I messed up. Like really messed up. It’s the type of mess up that makes me ashamed of myself and makes me question who I am as a Christian and if there isn’t some secret fleshy part of me that still is able to dip my toe into the darkness. It’s the kind of screw up that made me feel completely unworthy to partake in communion. It’s in these messy fleshy moments that I’m reminded how desperately I need my Savior because if left to my own devises I surely would fail. Today, Resurrection Day holds even more significance to me as I grapple with my shortcomings. I am so humbled and grateful that Jesus bore my sins on that cross in Golgotha. He loved me and took me as I am…a sinner and wrapped me in his grace, forgiveness, love and led me out of darkness onto a path of light.
Today, as I sat in tears in church he tenderly reminded me that this is why he died for me. He died for my messiness, my mistakes, my sin, my disobedience and he covered me with his blood and his grace. There is no sin big enough that can take his love away for me. I love how God gently teaches us even when we deserve his wrath. My lesson came when the Lord rolled back the curtain. He gave me a glimpse into my past, the pain, the shame and the emptiness of living in a world that I outgrew through the love of Christ and asked, “Do you really want to go back?” The answer in my spirit was a resounding no. Just like a forgiving Father he restored me. He stripped away the guilt and shame and allowed me to rest in him fully and securely. The ultimate sacrifice on cross gave me the ultimate freedom. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus!
This election season has unfortunately brought out some unprecedented nastiness. Our nation is undeniably under attack not by another nation, but by our very own citizens. We have turned against one another in the most unloving of ways. It is as though a dark cloud filled with anger, frustration and fear is about to burst with an intensity that I haven’t experienced before in my lifetime. Proverbs 15:1 reminds us that when we respond to each other with a gentle answer we can turn away wrath.Words carry power and that power can be used to build or to tear down, to draw near or to separate, to show respect or to disrespect. In this season of our nation, I pray that regardless of your political party affiliation, that we remember that our primary affiliation is being followers of Jesus Christ. As followers, let’s reflect his love towards all people, let’s answer with kindness and gentleness. If we have an opportunity to diffuse anger than let’s do it because we are all here together. So, before we get all fired up, let’s step back and ask, “What would Jesus do?”
Are you excited for 2017? Have you already started jotting down your New Year’s resolutions with gusto? Or have you given up on resolutions that stick for the first couple weeks than fall quietly to the wayside? My resolution is not to make resolutions! Instead I want to focus on making better choices. Awhile back I attended a Ladies Bible Class and we were reading Donna Partow’s book, “Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be.” Day 8 was, ‘Being Consciously Selective,’ which really resonated with me, especially the verse below.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life
she selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands
I got to thinking, what do I want to reap in my life? What do I want to sow? And how can I bring good and not harm into the lives I touch? How do my choices reflect how I view myself? These are the questions I’m reflecting on.
I believe becoming the woman God intended me to be starts with the choices I make daily, regardless of how big or small. I realize that my position in life right now is an accumulation of my choices. .. some good and some bad. I haven’t always used discernment or smart judgement and because of that I’ve hit some serious potholes along the road more like craters! I’ve experienced more consequences for poor choices than I care to admit. Looking back I realize those poor choices are often a reflection of how I was feeling about myself. Your choices are a clear reflection of how you value yourself.
Choices can lead to a harvest or a famine if we don’t use wisdom. I’ve experienced both and I can pinpoint the specific choices I made when I decided to forego wisdom and discernment that led me to a wasteland. The thing about a bad choice is they aren’t always easy to bounce back from and can lead you down a rabbit hole of more destructive choices.
I want my choices to reflect my values, self-care, my love for God, and my faith. Are you following me here? Maybe you’re in the same boat. If so then you’ll agree with me that it is utter insanity being aware that you’re making a foolish choice, but you choose to do so anyway. I’m over it to be honest! So in 2017 what I want most to do is some serious self-examination and reflection on how I currently make choices and how I want to proceed.
Here are my personal guidelines that I intend to follow:
1) Does this choice reap or have the potential to reap a harvest or be fruitful?
2) Does this choice fall in line with God’s word?
3) What are the consequences of this choice?
4) Is what I’m choosing to do a wise investment of my time?
5) Can I be lead into sin by this choice?
6) Does this choice honor who I am? Does it disrespect me or cut down my self-worth?
7) Will this choice lead me closer to God’s will for my life?
8) Does my choice hurt or impact another person(s) in a negative way?
9) Am I being honest?
10) Does this choice bring me closer to accomplishing my goal or take me further away from them?
Our choices can either lead us into a peaceful life with integrity and fulfillment or drain, frustrate and exhaust us. When we choose well we honor who God and we stop shortchanging ourselves. We are precious, capable and virtuous women who have the God-given potential to create the beautiful life we desire, we just have to intentionally and carefully select it!
I can’t believe 2015 is coming to a close! Usually around this time I start evaluating my year. What did I do? What were the highlights? Did I make good choices? Did I make poor choices? Am I happy with my spiritual growth? It’s basically a year in review recap of my life. I find myself asking God to reveal to me areas of my life he wants me to work on, to give me a clean heart, and for wisdom. This was an interesting year full of peaks and valleys some very unexpected dips that shook me up a bit. But, as always God has a way of pulling me through and giving me exactly what I need when I need it, I bet he does that for you too, right? This time it has come in the form of a Ladies’ Bible Class at my church on Sunday. There are a few reasons I already love this class. First are the teachers. They are so down to earth and facilitate the class in a way that makes you want to stay for a couple hours more long after the bell has rang! Of course there are the lovely ladies I get to fellowship with in class. Then the material was really a hook for me! Have you ever heard of Donna Partow’s book, “Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be, A 90 Day Guide to Living the Proverbs 31 Life,”? If you haven’t then I’m so glad you are reading this post because you need to run out right now and get it so you can dive in with me! Donna takes you through a 90 day journey and challenges you to stick with it while moving you towards the path of living a better life…one that God wants you to live!
This book gives a holistic plan that covers all areas of your life…spiritual, physical, relational and emotional. With a new year upon us this is the perfect book to read to make those changes we all say we want to make when December 31st hits. More than ever I’m realizing how fleeting time is and that I have a purpose that needs attention! Have you been feeling that way? I know that change starts with me growing closer to God, but I love how He keeps putting his helpers in my path. There is something so powerful about women’s bible studies and women getting together in general to discuss and support one another in their spiritual walk. I’m going not just into 2016 with an attitude of renewal, but into my life with the confidence that God is working in me to do his will and that I am capable of doing it! That is the life I want to live.
If you live in the DC metro area I want to invite you to join our bible study on Sundays at 11:15 AM to 12:00 PM, at the Silver Spring Church of Christ at 100 East Franklin Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20901. I would love to see you and study the word together!
Lately I’ve been going through somewhat of a difficult season in my life. I’ve been feeling attacked on many fronts, but my spirit has taken a beaten. Without going into too much personal detail I will say that I’ve felt distant from my church, I’ve questioned friendships, and even my own spiritual disciplines have been lacking. The enemy loves to distract us, plant seeds of doubt and make us question our very own spiritual foundation and relationship with Christ and our brothers and sisters. He’s been busy with me and to be honest he’s been having a good old time. Last night I asked God to give me peace and to guide my footsteps. I feel like a big old vacuum has just sucked the joy sucked away from my heart and it has left me completely exhausted, drained, and sad.
Well, when God speaks to you, boy does he speak to you. Last night I had a dream that I was in church and all the seats were taken. Even my daughter was sitting down, but there were no empty seats for me. I was left standing and just looking around. Finally, I thought I’ll just leave. I wasn’t going to take my daughter away from her seat, I planned on waiting for her (which is so significant because my daughter loves church) I was turning to walk away and my minister in a loud voice said, “Don’t you dare to quit church.” WOW! I knew exactly what God was saying to me! God spoke directly to me on a prayer that my heart was so conflicted about that only God could guide me on and no one else. In my spirit I know that God isn’t only talking about the physical church but my relationship with Him. In my heart I have no doubt he is telling to me to stay grounded, to keep strong in my faith, and not to give up and let enemy get a foothold.
I hope in sharing this with you that it is a reminder that God does speak to us. Be still and wait… then my sweet sisters listen to him and find rest in his answers. God is awesome and this morning I was reminded that he is right next to me in all his love and grace in abundance.
A few years ago I wrote an article for Just Between Us Magazine entitled, “The Legacy That Matters Most.” I wrote about the spiritual legacy my grandma left me and how it has inspired me to be intentional about the leaving one for my daughter. I’ll be writing more in-depth about how I think you can do this in the future, but today I want to share one simple way. When you go to church, if you’re like me I write notes about the sermon. I have a journal and I’ll write the name of the sermon, the date and my notes. It is amazing how these journals start to increase as each year passes and I’m always blessed when I read back over them. So I’m building a library of sorts for Anya of ‘Sermon Notes’ that I’ll eventually give to her. I think this is a wonderful way to pass down a blessing to your loved ones and all it requires is going to church and taking notes to enrich your spiritual life as well!
God’s purpose for us is so precious, don’t you think? Have you ever known someone who is 100% on the path of God’s will for their life? Their joy is remarkable! Why? When we choose to be submissive and obedient to God’s will for our life we contribute to the body of Christ and that eternal significance has an impact on us. Each of us is made in his workmanship and created to do works that he prepared for us. When we start these works in life depends on how obedient we are to God’s will for us.
I already see so many of Anya’s spiritual gifts and how she has the potential to do great works for the kingdom and it is my job to nurture those gifts. The nurturing process of our spiritual gifts begins very young. The enemy is always on the prowl trying to hold us back from God’s plans and all too often he delays us by his many schemes. Think about if as parents and as a community we were intentional about revealing, nurturing and encouraging these gifts in our children. I’m not just speaking about our own children, but other children we encounter.
How do we recognize and nurture these gifts in our children?
- Be Present and Aware: We can’t see our children’s spiritual gifts if our nose is stuck in the phone or on Facebook. We should intentionally and deliberately be watching and observing where their gifts lie. What do they enjoy doing? Where do they shine when serving? When we are present and in the moment with them we learn who they are and what abilities and gifts they have to share.
- Talk to the Them About Being Made in God’s Workmanship:Unfortunately, many people view their worth as something earned instead of something that IS. Instilling in our children that they’re made in the image of God and that they are carefully woven together to do his works is invaluable to their self-esteem and confidence. When children know that their worth is from God and that they have a high calling at an early age we start closing those doors the enemy wants to slip in. I can’t stress how important it is to remind our children of their unique purpose in God’s plan.
- Provide Opportunities: Scripture tells us we should take advantage of every opportunity. When we are aware of our children’s gifts we should seek opportunities for them that will encourage and allow them to experience their gifts. For example, my daughter enjoys teaching younger children, so some gracious bible study teachers at church have allowed her to assist them in class with the 4 and 5 year olds. These women are providing her an opportunity to use her gift. Opportunities are avenues for our children to explore and utilize their gifts, which gets them excited!
- Encourage Them with Words: Our words to our children are incredibly powerful and we have to use them responsibly. Make it a point every day to encourage your children. Slip them little notes in their lunchboxes, pray over them and however you can find a way to encourage that resonates with them, do it! Encourage other kids as well! When you see a gift in your friend’s child do what you can to uplift them as well.
- Seek out Mentors: Our children more than ever are in need of mentors. Seek out mentors who have similar spiritual gifts as your children to guide them, pray for them, and encourage them along the way. Those sweet teachers at our church are becoming mentors to my daughter and that influence is invaluable. Be a mentor yourself! Seek out children who you can mentor and serve in a way that will motivate them to do God’s will for their lives.
- Be an Example: Are you taking advantage of your gifts? How do you serve? Are you living on purpose? Being an example to our children is crucial. Let them see the joy that comes from using their spiritual gifts through your example. Never devalue your own gifts, whatever they are, they are instrumental in the work of Christ and are valuable. Let your children see you not just talking, but walking the walk.
Never underestimate your children’s spiritual gifts and what they can evolve into when they are nurtured and encouraged. Start young and build them up! Reach out to other children and serve as the body of Christ to God’s most precious gift to us.