Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How To Bring the Magic of Christmas into Your Home and Heart



Cue the Christmas music.  It's officially (in my home anyway) the Christmas season. I love the Christmas season for so many reasons.

I love...
  • Family and friends gathering together
  • Christmas movies
  • Christmas music
  • Flavored coffees
  • Hot chocolate
  • Shopping for gifts
  • Decorating
  • Making Christmas cookies and goodies
  • Strangers sharing kindness with one another
I decided a few years ago that I was no longer waiting until after Thanksgiving to start bringing the wonderful Christmas feel into our home.  There is something magical about the season that makes our home feel so much more comfy and cozy.  

In order to put the sparkle of Christmas into our home I -
  • Light candles that have a holiday smell
  • Prepare comfort foods like soups (with a healthy flair, of course!)
  • Turn on Christmas movies (thank you very much Hallmark Channel!)
  • Begin adding Christmas decorations to our home
  • Have my kids start making their wish lists
  • Bake pumpkin bread
  • Play Christmas music
I know that this season is hard for some people.  I can totally relate because I really struggled for a few years with feelings of depression during the holidays.  The holidays left me feeling lonely and, honestly, like something was wrong with me.  My heart goes out to anyone who feels this way.  It is a terrible guilt that we often leave bottled up inside.

We all have our reasons for the sadness the holidays can bring on.  Mine had to do with my biological father.  You see, we never had a relationship.  When he died, I was left feeling so sad and empty.  I had always dreamt of him telling me he loved me and he was proud of me.  His death was a death for my dreams too.  The holiday season exasperated my pain and caused me to grieve for a relationship that never would be.  Christmastime is a time for families, for love, and for children to feel the magic of it all.  I guess the little girl in me broke when I realized that I would never hear "I love you" or "I'm so proud of you".

After a few years of struggling, I made a conscience decision to be purposeful in my thoughts.  I decided that I was no longer going to let something I could not control wreak havoc on my time with my children and family.  While it still hurt, I didn't want the holiday season to be tainted by my broken heart.  If my heart was going to be repaired and I was going to enjoy the season, I had to let go and trust God to lead me in love.  I had to take every thought captive and turn it into praise for Jesus and all that He does for me.  I decided that I could wallow in my sadness or recognize all the blessings God places around me.  I began keeping a blessings journal and I was amazed at what all I began to notice!  Trust me when I say that a blessings journal is a sure fire way to see the love God has for us.

To overcome the holiday blues I did a variety of things.
  • I kept a blessings journal - I wrote down everything I noticed throughout the day - no matter how small.
  • I turned on Christmas music and sang loudly.  I wanted to put the song into my heart!
  • I found others to bless.  It's funny how blessing others blesses us a million times more.
  • I made Christmas cookies and handed them out to anyone who would take them.
  • I spent time with others I knew were struggling.  I wanted to show them God's love and let them know that they weren't alone.  I aloud them to be authentic, cry, and release what was on their hearts.
  • I was purposeful about finding joy in shopping for gifts.  I didn't let it become a have to.
  • I rewarded myself often with a trip to a coffee shop.
I don't claim to know the depths of people's hurting hearts, but I do know that sharing love and kindness always helps - if even for a short time.  Let's be open and purposeful about showing love to those around us this holiday season.  A loving, kind, and listening heart is so much better than a store bought gift.  If you know of someone who is hurting, make time to love on them and let them know that they matter.  

Wishing you a season full of love-
Marci

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Living Beyond our Pasts and into the Futrure



Do you have a closet of skeletal bones that if the door was opened, you would be horrified?  Do you have past sins that pain you when you think upon them?

Yeah, me too.  My heart aches at some of my past choices and sins.  Sometimes I think upon them with such shame and wonder what in the world was I thinking!?

Actually, I know exactly what I was thinking when I was buried in the sins that cause me great shame.  I was a broken mess searching for clarity, worth, and anyone to save me.  I looked for anyone and anything to validate me and tell me that I mattered.

Any chance you can relate?

If I think about it hard enough, I can still feel the terrible gnawing at my heart.  The quiet, but powerful begging for someone to love me.  Gracious, there are times I just want to give that old girl a hug.

I am proof - as you may be too - that ugly messes can turn into beautiful and mighty workers for Christ.

There are still times, however, that the stupid devil tries to get me to feel the bitterness of shame and regret.  The pest screams at me when I'm feeling down that I will never matter because of my past.  He likes to tell me that if my biological father didn't love me, no one else really does or will either.

He's a liar.  In fact, he's the father of lies.  He has no truth in him.  You and I should NEVER believe him.

If  I feel the heavy heat of shame try and overtake my heart, I have to remind myself that Jesus' ways are not my ways.  His thinking is not mine.  He isn't seated on His beautiful throne reliving my disgusting sins.  He is not reliving yours either.  He is filling His heart each moment with love for us. He is looking upon our obedience and desire to live for Him and saying, "That's my girl!  I have faith in you, sweet child."

You may be reading this and thinking, "How on earth can you be so sure?  You have no idea of the sins I have in my locked up closet."

I know because Jesus tells us it's so.  Allow me to show you-

{If you have a Bible available, read the entire account in Luke 7:36-50.}

Luke 7:36-50 tells us that Jesus was at the home of a Pharisee dining when a woman who was labeled a sinner came in and wept at His feet.  She cleansed Jesus' feet with her painful tears and rubbed her very expensive fragrant oil on them.  The Pharisee was outwardly horrified and disgusted.  He asked Jesus if He knew what kind of woman was touching Him and how on earth He could allow it.

The town had labeled the woman a sinner.  You can be certain they had names for her and liked to make themselves feel superior by condemning her.  We are all sinners so I am led to believe that she had a very open sin that the town knew about.  The Scriptures do not detail her sin but if my guess is correct, I would say she was a prostitute.  I would bet she had a harried past and felt great shame and embarrassment.  I would also bet that many in the town treated her like yesterday's trash and looked down upon her.

Jesus sternly tells the Pharisee that those who are forgiven much, love much.  Jesus also assures the woman that she is forgiven. 

Read Jesus' words and allow them to penetrate to your core.  If needed, write them on an index card and keep it with you to read often until you know without a doubt that those sweet words are spoken directly to you and about you.

Luke 7:50
And He said to (insert your name),  "Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace."

He does not shame her or validate the Pharisee.  He actually calls the Pharisee out for being...well a Pharisee.  

In Luke 7:44-47, Jesus basically calls the Pharisee out for being so condescending, rude, and pious.  I love it!

Jesus isn't about to let people condemn His loves and get away with it.  He stands for us every single time.

Let me show you a few verses that prove my statement above.

Luke 6:37-38
Do not judge and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure - pressed down, shaken together, and running over - will be poured into your lap.  For the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  

John8:7
When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her."

James 4:11-12
Don't criticize one another brothers.  He who criticizes and brother or judges his brother criticizes the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor?

See what I mean - Jesus doesn't take judging and condemning lightly.  When you experience them, know that Jesus sees and doesn't like it.  Nobody messes with His girls!

The best part of this story is told to us from the account in Matthew 26:13-

I assure you:  Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.

Jesus assures us that our faith will be remembered, not our sins.  Our legacies will be based on our faith and devotion to Christ, not on our harried pasts that make our hearts heavy at times.

Isn't that an awesome balm for our hearts?!  I don't know about you, but that is beautiful music to my heart!  He takes our uglies and turns them into our beauties.  He takes our past (our testimonies) and uses them to show the glory of His love and Kingdom. 

Now that is some amazing mercy and grace!  Let's all shout amen and hallelujah!

While many of us wish we could erase our past sins, they are actually what have caused our hearts to be so devoted to our Savior.  Because we have been forgiven much, we love Him so very much.  He cleaned up our messes and threw His loving arms around us.  He welcomes us into His great Kingdom with open arms and a love that spins our heads with great devotion.

Be encouraged, sweet friends.  You are loved with a great fierceness by your King.

Loving you all will an overflowing heart of adoration-
Marci

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Purity of Jesus' Love



Jesus led me to the book of Song of Solomon recently and I am head over heels in love with it and it's writer.  To be honest, I never really dove into this book because I didn't see Jesus in it.  I wrongly believed it was a book about the love of a husband and wife.  Yes, it definitely is but it is so much more.

Song of Solomon encompasses many truths and themes.  All of them are deep and lavished with God's crazy, unfailing love for us.  In this post, we will focus on the theme of purity.  Before you rush to close this site, allow me the chance to show you that our past has nothing to do with our purity.  Jesus is not about guilt and shame nor am I.  We will cover guilt and shame in this post and I will hopefully prove to you that you need not feel either.

I am so grateful for the love and mercy Jesus has shown me in spite of, and in the midst of, my awful messes.  He took this girl full of shame and sin and gently wiped me clean and put a crown of beauty on my head. 

If you think your past defines you, I can 100% guarantee it doesn't.  If you are knee deep in sexual sin at this very moment, I promise you Jesus is waiting with an open heart to wash you clean.  He sees a beauty when He looks at you.  Don't let the lies in your head convince you any differently.

Now let's dive in and learn about the purity of Jesus' love.  May you be blessed and find freedom.

The beauty of Song of Solomon is that it frees our hearts and allows us to be shameless and wildly passionate in our pursuit of the love Jesus has for us.  Too many people believe that being a Christian means that life will be a bore.  Sadly, they subscribe to the notion that Jesus girls are prim, proper, lacking laughter, and in bed by 8pm!  Thankfully, that is just not true.  Women on fire for Jesus laugh often, love big, feel passion, wear bright colors, and stay up late.

Having a relationship with Jesus leads to untamed love.  Untamed love leads to the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10.  Girlfriend, get ready to fall crazy in love as you learn that Jesus is beyond crazy in love with you.  He is ravished by you!

The word purity is synonymous with freedom and freedom in synonymous with joy.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines the word pure as unmoved with any other matter...free from dust, dirt, or taint...free from harshness...free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes.

1 John 1:7,9 reads...
But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from ALL sin.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  

In order to be cleansed from sin, we must confess our sins to Jesus.

Confession is more than saying the sin we committed.  It involves being sorrowful for it.  Sorrowful is not the same as shamed.  Hear me when I say that please.  To be sorrowful is to be sorry and desiring to turn away from the sin. 

Shame is from the devil.  Sorrowful confession is a gift from Jesus.  They are complete opposites.  If you feel ugly, broken, and condemned, I can assure you that is not from sweet Jesus.  Tattle to Jesus about what the devil is telling you and then watch Him take action for His baby girl!

As we confess our sins, we must trust that we are being cleansed and purified.  Look back at the definition for pure.  It states that to be pure is to be free from what weakens and pollutes us.  Sin does both, but Jesus takes His love rag and shines us back to a beautiful woman of purity.  He does this because he adores us.  He knows what sin causes and He doesn't want us to suffer.  He already did that for us.  There is no need to repeat the torture.

Read Isaiah 1:18.  Jesus is speaking this to you and over you.
Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.

JUST LIKE THAT - JESUS PURIFIES US AND WE ARE AS WHITE AS SNOW.

Now let's talk about the guilt and shame the word purity can conjure up in many of us.  I have no doubt that many women reading this do not feel pure.  You may feel trapped by past or present sexual sin.  You may have suffered sexual abuse and have never felt pure. 

Sexual sins and abuse can leave us feeling tainted and used.  Our eyes may flow with tears at the desperate desire to feel purity, but as much as we try we just feel dirty, shamed and rotten.  I write this with an understanding and loving heart.  You see, I have been in the pit of sexual sin.  I know what shame wears like.  It is a heavy burden that leaves us feeling weak and torn down.  I never thought I would feel pure.

But God...

God rescued me from my sins and shame.  If He can cleanse me and create life in me, I have no doubt He will do it for you too.  In fact, I am beyond convinced He will.  He wants nothing more than for you to feel and know His love and redemption.  He longs to make you as white as snow.

Let's look at Matthew 26:26-28...
As they were eating, Jesus took bread. blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take and eat it; this is My body."  Then He took  a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, "Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood that establishes a new covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins."

This Scripture passage is the Last Supper.  The beautiful first communion is with Jesus, by Jesus, for Jesus, and for all of us.

Jesus knew he would soon be the sacrificial lamb.  He lovingly and willingly went to the cross for each one of us.  He was aware of the suffering and pain He would endure.  Yet, He did it anyway.  That, my friend, is what pure love looks like.

I write this with the deepest love and compassion for all of you.  He did not go to the cross so we could wallow in our guilt and shame.  He did it out of pure love.  His pure love leads to our purity.  Period.

Notice that in verse 28 Jesus clearly stated that He was pouring out His blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Let that sink into your sweet heart.  Jesus knows and loves you with a deep and passionate heart.  Won't you allow Him to cleanse and purify you?  He's waiting with open arms.

Psalm 43:4
Then I will come to the alter of God, to God, my greatest joy.  I will praise you with the lyre, God is my God.

As I write this, the song "How Can it Be" by Lauren Daigle sings to me.  Oh pure one, go listen to it and let the words invade your heart.  Raise your hands in the air and ignore the cleansing tears that roll down your beautiful face.  You, sweet child of God, are forgiven and pure.

Before we conclude, allow me to show you the biblical definition of purity.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for purity is 'niqqayon'.  It is an emptying out or being clean.  Biblestudytools.com states the following and it is profound.

"Purity is opposed to being guilty."  Let that penetrate your brain and find its way to your heart.  God purifies you when you confess.  Once you are washed clean, there is NO guilt.  God does not call you guilty.  He calls you pure.  The two cannot exist together. 

If you struggle with guilt, take it to God.  confess your heart and trust Him to remove the guilt. 

Rest in His purification.

I pray that your heart is full with the knowledge of your purity.  No matter what you have done or gone through, you are clean and pure.  The love and promises from Song of Solomon were penned with you in mind.  Remember, Jesus is ravished by your purity and beauty.  You, dear one, are passionately loved by your King.

Loving you with a full heart-
Marci


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} Intimacy with Jesus



Our WSS is a bit different this week.  I believe to truly tuck Scripture within our hearts, we must be able to apply it and understand it.  We could just memorize the words, but I feel we get so much more from God's word when we truly know and understand what it means in our lives.  

Our memory verse and study this week is - 

1 John 2:3
This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him:  by keeping His commands.

As you dig deeper into this verse, you will learn how to develop and cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus.  You will see that intimacy with Jesus brings freedom, joy, and pure love for Him and His children.  

There truly is nothing as beautiful as sharing an intimate relationship with our King.  You will feel loved and beautiful.  You will know you are heard and have worth.

Oh, how my heart sings with joy and excitement knowing that you will go deeper with your Love this week and beyond!

Another thing I have added is the memory verse you can cut out and keep with you.  I have written the verse 4 times in larger font so that you can place it throughout your home.  Be sure and keep one in your purse so you will always have the verse with you when you are away from home.


As you grow more intimate with Jesus, you will feel His presence and hear His precious voice more and more.  Oh what joy you are about to encounter!

Loving you all-
Marci

Thursday, October 12, 2017

5 Ways to Avoid the Trap of Comparison


Comparison is an ugly game.  It creates feelings of superiority or failure.  Either are detrimental to our spiritual and mental health.  Comparison is the devil's game and his intention is to pull our focus off of God and onto ourselves. 

God created us in His image and with a purpose in mind.  He did not mess up on the day He created us. He knew perfectly well who we were to be.  And I can promise you this - we weren't meant to be like anyone else.   His ways are vast and way beyond our human thinking.  We are wonderfully made and He desires for us to know this well (Psalm 139:14).  

So with that in mind {and hopefully our hearts}, let's learn some sure fire ways to avoid falling for the enemy's ridiculous game.  He will rue the day he tried to tempt us to compare ourselves rather than celebrate who we are in Christ!

1.  Begin each morning with Jesus.
Each morning provides us a day to do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God.  We may never know how we are impacting others, but God surely does!  In order to be the good and faithful servant we desire to be, we must set our hearts and minds on Jesus.  When we do, we will be less likely to compare ourselves to others because we are filled with His love and mindset.  Beginning our days with Jesus not only prepares our mind and heart to combat comparison, but it shows the devil that you are not going to play is idiotic game.

Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark out, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place.  And He was praying there.

Jesus knew the importance of beginning His day with prayer.  Talking to His Father prepared Him for the day ahead.  If Jesus did it, then we surely should too!

2.  Keep a small spiral notebook with Scriptures that speak to your heart about God's love, your worth, and your purpose.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God's word is alive and active, sharper than any double edge sword.  Have you ever pictured that image in your sweet head?  A double edged sword is pretty powerful!  No matter what direction an enemy came at you, you would have protection and fight.  That is what God's word is.  It is powerful at fighting off the enemy and protecting us from his nasty schemes.  When we pack God's word into our hearts, we have power.  We are called to use His word to fight.  Fighting is not a passive event.  It requires strength, determination, and power.  When the enemy tries to defeat us with comparison, we can fight back with God's alive and active word.  He calls us to use His word against that nasty little tyrant!  Read from your tiny little notebook throughout the day.  When you feel compelled to enter the comparison arena, you can call to mind God's words and fight off the nasty thoughts.  Rise above them and be a mighty princess warrior shielded and protected with the beautiful double edged sword given to you by your loving Father.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow.  It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.

3.  When you feel comparison creep up on you, take it to God immediately.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive to obey Christ.  This means we are to make sure our thoughts and mindsets line up with the word of God.  Comparing ourselves to others does not line up with God's word or plan for our lives.  We are created in a unique way; each possessing gifts and talents that promote God's Kingdom.  We must ask the Holy Spirit to alert our hearts when we are falling victim to comparison so that we can turn our eyes back to Jesus and remember who we are in Him.  Jesus is ready and waiting to help us when we call on Him.  Ask Him to help you see your worth, talents, and gifts.  Ask Him to allow you to see yourself as He does - cherished, loved, and amazing.

Isaiah 65:24
Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

4.  Recognize your gifts and talents and embrace them.
As stated above, each of us has a specific talent that God has given us to serve His Kingdom.  YOU were created to make a difference for God.  We each have been entrusted and gifted.  Unfortunately, our gifts go unused when we look to others' gifts and wish we had theirs.  That, my friend, is just what the enemy is banking on.  When our talents go unused, we are not serving God and His Kingdom.  The devil thinks he is pretty snazzy when he sees us doing this.  Let's show him that we are daughters of the One and Only King and embrace our talents.  The devil can't have our gifts!  Let's be proud of our gifts and talents and use them to bear so much fruit that the enemy is disgusted and walks away with his head hanging down!

James 1:16-17
Don't be deceived, my dearly loved brothers (and sisters).  Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above.

5.  Limit your time scrolling through social media.
We all do it.  We aimlessly scroll through social media.  We may do it because we are bored or because we are curious.  Either way, it can lead to a big nasty case of comparison.  Let's be honest, people are posting their best selves.  Everyone's families are perfect, so screams social media.  We aren't privy to authenticity when we are peeking into others lives through social media.  This is a sure fire way to fall into the comparison pit.  We must limit our time viewing other's lives.  We must keep in check that we aren't seeing reality and be aware when our hearts are being pulled in an ugly direction.  Too often, social media takes the place of God.  Just because someone is posting Scripture alongside their perfect life, doesn't mean reading their posts is worshipping the Lord.  True worship comes from heart to heart time with God.  

2 Corinthians 10:12
For we don't dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.

Comparison is an ugly thing.  It pull our focus from Jesus onto ourselves every stinking time.  I can guarantee that!  We must always be aware because our enemy lurks around like a lion waiting to devour God's children.  He knows if he can make us feel badly about ourselves, we will not work for the beautiful Kingdom of God.  We must keep our hearts and minds on the One who gifted us.  

You've got this!  Each and every time you feel the pull, use this list to get your heart back on the One who loves you like crazy.  You are a beautiful creation with so much to offer.  YOU were created to impact the Kingdom and make a difference.  Let that sink into your  precious heart.  

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

I love you all with the most tender heart-
Marci

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of Security in God's Love


Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!


This week, we are going to convince our souls of God's glorious truth.  There is nothing - nada - that can separate us from Jesus' love.  Period.  Nothing you have done or will do can cause Him  not to love you.

If you have traveled many self inflicted valleys as I have, you may be thinking, "yeah, but....".  The terrible, no good, very bad devil loves to convince us that we are unworthy and shamed.  He would love nothing more than to convince you that there is no way in - well, the devil's stomping ground - that God could possibly love you.  You are broken, dirty, and used up.  It would be impossible for God to love you, let alone use you for His glory.

The devil is a rotten and stinky liar.  He wants you to believe his hate filled lies so that you pull away from your Redeemer and live in pit after pit never trusting or living in freedom.  He is nothing but an awful and gross deceiver.  There is no truth in his words that he pokes you with on a sometimes daily basis.  

From here on out, we are speaking God's truth over our lives and into our hearts.  

Jesus loves us unconditionally, on purpose, without hesitation, in spite of, and forever and ever.

Be purposeful this week in memorizing this portion of Scripture.  Allow it to permeate the deepest parts of your heart.  Repeat it over and over until you cannot help but believe it.




You are loved in a mighty and powerful way.  Believe it, sweet friend, and go forward in truth and joy.

Marci

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Joys of Obedience



We often hear that obedience to God is our ticket to living in freedom and joy.  I raise my hands to the heavens because I could go for a strong dose of freedom and joy over certain areas of my life.  If you are breathing, I'm confidant that you, too, could use some life changing freedom as well.

As I sat in prayer this morning, I realized that maybe I don't even truly know what obedience looks like.  I have a confession to make - I have really struggled with a pit of fear and worry.  I have made the pit part of my life and now it just shows up and thinks I've invited it in.  In reality, I guess I have.  I have allowed my mind to think upon the worry and play it out in my head a million times a day.  Oh how I wish I were exaggerating....

I pray daily for God to release me from this mindset.  I even beg for freedom some days.  Can you relate?  You may not be struggling with fear, but do you feel held captive by something in your life?  Captivity can seep into our marrow so deeply until we decorate it and call it normal.  Anything that prohibits us from pure joy and freedom is called captivity.  The definition of captivity is "the state or period of being held, imprisoned, enslaved, or confined".  (Dictionary.com)

Jesus came to set the captives free and give us a life of abundance.  I realized that I am the hold out, not Him.  He longs to give us the desires of our hearts when they line up with His will.  I truly believe Him when he says:

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.  I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.  John 10:10

That thief is none other than our enemy.  He wants to steal anything good that Jesus offers us.  His lies convince us to search for freedom outside of Jesus.  Every time we buy into his lies, we find ourselves in captivity.  In order to be set free, we must whole heartedly be obedient to God.  Period.

But what is obedience?  How can we truly be obedient to Christ and live the abundant life He offers us?

Hollman's Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines obedience as to hear God's word and act accordingly.

Sounds good, right?  But how do we implement this into our lives?  For years, I have heard that I needed to be obedient to Christ, but I don't think I ever sat and really examined what obedience looks like.  I assumed that if I was living as God instructed, I was being obedient.  After researching the definition and passages in the Bible, I believe it goes way deeper.

After dissecting the definition of obedience, I came up with 3 ways that we can become obedient children of God.

1.  Prayer

We must pray daily and consistently.  To pray, is to have conversation with God.  Just as we talk with loved ones, talk with Jesus.  It is not meant to be fancy.  In fact, He doesn't call for us to be theologians and use elaborate terms.  Jesus longs to hear from us right as we are.  Simply, prayer is just talking openly and honestly with God.  Nothing you say will shock Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray constantly

I believe that praying constantly means having our hearts set on Jesus.  He does not expect us to neglect our duties, our loves, and ourselves.  Having a mindset for Christ is essentially praying because we are doing everything for Him and through Him.  For example, when you prepare a meal for your family, you do it because you love them and want to offer nourishment in a delicious way.  Loving your family through cooking for them is having a heart for Jesus because He gave you your family and expects you to take care of them.  When you do so with a loving and kind heart, you are in the mindset of Christ.

As we pray (stay in the mindset of Jesus), we must recognize the ways He speaks to us.  He desires a relationship with us.  A relationship by definition is between two people.  Jesus speaks to us in so many ways.  Unfortunately, all too often we don't hear because we never slow our minds down enough to hear Him or recognize Him.  Jesus speaks to us through His written word, through others, through song, through that still small voice we hear - just to name a few.

Prayer is obedience to God because it causes us to think upon Him and His ways.  It creates a relationship and allows His love to richly flow into our lives.  When we seek Him and invite Him into our lives through prayer, He always shows up.

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.

2.  Trust Jesus in all things

Trust is giving our whole hearts to Jesus, no matter what.  Trust means relinquishing the idea of control and fully opening our hands and giving Him everything we are holding on to.  This can be a tough one because we are under the falsehood that we are best at orchestrating our lives.  Letting go of our need to be in control can be very scary.  What if we hand the reigns over and then life doesn't go the way we planned?  I have discovered in the areas of my life that I totally trust Jesus, I have perfect peace.  Believe me, those areas were far from peaceful before I decided to trust Him and allow Him to lead me.  I am in awe and amazed at the beautiful blessings He has given me because of my decision to let go and trust.

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my hearts TRUSTS in Him and I am helped.

Isaiah 40:31
Those who TRUST in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

Can I get an amen!?!  I love the Lord's promises.  I think we could all use some soaring on wings like eagles.  

3.  Surrender our lives to Jesus

To surrender means to give up control.  When we surrender to God, we set aside our plans and eagerly seek His.  We look to His ways and desires and align our thoughts, actions, and beliefs with Him.  We live to serve Him and know Him.  As we go about our days, we can't help but share His love with those we encounter.  We pray for discernment and hearts that will recognize our sinful ways.  When we completely surrender to Christ, our hearts will be filled with the joy of the Lord and we will find great strength through Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Surrendering takes effort and daily action.  Just saying we surrender will not do.  We must be proactive and mindful every single day.  Philippians 4:4-9 is a wonderful instruction manual for surrender.  We will be wise to write it on our hearts and walk in it daily.

Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your graciousness be know to everyone.  The Lord is near.  Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Growing in our obedience will take time.  Beautiful flowers do not overtake gardens over night.  They grow slowly and gracefully and before we know it, their radiance shines so brightly that we can't help but be attracted to them.  God sees our desires and efforts to be obedient children of His.  He knows our deepest hearts and longs to help us along our journey.  All we have to do is ask for His guidance, strength, and wisdom.  It may be difficult to become completely obedient, but I know it will be so worth it.  Nothing feels as good as freedom and joy in Christ.  

Won't you join me on my obedience journey?  Oh the joys that await us....

Loving each and every one of you beauties-

Marci

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of the Lord's Strength




Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  Therefore, my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with song.

Ever feel like you are the last person standing on a dodgeball team against a team loaded with brutes?  Does it feel like the hits just keep coming and your strength is depleted?  You may not feel like this today or tomorrow, but you for sure have and will again.  

In those days, and everyday really, we need the strength of God to carry us.  We need a strong brute to surround us and fight off all the pesky dodgeballs flying our way.  Left to our own, we want to run and hide under the bleachers and hope that no one hears our gasping for breath and the sniffles that accompany the tears rolling down our sweet faces.  We need a hero to rush in and save us - to fight for us and help us wipe off our tears and battered clothes.

Your hero, and mine, is waiting for us to place our full and complete trust in Him.  He sits on the sidelines never taking His eyes off of us.  He patiently and lovingly waits for our attention and devotion.  He waits for us to put down our arm with the dodgeball we are about to hurl through the air and trust in His love, His protection, and His strength.

When we rid our hearts of the idols we have been trusting and rest in Jesus, He strengthens us.  He allows us to do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13).  He doesn't just place some strength in us and walk away.  He helps us and shields us.  He surrounds us and dares the enemy closer so He can show him who you belong to - who has your back.  

Can you imagine all of the things and people the Lord has shielded you from when you are completely trusting in Him?  Yeah, me neither.  I'm certain the list is quite long.  I'd love to see it when I arrive in heaven.  You too?

The last portion of this verse illuminates what happens to our hearts and souls when we are filled with the Lord's strength - when we trust that we are protected by our Great Shield.  We can't help but rejoice with song.  I can recall many occasions when my heart was overwhelmed by the Lord's strength.  I knew without a doubt that it was not I who had strength, but the Lord.  Left on my own, I would have been a crying heap in a corner with a blanket over my body.  I bet you have fond memories of your songs of rejoice too.  With complete trust, we can sing those songs often and rejoice in the Lord's strength and protection.

Oh, how I pray for you as you study and memorize Psalm 28:7.  Jesus sees your heart and He is rejoicing over you, sweet one.


Loving you forward in Jesus,
Marci


Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Joys of a Prayer Journal

My prayer journal has become so dear to me.  As I sit with it each morning, I am aware of Jesus' presence and our ongoing relationship.  There is no better way to start my day!  As I write, my mind becomes centered on Him and my heart lines up with His ways, His love, and His will for me.  Another benefit is that my mind stays focused on my prayers rather than being distracted by incoming thoughts.  Prior to writing in my prayer journal, my mind was notorious for going in all different directions during my morning prayer time.

Before I sit with my journal, I make a delicious, piping hot matcha latte.  Once it's made, I snuggle into a quiet area and open my journal.  If the weather is nice, I like to sit on our back patio.  This is actually my favorite spot because I get to witness the rising sun and listen to the birds sing their good morning songs. 

I created my own prayer journal.  I have tried various others and they each possessed great things.  However, I was never in love with one so I decided to pick and choose what I liked about each and make my own.  



My journal is divided into 8 sections -
  • Memory verse
  • Praise
  • Thanksgiving
  • Confession
  • Personal prayers
  • Prayers for Others
  • Answered prayers
  • Dreams



To create my prayer journal, I gathered...
  • a 3 ring binder
  • dividers
  • notebook paper
  • washi tape for decorating the dividers


In the front pocket of the binder, I wrote:

Psalm 143:8

Let me experience your faithful love in the morning,
for I trust in You.
Reveal to me the way I should go
because I long for you.


Each section is based on a specific Scripture.  In doing this, it helps me focus on the why of each section and reminds me that Jesus cares deeply about every aspect of my life.  There is nothing that He doesn't want to hear about.  He wants us to openly pour our hearts out without any shame.  We might as well bear our souls - He knows anyway!  And - when we do, we always feel so much better.  Talking heals the soul - especially with Jesus!

1.  Memory verse

Psalm 119:11
I have treasured Your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against You.

In this section, I write a verse that I feel I need to focus on for the day.  I don't write in this section on a daily basis, but I always read through each verse.  As I do, I am able to see God's over the top love for me and often remember what a specific verse did for my day.


2.  Praise

Psalm 100:4
Enter His courts with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

I give God praise in this section and it is based on His word.  For example, I may write you lead me along the right paths and this is based on Psalm 23.  I write at least 5 praises, although, there are many days when I write a ton more than 5.  I love beginning this way because my heart always thrills when I see how God's words impact my life.  

3.  Thanksgiving

Psalm 107:8-9
Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love and His wonderful
works for all of humanity.
For He has satisfied the thirsty 
and filled the hungry with good things.

This is the section where I get to thank Jesus for all He does for me, my family, and beyond.  Often times, I forget ALL that He did the previous day. However, when I start writing I am thankful for so much and my soul pours out my pen on the paper.  

4.  Confession

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to 
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is a tricky section.  There are some confessions that are between me and God only and I wouldn't want wandering eyes to see them.  If that is the case, I write in very general terms or not at all.  I still confess, but it might not be put on paper.  For example, if I was disappointed in one of my children unnecessarily I wouldn't want that in ink.  I would hate for one of my loves to read it and feel badly.  On the other hand, I often have to confess my lack of trust in the Lord.  I don't have any qualms about pouring my heart out on paper with this confession.

5.  Personal prayers

Matthew 7:7
Keep asking and it will be given to you.
Keep searching, and you will find.  
Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you.

I pour my heart out to Jesus in this section.  I ask Him for all of the things that are on my heart. He already knows our hearts and what our needs and desires are, so to hold back would be plain silly.  We show our trust by asking Him for all things and then truly believing Him for them.  

6.  Prayers for others

1 Timothy 2:1-2
I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings
be made for everyone, for kings and all those
who are in authority so that we may lead a tranquil and 
quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

I am so grateful that God calls us to pray for others!  In this section, I pray for anyone and everyone on my heart.  I always pray for safety and protection for our family, as well as discernment for our children.  There are times that prayers for others are confidential.  When this is the case, I simply write their names.  

7.  Answered prayers

Isaiah 65:24
Even before they call, I will answer;  while they
are still speaking, I will hear.

This section is lovely because it allows me to see how God works in my life and answers my prayers.  I love writing this section because it shows my ever wondering heart that He hears me and loves me.  Looking back at answered prayers is so reassuring and calming!

8.  Dreams

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him who is able to do ABOVE and BEYOND
all that we ask or think according to the power
that works in us.

God wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  The amazing thing is that He goes above and beyond in blessing us with our desires.  No dream is too big for God.  Don't you think He thrills to show us His love and majesty through blessing us?  I sure do!  In this section, I list the dreams of my heart.  I get excited as I list them because I am giddy waiting to see how He will make it work out.  

I encourage you to create your own prayer journal.  It will bless you and cause you to look forward to your time with Jesus.  Make it your own.  Personalize it in any way you'd like.  I'd love for you to use my method.  It has blessed me so much that my cup overflows and my relationship with Jesus is so much stronger.  

Sending love to all of you beauties-

Marci




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weekly Scripture Study {WSS} The Joy of Rest



I love this week's Scripture study.  We are busy people who often overextend ourselves.  We don't do it on purpose, but we do it.  There are many causes for our over active days and calendars.
  • We have a lot going on. 
  • We can't say no. 
  • We feel lazy if we aren't booked solid.
  • We believe the societal lie that if we are resting, we are missing out.
  • We feel guilty for taking care of ourselves with rest time.
Notice the first portion of Psalm 23:2.  God LETS us lie down in green pastures.  He wants us to rest our sweet souls.  God calls us to the pastures - a place of solitude and quiet - and allows us to plop down, slow down, and relax.  I don't know about you, but that blesses my heart!  God does not expect what society expects.  He does not see us as lazy and unfruitful because we curl up in our peaceful pastures and recharge.  In fact, if we live by societal measures we will never find our pasture and we will be stuck in congested freeway traffic full of exhaust.  When in exhaust mode, our hearts and minds are not clear to receive the love and words of Christ.  Seek your pasture, loves of Christ, and bask in the beautiful brightness of His light.

Once we have reached our pastures and given ourselves to rest, God then leads us beside quiet waters.  He cannot lead us if we are not willing.  (Actually, He can do anything He wants.  But why would He lead us beside quiet waters if we aren't even aware of His presence and the peace and stillness?) 

Imagine all God has in store for you when you in rest mode.  He longs to bless you with peace and His presence.  Without rest, we won't fully grasp His presence and blessings.  Oh but with it, our hearts will overflow with joy and love.  He waits for you, won't you take His hand and walk beside Him and enjoy His wonderful presence and love?


I am so excited for you to tuck this verse deep within your soul.  As you study it this week and work to memorize it, recognize the busy areas of your life that you can eliminate and replace with heaven ordained rest.  May you walk beside quiet waters with your beautiful Jesus.

Love,
Marci

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-
Marci







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-
Marci

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 say...it 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-
Marci




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Gifts of the Father




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

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!

Marci



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Calming your Mind

bright_flowers_amp_beach_198913
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-
Marci