Deliver Me From (insert your word here)…

he has already delivered me from my shame. (1)

I struggle with shame. Just being honest here. We all have things from our life that we wish we could do over, right? (Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

It’s a late at night when I’m trying to sleep struggle. Or a dark and rainy day struggle. More recently, it’s a things are at a standstill in my life and I feel like I’ll never make it out of this waiting season kind of battle. It pops up in my mind more often than I’d like it to. It screams obscenities at me to remind me of how human I am. Some days it just won’t let up.

Why can’t I move past my shame? I ask God this question on a regular basis. This morning as I was in prayer, again pleading for relief, God directed me to the word DELIVER.

Deliver (verb)- to set free or liberate; emancipate, release, redeem, rescue

It occurred to me that I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. I’ve been praying for God to take the memories away, to give me relief or alleviate the pain, but I have not actually recognized a vital truth: He has already delivered me from my shame. I just haven’t taken hold of it. 

You see, I am not dealing with guilt from God’s pointing finger. He’s not mad at me. I’m forgiven and washed clean in the blood of Jesus. (Anyone else as thankful as I am about this?!) In case I ever forget that, I can go here for a reminder: 

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions,

for My own sake,

and remembers your sins no more.” – Isaiah 43:25

No, I am dealing with my own finger crookedly pointing back at me. I am mad at me. I haven’t forgiven myself for my mistakes so, though I AM CLEAN, I sure as heck don’t feel like it. 

Deliverance isn’t just one of those “christian-ese” words that t.v. preachers talk about. It is a very real and tangible truth that we have the opportunity to apply to our life. If only we will reach out and take it. I think, like myself, that many times we are so caught up in getting rid of the uncomfortable-ness of our past, the guilty feelings associated with certain people or places, that we neglect to look up and take hold of the freedom already available to us. 

God says He is our Deliverer. I think of the Israelites that God delivered from their bondage to slavery in Egypt. He radically rescued them from their enemy, yet they forgot this fact as they wandered in the desert. They romanticized their past bondage to the point where they wanted to go back to Egypt instead of enjoy the security of the Promised Land just within their grasp. They had a shame-based mindset that was content to stick with the humiliation that comes with enslaved living because they didn’t FEEL like they were free.

Shame does that. It sneakily creeps up into our thoughts and says,

“Hey, remember when we were best buds that used to get in all kinds of trouble fun together? Let’s do that again. Your present situation isn’t going to get any better anyways. Why not go back to the way things were?”

When we are in the wilderness and the promise of a better life feels so far away, we have a choice to make. We can look back at where we came from and decide that comfort and shame aren’t so bad. Atleast it’s familiar. Or we can look at how far we’ve come and decide that comfort feeds our shame and brings a restlessness for a life of regret. 

I have to choose. My impatient and insecure feelings are valid. But my feelings can’t tell me what to do. That’s how I got mixed up in this shame game in the first place! I have to call on my Deliverer to fill me with an awareness that even though I don’t feel free, I am. 

What about you? Is shame your struggle or is it fear, anxiety, lust, pride, etc… It doesn’t matter how big the struggle is, our God is bigger. Deliverance is available to us all. You just have to believe it! 

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Sing Sweet Nightingale

10 ways ToSurvive YourHigh SchoolReunion

I just finished my April book as I continue on with my reading goals for 2016! In case you haven’t seen my list of books for the year, “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah was April’s read. And what an all-consuming book it was! I seriously couldn’t put it down.

For those of you that know me well, you know that I am an avid reader of just about anything. But I haven’t read a historical novel in, like, ten years. So this mighty book was an undertaking for me. I love history, especially french history, and that is exactly what this book is about. I also love any book that highlights women as the heroine or protagonist. This remarkable book does that as well.

It follows Viann and her younger sister, Isabelle, through their individual stories of love and loss during World War II. Both of the women are tough but in starkly different ways. One is a tenderhearted mother and the other is an impulsive young adult. They navigate their struggles with dignity and grace while trying to include each other in their frayed lives. I felt such a pull on my heartstrings as I read what these women had to endure in order to keep their heads above water during this horrific time in history. This book will give you a life-altering perspective on what it really means to be in need (not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well).

To say that I was enormously affected by “The Nightingale” is an understatement. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a reality check on just how blessed they are. I also recommend this book to any woman who feels strongly, like I do, that our feminine voices need to be heard. Kristin Hannah does such an amazing job at portraying the softness of a woman’s feelings right alongside the hardness of her role as survivor in a cruel world. We can all learn a few things from this book! Go get yourself a copy today!

The Best Things in Life are Free?

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The best things in life are free

We’ve all heard it. Most of us accept this phrase as truth. I was one of those people.

But not anymore.

Free means that it doesn’t cost anything. And the best thing in my life is my salvation. Which cost my Savior everything.

People generally use this saying in reference to money. Like the popular thought that says, Can’t buy me love. 

Again, yes you can. In fact, God did buy our love when He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us.

“Christ bought us with His blood and made us free…” – Galatians 3:13

When we are tempted to forget just how high a price Jesus paid on our behalf, we lose sight of what love really means.

It’s not conditional. It isn’t always pretty. In fact, it’s usually messy.

Love costs EVERYTHING.

 

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Sunday Rest #9

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:8-11

photo credit: Nothing will ever be more beautiful than the love you have brought into my life. ❤ via photopin (license)

10 Ways to Find Your Unique Place in This World

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10 Ways to Find Your Unique Place in This World

  1. Take a class. Audit one at the local college just for fun. You might learn something new and surprise yourself by expanding your talents! Maybe you never got your degree and you know that you need to go back to school so you can do the job you love instead of the job that simply pays the bills. Go for it! (Take it from someone who is in the process of doing just that!)
  2. Answer this question: If I had a million dollars, what would I do with the money? The response just might open your eyes to a cause that you’re passionate about , a country that you feel connected to, or a people group that you care deeply for. It also will show you what you value in life.
  3. Volunteer at a local non profit, soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Maybe you would rather work with animals? I’m sure the local pet adoption agency needs people to help out also. Being around environments that causes us to give back inspires and motivates us to do something purposeful with our days. It might just spark a new idea for community change within you.
  4. Go to church. For real. 🙂 Church is where the body of Christ gathers for two reasons: to love God and to love people. Corporate fellowship is vital to our growth as a person and in church we learn more about what God has called us to do. Ministry opportunities abound in most churches. Don’t discount cleaning up the sanctuary after service or working in the parking lot. Every job is important in the Kingdom of God and faithfulness in the small things is what opens doors for the big things.
  5. Learn a new craft. Or if you are already naturally gifted in something, take lessons to get better. A teachable heart is so important to living in the fullness of your destiny. Even multi-million dollar leaders know the importance of learning and re-learning the principles that apply to their business. Do you like to sing? Dance? Play an instrument? Write? Playing sports? Cook? I guarantee you can find someone that is teaching what you are interested in. If you can’t afford lessons, then do what I did at one time: YOUTUBE! So many talented people post teaching videos on YouTube these days for free. Take advantage of this modern age we live in!
  6. Go on a trip to a place that is totally different from anything you have ever known. Why? Because it will open your eyes to a whole new world and change your perspective on life as you have always known it. When I visited the Philippines last year, I already knew that I wanted to do world missions one day. But when I went and saw the poverty firsthand, I was overwhelmed. My desire to be a missionary was no longer a far off concept, it was a concrete fact that I was going to fulfill because of what I saw. Travel changes you.
  7. Read a book or watch a movie on a topic that provokes you. I’ll give you two examples that changed the course of my life journey: the documentary called “Invisible Children“. This film completely wrecked me and it was so uncomfortable to watch. It confronts the harsh reality of child soldiers in the impoverished land of East and Central Africa. I was never the same after this movie and God used this film to ignite a huge love for Africa in my heart. The other example is a book called “Scars and Stilettos” by former sex worker, Harmony Dust. This book is the story of a girl who got caught in the sex industry due to a horrible past of sexual abuse at the hands of trusted people. She turned her life around when she found Jesus and started a ministry for ex sex workers and trafficking victims. I have never viewed the women in this industry with condemnation again- only love and a desire to help them get out.
  8. Do something on your bucket list. Maybe it’s skydiving or climbing Mount Everest. Maybe it’s to tell an old friend that you betrayed “I’m sorry.” It could be to audition for American Idol or interview for a totally outlandish job. Whatever it is, it will increase boldness within you to do things you never thought you could do. This will empower you to dream big and keep going after your goals.
  9. Keep a journal. Write down everything. Prayers, to do lists, long and short-term goals, things you’re thankful for, things you’re angry about, letters to your younger self, lists, lists, lists… I could go on and on. It’s SO important to write down everything because the first step in getting anything accomplished is making it official on paper.
  10. Lastly, be real with yourself. If you don’t have any desire to take the necessary steps to get you from where you are now to where you want to be, then you’re not going to be any farther along in your journey tomorrow then you are today. The ones who last are the ones who have the tenacity to keep going when things get tough. If you give up at the slightest hiccup in your plan, well, you’re gonna have a hard time getting your desired results. Be you, don’t apologize for it, but don’t let it hold you back either!
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He’s Got You on His Mind All the Time

 

 

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Wholehearted devotion.

These words define the love of my life, Jesus Christ. And you know what? I’m the love of His life too. So are you.

Do you know Him? Can you even wrap your mind around this kind of earth shaking love? I can’t and I’ve been following Him since I was 5.

It literally takes eternity to fully grasp His eternal love.

He loves us.  It doesn’t matter what you have done. Like my daughter, Grace, (aptly named nonetheless) said yesterday at lunch, “Jesus forgives all of us even if we make really bad mistakes.” He wants to embrace us all.

Jesus died for you to show you that you are loved beyond any shadow of a doubt. I can never understand this kind of sacrifice but I will spend my whole life fervently pursuing the author of this love.

I get to discover more about Him every single day. For the rest of my life. There is NO END to His amazing love. Try to wrap your head around that.

You can’t. Which is why it’s so amazing.

 

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Lift Up Your Head

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What are you looking at? Are your eyes focused on the ground beneath your feet? Is your view darkened by your own grey shadow? Have you closed your eyes to preserve them only to lose sight of where you’re going?

Friend, look up. The sky above beckons you to feel the warmth of the sun. The crystal blue is brighter when you’re seeing it for the first time after experiencing the pain of it’s absence. The birds of the air flitter by in hopes that you will notice their morning song.

Don’t let the comfort of your limited view keep you from the spacious life waiting for you.

“We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”
Romans 5:2 (MSG) 
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