Purposeful Faith

Tag - freedom

When Your Past Returns to Haunt You

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Are you a pagan?”

I sat in a body-piercing studio with the owner gazing at a tattoo displayed on the nave of my back. It was a gnome, sitting on a mushroom and playing a fife. Everything about it screamed pot-smoker, hippy and apparently, pagan.

And to think I got it because I thought it looked cool. To me it said, “Outsider,” a label I gave myself during my younger years.

The man’s question caught me off guard. I was twenty-one at the time and wasn’t sure who I was, let alone what I believed.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. The artist seemed as surprised by my answer as I was. Immediately, I felt ashamed.

Who was this person, anyway?

I spent the next eight years trying to figure out the answer to that question. Eventually, I realized all of the places I ran to seek my identity were fickle and fading.

It wasn’t until I started with the One who gave me my eternal name that I would know my true self.

These days, my tattoo is usually hidden. But the other day, while on family vacation, I was changing into my swimsuit and my five-year-old saw it.

“Mama, what’s that on your back?”

I told him what the picture was and explained how a tattoo is like a permanent picture on your skin. Then, my mind went back. Back to the person I was. Back to the mistakes I made and the years I spent wasting my life. Things much bigger than a silly tattoo that shape the person I am today.

For a little while, I let the voice of condemnation darken the light in my soul.

Scenes of things I wish I’d never seen replayed in my mind. Faces of people who left this life for the next one burned in my memory and left my heart heavy.

Perhaps you’ve been there? You’re walking in the new life Jesus freely gave you, and then all of a sudden you’re hit with a blatant reminder of the mess you used to be? That, despite your best efforts, some days you still are?

In those dark moments when I’m not sure I can escape my past, God often gives me a reminder. This time was no different.

We arrived at the pool and found it closed because of an incoming storm. After playing for a while in the arcade next door, we made our way back to the campsite. As we made dinner, a beautiful site caught my eye.

A spectacular sunset over the river.

The sun was big and radiant, dipping to the horizon in a circular blanket of clouds. I hurriedly got my camera and ran down to the beach.

I must of snapped a dozen pictures, but when I flipped through them in my viewfinder I was disappointed. This huge ball of light and fire looked tiny and dim. I couldn’t capture its draw. It was uncontainable.

As I sat in our camper later that evening, I felt that gentle whisper in my spirit.

Don’t try to put limits on my grace, Abby. It’s more limitless than the sun.”

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16 ESV

I was putting God in a box again, thinking I could somehow run outside his grace. But it doesn’t just cover me. It drenches me.

We can’t put finite limitations on the grace of an infinite God.

And the moment we stop trying to put God in a box, we find we don’t want Him there. We find freedom. We find joy and rest.

So today, if your past is trying to haunt you, take a lesson from my tattoo. Remember it shapes you, but it doesn’t define you.

God can take the shattered pieces of your life and turn them into something far more spectacular than a sunset. He does it each and every day. Sometimes we just need a reminder of who he is.

Sometimes we have to take him out of the box and come to the altar. 

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

We Will Not Stay Down

Post By: Angela Parlin

We had been going over the same set of details for days.

Each sit-down, hour-long discussion felt like we were walking around in two separate circles.

I could see how he was wrong, but he couldn’t.

He could see how I was wrong, but I couldn’t.

Add in miscommunications, assumptions, and misunderstandings, and there you have our reasons for walking in lonely circles of our own making.

I wouldn’t say we were angry with each other, but we both felt misunderstood. We were waiting for the other person to see our own point of view.

It took a few days before the light turned on and we joined hands and walked together again. In the light, I read through my journal and saw some things I hadn’t realized before.   I saw my own sin and the resulting sadness. 

I had been deceived.

We can be so deceived by sin, and fail to see it. Or admit it. Or turn from it. Sometimes, we don’t really want to see where we are wrong. It would feel better if only they  were wrong.

When were you last deceived by sin?

Every one of us chooses to sin at times, and others, we fall into sin. We are works in process. Sometimes, we fall and refuse to get back up for a while. Or we make a huge mess and track it everywhere, and then find remnants in hidden corners long after we’ve come clean.

Sin sticks like mud sometimes. And it’s messy. It can be lonely and make us feel trapped.

I pray with the psalmist, Lord, keep your servant from willful sins; may they not rule over me. (Psalm 19:13) And I remember His unending love.

He freed us from our sins, so they will not rule over us.

We are being transformed, and He’s not finished with us yet.

So Child of God, you may fall into sin, but you are not going to dwell there.

Jesus changed everything when He made a Way for us to be near God. He paid the penalty for all of our sin–and set us free from our slavery to sin. When we first trusted in Him, He planted love deep in our hearts, for Him and others. His new law of love.

“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.

I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Hebrews 8:10b

You see, the old covenant failed because of the people’s unfaithfulness. But the new covenant cannot fail. The new covenant is based on what God did and does and will do.

The Lord who frees captives will continue to rescue us–every time we call to Him–out of any pit where we’ve fallen.

He is our God, and we are His people.

So we may fall, but we will not stay down.

Angela Parlin

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.

God: Artisan of Brave

Post by:Jami Amerine

I have spent the better part of 45 years afraid.

I am afraid of many things; flying, heights, spiders, the demise of one of my loved ones, egg salad, and weight gain, just to name a few.

Within the last year, I have added a new fear to my list… failure.

In the midst of this new terror, I made a friend.  At first, she wasn’t a friend, although she didn’t know, I was intimidated by her. I saw her message as a threat to my message. Which was, altogether inaccurate.

As our relationship progressed, she invited me to become a regular contributor here, on her website.  Her book, Fear Fighting launched this week.  In perfect harmony with my new fear of failure, her book has been salve to my wound.

A few nights after her book was featured on the Today Show by Kathie Lee Gifford, I climbed into bed to read more of Kelly’s beautiful paperback.  After a couple chapters, I rolled over to go to sleep and I went to work on my shortcomings, my inabilities, and disabilities.  I fell asleep afraid my book would fail. I began to compare the beauty of Kelly’s manuscript with the folly of mine.

I distinctly remember praying, “God, I am afraid I can’t do this…”

And I dreamed.

It was a vivid dream.  I dreamed I was watching Kelly speak and white butterflies flew about every time she spoke of the Jesus she adores.  In my sleep, I dreamt that I told my husband, “When Kelly speaks of Jesus white butterflies appear.” My husband brushed me off as silly.  In this reverie, I went on to dream that I was meeting Kelly at my alma mater by a fountain.  My husband came with me and when Kelly and I met and hugged white butterflies exploded in the evening sky and we laughed and danced. My husband knelt and began to pray for us.

I sat upright in the bed.  The dream still fresh in my mind, I reached for my iPhone to check the time.  I had only been asleep a few hours.  Shaken by the mystery, I decided to flip through my phone and consider.  I opened my Facebook, the first thing in my feed was a picture my friend, fellow author Rachelle DeNecochea had posted.  It was the image of a painting Rachelle’s husband gave her for Christmas.

The painting, by artist Melissa Paddock, was of two girls dancing in the moonlight with white butterflies in the sky.

I was undone.

Here is the thing.  I am not in any way insinuating Kelly and I are some grand prophetesses.  What I am implying is, my God knows me so well.

I am more than suggesting, He met me where I was in my fears.  The dream?  I would have easily brushed it aside as my tiny brain having a playdate of non-sense.  But I fully believe God didn’t intend for me to dismiss it.

My fears of failure are not from Him or of Him.

He has blessed me with opportunities, outside of anything I could have wished or hoped for – opportunities to speak about how magnificent He is.

You can call it a coincidence.

My husband is certain I saw the painting before I fell asleep.  I won’t argue with him, my phone was dead when I plugged it in and picked up Kelly’s book.  I believe that God wanted to encourage me. I am confident the dream and the painting were meant to minister to me.  I have faith that Jesus knows me, and is available to ease my terrors and worries with signs and wonders.  As Kelly says, “Faith is the thing that makes little warriors do big things.”

Certainly, He is all that is right with me.  The fear doesn’t come from Him, only the comfort does.  And I need not worry about my abilities, as I read Kelly’s words the next day I was further convinced, “It’s not about ‘my’ abilities that make me able but God’s capabilities, that make me more than able.”

I am encouraged like never before.

Truly, as many the years, I have spent in fear, I fully intend on spending the next years brave.

I will watch more closely and with a new found eagerness for Him to reveal things to me, and my faith will allow me to believe. He is the master of words, maestros of symphony, and a virtuoso of every canvas and coloring page.

I choose to believe He will move in every aspect of my life. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am strong, He is my strength.

I encourage you to grab a copy of Kelly’s book and “let the creator re-sketch your scenery of fear into faith…”

The season of bravery is upon us, the time of freedom is at hand.  The tools for breaking down your bondage are available.

Dear Captives, be set free.

“I will not be shaken for God is right beside me.”  Acts 2:25

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss taking part in the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge. Or, order my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today!

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

“The Sway” image was used with permission from the artist Melissa Paddock.

Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

 

 

How to Fight Like… a Boy?

fight like a boy

Post by:  Beth Duewel

I wonder how many seconds I’ve held my breath? Like when I lost my mom. 1, 2, 3. Or when I stared at another blue line on another pregnancy test. 1, 2, 3, 4. How about the many times my children have ran into the sharp corners of life. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,…

I don’t get those moments back.

So, I need to breathe in brave. It helps to remember David fighting the giant.

Because I want to be able to fight like…a boy? Really, it still amazes me. How did a boy have the faith to step forward to fight a giant of a man? The name alone intimidates—Goliath the giant of Gath. I mean, David heard what the people were saying. His father, Jesse, and three brothers went to fight the Philistines while David ran errands and tended to their heard of sheep. But this small story of giant fighting is huge. For me. And no doubt for the girls in my fifth grade Sunday school class.

Because we want to know God will help us battle big in life. Just like David, we’re afraid sometimes. We also want to test and see if God’s love makes us brave. Does it?

Taking a breath of fresh air.

I’ll admit, when I am tired or feel unable—I forget about David. Really. All I can do is watch the worry-wrinkle between my brows deepen. But last month, while hearing this fear-fighting story again through the voices of my fifth grade Sunday school class—I took in a breath of fresh air.

In fact, we were all shocked to discover that David had no cheerleaders. Nope. Not even one. No one expected David to be brave. Not his family. Not his friends. Not his enemy. Because afraid was contagious and had already traveled throughout the valley. It loomed over the battle camp like smoggy smoke. A gasp, a quiet sigh, and a defeated shrug accomplished what words didn’t have to. In fact, Jesse kept David busy minding his own worry that his other sons were okay.

“And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp of your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring back some token from them.” (1Samuel 17: 17-18 ESV).

Yes. David took the provisions as his father had commanded. But while he was there at the camp speaking with his brothers, David heard something. He heard Goliath making threats, breathing anger like fire, and beating his bronze chest with demands to fight just one. Then 1Samuel 17: 23 says, “And David heard him.”

David heard the raging voice of Goliath, but he also heard the Sovereign whisper of God.

Besides, he wasn’t about to breathe in the same air as everyone else. While they were keeping David busy running ten cheeses to the commander, David was puzzled and questioned the fear and concerns of others. Why did he wonder?

Because David knew. He knew God protected. He knew God slew evil. He knew God rescued the lost. He knew God helped him pry open the jaw of the lion that tried to eat his sheep. He knew God.

We want to know God in this way. But we are satisfied with delivering cheese.

Why? Because we listen to the sound of our own heart beating. We allow our faith to match our circumstance. We pay closer attention to our worry-wrinkles and don’t see ourselves as the true reflective image of God.

How do we fight like a boy? Like David. We need to take time each day to know God.  Through prayer and His Word we can know without a doubt God will help us. He will protect us. He will slay the enemy for us. He will rescue our lost hope, lost patience, lost courage, lost joy, and our lost breath. God’s love makes us brave.

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone…” (1 Samuel 17:48-50) ESV. 

Whatever the battle today. Breathe brave, my friend. Breathe brave.

Want to be more fearless? Sign up for the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge! Or, order the book, Fear Fighting, today!

fight like a boyBeth Duewel is a wife and mom of three who is only able to breathe-brave through the perfect love of Christ. Beth would love to connect and pray with you on her blog: Fix-Her-Upper.com. Look for her book in spring of 2017, Fix-Her-Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life.

When It’s Their Fault

Their Fault

I sang and danced and swirled and twirled. I had no care in the world. I paid no attention to my foot caught on the hem underfoot or my strap halfway down my young arm. None of that mattered. What mattered was that I felt alive, beautiful and one with creation.

their fault

What happened to that little girl?

The one who gave no care to her off-pitch high notes?  The one who heard not catcalls of criticism, but simply her voice of freedom? The one who gave no merit to outside perceptions, but just God’s wild affirmations?  Somewhere along the line, she got buried.

It’s always easy to blame others, They broke me.”

They broke me with pointed words, “What’s wrong with you, Kelly? Wake up, you self-absorbed one.”
They injured me in ways that people don’t talk about over coffee.
They pointed out my big nose, loud voice and my bouffant hair.
They made it clear I was destined to be a loser.

In school, I remember things. We all had a papier-mâché project. You put a little something in your balloon, you’d shove in a little figure of sorts, then blow up the balloon. After that, you’d add doused paper on top – lots of doused paper. You cover that balloon right up, layer upon layer. The balloon got hard.

I am like that balloon – 3-inches covered by guilt and shame. You too?

Their Fault

“People stole care-free from me.” I yell to God.

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

God speaks to me,
“Kelly, you can relive the past in your mind
or you can renew your spirit with my mind, the mind of Christ?

untitled-design-11

Half of me is so accustomed to assigning other people blame for my pain. It’s hard to turn away from a comfortable seat well worn. But, the other half of me realizes if I want to be new, if I want to get up and go, I’ve got to turn another direction. I want to believe it is well with my soul.

I close my eyes. Can I find her? The liberated, dancing singer?  

I know she’s under there, under the fortified covering of papier-mâché, somewhere…

God calls me friend.
God names me, daughter.
I am his love.
The very pursuit of his greatest affections.
A layer of paperweight peels off me…

He sees me, my beauty.
He writes my name on his hand.
He cuddles me in feathers.
He’s my bodyguard, ever-protector, forevermore.
The balloon is seen again…

He leads me.
He unveils his master plan for me.
He tends to my soul.
He teaches and transforms,
molds and makes me,
helps me.
The balloon pops…Bang!

And that little figure? The one tucked deep away, inside the covered balloon? It surfaces. I finally see it. Except there’s one thing I notice, that strikes me – funny. The figure looks nothing like me. It looks like Jesus.

As I strip off the layers that cover me, I see – Jesus, the very power of God, living in me.

I find who I am, through the great I AM.
I release my potential through his power.
I reignite my passion as I draw from his paternal love.

I never needed people to approve me, but Christ to move in me.

But because of his great love for us, God,
who is rich in mercy,
 made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions…(Eph. 2:4-5)

God brings me back to the heart of who I was created to be. What love, I loved, he loves. I see this when I realize I am alive with Christ.

their fault

When I grab his hand and let him take the lead, he leads me to still waters, to new hope and to a new dance that sings his glory.

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3 Ways to Remain In God’s Love

Remain In God's Love

In the movies I watch, they tend to throw out the command, “Stand down!”

It’s this moment where the person in charge, usually some Captain or Corporal or Chief gives a word that calls all effort to halt. It calms the strong ambitious and unruly one wanting to push ahead with might, power and strength.

“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand Down.” 

There is a Creator, a Captain and a Care-taker, who has a much higher view than we do. God sees the good ending to our present moment, far more clearly than we do. He also sees all the steps we need to take to get there.

The Captain knows, what you do not know.

Where are you prone to push ahead?

To overexert yourself – speaking a rash word, entering in when you should step out,
getting angry, rather than getting alone with God?

The commander has a word for you too: “Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.” 

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Jo. 15:9

Standing down is remaining in God’s love.

I don’t do this. Remain.

Even right now, I am thinking of all that I need to do. I am writing these words, but my heart is thinking of the house I need to rent, the kids I need to get enrolled in school and the work that I need to do today. I only have 2 weeks until school starts. I want to start working. I need to get this post written. I am a hypocrite.

“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.” 

What might it look like to leave – seen stress for God’s unseen love?

To just walk away from the overwhelming nature
and let God’s overwhelming nature pacify the fears?

I can’t help but think, where God is, light is. And, where light is – clarity focuses.

Are you, like me, looking for a way to go?

Perhaps, you and I are approaching it all wrong. What if instead of flicking on every light, we stayed in the dark and waited for his light to lead?

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:3

Power is not in forging ahead, it is in standing down.

I don’t need to do, Jesus already did.
I don’t need to act great, Jesus is.
I don’t need to hide lies, for grace lies in repentance.
I don’t need to pretend I know, God knows.
I don’t need to fix, God already has the answers.
I don’t need to hide, unless it is in God’s shelter.
I don’t need to perform, the curtain closed and love won.
I don’t need to fear his leaving, God is steadfast and good.

“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.” 

To stand down? It looks like this:
1. Lay it down: To give God what you’re trying to own.
2. Give it up: To step out in faith, knowing that his goodness will lead to a good result.
3. Cease-fire: To stop blaming other people, problems or circumstances.

In Christ, I rest.
Needing nothing less.
Nor nothing more.
For He is the door to my more.
He sees the battlefield.
He knows my way.
His battle is won at the end of my day.

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Does God Really Care about Me?

Does God really care

Normally I think about all that I am not.

I am not as good as the other girls with big, bright and shiny blogs.
I am not going to ever climb out of my own thoughts that hold me back.
I am not able to succeed because (insert some sort of limitation here).
I am not that great of a mom, I get frustrated too easily.
I am not close enough to my extended family.
I am not going to end up in a good place in that unknown future.
I am not going to end up with good results even if I try hard.

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Why bother?!

Ever feel that way?

Then, I come up against God speaking these words to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” Ex. 3:14

God speaks with power. And, Moses is a man I like. I imagine him trying to do enough and be enough for his people. I imagine him, like me, probably not feeling all that great – and a whole truckload of doubtful that he’ll really succeed.

To stand against the heat of God’s fire like this – these words would shake me to the core. Not only because I hit up against the blazing hot power of God, but also because they mean something – and do something. They purify insecurities.

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be the one he claims to be.
He is who he is.

These words give me confidence. Because often I tend to think, unknowingly, of the “God who is not”.

The god who is not coming through for me.
The god who is not keeping me happy.
The god who is not showing me all the time his ways.

I can try to hide these feelings under the guise of good-girl Christian (which always drops me off at the word – hypocrite), but I get somewhere when I turn to God and ask, “God, am I really good enough for you to take care of – dysfunctional ol’ me?”

He replies, “I AM WHO I AM.”

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

He is  – is good.
He is – truth.
He is – power.
He is – strength.

Does God really care?

The devil says who I am not, God says who I am.

Flesh says who I can’t be, God says who I will be in him.

Shame says I am bad, God says I am loved.

Lies speak demise, God says, “Rise.”

Will I believe?

God doesn’t waver. He is not a man that he should fall and skin his knee, he is a king. He doesn’t erase the cross of grace, he died on it to secure eternity for us. He doesn’t delete the signature of our name from his hand, he holds it close to his heart that always beats for us. He doesn’t take back is callings for our lives, he predestines them for us.

He sends us out in unerasable truth:

And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the Israelites…What shall I say to them?

And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you! Ex.3:13-14

He sends us out in his love, power and armor. It moves us forward.

Every single time he is at work to bless us.
Every single time he is at work to pave a way for us.
Every single time he is at work to make us more holy.
Every single time he is at work to work in us.
Every single time he is at work to draw us closer to power of his love.

Does God really care?

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

Will we believe – He will do what he said he will do?

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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.

When Breath Gives Way to Life

breath gives way to lifePost by: Katie M. Reid

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” -Genesis 2:7

Sometimes I forget to take a breath. It hits me all of [a] sudden that I haven’t taken a deep breath for hours, that my shoulders are tucked up beneath my ears, as if they are supporting them, and I’m breathing but in short, rapid, shallow, hurried breaths. Slow down, I say to myself. Breathe. -Kris Camealy

The delivery nurse told me to pant. I was in excruciating pain but I didn’t want to damage my body by pushing prematurely. I didn’t know if I was in danger or if the doctor was just delayed in her arrival.

So I tried to obey, kind of. I found out later that the nurses’s command to pant was because the doctor was not there yet to catch my son. If I had known this I would not have panted, I would have pushed.

Pushing is my preference.

I push down doors of opportunity. I push myself and others to do more and be more. I push to get my way. But I’m often left feeling shoved around and out of breath when life doesn’t go as expected.

Take a deep cleansing breath. That’s what my choral director from college said when we warmed up to sing.

Inhale, up. Exhale, down. That’s what Shaun T. says on our crazy workout videos.

Breathe in for 3 and out for 10. That’s what our birthing class instructor said as we prepared for childbirth.

But I breathe shallow most of the time. I let the cares of life and the pace of ambition dictate my respiratory patterns. I need to slow down, inhale deep, and let God be on the throne of Heaven and my heart.

I scurry and hurry and drop and plop and need to come up for air.

The breath of God is in my nostrils, yet I often take it for granted.

As a tightly wound woman who lives quite frantically, most of the time, I battle fear, insecurities, people-pleasing and control and I want to be made well.

I don’t want my shallow breathing to lead to shallow living, so I pause and ponder what it is that God is speaking to this try-hard heart.

When faced with the unexpected twists and turn of life, we often pant or push. But what if we learned to breathe deeply and rest in the care of our Creator, regardless of our circumstances?

What if we trusted instead of threw tantrums?

What if we found grace in the unraveling of life?

What if we allowed our tightly wound tendencies to wrap us around the One who holds us, and all things, together?

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Katie M. Reid headshot by Madison Stanley

Katie M. Reid is a tightly-wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com, Twitter and Facebook.

 

6 Verses About Second Chances

Second Chance

Lately, I have been speaking one word over my family “Presence.”

I have been telling myself:
“Don’t let your mind wander.”
“Stay active and involved.”
“Pour out love.”
“Give space for calm.”
“Cease worry.”
“Give your best.”

My intentions are good, but the outcomes have been lousy. Days go haywire, accidents happen, kids scream, family irritates, pressures arise, crises happen, distractions lure, people call, I divert my attention, I get frustrated, I speak in a mean kind of way, I demand action, I get terribly afraid, I push people away and then I feel horrible.

I walk out of the day head down.
Face dejected.
Self-doubt metastasizing.
Abilities deteriorating.
1,205,200 fails plus 1.
Jail cell number: 201 please.
I won’t come out until I act better.
I won’t return until I figure things out.

Each fail is another stripe added to my uniform of transgression. It is another weight that both declares who I am and what I cannot seem to do. It is another lash I add onto my back.

Have you ever done the same?

Have you ever confined yourself to a cell God never put you in?

Those who lean in to growth, often fall down into defeat.
Those who try, and try and try again are clay ducks for the devil. “Bang! Gotta stop her!”
Those who do bad, usually feel that they deserve punishment.
Those who walk into new, usually hit the barrier of old habits so they can climb over to freedom.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15

I am not alone.
If Paul didn’t get his lousy behavior, I guess it gives me some permission not to get mine.
I guess it gives me some permission to say, “Agh! I hate that I do this. God help.”

And God does, he helps with 6 truths like these:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Ro. 5:8

If I confess, God suppresses my offense.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Jo. 16:33

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… Eph. 2:4-6

While it appears worldly transgressions stand over us,
we sit on – and over them – with Christ in the heavenlies.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Ps. 86:15

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” Mi. 7:18

There is not a thing that can make God change a thing about his character.

He is who he is and who he is – slow to anger, abounding in love, faithful, steadfast, delighting in giving.

Even when we say: For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15

Then, the neurons connect, the forces of truth collide and we realize something very powerful:
Paul didn’t hate himself – he hated what he did.

Paul might have hated the act –
but didn’t let that become a chance to react in complete defeat.

He didn’t allow his injury to become his identity. Christ’s blood was his permanent marking.
He didn’t erase who God said he was. He acknowledged who he is prone to be – and do – without him.
He didn’t throw down his uniform and give up his life – he made his jail cell an open door for the gospel to flow.
He didn’t cast himself into punishment for his past transgressions, he claimed his grace and freedom in Christ.

Isn’t God calling us to the same?

When we know who and whose we are, we live in a way where we nod at failure and move on to progress.  We say, “I am not perfect, but I am growing. I am thinking about things that count, that are good, that are noble and trustworthy and valuable and right – and you know what, that is worth something.”

Then we pray: God, I can’t do anything without you. I can’t find the first door to progress without your wind of help behind me. Come to my rescue. Lead me on. As if I am a blind baby, come, pick me up and take me to where you want me to go. Keep my self far and keep selflessness close, for then I know I will find my way. Thank you that you can’t give up on me. Thank you that you will never abandon me to my self-confined chamber of torture – the one where I am mark myself convicted by my own mind. You are rescuer, redeemer and restorer. You are the remaker of old things and you do not despise new beginnings. I thank you. I serve you. May I forgive others as you forgive me. Amen.

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