Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Joy of Happily Ever After

Watch any princess movie and you will see a common theme play out - the idea of happily ever after.  It is ingrained in our sweet heads and we tend to measure our lives by the idea.  We dream of the white horse with the handsome prince sweeping us off of our feet and riding away to the beautiful castle filled with fabulous clothes and gorgeous d├ęcor.

Then life...

We become adults with responsibilities and the dream of happily ever after seems far off.  Life is busy, messy, and tiring.  Don't mistake my point - life is also wonderful, funny, and full of blessings. There are times in our lives when we feel on top of the world.  We peak out of our windows and swear we actually do live in the castle of happily ever after.

But let's be honest, reality isn't the ball gown, fairy godmother, and the to die for carriage.  Some days we want to shout in celebration, while other days we want to shout in crazy frustration.  There are some people who have been so broken by life they can't even remember dreaming of happily ever after.

But Jesus...

Life can be hard, but Jesus promises us a happily ever after.  He offers us eternal life when we pledge our belief and hearts to Him.  He is the Prince on the white horse who swoops in and saves us from a life of rags.  With Him, our rags turn to riches and we have a crown of beauty.  We are the princesses to our Prince.

John 3:16 assures us of our heavenly home.  It states:

For God so loved the world in this way:  He gave His
One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will 
not perish but have eternal life.

Breathe that in and take it to heart.  God promises eternal life to everyone who believes in His Son - that means you.  There is nothing you can do - or have done - to keep you from your eternal joy in heaven.  Phew...that refreshes my heart and lets me know I am crazy loved.  Jesus sees my sins and loves me right through them and back to Him.

Oh, but read this next portion of Scripture and let it sink deep into your marrow.  Let it wrap around you and your hurts, shames, and not so happily ever after.

Revelation 3:5-9
(5) In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I 
will never erase his name from the book of life but will 
acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels.
(6)  Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the 
Spirit says to the churches.
(7) Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:  The Holy One,
the True One, and the One who has the key of David,
who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens says:
(8) I know your works.  Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, 
and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open
door that no one is able to close.  
(9) Take note!  I will make those from the synagogue of satan, who claim
to be Jews and are not, but are lying -note this- I will make 
them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you.

And she lived happily ever after.

But wait, you say.  I want the happily ever after now.  I need the happily ever after now.  I hear you and so do I.  We need to know that our Prince has already arrived and desires to sweep us off our feet.  We need some fairy tale glitter sprinkled on top of our tired heads!

I have good news.  The best of the good news for our life here on this beautiful planet God has placed us on. 

I believe Scripture is God speaking directly to us.  In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 solidifies my belief and refreshes my soul.  Scripture truly is God's love letter to His beauties and handsomes.  Imagine how lovingly He thought of YOU as He penned His precious words.

{ 2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.}

So here are 3 beautiful pieces of God's love letter that allows you to have a happily ever after here on earth.  Life may get sticky and prickly, but Jesus...

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring 
good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty
to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, 
and the day of our God's vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for 
those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair.  And they
will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.

This - this burrows itself deep in my soul and causes me to rejoice in His mercy, goodness, and love.  There is so much love packed into these three verses.  Jesus came to set us free from the things that bind us to pain - to the things that we think will break us and shame us.  He came to wipe our tears and give us a crown of beauty - His beauty.  As we look into His face through prayer and Scripture reading, His glorious face radiates onto and into us.  He takes away our broken hearts (if we allow Him to) and clothes us in splendor.  And, if that is not enough, He allows His transformation of us to glorify our Father.  He takes our ugly, our brokenness, and our shame and uses it to point to the grace and mercy of the One who sent Him.  

Psalm 21:6
You give him blessings forever; You cheer him with joy in Your presence.

Joy in His presence.  What a reassuring promise.  When we spend time with Jesus on a daily basis - throughout the day, really - He assures us of joy.  Our days may be bleak but our joy is not dependent on our day, it is dependent on Jesus.  Ever heard the hymn "It is well with my soul"?  No matter what happens, we can have the confidence to honestly say it is well with our souls when we spend time with Jesus.  Spending time with Him allows us and leads us to look to Him for comfort, joy, and value.  When we look to Jesus for validation and leading, we are free from the demands of society.  And guess what that leads to - yep, happiness.

John 15: 5, 7-8
I am the vine; you are the branches.  The one who remains in Me and I in 
him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and 
it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this:  that you produce much fruit
and prove to be My disciples.

Remain.  How can we remain in Christ?  We remain in Him by nurturing our relationship with Him, by reading His word and talking to Him (prayer).  We remain in Him by opening our hearts and quieting our busy selves so we can hear His still, small - yet powerful - voice speak to us.  Oh friend, when we remain, He allows us - causes us - to produce much fruit.  This means we get to shine for Him.  We get to bask in our blessings.  Our cups overflow for the world to witness and drink from.  We get to make an impact on His Kingdom.  We get to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Happily ever after here on earth with our sweet Savior Jesus.

Yes, life can be hard.  But oh my gracious, it can also be gloriously beautiful when we walk with Jesus - when we allow Him to move in our lives and show off His glory.  We are His princesses and He is our Prince.  He's patiently waiting to grab your hand, pull you up on the splendid white horse, and take you for the ride of your life as you let His glory seep deeply into your heart and let Him move you towards happily ever after.

May your happily ever after start right now-

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joys of a Forgivng Heart

I think it is so important to study and memorize Scripture.  It helps us grow in our relationship with Christ.  Also, as we experience life, various Scriptures that we've attached to our hearts will come to mind.  They help us celebrate joys, encourage others, and walk through valleys. Scriptures have become so precious to me.

I want to share my love of Scriptures and provide a worksheet each Tuesday to help in the memorization and study of God's Word.  The worksheet will provide a Scripture and a series of questions so you can dig deeper into your heart and application of the verse.  I would suggest that you create a notebook so you can easily refer to the worksheets. You can write the Scripture on a notecard and practice reciting the Scripture throughout the day until it has attached itself to memory.  I like to keep my notecards connected with a binder ring.  This makes it easy to find Scriptures that you have worked on in previous weeks.

The more we dig into God's Word and crave to know Him deeper, the more blessed our hearts will be.  I am excited to begin this journey and I pray that our hearts move towards Him every week.

This week we will be studying and memorizing

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as
God also forgave you in Christ.

To download the Scripture Study click here.

Love to all of you beauties-

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Joys of Not Being a Savior

Being a Savior is a BIG job. 

Thankfully, God did not create us to ever host the title.  At no time in our lives is it ever ok to try and wear the hat or expect someone else to do so.  God sent His Son to be a Savior to all of us and He certainly doesn't need us to help Him out and give Him breaks. 

Trying to be someone's savior or demanding a person to be one for us will never pan out - ever.

Unfortunately, I have been on both ends as I'm certain many of you have too.

When my husband and I were first married {and well beyond that first year}, I expected him to save me from all of my insecurities.  I wanted him to ride in on his white horse and save my damaged heart.  I believed the fairy tales and the chick flics...a man would make everything perfect.  I banked on the lie that my man was supposed to create in me a new heart.  I thought he should take my yucky feelings and replace them with securities of beauty and adoration.

As you can imagine {or know from experience}, expecting someone to save you never works out.  God did not create us to clean out people's hearts and make them new.  Yes, we are suppose to carry one another's burdens but we cannot save someone from their insecurities.  No amount of reassurance from a human will provide us with the peace and joy God intends for us to have.

The flip side of the coin is that expecting someone to be a savior puts a lot of pressure on the person.  No one will ever be able to live up to that job description.  It creates tension and unrealistic expectations.

The truth is, my heart {and yours} can only be made whole and clean by our one true Savior.  He doesn't feel pressured or backed into a corner when we call on Him to assure us of His love.  In fact, He thrills when we do ask. 

Once I realized I was expecting the wrong man to save me, my heart began to mend.  Jesus took my nasty, wilted heart and mended and puffed it back up to it's intended size.  He whispered His love to me as I prayed to Him.  He sang to me as I read Scripture and listened to praise music.

 I learned that my husband had many roles, but savior was not one of them.  As I let go of my expectations for my husband, I began to feel so beautiful to him.  I set him free from my unrealistic ideas and we were able to truly be married and love each other as God intends.  Honestly, I have never felt more loved, cherished and desired. 

Not only did I expect my husband to be my savior, but I expected to be our son's savior.  When our oldest was a baby, he was diagnosed with a genetic heart problem.  At six months old he was in congestive heart failure and had to have surgery.  I was terrified to leave him.  I was certain that if I did, he would die.  I would have panic attacks whenever I was away from him.  Let me was pure torture.

When he was four, he required another surgery.  The pain of not being able to protect him was heart wrenching.  I felt as though I had let him down.  As a mama, I was supposed to protect my precious child.  What had I done wrong? 

Honestly, it took me years to realize that I was not in control.  I had to open my grasp on the love for my child and hand him over to God.  On my knees with tears streaming down my face, I confessed that my sweet child was God's.  God allows me to raise him up to honor Him, but he is ultimately God's.

That was a difficult, yet extremely freeing process.  Trusting God with His child has opened my heart to love even more.  I was trying to be my son's savior and it was painful.  As I realized that only Jesus can save Him and truly protect him, my heart became free of the weights I had placed on them.

Friends, there is only one Savior and His beautiful name is Jesus.  Truly trusting Him and relying on Him brings more peace than words can describe.

Are you relying on someone to save you from pain?

Are being asked to be someone's savior?

Are you trying with all of your might to wear the hat of savior?

Release the expectations and demands to God.  Allow Him to do what He is so good at - allow Him to save you and those around you.  Give Him the opportunity to heal hearts and restore rightness with Him.  There is only one way to do this and it is by developing a relationship with Him.  Daily prayer time allows you to bear your heart to Jesus and it opens your heart to hear His love, guidance, and assurance.  I can promise you that nothing has impacted my life more than daily prayer. Being alone with your Savior buffs off wounds and turns ashes into beauty.

I am always here to encourage you along and offer support on your journey.  If I can pray for you or you just need a listening ear, don't hesitate to email me.  God puts us in each other's paths for reasons of love, encouragement, and fellowship.

My heart is full for you-

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Gifts of the Father

Every single one of us has been given gifts by God.!

My gifts are great empathy, compassion, the ability to feel very deeply, and the ability to run our home smoothly. 

I used to be embarrassed by my gifts.  This was before I actually knew they were gifts from God.  I thought I was just overly sensitive and some crazy girl who couldn't get a handle on her emotions.  I actually used to get made fun of for them.  Looking back on that, it kind of irks me.  That's a whole other blog post for another day! :) 

As humans, we tend to compare ourselves to others and think that the grass is always greener in someone else's pasture.  We do this with our gifts.  We look at those who are beyond crafty, those who are talented with singing, those who are organized to the wazoo, those who are math nerds (umm, I mean geniuses!), those who are gifted teachers, those who are great caregivers, etc. and wish we had what they have.  Sadly, we beat ourselves up over it.

I think that is the nasty devil trying to get us to focus on what we aren't instead of who we are.  If he can get us to want what other's have, then we won't use our gifts to honor God and His Kingdom.  That makes him happy.  Remember friends, we NEVER want him to be happy.

Our gifts are those things that come naturally to us.  They are the things that bring us joy and give us a full heart. 

It took me a LONG time to realize what my gifts are.  I was involved in a Bible study and would email various ladies letting them know I was praying for them.  I opened my heart and showed great empathy for those hurting and desired to help in some way.  A beautiful young lady (she was 80) who has a great heart for Jesus pulled me aside and told me these were great gifts from Jesus.  She encouraged me and counseled me on using them for God's Kingdom.  She assured me that they were great blessings and not to let anyone squash them.  I am forever grateful to her for loving me enough to talk with me about my gifts.

Since then, I have embraced my gifts and am no longer ashamed of them or embarrassed to share them.  I get great joy out of the gifts that my sweet Jesus covered me in.

Do you know what your gifts are?  If not, take time to recognize what brings your heart joy and fulfillment.  Journal about what brings you great peace and satisfaction.  What stirs your heart so greatly that you can barely contain it?  Pray for clarity and encouragement in sharing them with those around you.  Your gifts are unique to you.  May you embrace them and share them with great love for Jesus and those around you.  

James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father -

Love to all of you and may your gifts shine like the beauties you all are!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Calming your Mind

Our minds are crazy powerful.  We can talk ourselves in to and out of most anything just by thinking - and overthinking.  We can cause aches and pains within our bodies just by believing they are there.  We can become the best conspiracy theorists that the FBI seeks us out for classified information!  Not really, but we aren't far off when we allow our minds to stay stuck on a destructive thought and tear into it layer by layer.
I am the worst - or the best - at working myself up over a destructive thought.  If I am not careful, I can turn a thought, a fear really, into the truest reality.  Sometimes before I realize it, I am working out a solution or finding an area to run to in order to fix or escape my faux reality.
I struggled with this for a great while and still, at times, find myself allowing my mind to take charge.  I'm betting you can relate.  If we are honest people, we can admit that we all struggle from time to time with worry, doubt, fears, and plain ol' negative thinking.
I used to be ashamed and embarrassed that my mind traveled down long, dark paths that led nowhere but despair.  I did not discuss it with anyone because I was certain I was the only one who succumbed to such crazy making.
As I became older, I began to talk about my dark journeys and research ways to combat the annoying and destructive thoughts.  I soon realized I was not alone and, in fact, many people are plagued with crazy making thinking.
I am far from perfect and still, from time to time, struggle.  However, I have come a long way and have discovered ways to help myself and others.
  • Be mindful of what you are focused on.  Recognize what you are thinking about.  YOU are in control of what you allow your mind to linger on.
  • When a negative, fearful, or worried thought has taken up residency in your sweet head, tell yourself no.  A dear friend of mine told me she doesn't worry until it is time to worry.  Meaning, she doesn't allow herself to conjure up thoughts and focus on them when they aren't even realities.
  • Replace the destructive thought with a truth.  Turn your focus towards something you know to be true.  This takes effort and will require you to be proactive.  Don't allow yourself to become discouraged when you feel like this is all you do.  Anything and everything worthwhile takes time and effort.  One step forward is just that - one step forward.  Just because we aren't Olympic sprinters doesn't mean we aren't seeing success.  [tweetthis]Success comes in the little daily actions, not the big over the top achievements. Stay encouraged and keep on keeping on.[/tweetthis]
  • Find things that bring you joy and allow yourself to engage in them on a daily basis.  Do you thrill at the thought of reading a book?  Going on a run?  Relaxing with a glass of wine?  Laughing at internet jokes? Do what thrills your heart often.
  • Exercise is wonderful for pushing out the ugly and escorting in the beautiful.  When we exercise, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good.  Even if you don't feel like it, do it anyway.  Once you have completed your allotted exercise time, you will feel better and you will have a success under your belt.  Do what exercises you enjoy doing.  Remember, it is not a compare and keep up event.  Just because Sally Jo enjoys something, doesn't mean you have to.
  • Meditate.  There are many forms and ways to meditate.  Again, do what works best for you.  I find that my favorite way to meditate is to listen to quiet classical music and take slow, deep breaths.  I focus on my breathing only.  When a thought comes into my mind, I push it aside and return my thoughts to my breaths.
  • Find something or someone that makes you laugh.  Laughter relaxes our bodies and releases chemicals that make us feel good.
  • Find breathing exercises that work for you.  This is different than meditation.  For meditation, you want to be alone in a very quiet place.  You can do breathing exercises anywhere.  If I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I will take 7 long and deep breaths.  Another great breathing exercise is the 4-7-8 by Dr. Weil.  It will relax you instantly!  You can find it by clicking here.
  • Talk to someone you trust and will understand and offer support.  Many times, talking helps our minds release our fears and we feel better.
Overcoming our thoughts takes time and effort, but the results are definitely worth it.  This is not something that you combat and then never have to battle again.  In truth, we all will fight off hindering thoughts from time to time.  Recognizing destructive thoughts and having the tools to overpower them is the key to winning against them.  We have all heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect".  We will never be perfect, but practicing mind control and taking charge of your thoughts will make for a more perfect life.
If you would like to set up a FREE session, reply in the comments or send me an email.  I would love to help you overcome your thoughts and empower you towards a healthier you.
With love-

Thursday, February 12, 2015

You are Part of God's Dream

God has big dreams for His children. 

He dreams that we would all live in love. {John 13:34-35}

He dreams that we would live as one body in Christ. {1 Corinthians 12:20}

He dreams of a land filled with great fruits. {Galatians 5:22-23}

He dreams of His children living for eternity with Him. {John 17:3}

What dreams has God planted in your heart?
God gives us dreams, too.  When we were children, we dreamed big dreams.  As we got older, we squashed our dreams for so called reality.  We try and think practical.  We place restrictions on our dreams for fear of failure and rejection.
But what if the reality is that God desires for your dreams to come true?  Ever wonder where your true dreams came from?
We are God's helpers in making His dreams come true.

God purposely uses you and me to help His dreams become realities.  He certainly doesn't have to.  He is mighty enough to accomplish things all by Himself.  However, He loves us so much and wants us to be a part of His dreams coming true.

What if the dreams He placed in your heart are avenues to help His dreams come true? 

What dreams have you let die?  If you could do anything right now, what would it be?

Ask God to lead you in turning dreams in to realities.  Remember....

God can do more than you can even imagine!
{Ephesians 3:20}
Catch those dreams, my friends!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Beauty in brokenness

{This beautiful canvas was created by my friend, Angela.}

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend.  I am shaken, but I know Jesus is good all of the time and my friend is free of all worry and pain.  She is with her Savior in full peace.

I am honored that I am able to refer to her as my friend.  She lived her life in a way that honored and glorified God.  She was not ashamed of the gospel! 

Angela survived two heart transplants and cancer in between the transplants.  Her story was not one of valleys, but rather mountains.  She looked to God and His faithfulness.  She recognized that she was blessed and kept by her Creator.  Yes, she endured much yet this is not what defined her.  Her definition was that she was God's daughter and His love. 

As I sat and listened to a man sing Chris Tomlin's song "I Will Rise", I happened to look over at Angela's mama.  She had her hand up praising Jesus.  My heart broke and it was convicted at the same time.  This woman's baby girl no longer walks this earth.  She will not be able to embrace her or touch her beautiful body until she goes to be with her Creator.  Yet, she was giving God glory and praising Him.  What beauty in such brokenness.

As I watched this, I questioned my faithfulness to my Lord.  How often do I grumble rather than praise?  How often do I forget to look to God because I am wallowing in self pity?  My heart has a lot of work to do.  However, I am confident that God doesn't give up on His babies.  He loves us just the way we are.  He loves us even when we are a turtle and inching our way towards His safety and protection.

I want to be more purposeful with each day.  I want to see God's beauty in the mundane of life.  I want to honor Him more with my words, thoughts, and actions.  I want my desire to praise Him to come through in all areas of my life.  This is how my friend lived each minute.  God was always at the beginning and end of her thoughts and actions. 

I thank God for allowing my heart to know Angela.  She is the definition of a woman after God's heart.  Her husband said something during the service that summed up his beautiful wife.  He said, "Looking at Angela was like looking at Scripture."

May our lives look like God's word in each and every moment He gives us breathe to walk His earth.