If I could change One Thing…

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If you could go back in time and change one thing, have one do-over, what would it be? Have you ever wondered?

I had several answers when I first thought about this question. My mind quickly recalled times when I said yes when I should have said no, or said no when I should have said yes, yada yada. My answers always involved someone else.

A lesson I am learning and trying to practice (God help me), is to  stop pointing fingers, getting my feelings hurt, and shrinking back from the only person I can change… me.

In a spirit of thankfulness, I am reminded of Romans 8:28, and I have to thank God that He is true to His word. Instead of walking in regret I can hold my head up and learn from the past and not carry it into the future (or the present).

While it may be true that the past has formed us into who we are today, truer still is His grace and forgiveness can turn all the ashes into beauty, if we let Him. Healing and deliverance is found only through Him.

One thing I have learned, is to ask for help.

I have created many a mess by not asking for help. Pride and fear kept me silent.  I was drowning with a smile on my face and the whole time I was saying, “I’m good, I’m fine, I got this under control.”

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Here’s the thing about lessons; they are learned as an after affect, and sometimes experience can be an unforgiving tutor.

I think about the prodigal son and if he would have asked for help sooner, maybe he would have never had to be a connoisseur of pig slop.

There is safety in numbers. We are to surround ourselves with other Christian believers. The Father, who sent His Son to reconcile us to Him, is a Father of intimate relationship.  Since He has gone through such great effort to restore us into fellowship with Him, we can trust and believe that relationship with His body is important. We were not created to be an island unto ourselves. We are not wounded animals to go off into isolation and die by ourselves. We were created in His image and likeness to be in communion with Him, through Him, and with others.

As I walk this out, and sometimes I may stumble, I am learning I am only responsible for myself, my own actions, and before my actions turn into reactions, ask for help.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you, feel free to leave a comment below.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

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Beauty for Ashes

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Shame does something to a person. It produces a judgement of guilt and unrelenting condemnation.

Shame distorts a person. It suffocates the future and feeds on regret. The showering of fear hinders growth and stifles a person from becoming who they were created to be.

When I think of people in the Bible who overcame shame, I see a common thread.

Think of the woman at the well, for example. Shame ostracized her right into isolation. Or how about Rahab the prostitute? You better believe she could clear a sidewalk when she walked down the street. Even Gideon hid because he was the least of the least; he didn’t see himself as a man of valor; but God did. The list could go on and on, because God chooses such people.

Do you know what they have in common? They encountered the living God!

Are you there, my friend? Are you carrying shame like a dirty little secret and trying to cover it with  lie upon lie; afraid of being exposed? Have you isolated yourself in your closet of regret and you no longer do the things you used to enjoy, you hide from people, your prayer life is non-existent, you don’t even read your Bible anymore, and your head is too heavy to hold up?

If this is you, then there is something you need to know. There is no sin so great that He can’t forgive. There is no wrong that He can’t make right and no reason your past has to rob you of your future.

Jesus came to set you free! Do you believe this?

When He gave His life for yours, He took the shame to the grave and left it there, and then He rose victorious! His victory is your victory.

He gives beauty for ashes. Do you believe?

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,
The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

Call on Him. Repent and receive His forgiveness. Let it go. You have been created for so much more. When He formed you, He held you in His hands and He said, “It is good.”

We make mistakes. We don’t always make the right choice. Sometimes we do it willingly and sometimes not. But, He has made a way for us. Come to Him just as you are, because this is one thing you can’t do on your own; you need Him.  We all need Him.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

Me, JJ, & Jesus

 

 

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The best gift I ever received is JJ; my little four legged buddy. He was just a puppy, barely able to climb a curve, when he moved into our hearts. He is three years old now; I think that is 21 in dog years.

I was never really a fan of small dogs; until now. Perhaps it is because I always viewed small dogs as just little yappers. At least with big dogs you can have some kind of protection. My view has certainly changed since JJ.

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JJ follows me everywhere. If I sit, he sits beside me. He presses himself up against me, or hops on my lap, and there he will rest. When I move, he moves. When I go to bed he follows me into the bedroom and hops on his pillow and sleeps on the floor beside me. He seems to have a sense about him, no matter how deep asleep he is the moment, I get out of bed he is right there beside me following me around the apartment; watching and waiting.

He enjoys car rides; he has traveled across country several times. No matter if it is a short ride or a cross country trip JJ is right there beside me, sitting on the middle console looking out the window, happy to be with me. When he was a puppy my husband and I would sneak him into stores with us, he fit perfectly inside my bag.

drive 9When he can’t go on outings with us, we return home to him waiting by the door for us, tail wagging, smile on his face, and usually with one of his favorite toys in his mouth.

Everyone knows JJ, he is friendly and happy.

This morning JJ was sitting in front of me, his head tilted, looking at me with his gentle black eyes and a smile on his mouth… he had a look of anticipation, yet he seemed so content to just be with me. I had to smile, pat him on his head, tell him what a good boy he is and how much I loved him and then I had a thought; be like JJ.

Stay with me here…

JJ knows I love him. He feels safe and has never experienced anything but love. I supply his needs, feed him, love him, and care for him. He could be spoiled, but he doesn’t know he is because this is all he has ever known. Even when he has been corrected and disciplined he is still confident in my love and care for him. And if we cross paths with a bigger dog who is not very friendly, JJ finds his refuge hiding behind my legs.

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I am learning an important lesson from JJ. His complete trust and faith in me raised a question in me…

The moment he tilted his head and his eyes met mine I heard the question; “Do I trust and love God this much? Is He truly the center in my life and does everything revolved around Him?”

You see, even when I walk in the door without a surprise treat to give JJ, he is still happy to see me. Or when I have to discipline him, he does not cower from me, he immediately jumps up on my lap safe in my care for him. When he can’t see me, he knows I will return and I haven’t abandoned him.

Simply put… he trusts me.

My question to you is… Do you trust Him?

A rescue dog who has been abused can still heal and thrive and learn to trust, in the care of a good owner. (I am in NO way comparing us to dogs, I am just using this as an example. Although I do think we could learn a lot from them) Most of us have been deeply wounded and we carry the injuries like a badge. We are afraid to trust and let go.

But Jesus says, “Trust Me. Come to Me.”

He will never abandon you, He will never forsake you. He will deliver you. He will provide for you. And yes, there is always room for you in His arms and on His lap.

Pray this: 

Father, heal me, lead me and reveal Yourself to me, give me the revelation of You and help me to never stray, but to always stay close to You, not relying on my own sight but in complete confidence You are with me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Be Free & Stay Free 

 

Your Will or His Will

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God came down to us as a man, tempted in every way we are tempted, experienced every emotion we experience, and yet He was without sin. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to restore us back to Him. Jesus, fully man, fully God; Emmanuel, God with us.

Think about that. Let that sink in, please.

He conquered sin and death because He was wholly submitted to the will of the Father.

His victory is our victory! He did this for us!

Are you seeking God? Is there an area in your life that you need a victory? Is there something holding you back from being who He has created you to be? Are the chains around your ankles keeping you from soaring to heights you have never known before? Are the cuffs on your wrists too heavy to even lift your arms? Is your pillow wet from your tears? Does it seem like all hell is breaking loose on you?

My friend, your victory waits for you to be wholly submitted to God. Do you trust Him? Can you honestly say, “Not my will, but Yours be done”?

Can you lay it all before Him and trust Him? Will you withhold nothing from Him?

Deliverance is spiritual surgery and it is warfare.

Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin and death. There are too many dead people walking around and the only way we can truly live is to die to ourselves and to live for Him. When you submit to Him, resist the devil, take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and discern between truth and lie, then the devil has to flee from you. The enemy can’t reside in a home that has been swept clean and filled with His Holy Spirit.

So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. James 4:1-8

God is not angry with you. He is full of compassion for you. He loves you without measure. He is for you, not against you.

Purpose in your heart and mind to submit to your Heavenly Father, knowing and trusting He is your Deliverer. And if He asks you to lay something down, trust it is for your good and be obedient. Allow Him to take the dirt away and He will wash you clean. Refresh yourself in His Holy Spirit.

I am not suggesting it will be easy, but with God all things are possible for those who believe.

Repeat after me…

Father, not my will, but Your will be done in my life. Be glorified in and through me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Be Free & Stay Free 

 

What Do You See?

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What do you see when you look at this picture?

You are probably seeing David and Goliath. You know, the shepherd boy who slew the giant with a stone and a slingshot and the decapitated him with his own sword.  Oh yes, the young David who had faith to believe. The young David who grew into the King God annointed him to be. The David who God called friend, the man after God’s own heart, the man who was a murderer and an adulterer, yet was a man after God’s heart.  Yes, that David who repented and was forgiven.

Now, look at this picture again and what do you see?

I challenge you to refocus your vision, put on the glasses of faith…

Do you have your glasses of faith on? Go ahead, get them, I will wait.

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This is what I see…

You are the giant! That’s right. That demon that is taunting you, he is small in comparison to He who is in you!

No matter what you are battling; depression, addiction, heartache, sickness…

You have the power and the authority. Rise up and say “No More!” Step on him! Put your foot on the neck of that demon who is trying to take you out.

See with the eyes of faith AND believe.

 Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind].  1 John 4:4 

He is lifting you on His shoulders!

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Be Free & Stay Free

 

Lily of the Valley

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I am sitting at my laptop and wanting to write a post to inspire and encourage. You ever have those moments where your thoughts are being so consumed with the love of God and you want to share it? Such love can not be contained.

I can not put my thoughts into a single coherent post, but I know there is someone out there who just needs to be reminded how much He loves you.

I submit this to you and I hope as you listen to this, you allow yourself to meditate on our One Hope and Redeemer and Lover of our souls.

 God [in His eternal plan] chose to make known to them how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you, the hope and guarantee of [realizing the] glory.

Colossians 1:27

Be Free & Stay Free

Who is God the Father to you?

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If I ask you, who is God the Father to you, you may have different answers and may even find it easy to answer.  But, if I ask you who are you to God the Father, I think, maybe, we would hear some crickets.

We see the greatness of God, we read His Word and  believe every word to be true (as we should). Yet, some of us struggle when it comes to believing His love for us personally.

Unless we can fully accept and believe His unconditional love for us, His children, then we will always try to perform, we will never feel worthy enough, and we will be motivated by fear.

I have been editing my manuscript, it is a fictional story about a young run-a-way’s journey to salvation. I want to share with you a part of a conversation between the young girl and another character in the story. Just a little background, the girl is a run-a-way, she came from an abusive father. Most of her young life she has been running and scared, always wanting to be loved and accepted, but never knowing the safety of real love.

I think most of us have struggled with the very question this young girl has. It is easier to believe God created the world, parted the red sea, raised the dead, even died on the cross for us, but to believe He loves “me,” well, now that is asking a lot…

If we can fully believe Him, find security in His perfect love, then we would not worry or be anxious for the things we are worried and anxious for. We would fully believe Him when He says, it will all work together for our good.

I submit to you this short conversation. Do you see yourself here?  Have you asked the same question this young girl has asked?

 

“You call God… Father? This is where I struggle.” Sarah said. “I can believe He created the world, I can even believe the story about Him parting the sea, but to think of Him as Father…”

Ruth understood what Sarah was saying. In the short time Sarah has been here, she has shared just enough to know that she and Ruth had come from similar backgrounds. This questioning Sarah had about God as Father, was the same thing Ruth struggled with.

“Sarah, I understand. I had a hard time seeing God as my Father, too.” Ruth said. “Because my own father was not a good father to me. I wasn’t always a Christian. You see, I didn’t really accept Gods love until after I met Paul, it was through Paul God showed me what perfect love is. Before I could fully receive, I was just going through the motions. I was going to church and doing all the Christianly things, but I didn’t truly have an intimate relationship with Jesus. And because I worked so hard at being a good Christian, I just kept failing and beating myself up. I felt like the worlds biggest phony.”

Ruth paused for a moment and then reached over and took the Bible off the nightstand, opened it to 1 John 4:18, then handed it to Sarah. “Will you read this out loud, please?” Ruth asked.

“There is no fear in love.” Sarah began. “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, so the one who is afraid is not perfected in love.”

“Do you understand what this means?”

“No.”  Sarah shrugged, handing the Bible back to Ruth.

“It took me a long time to understand what this meant, even though I quoted it a hundred times.” Ruth said. “Our love is conditional, Sarah, sometimes what we call love isn’t love at all. We have learned, from our experiences starting at childhood, to perform for love. We think maybe if I do this, or say that, or look like this, or you fill in the blank, I will be loved. To us, love takes on the face of the one we want to love us the most and when we are rejected by them, or if the person, your father for example, is a hurt angry person, we are in a constant state of waiting for the other foot to drop. We carry this with us throughout our lives and into other relationships and this is how we begin to view ourselves; as someone who is not worthy of love, even though we want it.”

Waiting for the other foot to drop was definitely something Sarah understood. She was in a constant state of fear and anxiety with her father. She wanted to please him, but no matter what she would do to earn his approval,  he seemed to always be disappointed in her. Then the rare times when things were peaceful in her home, something would happen and her fathers temper would explode like a volcano, sending everyone running for shelter.  Ruth was right, no matter how much distance Sarah put between her and her father, she always felt fearful and anxious.

“Here’s the thing, Sarah,” Ruth continued. “God’s love for us is perfect. He wants only good for us, in fact, all good things come from Him. He doesn’t stand in the shadows waiting for us to screw up so He can punish us.  He doesn’t judge us or condemn us. When we accept His Son, we become His family, His children, and He is a good Father, Sarah. A good Father may chasten us, but He never rejects us, or turns His back on us,or withhold any good thing. There is nothing we can do or say that will make Him love us more, or love us less, He loves us fully, completely, unconditionally. When He looks at us, He sees His Son, He does not hold our past against us, He gives us a bright future. When we can accept and believe how much He loves us, then we will not be fearful anymore. Because we will trust Him and know, no matter what happens, He will never leave us. His love is constant. Then when we truly know this, deep in our bellies, we stop performing and trying to earn His love and approval, because we know He loves us and we have no reason to be fearful. We can be free to be vulnerable and allow His Spirit to heal us from the inside out, without fear. Because He knows us and there is nothing we can hide from Him, but if we give it all to Him, He promises to turn it into something good.”

The conversation left Sarah with much to ponder. As Ruth talked, Sarah could feel a heaviness lifting, almost as if a light bulb was coming on. Through Ruth’s words, it was as if real truth was coming alive and Sarah’s heart began to open a little more. It was as if a door was being opened and she was putting a foot over the threshold.

Later that evening, Sarah lay in bed thinking about what Ruth had said; she could feel the truth in it. Despite all the bad things that have happened, Sarah began to see the good in it. As her mind began to reflect on her past and the people she met, she began to see Gods hand in it all.

“Father.” She whispered. She held her breath and listened carefully; for what, she was not sure. “Father?” She whispered again. She liked the thought of having a Father to look after her. And with that thought she whispered thank you and then drifted off to sleep. 

 

Dear Reader, do you know how loved you are by Him? Is it more than just words and a Bible verse to you? Do you have it deep in your belly and do you believe it? He does love you and He calls you by name. He sees you and He knows you. You are His. You belong.

Be Free & Stay Free