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Defeat or Victory ~ where do you live?…

farmland view for Defeat or Victory blog 4-2020

Photo by John Reed on Unsplash

During this time of quarantine – how many times will I refer to this ‘stay-at-home’ season of 2020, I have no idea. It’s what is occupying everyone’s mind these days, so here we are. What was I saying? Oh yes, during this period, we have a lot of TIME on our hands. Whether you are doing at home what you used to do in your office building, or you are rearranging schedules on the daily with new homeschool duties, there is still time to think. I daresay, there is still available time to think too much.

As I know that the majority of my readers are women, I can confidently say that we are all too familiar with the mental battle we fight each day as to whether we are enough or not. Do we measure up? Are our children thriving enough? The meals we make could probably be healthier? Why can’t our home look like “that one” we always scroll past on Instagram?
And so on.

When our minds begin to wander, where to we let it go? Do you give it free reign? Does the temptation to allow negative thoughts to replay over and over again win out over what we know is the actual truth? Are there moments when you hear the Holy Spirit whisper to you to take those thoughts captive, yet you ignore Him? Thinking those places of defeat will somehow bring you comfort or closure? NO! They never will.

Friends, this is living defeated and it is no way to truly live.

Yet, in the same way that it is dangerous to live in places of defeat, it is much the same to live in places of future imagined victory. We cannot survive in either of these places mentally because it takes our focus off what we should be doing, which is living for Jesus. Living in the present time; in the season that God intends.

And that takes focus.

One of the things that came to mind when I was thinking of ‘defeat and victory’ was of farmers fields.

I visited some Amish farms in Ohio a while back and was fascinated to learn the necessity of allowing planting areas to rest. First of all, the patterns of these fields are mesmerizing; equal parts of growth and bare dirt. I realized the beauty was in the areas of rest and not actually in the rows of corn growing. There was just something about the emptiness that drew me in but in a peaceful way.

As I researched it more, I began to understand that these fields were not dead and bare, they were alive and resting.

Farmers will typically give various plots of their farmland a rest for at least one year so that it can be ready for a new season of planting. No wonder God uses so many farming applications in His word to convey the importance of rest and growth. That bare ground is not striving to be anything but content in its waiting. It has been allowed to regenerate.

I can’t think of anything more beautiful to consider in this quarantine season in our world right now.

Exodus 23:11 says,

“but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

There were periods that the Lord instructed His people to let their ground rest, not just for regeneration but allowance for people in need to gather food and nourishment. The land that was left to become fallow still held importance for the community around it.

I believe that this is a truth we can hold onto, that even in those seasons we feel bare, forgotten, and underutilized, we are still important to the people around us. We continue to hold value. We can generate sustainability for the future while we are resting.

This my friends in living from a place of victory!

In Hosea 10:12, God gives direction as to how we are to be proactive in cultivating fallow ground; in cultivating seasons of rest.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.”

Depending on the kind of crops that are being grown is the deciding factor for how long the ground stays fallow. Isn’t that how it is for us? The Lord knows the seasons that we have come out of, the ones that we are in, and the ones we are headed toward. Which means He knows how long our rest seasons need to be.

And it means that we can trust Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Mentors, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Alive and Rested…

girl sitting by water - REST - for 2-12-20 blog

Photo by léa b on Unsplash

Recently, I heard a fantastic word on festooning scripture. You may have read my previous blog (And then it was a New Year…) on this subject. So, I thought I today, I would share with you the reflections I experienced while using Psalm 23 to practice.

Pastor Christine Suh, Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Fellowship Monrovia, was the guest speaker at the Fellowship Moms Bible Study.

Festooning basically means “to decorate”. Pastor Christine then shared that she would teach us how to festoon scripture into our soul. That definitely caused me to pause. She also explained the beautiful benefits of time spent personalizing scripture to our current life circumstances.

I’ll also add, that God’s Word is not a merely a story book. It’s not a place where we can see how scripture fits into our life, or how God fits into our life. Quite the opposite. Spending time in God’s Word shows us how we are to live with God as the center of our life and how we can live so as to honor Him and glorify Him through all that we do. 

To festoon is to personalize. And because God’s word is alive, He can personalize it to us every time we decide to spend time with Him. That’s the heart of the good Father. He knows His children and what make each one of us respond to His voice.

As Pastor Christine continued with her teaching, she also showed how most passages have three parts:

  • Orientation
  • Disorientation
  • Reorientation

I love this so much because these three qualities speak of how He works in our life to show us our path and purpose. God is the God of order and not chaos, so in no way do I want to confuse you at all. Let me be clear ~ God is ALWAYS oriented perfectly! We as humans are the ones who get disoriented and confused. This is why scripture is written the way it is:

  • God gives us perfect direction ~ every time.
  • When we get disoriented, God is there to keep us stabilized with the truth of His Word.
  • Finally, God is there to refocus us and remind us Who is He, what He can do, and what our path is.

With that, I welcome you to join me in this exercise of festooning scripture! Go ahead and first read through Psalm 23 (printed at the bottom of this blog using the Amplified Bible version). After each verse, these are my first initial thoughts and feelings as I personalized this scripture.

Here we go ~

(Orientation)

Vs.1 “The LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.

~ Thank you, Jesus, that You are always faithful to lead me on the path You have set forth for me to travel. In that path, there is no fear of being lost, in danger, or abandoned. No matter what, You will always provide for me all that I need. It may not be what I think I want, but it will be exactly what you have planned to satisfy my needs.

Vs.2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.

~ I’m grateful that You take me by the hand and gently lead me to places where I can find rest from my weariness; to places where I am able to rest in a peaceful state, and my mind is given rest from the distractions around me. I am thankful that there are opportunities that You provide for rest, and when my eyes are on You, I am able to see those times for what they are.

Vs.3 He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

~ You are gracious Lord to bring refreshment to my soul through your Living Word, through prayer, all with the opportunity to bring You glory & praise. I’m so thankful that by pausing in my day to read scripture, pray, and apply it to my life, that I can be refreshed even through the storms when they arise.

(Disorientation)

Vs.4 Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

~ You know there will be times where I will allow my thoughts to wander away from Your truths & promises, causing confusion, disorientation, doubt, and fear. BUT ~ Your loving discipline will bring me back & Holy Spirit will wash my heart & mind clean with God’s truth over & for my life. I am grateful for Your gift of a comforter in the Holy Spirit.

(Reorientation)

Vs.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

~ I’m humbled Lord by how You want to celebrate me; how You intend to gather me to Your presence to bless me beyond measure with all Your love and protection, guidance and rejoicing. With You there is nothing that I lack. When I’m filled with You, the overflow of my life will be unmistakably filled with You.

Vs.6 Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the LORD.”

~ You have called me by name, You have reconciled me to Your heart, You have come to save my soul and not condemn me. With You there is safety and joy, and that whatever trials and events come my way to cause disorientation, You will cover them and bring me to a place of peace. Forever!!

Whoa ~ such refreshment! Praise God!

I would love to encourage you to choose a scripture, maybe start with your favorite Psalm, and give it a try. When we truly meditate on God’s word and what He has to say to us, our soul cannot help but feel refreshed and renewed! Our soul and spirit long to be with the Father and what a beautiful privilege and blessing we have to openly read scripture and share with others what the Lord has done in our life.

Let your soul be festooned with the everlasting and perfect Word of God!

Blessings,

René

(Psalm 23 AMP) The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],
I shall not want.

2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.

3 He refreshes and restores my soul (life);
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed and refreshed my head with [b]oil;
My cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.

 

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The Sound of Stillness…

Is stillness really a sound?

I think it is and sometimes it is absolutely deafening.

Our society within the American culture is extremely uncomfortable with stillness.

My personal comfort zone is uncomfortable with stillness. But, I think silence is different than stillness though.

When my girls were little I absolutely craved silence by the end of the evening. I will admit that one of my favorite games sometimes was “The Quiet Game” ~ if I could just get 15 seconds or even a whole minute of silence, I could refocus my brain and continue on with our day. Even though I’m an extrovert and a 2w1 on the Enneagram scale, there are times I must schedule time to be quiet. But that can look different depending on the day. Sometimes the quiet I need is to take a long nap in the middle of the afternoon. Some days, like today, it’s to find a quiet local coffee shop, where I can collect my thoughts and put them down for you to read. Other days, the silence is reading a book or sitting with a friend.

But to be still….to truly be still…that’s a whole other story.

When I’m fighting the stillness, it is in that exact moment I have to stop and realize that in the stillness is where God speaks to us the loudest.

I’ve shared a story before how God spoke to me about my priorities (and my mothering!) when I’d been in car accident. The result was a fracture in the T5/T6 part of my spine. The miracle was two-fold: The night before I was to be fitted with a body brace that I’d have to wear for 6-12 months, God healed me through the many prayers of friends and family members. The other came when although I didn’t need the brace, I was still prescribed 3 weeks of complete, upright bedrest: no laying down, no slouching, ice packs, heat packs, no going downstairs, and basically no physical contact. You tell an enneagram 2 that they can’t hug anyone (or be hugged!) for THREE WEEKS!! May as well of told me to stop breathing!! This is where God used the stillness of those three weeks to draw me back to Him. Partly because I was alone A LOT and I had to rely on Him for my sanity, but more so in the fact that since my girls couldn’t hug me before and after school, they began to kneel down and “hug” my feet. Big lesson in humility for sure!

Psalm 46:10 {AMP} “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”

But God knew I needed that ~ He had to ‘still’ me because I was too busy running around acting like I had it all together and didn’t need Him. When God wants to get our attention, He will!

Right now, I feel like I’m in a place of stillness. And I really, really, like not all, really don’t like it. I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough now to know that He is about to do something big. Not in the way the world would necessarily think is big, but big for Him and His name sake. That doesn’t always equate right away with feeling peace in the stillness.

Mark 4:39 ” {AMP} And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!” And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness].”

I love the verbiage in the Amplified Bible, especially in this verse in Mark 4. When Jesus hushed the sea and told the wind to stop, it stopped as if it was a child who’d been fighting a nap and suddenly realizes they are weary. They need to stop fighting. They need to be still. I love the last two words of this verse ~ perfect peacefulness. That just gives me chills! Notice here with me, that the wind did nothing to gain the peaceful calm EXCEPT to obey the voice of the Lord.

Stillness before the Lord that brings that kind of peace. 

The Lord has been whispering plans and ideas to my heart for a while now and I am so excited to share it with you when the time is right. At any rate, a few weeks ago I was feeling so confident and telling everyone how great it was to be able to hear what the Lord was telling me were my next steps. Usually the “next steps” are great because it means were in a path of forward motion and most of the time that is a good thing. I loved the fact that God was showing me what ministries and activities I needed to say ‘no’ to in order to get me even more ready to be available to say ‘yes’ to the new things He has for me in the near future. It was exciting. Honestly, it felt empowering to be able to do that. 

But now, I’m feeling like I’m in a wonky in-between place. I’ve cleaned out my schedule of anything that would distract me from hearing the Lord’s direction. Now what? 

Stillness.

Psalm 23:1-3 {AMP} The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Like me, you’ve most likely read these verses in Psalm 23 many times. Today, I’m soaking them in a little deeper. I’m taking note of the clarity of these verses and it is beginning to help me settle into this stillness I’m feeling.

Just as the seas and wind only needed to obey the voice of the Lord, I cannot DO anything to gain peace or refreshment. In the stillness, look at what the Lord wants to give us:

to be fed

to be guided

to be shielded

to be provided for

to be still

to be led

to be refreshed

to be restored

And none of that is for my glory but for His. But it is ALL for my benefit! Whoa!! I do not find my own stillness. I do not create my own stillness. Only the Lord can orchestrate stillness in my life that will be of any use to my soul. My part in the stillness is to listen to His voice and trust that He loves me enough to create seasons of stillness.

Out of those seasons, the stillness will bring a new sense of peace that only He can give.

I can honestly say that after putting the words of my heart down on this page, I am feeling a new sense of contentment in this season of stillness that God has welcomed me into. I will move forward each day, trusting that He has a good plan for tomorrow, next week, and beyond. He desires for me to join Him in it! That’s pretty cool friends!

Stillness may not be one of my favorite things, but it is definitely one of the most important things I can do as the Lord moves me into new opportunities to learn and to teach.

Where is the Lord calling you into stillness right now? If you’re not sure, sit with Him in the stillness and ask Him. Even if you have to “run away” to your car in the driveway…find a few moments of quiet stillness.

Because in that place, you will be able to hear Him the loudest.

Blessings,

René

STILLNESS

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

 

 

 

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Becoming Unoffended…

We have all been offended. Someone cuts us off on the freeway. We’re telling our spouse something only to realize that they’ve been scrolling through their emails or social media. Our kids aren’t listening. A group of friends is out on the town and no one invited you. I’m sure you can add a few of your own examples too.

Then it happens. You’re offended.

In March of 2017, I experienced a freedom from the spirit of offense and I’ve not looked back once! It was an incredible moment to be prayed for, and I literally said out loud to the Lord, “I’m so tired of this. Please God. Deliver me from being offended all the time.” And He did…ugly cry and all. I literally felt a huge weight lift off my heart and my mind ~ it was incredible!

This experience came at a time in my life when the Lord was shifting the direction of ministry. I’ve always been involved with women’s ministries but I knew God was leading me to be more purposeful and intentional to minister to college-aged girls. I should have known that this deliverance would prove to be more than I imagined. Not only did I live in a new-found joy of daily life, but I began to see people around me through the eyes of Jesus.

Walking around being offended all the time is exhausting. And it’s no way to be in true ministry to others.

But here’s the thing ~ I really thought I deserved to be offended. “If people around me would just _______________, then I wouldn’t be upset.” It was never ‘my fault’ and I made sure to let everyone know that their  actions and attitudes were the problem. They were ‘making me’  react in an offended manner.

It was all them; never me.

This spirit of offense had woven itself so intricately into my soul that I had no clue how to escape it. I didn’t like being offended. But then I’d rationalize it by thinking, “Well, I know I’m right about this, so it’s okay to be offended.” What? That’s just crazy talk! The flip side of living with a spirit of offense, is that anytime someone does actually treat you poorly, instead of feeling offended, you end up feeling ‘less than.’ Then you are walking around exuding attitudes of feeling dejected, unworthy, unseen, and so on.

This is right where the Devil wants you to live.

Because it’s not just you that is affected by your actions when you activate offense in your heart. You lead others astray. If you overreact to a situation, you give people the motivation to tell others about how you freaked out. Enter in gossip. In your pursuit of being offended (yeah…your pursuit…because you certainly aren’t pursuing a godly response in that moment), you will inevitably lead others to join you. What good is that?

1 John 2:10 says, “The one who loves and unselfishly seeks the best for his [believing] brother lives in the Light, and in him there is no occasion for stumbling or offense [he does not hurt the cause of Christ or lead others to sin].”

You know the old saying, “Misery loves company.”? Well, it does. Think about a time when you were feeling miserable, feeling offended. How did you handle it? You either sat at home getting deeper and deeper into your offense, or you called someone to tell them your tale of woes, or worse yet, you took to social media to blast someone publicly. In all three scenarios, you had company.

The first one ~ you were allowing the enemy to take a seat on the couch next to you. He made you feel like you deserved to be offended. He used that to plant seeds for your next move.

The second one ~ to fuel your ‘rightness’ you need to bring in someone else who will empathize with you and tell you that you have a ‘right’ to be offended.

The last scene ~ in your ‘rightness’ you decide that the offender needs to be put on notice. Even if you don’t use the persons name, it will be completely obvious to many in your circles who you are publicly complaining about. Let me guarantee you ~ no one will even be aware of what you are offended about; they will simply see a vindictive person lashing out in a shameful way.

The best place to start in your journey to become free of offense, is to speak it out loud. Meet up with a friend, your pastor, or your spouse, and tell them everything that is on your heart. James 5:16 encourages us in this way, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  It’s so true! Confession is truly good for the soul.

Speaking your story out loud, telling the Lord what you need Him to forgive you for and bring restoration to your heart, is worth it all. When you speak it out loud, the power of that offense is gone. The goal of the enemy is to make us keep everything hidden; to bury deep down inside the parts of our life that make us feel shameful. That is never the goal of the Lord. He wants to bring us into the glory of His light that brings healthy and wholeness to our life.

There is such beautiful freedom in being unoffendable. I know, it sounds lofty and unattainable, but it’s absolutely possible.

You were created in the image of God to worship Him and bring others to Him. Living your life in a way that makes other people want to know Jesus is to be our goal. What better way to bring God glory than to show others how to live an unoffendable life.

Blessings,

René

Unoffended blog{Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash}

 

 

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Keep On Keepin’ On…

Mom?

Mom?

Mooooooommmmmm!!!

MomMomMomMomMomMomMom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every single child has the ability to be persistent. Not necessarily the virtues and how to be politely persistent, but they’ve totally got the concept down to a science!

Let me ask you this question….how persistent are you with Jesus?

Do you ask Him something? Pray about a situation you are going through? Talk to Him about the hardships of life? How about questioning Him about the plans He has for you?

Do you ask Him once? Twice?

Do you talk to Jesus so much that you are so busy talking and thinking about your own stuff that you aren’t quiet enough to hear that He’s actually trying to answer you?

Just like with a small child who keeps calling out for Mom or Dad or whomever their caretaker is; they are so preoccupied with their own need and what they want to ask or what they desire to happen that they cannot hear the response. I’m very thankful that Jesus never responds to me like I did sometimes with my kids…you know what I mean…that exasperated (and sometimes loud) “WHAT??? What do you want?”

But in God’s Word, He asks us to be persistent. Check out the same verse in two versions:

Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭TPT {The Passion Translation} says, ““Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”

Persistent Seeker…

In the Amplified Version (AMP) it says, “For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.”

‭‭Everyone who keeps on…

But here’s the key ~ it’s not just about the persistence.

We must be willing to seek and knock. And we must be willing to wait.

In these verses it doesn’t say that the answers we seek, the path we are looking for, or the doors we knock on, will be opened immediately. It just tells us that they “will be opened.”

Take a quick minute and do a little activity for me ~ it’s easy and you don’t even have to get up…

Open both of your hands to where your left and right cute little pinky fingers are touching. Now stretch out your thumbs as far as they will go. Imagine that your left thumb is the day you were born and your right thumb is the day you will meet Jesus face to face.

The span of your whole life is in the palm of the mighty hands of Jesus. And He sees your WHOLE life ALL at once! We only get one day at a time. We have no idea what will happen even five minutes from now let alone 5 years from now. But Jesus does. He can look at us and see our whole life all at the same time. He knows whether or not that the thing you are asking Him to do right now is good for you or not.

When Jesus says ‘No’ to us, it feels like a punishment sometimes. But because He sees our whole life, He knows when to say no to the things that will cause us harm in the future. We have to trust Him with the no’s as much, or possibly even more than, the ‘yeses’ we get from Him.

When we become persistent seekers of God, our mind and heart will be at rest with Him instead of being on the bus to crazy town when we make our life all about our self.

A persistent seeker of God reaches beyond what is seen and sweetly leans into the comfort of knowing that God has the best for us. This is not to say that life will easy when we are trusting Jesus. In fact, scripture promises that there will be hard times and difficult circumstances (Hebrews 6:12; Isaiah 43:2) but we will not be taken out by them. Only God knows what is for our good and what would be a detriment to our life.

I can’t help think about that old country song, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Oh my word friends! Just think back to prayers you used to pray in high school…and who you might’ve dated or married had God not intervened!  Seriously! I’m not saying that they were bad people, just that the Lord knew best and knew who would be the right one for you! Maybe you don’t even have to look back that far…maybe that song phrase resonates with something you prayed for last week and now you can clearly see that it was for your good that God didn’t give you what you asked for!

Persistent Seeker…

Let those words truly sink in.

Do you see that it doesn’t use the verbiage of being a ‘persistent asker’ ~ yes we are to ask the Lord for guidance, direction, future plans, anything really! But we are to first be seekers of what God has for us.

I actually just laughed out loud right now as I imaged the sweet face of my grandma. She used to say, “Ask any question that you want, but always be prepared for a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer.” She first said that to me when I asked one of my daughters (when they were a toddler) if they wanted to take their bath. I was completely baffled when my sweet child looked at me and quite confidently said, “No thank you.” What? Politeness aside…what?

But it was a great lesson for me in the art of ‘asking’!
‬‬

Before I sign off for today, let’s go back and really sit with The Passion Translation of Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ~

““Ask, and the gift is yours.

~ The Lord wants to give us good gifts…gifts that will glorify Him through our lives.

Seek, and you’ll discover.

~ When we seek the scriptures we will absolutely discover every answer we are looking for. It’s all there. It’s always been there. When you have those “aha” moments, highlight the verse and put the date down so you can come back to it and remember what God did for you on that day.

Knock, and the door will be opened for you.

~ Walking over the threshold of knowledge in God’s word is the best door you can walk through. Jesus wants to invite you in to share in those good words but He also wants to be invited in to the living room of your heart.

For every persistent one will get what he asks for.

~ We are called to have enduring tenacity before the Lord. But after we have truly sought after what is best for us through scripture, we will come to know what we need to be persistently asking for. However, when we get so off track, sometimes the Lord will give us that thing we are begging for even though He knows it won’t be good for us. That is a painful place we put our Father into, but He is there through it all with open loving arms when we return to Him, trusting Him for what we truly need.

Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for.

~ As we daily seek scripture and spend time in prayer with the Lord, He will not disappoint us by keeping secrets.  He longs to reveal to us the plans He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11-14 {AMP} For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and I will [free you and] gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

Anywhere in scripture where you read that Jesus ‘will’ do something…He absolutely will! He will hear your prayers. He will hear your unique voice, be it a whisper, a groaning, a celebration, or a cry of desperation. He hears you!

And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.”

~ The Lord may have you in a season where you are about to go through a new door. I myself feel that I am in that place and boy oh boy do I want that door to open. TODAY! But I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that if I kick that door down before He opens it before me, I will miss the true beauty of what is next for me. Humans are inpatient. That is why we need our companion of the Holy Spirit to quiet our minds and remind us of the beauty that is in the waiting.

And hey, windows are to be looked out of or in to…not climbed out of. When the door isn’t opening yet, don’t be tempted to use that proverbial window. When God opens the door that you have been persistently knocking on, you know it will be the right time to walk through in the fullness of all He has planned for you.

Be persistent, be a seeker, be a door-knocker ~ but first be obedient to His plans in all that you do.

Blessings,

René
What door are you knocking on

 

 

Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

The Goodness of Being Uncomfortable…

“Well, Jesus hasn’t told me any of this, so you must be wrong.” This was my emphatic statement to my husband years ago, when he told me that he felt the Lord leading him to resign from his job and pursue developing his own company. Clearly, there was nothing spiritual about what I said to him. I knew it the minute I said it. It was my way of getting out of a prickly situation. A way of avoiding what I instinctively knew was about to happen to our lives. And I wanted no part of it.

We were about to get really uncomfortable.

That was back in January of 1999. Although its been quite some time since then {gosh, has it really been 20 years?} I remember the day that my husband told me of his revelation, like it was yesterday.

We went from a very secure six figure salary with benefits and tons of perks to complete financial uncertainty. My husband worked for a well-known entertainment company and God has blessed him with crazy talent for animation. He felt God calling him to leave his job and start his own faith-based company; a way to use the gifts God had given him to reach families with a message of Christ’s redemption and salvation through animation.

I finally came around because I was tired of dodging the Holy Spirit. Have you ever experienced that? No matter where you are, there HE is!

So, we jumped in, a bit trepidatiously, but confident that we were following God’s direction for our little family. And what could possibly go wrong when you are following Jesus…right?

Long story short ~ we emptied our savings and our 401K, joined forces with two other families in our church (who did the same), lived and breathed this calling from God, and lived our faith out loud in an industry that could care less about Christian ideals.

A week after our business plan was completed and ready for the 14 meetings we had planned with investors, 9/11 happened. We lost all but one meeting and at that, we were put off until the new year.

Seven years later, our company closed. Amidst an abundance of tears and sadness, the one thing that my husband and I, our daughters, and the other two families held firmly to was a spirit of contentment.

This is a story in itself, but suffice to say, during this time of our lives, we learned the true meaning of contentment. The Lord developed in us a strong determination to always seek after faith, trust, and belief that God is always good. Because of all that we endured, I have gained an unshakeable contentment that I serve a living, loving, good, good Father.

Philippians 4:11-13 {AMP} says, “Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”

I’ve read this verse countless times in my life, but until those eight years, I had no idea what it truly meant to live a life of contentment. I know that part of the gifts I have from the Lord is the ability to believe that no matter what, everything will turn out okay. Even wavering a bit through difficult circumstances, I’ve always known it to be true.

The dictionary defines contentment as “the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.” The one part of these definitions that are most personal to me is the “ease of mind”. It is absolutely impossible to have a mind or heart that is content on your own. I tried it both ways, and I know Who gives me the ability to be content.

His name is Jesus.

Before this whole adventure of leaping out of our comfort zone, we had lived in a different kind of comfort zone. Consistent paychecks, all benefits, money was no object, beautiful home, my husband had an enviable career, I stayed at home with our children, kids went to private school, nice cars, the world-standard of a healthy bank account and investments ~ all of it. In the eyes of the world, and even in the eyes of our friends and family, we had it all.

And I was miserable! I was miserable because I wasn’t grateful. I was expectant of receiving good things, because well, I just did. I deserved them. It was my right to have a good life. I lived as a Christian well enough to hide my true thoughts. I led bible study groups, developed my gift of hospitality to host various events in our home, was the good wife and the doting mother. I was doing all the right things. But my heart was not moved to where God wanted my heart to be.

He wanted my heart to be moved by Him and for Him.

Instead of dwelling on all the things I did wrong and all the ways I did not act faithfully, let me tell you how this season of eight years shaped me for the rest of my life.

I learned that it is difficult to receive.

The first time I had to tell my husband that we didn’t have enough money for groceries was quite humiliating. We had come face to face with the fact that we could no longer deny the fact that following God’s direction meant sacrifice. What was even more difficult was to call up my parents and ask them to take us grocery shopping. For goodness sake, we were in our 30’s with three kids and a mortgage. What was happening to us? We were very used to being on the giving end…other families in need, gifts for friends and family, dinners out on us, and on and on.
It was very, very different now.

God was asking us to be open with our struggles. To ask for prayer for finances (ugh!) and for the Lord to lead us to new investors for our company. Life ebbed and flowed and sometimes we felt swept away on the current of the unknown, but we began to learn that it was only unknown to us. God knew exactly where He was taking us.

When confronted with challenging financial circumstances, like when we realized we had about $18.00 (yes… E I G H T E E N) in our bank account, instead of completely freaking out and despairing over our future (or the next hour!) we would hold hands and pray; together and as a family. The girls never knew the extent of the leanness of our finances, but they knew life had changed.

One morning, upon cobbling together a totally weird lunch for our girls to take to school, I went to find my husband to pray before we left. We distinctively felt that we were not to ask anyone for help.

We were learning true dependence on Him.

After I dropped the girls off at school, I pulled over, about to call my mom for help, but remembered what the Lord had whispered to our hearts. So instead, I prayed and asked Him for a content heart. As soon as I said “Amen”, my husband called and said that I needed to drive over to the office before going home.

When I arrived, with tears in his eyes, he handed me an envelope that someone had left on his desk chair. It was a “Thinking of You” card and it simply said inside, “You are being thought of today. Love, Jesus” ~ and there was a grocery store gift card for $100.00. We hugged and cried and thanked the Lord for this unexpected provision. Again, it was only unexpected by us…He knew all about it. He had prepared the heart of an anonymous person to bless us out of their excess.

I learned that it is worth it to look foolish in the eyes of friends and family.

So many times, when the Lord asks us to follow Him, to trust Him, to take that leap of faith, it will not look “normal” to the people around us. It was surprising to us that the initial support we received was from our church, not necessarily from our family. Some of it came out of concern for our well-being, but some of non-support came from those who claimed we were doing things outside of the will of God. The first few years of our business was extremely difficult in dealing with some of these family members and it caused us great sadness. It came to a point that we simply ceased any conversation with them about the business.

That experience helped me to shape other relationships in my life. I’ve come to understand, through loads of prayer and seeking the Lord, that not everyone needs to know every thing about me and my life. I need only share with people, whether I’m related to them or not, what the Holy Spirit spurs me to share.

I learned that God’s path is never easy but always worth it.

No matter what, it is always more important to serve the Lord than to care what others think.

Over the past decades, there have been plenty of times in my life that I have reverted to feeling the fear of what others might think about me and my decisions, only to realize that God’s opinion of me is what matters. When I am content in knowing who I am as God created me and in doing what He has created me for, then I can soar! It doesn’t mean that I will have a smooth path ahead of me, it just means that I have a loving Father who has good plans for me to follow.

I learned that teaching my daughters to trust the Lord for everything was in fact, everything.

This was probably the hardest one actually. Every parent wants to give their children everything they can. I can admit that I wanted to have more “yeses” than “no’s” in my vocabulary. The important part was in making sure that my girls knew why we were saying no or yes. We would have family talks and make as many decisions with them as we could. Obviously, there were plenty of things that we had to decide as the parents, but letting our kids know that we valued their ideas and opinions too was important.

As our middle daughter began to feel a shift in her future plans for after high school graduation, what could have been a difficult conversation wasn’t hard at all. She felt that the Lord was leading her to become a full time missionary instead of attending traditional college. As she shared her heart and what had brought her to this decision, my husband and I could see the contentment in her eyes and hear it in her voice.

Towards the end of the conversation, my ever-practical husband said to her, “Babe, why would you willingly choose a life where you are dependent upon other people to support you financially? You know what a hard life that can. It’s so unpredictable. Are you really sure about this? I mean, you know the difficult years we had spent where we had to ask for financial help on so many occasions and hope that God would intervene for our provision.”

I’ll never forget her face nor her response.

She said, “I know where you’re coming from dad, but that’s why I don’t have any worries about my future financially. First, this is what God is calling me to and I know He’ll provide. And besides that, I watched how the Lord provided for our family over and over and over again. You and Mom showed me how to trust God no matter what and how to stay content in believing that God would always provide what we needed exactly when we needed it.”

To be ministered to with wise words by your children is one of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life!

I learned that loving my husband meant battle.

Thankfully my husband and I never battled each other, but we battled the enemy on the daily for stability in our marriage and in our family.

When the Lord asks us to follow Him, satan is going to do everything he can to distract us from the path. Especially when that path takes you down the uncertainty of finances, that can definitely have a negative impact on a marriage relationship.

When we were planning our wedding, we vowed to each other that: Plan A – commit our marriage and family to the Lord and that divorce would never be a part of any future conversation. Divorce would never be an option. Plan B – refer to Plan A!

And that’s what we have done for the past 29 years. Through the wealth of the first decade of our marriage, to the incredibly lean years of the second decade, to now the almost third decade of life together. Contentment in knowing that God brought us together for a reason and purpose, fuels our desire to impact others for Him.

I learned that being authentically vulnerable is what people want.

True contentment comes from knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that the Lord is for me, not against me. It is a deep commitment to follow Him wherever He leads, especially when it doesn’t seem to make sense to anyone else. People want to hear the authentic story of how God has moved in your life. Pretending that “life is good” will never bring anyone closer to a real relationship with Jesus. As we know, sometimes life doesn’t feel so great. But the Lord is always good!

As I live my life, I want to show others that I can be content no matter the circumstances. I honestly believe everything will turn out okay, not because I deserve an easy life, but because I know who I serve. The Lord does not change. He will always be drawing me to Him to experience a deeper love for the path He has for me.

I can be content in my life because I know

the Lord is my provider and protector.

Blessings,

René

Being Uncomfortable...
{Photo by Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash}

 

Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Living with open wounds…

I recently heard a phrase that broke my heart, “My wounds are still open.”

It is a simple, yet jarring statement. It is one that made me want to give the person a big hug and let them know that it was going to be okay. It just made me weep.

Almost as immediately as the tears came, the promises from scripture filled my mind. Jesus does not intend for us to live with open wounds. He is the Healer of Healers and in Him do we find the answer for what ails the deepest part of our spirit.

When my daughters were little, there would be the inevitable skinned knee or elbow as they played outside. They would come to me with those big crocodile tears and tell me how they got hurt. Of course, I would scoop them up and bring them inside with the promise that “Momma will make it better.”

Before I could put on the bandage though, my sweet girl would have to sit through the tough part first. To ward off infection, you have to clean the wound and it stings! I’d try to make a game of it, “I’ll sing a song and you blow on it.” Okay probably not super sanitary to blow on an open wound, but they all survived! Depending on the intensity of the wound, sometimes the cleaning out process took a few tries. Once I knew it was all clean, the antibiotic ointment was applied and then a fresh bandage. Ahhh….the tears dried up and the soul of my toddler was soothed.

It still wasn’t immediately healed but the process had begun. I mean, just the concept of skin growing back over the part that was skinned off (sorry if you’re eating right now…) is a phenomenal part of how incredible God created our bodies!  He knew our bodies would need protection and He created a perfect plan to accomplish this! He is beyond amazing!! All this to say, it takes time for the wound to heal; for the skin to grow back; for the tenderness to go away. But when it’s all completely healed, most of the time you can’t even tell where the wound had been. Sometimes it leaves a scar, but that also means that the wound is healed.

What about the wounds that happen out of our disobedience? Or the wounds that are inflicted on us by another person? A wound of the heart…the mind…the soul? You can’t put bandages on those kinds of wounds and more often than not, those wounds are the ones that take the longest to heal.

We’ve all had those kinds of wounds. The key is, what do you do with them?

From experience, let me tell you that if you are waiting for someone else to “heal” you ~ settle in. If you are waiting for the person who did the wounding to “make it better” ~ settle in. And if you are the one who is responsible for bringing hurt into your own life, you have to own up to that!

And if you don’t…

Settle in for a life of misery. Seriously! That is what you are asking for. And that misery is not the fault nor responsibility of the other person…that misery you bring it all on yourself.

When you decide to sit with your wounds open to the world, everything around you will cause that wound to sting. You don’t want to be around anyone who is happy, content, celebrating, joyous, or fulfilled. How dare they walk around with the a smile on their face when you are so miserable! And people who are sad, disappointed, angry, disillusioned, well, you don’t want to be around them either because they are taking away your spotlight of misery! You can’t win ~ and with a bitter attitude, you never will.

As you walk through your life with an open wound, you may develop a bit of a scab over it, but it’s still there. At any moment it can be reopened and the pain is deep. You feel the initial wound all over again.

The pain of the initial wound, when left untreated, only has one direction to travel…to the depths of your heart. You become irritable, untrusting, bitter, angry, and filled with rage. No one can get close enough to you to help the healing begin.

Oh my friend.

Stop.

Just.

Stop.

Proverbs 27:5-7 says, Better is an open reprimand [of loving correction] than love that is hidden. Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern],
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda].”

The enemy, the devil, satan, whatever you want to call him – all he wants to do is keep you in your misery. He wants you to miss out from all the good that God has planned for your life. He wants you to walk around feeling entitled to your wounded feelings. UGH! Satan loses in the end, well, he already has lost, he’s just prolonging the inevitable!

This is why it is so important to keep good friends in your life who will direct your gaze back to the Lord; back to the One who has your life in His hands. Jesus is a faithful friend to you as well.

It doesn’t mean that the healing process is going to be easy or fun. It’s gonna hurt! Cleaning a wound that has been left unattended…ugh!  Makes me cringe to think about it. But oh how worth it to live out your life with scars rather than open wounds.

Psalm 147:3-5 shows what the Lord does for us, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names. Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is inexhaustible [infinite, boundless].”

Remembering that Jesus lived as God and Man on this earth can bring comfort to your heart during the healing process. He is the only One who knows what it is to be wounded physically, emotionally, and mentally, AND be able to stop it in the blink of an eye. Yet He chose the opposite.

Jesus felt the pain from the death of a loved one.

Jesus felt the pressure that came from being hunted by those who wanted Him dead.

Jesus felt the betrayal of a friend.

Jesus felt the mental anguish from Satan who tried to lure Him into temptation.

Jesus felt the physical pain of beatings to horrific that He was practically unrecognizable as He hung on the cross.

Jesus felt the despair of taking upon all the sin of the whole world…all at once…from the beginning of time until He comes back to reign forever.

He has felt it all. His wounds were deep.

But He did not walk around defined by them.

He forgave.

And because He was able to forgive and become the “once and for all” wounded sacrifice on our behalf, the verses that were prophesied in Isaiah 61:1-3 were able to come true: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind  up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion the following: to give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Whatever wound we have, whatever hurt you have been harboring, it is time to let it go! It’s not doing you any good to walk around with an open wound, bleeding on everyone when they inadvertently hit that tender spot.

The most difficult part of getting that wound cleaned out is to forgive {OUT LOUD} the person who hurt you. Stop giving them power of you and how you live your life! Out of that forgiveness comes a “oil of joy” and as it flows over that open wound in your heart, it begins to fill in the empty places. Over time, the wound heals, the tender spots dissipate, and the healing is complete.

It’s time to walk confidently in your healing. If you have a scar from it, go ahead and share about how the Lord healed you! There is no shame in scars. On the other hand, if you don’t have a scar you don’t have to prove to anyone what you have been healed from. Because, for by His wounds you [who believe] have been healed.” (I Peter 2:24b)

Not sure where to start? Just ask the Lord to come in and begin the healing process. Reach out to a friend who can help you along the way. You have to allow the wound to be cleaned and trust that the momentary pain of healing will be worth it.

Walk in freedom.

Walk in healing.

It’s time to rejoice that you no longer live with open wounds!

Blessings,

René

Defined by healing not by your wounds