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Rejoice

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Eyes open, first thought, I’m still tired. Next, oh well, you must keep marching on. Then, ok- I have so much to do, where do I even begin? Upon rising and brewing up hope for energy in a cup, I begin- already feeling behind. My whole day seems in the deficit. Not enough. Not enough energy, time, patience, self-control. All I see is lack. Everywhere. I hear the ‘shoulds’ in my mind. My children should know better. I should have exercised more. My house should be cleaner. Maybe I should be working. Should I wear this? Should my marriage be more? Should I serve others more? Should I have said that? I’m plagued, worn down, depleted. Day after day, the exhaustion, the frustration, just piles. I don’t even have energy to sort my piles. The piles eventually become a mountain. The mountain becomes hopelessness. How did I get here? How do I get out of this? Is this just normal life? Am I ever going to feel good again?

I sit with Jesus, and I say, “Lord, why do I always feel exhausted, frustrated, running behind? Is there hope for my future? Can I make a change? Is this what life will be like from now on?”

He showed me that He has poured out into my life blessings of every kind. He has given me salvation, life, health, food, shelter, friendship, love, hope, purpose, amongst many other things. He said that it was His delight to pour it out over my life, but that He cannot make me rejoice in it. He cannot make me actually enjoy, notice, celebrate, or rejoice in all that He has freely given me.

OUCH! As I heard this from the Lord, tears silently streamed down my face. I realized that, just like the Israelites, the Lord has provided abundantly for me and yet, I still find things to grumble and complain about. My heart broke and I repented before the Lord. I asked for grace to cover my selfishness and sin.

Repentance has two parts, turning from is first.  Turn from any destructive activity, belief, or motive that is less than the Truth. Then, turn towards something true, constructive, and motivated by love for ourselves and God.  My very next question, as I dabbed the tears from my cheeks, what how Lord? How do I replace my grumbling and complaining to rejoicing? What am I called to rejoice in? All I know to do, to find the answer, is search the scriptures.

First things first- He showed me that the word rejoice actually means to make oneself glad. It’s an action. It is up to me. None can make me glad but me.

Next He showed me was that the Scriptures call us to rejoice in the Lord, in our salvation, and in the righteousness we have been given in Christ, which makes having an intimate relationship with the Father possible. That alone, in my heart, is plenty to rejoice in for all time.

Finally, for my practical application, He gave me this scripture:

Deuteronomy 12:7

“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.”

I have to share that as I read this passage, my current perspective on the undertakings I’m tending to was in stark contrast to what this was calling me to. I was feeling like, “I have to ………” You can fill in the blank. Now as I read these words I saw that the things God has trusted me to tend to were actually blessings and to be rejoiced in doing. So my perspective shifted from I have to, to wow- God trusted me to do this.

He reminded me of all of those times I prayed, “God use me. Send me.” And showed me right now, this is the answer to that prayer!

I’m definitely not declaring that I never have bad moments or days, but I can say I believe this key of rejoicing is turning around my anxiety. Now a morning might look like this:

Wake up- Thank You Lord for another day of life. I have a lot on my plate today Lord, I admit right now that I will need You to do any of it well. Would you go with me and help me? Brew my coffee and anticipate what treasure He has for me in His Word that morning. What truth will I have to cling to as I live a life unto Him that day?

After my time with Jesus, the tape begins playing in my head of not enough. Now I am equipped to take whatever is not enough yet, and give thanks for it and ask the Lord to bless it. To thank Him for what I do have, and to hopefully expect an increase. In my rejoicing, the thoughts that used to defeat me, now lead me to prayer.

In the undertakings I’ve been blessed with, I’m so often aware that I alone am not enough. He has called me live a life beyond myself so I would need Him and others. Living out what I am called to leads me to relationships, which require love. The call on all of our lives is to love God and love others. I need Jesus, and I need you. And now, I rejoice in that! Join me?

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Captured in His Love

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I am sitting in a hotel room by the ocean, balcony door opened and I can hear the waves. The incredible aroma of the salty air is clearing my senses and I am at peace. My babe is sleeping in the same room, and I give thanks in these moments. I give thanks that I have quiet space. I give thanks that I have crazy chaos, because one of the most amazing joys of my life is being the mother to my children. But what I am being overwhelmed with in these moments is how thankful I am that I know my God. I mean I intimately know the One who created the ocean I am being lulled by. How can this be?

I know Him, and He knows me. I know Him and He knows me and we spend time exploring the depths of each other. This love. This love is undoing all that I have done. It is unleashing all that I am. It is healing, moving, leading, guiding, correcting, providing, and enjoying me- the fullness of who I am is truly found in I AM. He is the One who my heart beats for, the One who I long for, the One who see me and completely knows me and yet somehow is still drawn towards me. This must be too wonderful to imagine, to great to comprehend- this must be something I can only receive. As I drink deep of the affections from the heart of my God- I am humbled and in awe of His beauty, His majesty.I am blown away by the gentleness of His fierceness. I am undone. I’ve come unglued. All the glue that held any of me together trying to convince me that I was at all in control of all of this life thing- has been melted in the fire of His great, pure, passionate pursuit of my whole self.

Somehow when I am washed in the coolness and fire of His presence- none of me wants to be in control. All of me wants to be found in Him. I long to move, to breathe in perfect unity with Him. I long that my heart would become more like HIs. I yearn to walk in beat with HIs symphony about me. Who is this God? I’ve been discovering Him for so long and yet somehow feel like I’ve barely scraped the surface. Oh but I want to know more. I am desperate to know more. I need more of Him to continue on. I simply can’t be without Him. He is life to me.

Somewhere between the waves and the birds singing to one another-I hear a voice of correction. Daughter, don’t you know you are worth the interruption? Don’t you know you matter as much as the ones you serve? Don’t you believe that all I say about you is true? Why then, why do you treat your own needs as less than important? Why do you not ask Me to help, or give others the opportunity to help you? As I share this with some trusted- I hear a warning- that is really a form of pride.

Then in the quiet contemplative place- I remember. I remember the marching orders given to me in a previous space and time- the call was only to rest, trust, and worship. To live, and move, serve, give, love and be only out of that place. How did I so soon forget- again. Rest, trust worship- first. Give thanks. Ask for help. Rejoice and again I say rejoice.

As the waves steadily roll in, and the fog lays heavy, I remember-again. I remember the stillness is where I see Him. I remember the calm, the sweet place of trusting even though no circumstance has yet shifted- is where I declare who is my Lord- He is. He is the One I trust. He is the One who does not change nor disappoint. I can trust the Only who is constant always. Oh and as my gaze yet again is filled with Him- I cannot help but to worship Him. Oh He is Majestic, Beautiful, Worthy. My legs go weak. I find my knees bent and my eyes spilling over whenever I behold Him. He is. Oh He is- alive and near and within and over. He is all. He is my all in all. I love Him so.

I see myself reflected in His eyes as He behinds me too. I didn’t know I looked like that? I didn’t know I was made of that! I didn’t know I could become that! I didn’t know I was so desperate. I didn’t know I was so needy. And yet- my portion is the One who I am looking upon and enjoying being with. My needs are filled, my soul is resurrected, and my journey has become secondary again to the One who I journey with. It is Him- it has always been Him. I am His and He is mine.

O Lord- help me. Help me to always place You in Your rightful place.Help me to see myself as Your see me. Help me to ask for help. Help me to ask for everything I need. I enjoy You- oh Lover of my soul. I enjoy your essence, I enjoy being Your reflection. And my heart is so desperate for more of You. I humbly bow low before you and cry out for more of You.You gently lift my head and pour out all of you into all of me again Filled to be emptied and filled again. I need You Lord. I want more of You. I just love You so. My Jesus, My King, My love. it is You- first- always You.

Love and be loved=Success

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Trying to follow Jesus on this Earth proves not to be a task which entails comfort or instant gratification. Quite the opposite. It is a long journey, a process, of strengthening and endurance. It is filled with opportunities to make high quality decisions based on faith in who God is, or to reveal your unbelief and then be built up in that place by His power to be able to move forward with a firmer foundation. There are many times when you step out in a direction and the point of that journey wasn’t at all why you began- but something deeper. Our constant misunderstanding of what God is up to- is the very reason we are called not to lean on our understanding- but instead to TRUST. It is TRUE what the Word says- His ways are ALWAYS higher than our ways- and yet we seek to understand with our finite minds this incredible INFINITE God. Our lack of understanding doesn’t have to stand in our way- if we let go and lay down our need to understand, and we can only do that as we begin to enjoy and rest in the fullness of His great love for us, to move in the broad place of freedom and hope and joy and protection that is only found in intimate relationship with this With-US God whom we can know and love and not have to understand.

Recently I have been learning about how when the devil tempted Jesus- he tried to get Jesus to forget He was loved by the Father. I am coming to see, in my own life, every temptation I face- there is a moment of amnesia about the great love the Father has lavished upon me- I am found lacking in my own strength, my own wisdom, hope- there is actually nothing but lack when I take God out of my equation. If I choose to make decisions in fear and hopelessness and the urgency found in both of those states- I will never be making quality, forward moving, destructive-cycle breaking decisions. Instead, most likely, I will making destructive, pain-birthing, selfish decisions that will not only delay my becoming but could also hurt others.

So what is the disconnect? How can someone be moving fully in the love and liberty of being loved by God in one moment- and in another be in such despair that you can’t find one reason any of this life stuff is worth it? I believe the truth lies in the fact that our enemy comes to steal, kill, or destroy everything that God wants to give us. Our attack will always be directly aimed at what God is doing. The first lie you have to believe is that you are on your own- and in most cases in my experience this comes subtly from a person in your life and their message sounds like wisdom- except that they do not include God in their expectation of who they think you should be. If we begin to mediate on a message of perceived failure in ourselves that was communicated from someone who only values and see success as far as they can see on this earth- and you have been busy investing in the Kingdom of God- in eternal riches- you will begin to see yourself as foolish- a loser, a failure- this is often the first lie I believe when I begin to forget who God says I am.

Truly that is the hope of the enemy- to take our God-given IN CHRIST identity.Our enemy knows that when we take Jesus out of the equation we will find it near impossible to love ourselves. You see Jesus taught us that there are only two commandments we must follow- to love the Lord with all of ourselves- and then to love others as we love ourselves. HMMMM- how many do you know that love themselves, treat themselves with the value and worth that God says they possess? The core hope of any attack from the enemy is to get us to hate ourselves, whether we realize it and can articulate it or not- our actions, beliefs, interactions, and perspectives will show this. If we hate ourselves- we deny ourselves from being able to receive the full measure of God’s goodness and love towards us- and then we are depleted in our love tank- it is impossible to love others.

So let me share something that was absolutely solidified in my life this week. Here is what doesn’t matter- other’s opinions of you. The essence of who you are is NOT defined by the amount of dollars in your bank account. The outcome of your life will not be how big your house was, what car your drove ( or if you even had a car). You aren’t defined by how right you were all the time or if your proverbial ducks were always in a row. The summation of our lives in the end is- did you learn to love? Did you freely receive and freely give love? That is all we are called to do. When we are loving, regardless of our circumstance, we are in the absolute will of God for our lives. Loving others, sowing into their lives, believing in them, praying for them, celebrating with them, supporting them, is investing in a eternal portfolio and the return on investment is greater than anything we can imagine. Choosing to follow Jesus- to seek out His will for your life- to rest in Him and not trust in the sweat of your own brow- is never foolish.  Even when you don’t land where you thought He was calling you- you are always going to land in Him- and that is success.

I AM HERE TO TELL YOU TODAY- don’t quit because the direction has changed. Don’t buy the lie that you are foolish because God has a surprise for you. Don’t judge your worth by the approval or disapproval of others. Get in close to your Father- rest in Him, and ask Him to remind you who He says you are. Ask Him to show you any lie you are coming into agreement with. Ask Him to help you in your unbelief. HE IS YOUR PORTION-and He is more than enough! Lay down your need to understand and be positioned to receive His love- and then organically allow it to overflow out of you onto others. Just be loved and love- (which is what happens when we seek FIRST the Kingdom of God) and all things will be added unto you!

Drink deep- and be restored!

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A message from the Father today-
Today is not a hard day. Take it moment by moment and enjoy the moments. I am sending you gifts today- provision and wisdom for the road ahead. Go and receive all that I have for you. Do not lean on your own understanding or place your trust in your physical body- just rest in Me. I Am your source, and I Am more than enough. Your joy is in Me- Your hope is in Me- You will find everything You need in Me. Keep Your heart and eyes steadfastly fixed on me and you will see how I have placed provision ahead of time right where you need it. I have placed more than enough- take what you need and give the rest away. Receive freely, give freely. That is the rhythm of love. Stay at my rhythm and pace and do not try to go faster, be stronger, or do more than I have asked of you. Rest, trust, worship- this is the only way to succeed. Rejoice in who I have been to you. Rejoice in the promises I have made you for your future. And rejoice in what you are believing I Am doing right now. Rejoice in all things. Nothing is too hard for me- press into me and find all that you feel like you lack- for the truth is there is no lack in Me. I love you.

Getting out of His way

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For the last few days, I have been challenged with getting out of God’s way and giving Him authority in my life that I usually like to have myself by having it all figured out. He has been speaking to me about how much more He longs to demonstrate His love, His kindness, His goodness to me- but until I get out of the way- until I release what I have decided is what I can handle, or I can make happen, or I am ok with- He doesn’t have the room to bless me the way He desires to. I believe this goes back to the basics. Would you consider joining me in the terrifying journey of getting out of the way- laying down your plans- stop saying “I have to….” and really begin trusting Him?
Is He Faithful? Is He Kind? Is He Trustworthy? Are my words saying this? Are my actions in line with what I say I believe?
Proverbs 3:5-6
Amplified Bible (AMP)
5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.
Matthew 6:33
New Living Translation (NLT)
33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Do we protect our wounds?

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I was chatting with a friend the other day about how many people I run into who want to “face their giants” or start “unpacking their baggage” and yet even though commitment is made, when the time draws near, they run as fast as they can in the other direction.

I personally have been working through stuff since my early 20’s. When we are kids, and stuff happens, we draw conclusions about each memory and how it defines us. The problem is when you are a child, you have a child’s mind. Often times, the conclusions we have drawn and attached to our identity are incorrect, and yet we walk into adulthood with a skewed perspective and a wounded heart and spirit.

Then, most unfortunately, we continue to live out of this wounded perspective and wound others with our words, selfishness, and actions that are all in the name of protecting our wounds.

Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. He came to set the captives free and heal the wounded. But most of us declare with our actions that we don’t want what He offers. We declare, even though I am wounded, I know how to be this way. I am afraid of the healing process because it would be unfamiliar to be free.

My friend described it like this to me: A woman broke her hand off, but was so afraid of what the surgery might do to her, that she just covered it up, and started doing everything with her other hand. And although it completely limited her ability and caused her much pain, she knew what it felt like to have a wounded hand, and she knew how to operate around it, and she just assumed this was how her life turned out.

SO MANY OF US ARE WALKING AROUND WITH COVERED UP WOUNDS. We have learned how to operate around that wound and have just accepted that this is the way it is going to be! PLEASE STOP! You DO NOT have to have a limited experience of life. There is hope for healing.

Speaking from personal experience, when I was in my early 20’s a close friend asked me, “You have a lot of baggage, and the question is, are you going to unload it now and enjoy life at a higher capacity, or are you going to carry it around with you and let it hold you back and drag you down for the rest of your life?” When it was phrased like that, I knew the choice was obvious, “Let’s face this stuff!”

My experience of healing is perpetual. Hard life stuff flies at us ALL of the time. We are constantly needing to process painful things with the perspective of love. I CANNOT PROCESS with the perspective of love when I am deeply wounded. Like it or not, my main job becomes protecting my wound at any cost. I hurt others when I am wounded.

So, I am writing this today in an attempt to love you. When I am set free, I am free to love, honor, and value others right where they are at in their process. Healing is a process, it is constant, and it is worth it. Every step of the healing process produces eternal fruit that will become a blessing to everyone you encounter. It is so much bigger than you, and you so desperately need to let go of the identity of your woundedness, and say yes to the journey of becoming whole. The Lord will not leave you, you do not need to be afraid, it may not be as hard or arduous as you are imagining.

A great place to begin is just asking the Lord, “What wound in my heart am I afraid to face?” Ask Him if it is time to get some help, maybe a counselor, coach, or close friend who walks tightly with Jesus. Ask Him to help you, to give you courage, to give you strength.

Please choose today to stop adjusting to being wounded, and to start facing the hurt places and receive healing and freedom.

God is FOR YOU! He is WITH YOU! NOTHING is too hard for HIM! and YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Lord Jesus, we need you now more than ever before. Come, draw near, and illuminate our hurting places that we have attached  identity to. Lord, help us to catch a glimpse of what it can be like to live in wholeness, to allow you to heal our brokenness. Lord, I ask that you supernaturally give us courage to take one small step towards healing today. When we want to run away, teach us how to turn back to you and stay the course which you are calling us to. We admit that we need you, and we are terrified of what we may find, and yet I hear you whisper that we do not need to be afraid because what you have for us is better than anything we can imagine. Lord, I choose you, not any other identity, today! I love you Jesus, and it is in your name we pray! Amen!

Jealous vs. Teachable

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I’ve been thinking recently how silly jealousy is. I mean why is it when we recognize someone else has something we desire, our first reaction is a tinge of jealousy? Why do we then start to compare ourselves with them and find some way that it is unfair that they have what we want, AND they probably do not even deserve it? Can I just encourage all of us today to rejoice in what we each have been entrusted so far with and to choose to genuinely rejoice with others? Can I also encourage us to ask that person how they got there? Chances are the answer will be consistent right choices, hard work, sacrifice, and saying no to other things. The things we want are usually attainable if we are willing to align our lives to be positioned to receive them. Next time we see someone enjoying something we want and do not yet have, let’s choose to be humble and teachable, and ask them how they got there, take some advice and move closer towards that goal! THAT’S PROGRESS! THAT IS REPLACING DESTRUCTIVE CYCLES WITH CONSTRUCTIVE CYCLES! And that is how we move FORWARD!