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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Am I afraid? YES

Last night on Facebook I asked what people's favorite television shows were. I saw some that were funny shows but most were things like Criminal minds, The first 48, or scandal. It's as if we crave danger yet  we only want to keep it on a screen away from the reality of our worlds.  

The heartless crime that took place last week in Charleston stills saddens me however the families of those victims one by one standing before the killer forgiving him is what moves me the most.  When I think about the word fearlessly loving people or fearlessly proclaiming Jesus to this world my heart beats a little faster because there are traces of fear still in me.  

The word fearless is defined by Webster as; FREE from fear.  I'm not talking about the fear that comes when you watch your favorite show or the fear that follows that moment in which you feel scared. I'm talking about the bold, gutsy, stouthearted and brave moments of showing people Gods love.  Those Charleston families define bravery to me because not only did that killer feel the weight of those words but America watched over and over the love of Jesus being made known through their words of forgiveness and I too felt the weight of their words. 

I began thinking about Saul in Acts chapter 9. He persecuted Christ followers and approved of them being murdered and yet after he encountered Jesus he began to preach with such boldness. There were some who believed him but it also said the disciples were scared of him and wanted nothing to do with him. Saul's fearlessness wasn't birthed out of approval addiction it was birthed from an inward igniting of a God that's holy and powerful.  

Acts 9:27... "And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road and that He had spoken to Him and how he had preached fearlessly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."

He encountered God and something was set off inside him like fireworks. He went from breathing murderous threats to fearlessly proclaiming the name of Jesus.  In Mark Batterson's Going All in book it says this powerful statement.

"Jesus didn't die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous." 

I can't think of a single story in the bible that doesn't have some type of sacrifice, bravery, pain or bold moments with the purpose of moving the name of Jesus forward.  Fear has no power in the presence of the Crestor! God knew that someone like Saul had passion and zeal because He created him. He rocked His world and transformed those things to bring glory to Him. The New Testament is basically written by a redeemed jerk who hated Christians.   As I speak to girls and women my passion is for them to embrace and walk in FREEDOM so why wouldn't I forever be fighting the bondage of food, body image and shame. Saul had people plotting to Kill him and he would get out before they could strike.  I choose to remove those thoughts in my mind or even more disarm the enemy by speaking louder.  Today my challenge is that you no longer play it safe. Look to those in front of you in all areas of your life from day in and day out and ask yourself.. How can I boldly, gutsy, fearlessly show them the love of Jesus?  For some of you it's a call to forgive. For others it's a call to go ALL in with your heart so you can follow Jesus with your life. Maybe it's declaring freedom even when you know bondage is always lurking. 

Tomorrow I leave for my first foreign mission trip. I am excited to fly. I am excited to eat new food. I am excited to be going with people I adore but am I afraid? The answer is Yes but I refuse to let the enemy keep me from declaring this over my trip NO MATTER WHAT! 

Ephesians 6:19,20 
"Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will FEARLESSLY make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it FEARLESSLY, as I should." 

Be YOU! 

God is a very BIG God! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

God I am mad at you ...

These last 4 days have been a whirlwind. Rebekah graduated and had the most amazing Lily Pulitzer graduation party. Her friends and family showed her so much love and so she went to bed with a smile on her face and the anticipation of getting up the next morning and heading to New York City.  The next morning we arrived at the Charlotte airport and what was meant to be an easy breezy process quickly turned into a long waiting game of whether or not we would make it on a flight to New York. A long 18 hours of waiting, 
waiting and more waiting. I kept asking God to please let our names be called and yet never once did we hear our names. I had to keep it together for Rebekah by smiling a lot, making jokes, and creating opportunities for fun in the airport. As the day progressed my frustration turned into anger and I began asking God why. I had bought the hotel on groupon to save money and it was a steal because it was right in the center of time square. I had purchased our tours and I was ready for when we arrived in New York but we never made it. I had to go to the bathroom at one point to hide my frustration, tears and anger. I just sat in the stall praying and yet telling God how I felt. I heard nothing back from Him and felt no comfort from Him. I finally walked outside and told Rebekah that the last flight was full and that we had two options. The first was to spend the night in the airport and be ready to check in around 4am or to go home get 3 hours of sleep and be back at the airport by 4am. We chose to come home and to sleep for a few hours.  When Monday rolled around we grabbed our things and headed to the airport. By the time we made it through security and into the waiting area I knew there wasn't a chance of us getting on that first flight. She insisted we wait and so we did.  She slept for about an hour and when she woke up I had to finally just give her the real deal and yet also a choice of waiting again for another entire day.  She cried and it broke my heart and I was so frustrated and I felt such a blah feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I called out to God and He still said nothing.  Rebekah walked out of the airport with her head held high and yet my heart was hurting with every beat. Not only had I basically flushed 800$ down the toilet but my daughter was having to come home without a story to share about New York.  When we arrived back at our house it was around 7:30 am.  We decided to drive to Charleston (her second favorite place) and just spend time at the beach and pool and eat yummy food. 

I tell you all of this because my heart is still broken. We bonded and we had a wonderful time. She didn't act like a diva and she thanked me a lot. She even bought me a starfish Alex and Ani bracelet for me to remember her grad week. I'm still frustrated tonight and little by little I'm releasing it. I don't know why but I do know that for some crazy reason God did everything to keep us off that plane and out of New York. The guy who got us the buddy passes even said "it's like a dark cloud over the Charlotte airport".  What was God protecting us from? What was He pulling out of me? The truth is I may never know.  As I read a verse my mom sent me yesterday I keep reminding myself of Gods goodness. 

Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles".  Zechariah 9:13. 

Tonight I am choosing to walk out of these thoughts of defeat and frustration with my heart positioned and ready to embrace the only thing that remains constant even when my thoughts, emotions and feelings toward Him waver.  It's not my emotions that bring the disconnect it's my response to His ways that either pulls me in or distances my heart from His. No matter how I feel towards Him His love never changes, His protection never stops, & His pursuit of me never goes away because His ways are perfect. I am mad at Him but it is His love for me that changes my perspective.  God I am coming back to the only thing that is safe & that is You because I know that no matter how I feel you are faithful even when I am not. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I use to stuff my bra

When I was a little girl I loved putting on makeup especially lipstick. I would climb up on the bathroom counter with my feet planted in the sink and my rear on the edge and talk to myself in the mirror. I would stick my lips out a little further and it would help me feel like a woman (at the age of 8). That bright red lipstick would make me feel confident and in my mind I could take on the world.  I have many childhood memories that were moments of escape for me. My life didn't warrant an escape of reality but the desire to feel beautiful started very early for me. I remember in the 4th grade I would stuff my bra because I needed to be noticed and somehow down deep it made me feel pretty and equal to the other girls. Now whether that's was way too much information or not sorry it is the truth.  I believe If we were being honest don't we do the very same things now just maybe not with our bras? 

We chase money to stuff our bank accounts because it helps us to feel accomplished some how. We stuff our faces to escape the reality of pain and emotions that aren't comfortable. We stuff relationships with plastic conversations because we are afraid of how they may perceive us when they walk away. We stuff our prayers with empty promises because being real with God means change has to come. Now here me say I am not bashing any of those things because we all do it but over the last 10 years I have had some tough realizations in my own life.  

1. I am me 
2. I am Gods

When I embrace the truth of Gods word I have to also embrace that I am me because of who He is. 

 1 Corinthians 15:10 "but by the grace of God I am what I am"

You see what started with stuffing my bra as a 4th grad girl quickly transferred to stuffing my ego of chasing things and people to fill my cup of needing to be known and wanted. I had a hole and I thought that if I filled the empty pockets surrounding my heart I would somehow fill whole.

BUT by the grace of God He reached in cracked my plastic answers, the plastic smiles and said stop being who they need you to be and simply JUST BE. 

My mom is notorious for taking bad angle pictures. She will always capture the mid smile or the double chin picture. I always say "now mom before you post that let me check it" but what I really mean is let me pose for it.  When we are trying to become someone who doesn't care what others think or just be who God created us to be we must catch ourselves before we pose.  This will only come when you choose to saturate yourself in Gods word. It's being you in Him that creates opportunities for others to only see Him and because of that our authenticity becomes contagious and others become authentic. 

As my oldest daughter walked into school this morning I reflected on the last 13 years of school. She hasn't always made A's or even the honor roll but she has consistently been a light for others to see. She may be a diva sometimes and drive me crazy with her love for insanely pricey clothes but she knows what she likes and what she doesn't . She may drive me crazy by dancing to every annoying song on the radio but she dances. If there is one thing I have learned about Rebekah she is simply Rebekah. Girls/women whether we choose to wear high heels, flats or tennis shoes just be you! If you like country music, rap or classic opera it DOES NOT matter because God wants you to just be you!  

1 Corinthians 15:10 "but by the grace of God I am what I am. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stop racing against the clock

This week I started a 90 day reading through the bible plan with leading and loving it. The first day I was overwhelmed at how many chapters I had to read.  I contemplated several times about even starting because of my fear of not finishing. I had posted it on social media and I didn't want to look like one of "those" who start but never finish.  As I started reading through the creation story my heart begin to shift and I couldn't put it down. How is it that a book as old as the bible have new and exciting twist and turns in stories that I have heard so many times? I realized that God's ways are never old.  The way He draws us in to a deeper intimacy with Him is always consistent and ever changing based on where we are. We are never meant to live our lives with the mindset of a constant routine. If we allow our lives to be dictated by our planners and the task at hand we WILL miss the mystery and awe of God.  Show me someone who lives life with such perfected edges and I promise they will tell you they struggle with finding the awe of God. I am not bashing type A personalities I thank God for them because I am super type B. I just know that when I live day to day through the filter of what has to be done I miss moments with my girls, my husband and friendships simply because I was trying to check off a list to make me feel accomplished. I call that pride because it's about me. 

I was so moved by the story of Adam and Eve yesterday.  Literally God describes all that they can have and that ONE THING is what they couldn't keep their eyes off that derailed them.  I asked myself the question why couldn't they have that tree and even questioned why God didn't strike satan when he began to whisper distorted truths into Eve's ear. As I asked those questions I reminded myself of past sin and current sin of choosing what's in front of me now rather than waiting on Gods perfect way.  I believe we like to blame God for the outcome of our disobedience or others disobedience because we mistaken His power.  We tend to forget the beauty of His grace and the choice He gives us. We respond out of the condition of our hearts and because the enemy is always working to distort Gods truth we end up blaming him.  

God wants you to know that even in your season of drought, pain, numbness or doubt He is still in control. For you type A people He is in control. For you type B all over the place people He is in control. It's not his lack of power that keeps Him from moving in our circumstances instead it may be our desire to be in control.  That is hard to swallow at times because no amount of worship music, bible studies or serving can win the favor of God because He is already in awe of us. You don't have to work to please Him.  I believe the impossible happens when our faith is stretched, our resources have dried up and we have fully surrendered OUR plans. 

God is for you. Let that truth resonate in you today as you race against the clock. God is for you even In the middle of what seems to be your darkest season. As I read these Old Testament stories from Abraham's wife to Jacob and Esau to the story about the Tower of Babel it was one theme that was reflected in each story.  They couldn't wait on God. From pregnancy to birth rights to trying to be like God the timing for them moved them to take matters into their own hands. What is it that you need God to move in? Is it your lack of finances? Is it that your marriage is falling apart? Girls is it your lack of approval that you desire from peers or a guy? Maybe it's what the scales display and you can't get past that number today.  I know that it hurts in those seasons of question but I also know we serve a very faithful God whose ways exceed our ways.  He can handle whatever it is I promise so let Him take it from here. 

Be encouraged!  

Genesis 21:1-3
1Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. 2Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.