Tag Archive | beautiful

Blessing Reminders

Blessings are sometimes overlooked. I’m totally guilty.

A friend of mine said to me today, “blessings come very easily for you. It’s not a bad thing, you’ve been such a blessing to other people and now you’re reaping that reward.”

What? What blessings? Do you know that I’m praying for this, and this, and that? And this one thing I’ve been praying for 15 years! This other thing I’ve been praying for almost two years! I have this on my list and this and that one thing. I’m waiting for ALL of these things or at least one to pan out for me. I just need to catch a break.

Wablessed-aviciih Wah Wah Wahhhh! WAH!

I didn’t say all that. Inside my head, though, I did. Until…

I realized how right she was and how grateful I am that she called me on it.

In the recent months, I’ve been showered with blessings. Help with car repairs, birthday gifts I don’t deserve, meals at nice restaurants that I wouldn’t normally go to, even a couple trips because of the generosity of those who love me. I’ve had friends purge their closets and I’ve acquired the rewards. People have been generous and kind to my man-child.

There really are so many things! The problem is that my focus keeps being drawn to the things I’m not receiving. The things I think I *really* want/need, but aren’t coming to fruition.

Help me, God, I’m a blind, thankless woman who can’t even appreciate (beyond the immediate appreciation) the blessings that have come to me because I’m so determined to keep my eye on the blaringly obvious things that I feel are still missing.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has done this… right? Back me up here…

So, take a few minutes… do an internal audit of the things happening around you, to you, and for you. Those, my friend, are blessings.

It’s too easy to slip into that place of “not enough” or “why not me?” Flip that focus switch, friends. Allow God to show you the work He’s doing for you, how He’s providing, and how He’s lining up His people on your behalf.

He is a good, kind, gracious, loving God. Amen!

 

Life Hurts – God Heals

How is someone supposed to feel when a Father dies?

An unknown father.

An absent father.

A father who walked away from his own child father?

I had a dad with whom I was raised and I also had a father that contributed to my creation who then abandoned my mom. My mom was married to my bio dad for a couple of years and all the things I know about him are bad. Not at all good.

Every few years, I would get a hankering to do a “search” for my bio dad online. I never found him, though. I had that hankering a couple weeks ago. I found him. He’s dead.

I knew it was him because I remember his mom’s name and his sister’s name, both of whom were mentioned in his obituary. Also mentioned were his wife and three children – now adults, of course. His love for art and how he was able to make so many people smile and bring happiness and joy through his art was also mentioned. My bio dad was an artist. He drew and painted for others. To make them happy.

On par with what all abandoned children feel, we fall into the questions that come with abandonment – why wasn’t I good enough for him? Why didn’t he love me? Did he ever think about me? Did anyone know about me? Was I just forgotten all these years? Did he create a whole new life and just forget his old one existed? Why didn’t he want to know me? Am I that awful? That unlovable?

I have two half-brothers and a half-sister that I know about now. Of course, I’ve spent the last two weeks teetering back and forth about whether to try and make contact. Maybe to my aunt first? She had a relationship with us for several years after my dad left. I was never a secret to her. But what if his kids never knew I existed? Would I ruin their world? Their image of their dad? Was he loving to them?

I’m not sure if he ever got his life together – on paper it sounds like he did. I know now, though, that I’ll never have a chance to know him, to know whether or not he turned his life around, to know whether or not he ever cared about me, to know if he cried for me through the night. I’ll never know that and I’m sorta bummed about it.LHGH-960x550

Things and emotions that I assumed were long gone all bubbled to the surface over the last couple of weeks. It’s been weird.

I honestly don’t know how someone who doesn’t know God would process something like this – it’s all I’ve been able to do is to remind myself that I DO have  an Almighty Father, who will never abandon me.

In Psalm 27:10 (NLT) we’re told, Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. The enemy would like me to think that because the bio dad didn’t hold me close and didn’t want me that I’m not worthy to be held closely.

And the enemy is a liar.

In Psalm 142:4-5 (NIV) David was in a cave, crying out to the Lord and he said this, 4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. And we could leave it right there… but the next verse says, 5 I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

When we’re in a cave, whatever that looks like for us, and when we have a relationship with the living God, we know that we can cry out to Him because He is our refuge. The enemy would like us to think that God doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care.

And the enemy is a liar.

If you’re reading this post and you don’t know who Jesus is, I assure you that He is waiting for you to cry out to Him from your cave. He is waiting to bring you into His arms and give you comfort, to remind you that you are loved, and to let you know that He will never leave you.

Satan wants to keep people under his thumb, tangled in his web of lies and deceit. He wants to tell you that you’re not worth anything – not even worth a father who wants know you. Not even worth a man at all. Not even worth a thing. He’s lying to you, sweet one. He lies to me. It’s his way.

I listened to a message last night by Jimmy Evans. It was part of a series called “The Hurt Pocket” and, surprisingly, it touched some of the hurt places in my own heart that I thought were long ago healed. One of the takeaways was that in order to heal our hurt we have to be willing to bring it into the light and to be honest with God about it. I haven’t done that. I stuffed. Deep, deep down into my soul. Do you do that? I do. I assume it’s healed because I don’t think about it, but really it’s just stuffed. Hidden. Almost to the point of not being found. And then it is. It’s found and it’s hard.

My takeaways for you, if you’re reading this, are to first decide whether or not you’re in right relationship with Christ. If not, let me help you! Email me. Message me. Anything. Secondly, if you are in relationship with Him, be honest with Him. Take your hurts to Him – no matter how old and stuffed down they are – and allow Him the time to heal them for you. He wants to heal our brokenness, we just have to give Him the broken pieces.

Conquering the beast.

The comparison monster. I suppose at one time or another in our lives, we’ll deal with it. I’ve been pretty fortunate not to have a face-to-face run in with the thing for many, many years… maybe since high school.

And then I moved to Dallas. Suddenly, it’s all over me. Creeping over my shoulder when I least expect it. Hiding away near my bathroom mirror as I get ready in the morning. It sits in the passenger seat of my car and whispers its ugliness to me as I drive to my destination. It’s a hideous beast.

I’ve struggled, as I’m sure most of us have, with self-esteem and insecurities at different times in my life. But this beast is different. This isn’t just seeing my flaws in a larger than life manner. It’s seeing those flaws and then comparing them to all the women around me who are prettier, more fashionable, wealthier, more successful, being used by God in big ways, on and on… and on. And on.

It’s just—ew.

So, of course, as God does, He begins to prepare me and show me ways to conquer this beast. I hear Him. I see it in the Word, I hear it in the messages I listen to, and books that somehow land on my table. One of the foundations of something we do at my church is… Hear, Believe, Obey. God is making sure that I have the “hear” part down pat. The next two things are all on me.

While reading Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes Lee over the last month, the eighth chapter called Preapproved, is pretty much all highlighted and scribbled upon. It’s like that chapter was written for me. Like Jennifer sat in her study and allowed God to use her solely for my benefit. She heard, believed, and obeyed. I’m thankful.

She opens the chapter with this verse: Psalm 37:6 (MSG) – He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Huh… He will validate my life. And stamp me with approval. Me? Well, yeah… that’s what He says! She goes on to say, “Eyes cannot look in two different directions,” so I have the choice to look at the comparison monster or to look at God’s word that He has stamped me with approval. When we know that God’s word is truth, we hear it. The next part is to believe it. A few pages later, Jennifer says, “…living like I actually believe what the Savior says. And He says He love me. It makes me feel weak-kneed and deliriously adored.” A couple paragraphs down she mentions how we need to constantly and consistently remind ourselves that “God delights in me.” We have to train ourselves to believe what God says about us is true. That’s when we can really begin to understand it.Screen-Shot-2015-02-27-at-10.07.05-AM

So then, how do we obey – now that we’ve heard and we’ve believed?

Just stop. Stop listening to the monster that ushers those ugly lies – because that’s all they are – into our heart places. Slowly replace those thoughts with the thoughts He has given us over and over again. In this chapter, Jennifer explains how God is a God of “Alreadys” and how we are already preapproved by Him, loved by Him, cherished by Him. We didn’t even have to do anything! In 1 John 3:1, she points out, “I am already His beloved child.” Already. “He is the God of Alreadys, inviting me to turn away from the voices that tell me I’m not enough. His words are an invitation to every unwanted child, every unrequited lover, and every person who has ever wanted to know he or she matters.”

Over the last couple of weeks, once I admitted and accepted that this was something that was beginning to impact me way more than I wanted it to, I was able to seek the things from Him to remind me how loved I am – for no reason at all.

He doesn’t care if I put on make-up every day so that I look like everyone else in this huge metroplex. He wants me to put on Him every day. When I walk out of the house with Him covering me, there is no comparison game. This is how we obey. We stop our own cycle of madness so that we can hear and believe, and eventually obey His truth of love, approval, and attention.

“I am unabashedly, irrevocably loved,” she says. Me too. You too. This is our truth. This is what we’re to believe so that we are able to obey the things He calls us to do in this life, for His purpose.

This beast can be a hard one to conquer, but it isn’t impossible because we have a God who is bigger than impossible. He’s mightier than the beast and will slay him dead, as soon as we hear, believe, and obey. Part of our obedience is allowing God into that part of us so that He can take it out, once and for all.

My friends, if you’re struggling with comparison, I beg you to own it and work on it. It’s a freedom like no other. When we stop wondering if we’re enough, we’ll realize we’ve always been enough. You are already loved, approved, and delighted in by the most loving, merciful God.

Seeing me through His eyes

About ten days ago, I was given a challenge at my bible study. Of course, since one of my mottos is to never do anything alone that I can do with someone else; I challenged some of my friends to do it with me. And now, I’m sharing the challenge with you.

The leader of the bible study asked us, “what is something you wish that other people knew and understood about you?” I didn’t even have to think about it. My answer to this question is easy. I wish people knew and understood how badly I want to share my life with someone. Many of my friends compliment me on my strength, independence, courage, ability to “do it all,” and how confident I am to tackle the world.

No. I mean yes. I would like to think that God has given me some really great opportunities to grow and handle business as a mom, an employee, a student, in ministry, etc… But really… I’m mostly a mess.

I try to figure out ways, in my head, that I might be more approachable or more attractive or more looked upon or more desirable or more open and vulnerable or blah blah blah. I feel like I spend so much time trying to see me the way others see me so that I can fix whatever is so broken in me that it makes me unwanted.

Yeah.

I didn’t share all that in my bible study, but oddly the assignment I was given spoke right to that nasty place in my heart. The leader asked me if I would consider taking a few days to get still before God, just me and Him – and a pen and journal – and ask Him simply, “God, what do YOU think about me?” and be prepared to write down the things He reveals to my heart.blog-el-roi

I am open to ask God anything. Where should I go? Who should I talk to? Should I be part of this or part of that? Asking Him what He thought about me, though? The thought never crossed my mind. It’s like sitting in front of my mom and asking her the same question. Scary.

Naturally, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the conference I attended the weekend right after this assignment was given was all about what God thinks about us. It’s like He lined it all up – just so. Isn’t that how He always tends to do things?

I confess that I haven’t done it yet, but I will this week. And I’d like to challenge you to the same thing. Take a few minutes, over a period of a couple of days, and just sit before God and ask Him – what do You think about me? And wait for Him to reveal His vision OF you TO you. Write these things down and at the end of the days you set aside to do this, go back and read all the things He’s shared with you. I’m pretty sure we’re all going to walk away seeing ourselves a little bit differently.

God saw us precious enough to send His own Son to the Cross for us. I’d like to see myself that way for a while. And I bet you’d like that too. Let’s do it!

The day home met me in Nebraska

She walked in the room. My eyes met hers, I can’t say who saw who first, but there we were – eyes locked and her gentle wave of acknowledgement. I jumped up from my seat and as quickly as I could, without breaking into a run (like, who am I kidding, right?!), made my way into her arms that were opened wide to draw my weary from travel soul into herself. And there, right on her pretty sweatered shoulder, my heart broke open and poured out of my eyeballs.

Like, really, who hugs someone and just cries all over her? I do. I did. And I will in the future, I’m sure of it. At that moment, she represented everything that was home to me. She was my sister, my connection, my friend, my community.

The oddest thing is that I’ve only actually been in her presence on two occasions – both of which I was a complete wreck and in the weirdest seasons of my life. In the fall of 2013, I signed up for a simulcast IF:Gathering and searched for one close to me, it was her home, in VA. Unfortunately, I ended up having to back out because of a commitment with church. However, we connected over Facebook and realized we had some common friends and lived relatively close to one another and decided to meet for coffee.

Right there, in my messiest season, in the middle of the Starbucks at Target, I blabbered and blabbered about life, church, ministry, kids, pain, joy, and anything else that came up. She received with grace on top of grace many pieces of my undoing. I’ve thought back to that time we had and know that I completely monopolized her time, her heart, and her kindness because she took the time to ask me questions and showed a desire to know me. She really was being Jesus with skin for me that day. I don’t know if she knows that…

Her story is hers to tell and I won’t share that, but I will share that all the failings I ever felt in motherhood and ministry and life were not ones I felt alone. And sometimes, no matter how connected we are or how involved we are, our failures still seem to burrow into our ears during the night when our hearts seem heaviest. Our babes will go through life in this world and succumb to the pitfalls, temptations, and veer their way right off the course we have planned for them. We will all have to figure out how to deal with those things with our family, our history, and our expectations in mind. What works for one family won’t always work for another. And she reminded me of that.

The next time we got the chance to connect was in April 2014 at the Winsome Retreat that she hosts in Pennsylvania. If you are close to there or can get there – GO! I’m telling you, just go. Do it. Be there. While we didn’t have much one-on-one time, she did speak and teach and share her passions and burdens with us.PreApproved

I know I’ll share a lot of things that happened this weekend at the Refresh my Heart conference, but for now, I want to share some things that Kim Hyland (that’s the *her* of whom I speak) spoke about over the weekend. The whole conference was about being “preapproved” by God. Being comfortable with who we are as women and accepting whom God has called each of us to be. One of the things Kim said during her session was “let’s be comfortable with our imperfections.” Right? How many times do we sit in front of the mirror only to turn on ourselves and become our very worst enemy? We would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.

“Living in the light of the Gospel is redeeming,” she said. When we take our time to come out of our own minds, being tempted by the lies of the enemy, we can see His light and His goodness for us. We don’t have to live in the darkness and the lies and the dimming of our spirit that satan so desperately tries to drown us in. Instead, we see the Light of the Gospel and we choose to walk in it because it’s for our own good—our own redemption.

She goes on to say, “God’s wants to conform me to the image of Jesus and His plan will not be thwarted.” In other words, I can’t UNDO how God has already made me. He has created me and created you and His sole purpose was to make us in His image and for His purpose. His impression of us isn’t going to change based on how we perceive ourselves. We are His perfect design. Kim translated one version of the word abide (menó) in Greek as: to remain as one is, not to become another or different. Christ has called us to remain in Him. We are made to be who we are for the plans He has for us. Not to become like those around us or to fall into the comparison trap or to wish we were more like so and so, or had more like so and so, or were better like so and so. “We are already confirmed by God,” she says and we don’t need to look for our confirmation from any other source.

Friends, there are so many takeaways I want you to have from this post.

One, do not ever discount the impact that one little coffee, with one broken soul, might have in the big scheme of things.

Two, do not discount that friendships can and are made, grown, and will flourish because of social media, annual conferences, blogs, and speaking engagements. It’s confirmed and many of my dearest people are those I met because of virtual opportunities.

Three, you are loved.

Four, you are made by Him, for Him, and because of Him. You are not a mistake. Nothing about you is a mistake.

Five, in case you didn’t see it the first time, you.are.loved. Deeply. Wildly. Over-the-top kinda loved.

Oh, to be loved…

Valentine’s Day.

It used to be cute and fun when my man child was young and we did little valentines that I always forgot about until the last minute. Gimme a break, y’all… this was back in the days before Pinterest and I was a young, dumb, single mom… I forgot these things! So it was fun to do that “oh crap!” scramble to get it all done in time for school in the morning.

Then he grew up. It wasn’t cute and fun anymore. It became stupid. I became cynical. It was a day to honor something I’d never really been able to get my hands on and that pissed me off. Everyone had love and I didn’t! Just a little hyperbole and cynicism to make your day brighter!

One day, though, over the last couple of years and even more so this year, all that just changed.

Yes! We should be falling deeper in love every day.

Yes! We should show the person we love how important and cherished they are every day!-1572956417

Yes! We shouldn’t need a “holiday” for us to be able to express our love.

But, gosh… really? What’s so wrong about having a day to honor love? A day to express our commitment and joy to someone else? Why and how has is become a horrible thing?

We have honorarium days of all sorts. Why should love be shafted?

Also, the more and more I come to realize that I may never have “a love” with which I can spend this day; I’m reminded of all the ways and people to whom I can show love to on this day.

We don’t always understand another person’s tenderness toward this day. Someone who may have a lost love or a divorced love or a widowed love or on and on… that’s where my heart longs to be today.

So what if I don’t “have a love” per se because we all have SOMEONE to love and to whom we can show our love. Christ’s love through us.

Go love someone today. Don’t be stingy with something that was so freely given to you. Don’t be cynical and simple-minded to a day that might be nothing to you. Think about how you can be a blessing, how you can be like Jesus, with skin on, who just wants to show kindness and love to another person.

Today — I love Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I love it most because as I’m getting ready to post this, I get a message, from a sweet sister I barely know in the flesh, but have had the pleasure of knowing her family for years and getting to know her more through social media, send me a sweet encouragement – straight from her mouth, inspired by Christ’s love, and deep into my heart places. I am wildly loved. You are too.

Being Victorious… and that’s okay.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB) But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

Our founding pastor gave us a project this morning. Write.

Well, okay. That’s easy! His purpose is to start writing down things that are a vision for us throughout the year. Once they’re on paper (or blog), then they become easier to realize because they aren’t thoughts that are just trapped in our head. We are allowing others to see our vision and to support us until the vision is brought to completion.

I have so many visions, friends. So, this post won’t be about those, but about me and the vision I have for myself over this coming year. Because of my becoming, though, I hope that some of the other visions start to take shape and those things that make up my heart dreams will come to life in a way that I never even hoped or expected.

I’ve shared my word with all of you – victorious! I am in *love* with that word, y’all! And I am working in quite a few areas in my life where I want those victories to shine. This morning, though, another thought came to mind (thanks, God!). Not just being victorious in things and certain aspects, but really BEING victorious. Wha?

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Here’s the thing, we all know it’s a really – really – fine line between being humble and being proud. Being sanguine and being haughty.  I like to accomplish things. I feel like God has gifted me with the ability to lead. I like to know that goals are being met and I had a part in doing it. However, I do not like the limelight or the public recognition of it all. I prefer a quiet “atta girl” and being done with the whole thing. I feel like God has given me some really great gifts, but I want to be mindful to not take those for granted or to come off as being boastful and arrogant. But I do want to be confident.

I remember teaching a lesson once about accepting compliments and recognition. I taught it because I struggled (still do!) with it myself. I hoped that by teaching it, I would get better at it. I maybe did, a little. But I also didn’t, a lot. Just a couple weeks ago, I had to go to my manager, who had graciously handed me a few very nice compliments within a matter of a couple days and I ungraciously deflected them, and apologize for doing that. She was being kind and I was unaccepting. Ugh, I hate that about myself! Humble, proud, humble, proud… it’s like my head spins.

Because of the message I heard at church today and one I saw on Facebook after church today, I had to realize this is still something in me that needs a lot of work. The Facebook message was a full-blown encouragement to me and my walk over the last year. I was complimented on my courage and told that I was an inspiration. And that I was loved. My first thought was, “whatevs… I’m just doing what God wants me to do, no big deal! It’s nothing really.” Instead, I typed, “I love you,” and left it right there. It all kinda came together, in that moment, that people (not a lot granted, but a few solid ones! lol) are watching me. They are watching my journey, watching my faith being walked out, and looking at me in a way that’s a little bit scary for me.

And that’s when it hit… God is trying to make ME victorious! Say whaaaaat? He is using me in a way that I didn’t consider before today. Man… part of me has been so confused about this whole journey and how it was supposed to work and why it had to happen this way. And, gosh, if ONE person can see courage in what the Lord has brought me through this year, then it’s all worth it. Every hard thing. Every scary thing. Every challenge. It’s all worth it.

But the very best thing for me to know and to walk in is that if He wants me to be victorious, it means He also wants the very same thing for you. Each of us is being equipped to walk out His mission for our lives, to find the victory He is calling us toward. It isn’t prideful. It’s not being arrogant or conceited. It’s being confident in the work He’s doing through us for His Kingdom! Now, go get all victorious and stuff! :p

1 Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.