I know the pain, I know the agony and I know the despair, but today, God is calling you to something greater. God is calling you to get real, honest and transparent; he is calling you to bask in his presence.
Will you call him near as the screen of life portrays images that invoke fear? He offers the ultimate protection.
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Ascribe Him the glory due Him. Proclaim His majesty.
Be in awe before such power.
Come worship wonderful Yahweh, in all His holy beauty.
Give Him the honor due His name!
(Excerpts from Psalm 29, NIV & Passion Translation)
One of my highlights this year has been sitting with the Lord alone most days, praying without multitasking. In this time, I worship and adore God, confess my sins, thank Him for an incredible amount of blessings, and pour out my cares before Him, asking for His help.
I had no idea worship would become the part of my prayers I long for most.
I didn’t realize I would set out to give the Lord the honor due His name–yet I would receive so much blessing.
It’s not that I failed to worship the Lord before. It’s just that I didn’t take regular time away from other people–and other tasks–in order to worship Him alone. To worship without multitasking.
But what is worship, really? Worship is often more than sitting with God alone, in prayer and song.
Look up the definition of worship, and you’ll find a number of ideas. Some think worship is a service you attend, a feeling you have toward a deity, or homage paid to God or another sacred object.
Oxford Dictionary defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”
Paul, the apostle, offers another definition of worship in Romans 12:1-2,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (NIV)
True worship begins with a view of God’s mercy.
We have done nothing to deserve His kindness, yet He heaps it upon us.
His mercy includes His unending love for us, even while we were yet sinners, His grace and forgiveness, eternal life by faith, our reconciliation to God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, newness of life, peace, joy, hope, freedom, and even more than all of this.
Just try to remember God’s mercies toward you, without being moved to worship. It’s impossible!
So we worship God, by focusing on His mercies, by preaching the gospel to ourselves again and again, because we so easily forget who God is, the depths of His love for us, and all we have IN Him.
Paul urges us further, to offer our bodies, our whole selves, to God. This is our action step.
We present–or give over to God’s control–our bodies, including our heart and thoughts and attitudes. We do not follow the pattern of the world any longer, because as we offer ourselves to God, He cleans and changes and renews us.
This practice of viewing God’s mercies, of simply remembering who God is and telling Him, has surprised me this year. The more I worship God, the more I adore Him in my heart.
My whole life falls into clarity when I adore God and remember who He is, and who I am in light of Him.
My cares and concerns don’t disappear–but they fade behind the majesty of God.
So everyone, let’s worship the Lord. Let’s remember who He is, in all His holy beauty, and give Him the honor due His name.
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Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
I had friend; she was sweet, beautiful and helpful, but sometimes, she had a way of getting under my skin. Normally, I just shoved my irritation through the door of my heart and locked it there with a key. After all, sometimes it feels easier not to deal with things.
I remember one specific day – she asked me to borrow a coat. But, as I handed it to her, she looked at it with disdain. I knew her. I knew she had her eye on one specific coat in my closet. I knew her mind was set, even though she put me through a song and dance trying on each one – I knew where this charade was headed.
In that moment, I wanted to say, “Wear the coat I gave you. I am wearing this one.” I wanted to send a message that I knew what she was up to. I wanted her to see that her approach was wrong.
But, as I evaluated how to deliver this message, the quiet whisper of my heart said, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:18
God’s truth spoke to my heart saying, “Others may annoy you, but it doesn’t matter what they do, it matters what I tell you to do. What matters is – love.”
We headed out. She, wearing the beautiful coat – I, wearing the old one.
As I returned from dropping her off at her house, I recounted all her offenses against me. My irritation levels were on high alert in general, so you can only imagine my frustration when I arrived at the front door, to find it locked and dead-bolted, with absolutely no way in.
Try as I may, this house was impenetrable – and my heart felt imbittered.
But, as I shoved my hand into my old not-so-nice coat, the coat, I felt something; it was just what I needed- a bobby pin – one she has left in my pocket while trying my coat on.
It was this bobby pin that allowed me to pry a screen off a window, so I could climb in to unlock my front door.
In that moment, my whole perspective shifted. I found the key to unlock both my resentful heart – and my front door.
It unlocked all the small annoyances. The truth is, the hurting person is hurt. They need love.
It unlocked the power of seeing over small offenses. God rewards a heart that forgives, that shows mercy and that looks beyond offenses. He rewards a heart that sees a heart.
It unlocked the power of sacrificial love. True love means we put another before our self. When we look past the exterior, God wows us with the interior of the one who stands before us.
It unlocked my mind from anger and resentment. When we open the door of our hurts to the great God who understands hurts, all we can do is run into his open arms to receive forgiveness. Then, we can start seeing the ministry work the Lord has set before us to do in the heart of another.
It unlocked a new reality; true love costs something. Love means we lay down what we have, so we can see how God wills us to reach the other. Sometimes it may cost us a coat, sometimes our time, but no matter, we lay it down in love.
We are all fallen, hurt and imperfect, but as we see past these things, our well-maintained fortresses are penetrated, our walls are taken down and true relationships are forged.
Truly, love surpasses locked doors. It opens up a whole new world.
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