Roots and Lies

I took a 6 year break from the dentist.  It was all because when I had my wisdom teeth out and it was an experience. I had a hook on a tooth.  The root had grown into a hook shape. I won’t describe to you the process of getting it out or talk about the fact that I was awake the whole time, hence the 6 year break.

But that memory reminds me that the lies we believe have hooks on them.  The longer we let lies live in our hearts and minds, they will form roots. Not spindly roots like small weeds, but big gnarly roots that you can only get rid of with a chainsaw.

The hook has tentacles, grabbing hold of of the memories and thoughts.  Like a disease this lie begins to infect everything. We don’t even realize it.  We go about day by day, living a life shaped by the lies. We make decisions and move forward believing false things about ourselves, the world and who God is.

This could be believing the lie that we have to live to impress other people or we are what we make and do.  This could be that marriage will make us complete or that we are only good parents if our children are always well behaved.  Or even believing that we aren’t worthy of love or acceptance. That we aren’t beautiful or created perfect.

Whatever the lie, it doesn’t have to define us or hold us hostage. Thankfully, the roots don’t have to stay in us.  God is a rescuer.

 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

(ESV) Psalm 40:1–3

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Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash

But in our world, we are really good at the self-help talk, the positive mantras and the affirmations to say daily.  There are people who make millions of dollars in the self-help industry.  Sure those can work, but those don’t mean anything if they aren’t based in who God says you are. 

The best kind of weed and root killer is one of truth.  

His words are the strongest and will carry the most power.  His word brought about the earth, it carries enough power to combat the lies. 

For God’s Word is solid to the core;
    everything he makes is sound inside and out.
He loves it when everything fits,
    when his world is in plumb-line true.
Earth is drenched
    in God’s affectionate satisfaction.

The skies were made by God’s command;
    he breathed the word and the stars popped out.
He scooped Sea into his jug,
    put Ocean in his keg.

Earth-creatures, bow before God;
    world-dwellers—down on your knees!
Here’s why: he spoke and there it was,
    in place the moment he said so.

(MSG) Psalm 33:4–9

Also God understands roots, His word is filled with the all sorts of root imagery..  He talks about being planted and rooted next to streams of living water, about being rooted and built up.  All of these things have to do with growth in our faith and belief.

Being planted and rooted, is powerful and painful. Think about it.  To be planted, means to be dug up, to be buried again, to breakthrough.  To uproot something, to dig out means pain.  To break free of the old roots meant to walk through pain.

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Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

But when it is your heart that is broken and wounded, where do you even start?  When I started digging out the roots of lies, it left me broken, depressed and hopeless.  That felt worse.

In the midst of the brokenheartedness, I tried to live in the same way as before.  I tried to be the person I was before I dug out the root. It didn’t work. I felt fake and like a liar all the time. I tried to mask it. That just wasn’t me.  I held on to other lies in the midst of that season.  “I can’t let anyone see me weak.” “I have Jesus, I can’t be sad.”

The deepest wounds don’t heal overnight and not on their own.

You can’t self-heal. These wounds take care and procedures, medicine and rest, giving the place of the wound a break from the constant stress and strain of use.  Funny thing though, just as it is really hard to do a medical procedure on yourself, we won’t be able to remove the hook on our own.  Mostly we won’t get all of the root.    Healing comes in time.  And often you aren’t the same afterwards.

It’s like I needed a physical therapist for my heart. I needed someone to show me how to be wounded and yet still heal.

What it took was, first to say it out loud, to tell my people.  And to be honest, it was to find the people that I could trust to help, to walk with me as I continued to do the work.  It was the people that I could be broken around and they accepted and even welcomed my brokenness.

So many of us are walking around wounded and broken, looking to the things of the world to heal.  We busy ourselves, try to live out of old patterns, and just get through. Waiting for the next weekend, next vacation.  We distract ourselves from dealing with the wounds.

Friends, don’t wait, don’t hold back.  Don’t wait until the wound is infected.  Dig it out now.  And don’t do it alone.  The enemy wants us to believe that we have to live alone in our pain and brokenness.  That because of that we aren’t love and accepted.  But we are…we are chosen and loved and welcomed in. Brokenness and all. Not because of anything we did, but because of the one who opened the door for us, the one that has the power to dig out those roots and help us establish new ones.

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Speak It Out Loud

So many of us are walking around with words from childhood still taunting us as adults.  We make decisions based on a belief about yourself that maybe started with a few simple words. “You aren’t that smart.” “You are a quitter.” “You don’t belong here.” “You’re ugly.”

Words have power.  Power to change a moment. Power to change a mind. Power to make someone believe.  Power to numb a spirit.

I don’t have to convince myself.  Words that are said out loud can break a heart, can pivot someone’s life. Think about when someone tells really good news, “I said yes.” Or when your child says “I love you, mommy.”  Those words mark moments.

Even more so words that you don’t say have even more power.  The words that you speak to yourself in moments no one is listening or that your mind speaks to your soul. This could be those words that were spoken good or bad over you as a child.  

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But as I think of power of words, I know that God’s word carry even more effect.  God’s words have the power to move mountains, devastate nations, and part seas. God’s words created the heavens and the earth and then he declared them good.  He spoke those words over this earth and us in it. Think about what his words can do for our hearts.

When we speak God’s word over ourselves and others, in those moments of unbelief, doubt, fear or pain, he opens our heart, shakes away the dust so it can beat again.

He was just a guest speaker at church.  But in the middle of a sermon that I can’t remember, he started repeating the phrase, “God loves you.” “God LOVES you.” GOD loves you.” “God loves YOU.” He captured our eyes and said it to us, like little children, we soaked up that reassurance from who had lived on this earth longer than us, with more wisdom and perspective.  Like a small child with a tear stained face needed to hear precious, kind words with eagerness. Not a single dry eye could be found.

Those words.  God loves you.

The words that I need to hear and soak in everyday. I don’t realize that I need them, until I hear myself saying things like:

  • “If I could just get my life together.”
  • “I just need to be more disciplined.”
  • “I should trust God more.”
  • “I don’t know where I went wrong to end up here.”

Most of these are conditional statements.  That idea that you are more worthy of God’s love if you were just a better person. Or life is better if we just live up to some crazy standard. These are behavioral statements. As if by being more obedient we can make God love us more.

The miracle we experience everyday is that God knows exactly who we are.  He knows all of the terrible things we have every thought or done and still said, “I sent my Son to die on the cross, to absorb all my wrath, so that I can be close to you.”

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8

He doesn’t love us because we are his hands and feet.  He doesn’t love us because we reflect who he is to others.  He doesn’t love us more for following his commandments. He doesn’t love us because we go to church or don’t or vote one way or the other.  He doesn’t love us more or less because we make good or bad choices.

No, he loves us because he loves us because he loves us because he loves us.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

As I sit here on a rainy day, contemplating some hard things in my heart, I know that a shift happens in my thinking when I rest in the truth that God loves me.  A powerful shift happens in my hopefulness, in my outlook, in my desire for what God calls me to. A shift happens in my heart toward God.

His love unmotivated, unprompted, because that is just who God is.  We need to speak those out loud to ourselves and to others. We come to God to hear about how much he loves us, and that love will transform our hearts.  Not the other way around.

So what if you told yourself, or someone in your life, that God loves them.  Just the way they are, in the mess, in the muck of their life. How many of us need to hear those words over and over again, especially in a world that shouts that we aren’t enough, that we need to hustle harder, that with these 5 steps you can make your life better.  Especially in a world that is angry right now, that is divided, that is crying out for a balm for bleeding wounds.

“Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.”  -Proverbs 10:12

What if we were just able to say, God loves me, God loves you, no matter where you are, no matter how far you are, but he loves every single part of you, especially the broken parts.

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It feels trite to say, but only if you say it once.  Say it again and again and again. Saying it like you are desperate to believe it.  Because to be honest, I don’t always. I doubt it, I question it, I stumble over the fact that God loves me.  I stumble over the power of those words, that all my mess and brokenness are loved by the Sovereign God of the Universe.

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

Dumb Sheep

Many times throughout the old testament, God asks his people to remember, to recall all the ways that he has saved them, been faithful to them, provided for them.

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” (Deuteronomy 15:15)

Remember. Recall

Why does he keep reminding them? Why does he have to tell them again and again, that he will be there, that he will help them, save them?

Because they are dumb sheep.  In the midst of the desert, far away from the only home they have ever known, they have forgotten.  God pulled them out of slavery, saved them from the on coming armies. He parted the Red Sea!!! Given them food again and again, but yet they still complain.

Because they are dumb sheep.

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It is easy to look at these stories and think, how could they possibly forget something like that?  How could they forget being saved from slavery and being in a foreign land? How can they forget what God has promised them?

But just like them, we are dumb sheep.  We forget the ways God has been faithful.  We forget the his works so easily.  We quickly forget who He says he is.

THAT is why he commands us to remember.

OH and I need to remember.  Today, tomorrow, and the next day and next.  I will need to remember. To remember his faithfulness and his goodness to me.  

We need to remember to mark those moments, those days, those situations where God worked out the details, brought you through when all seemed impossible.  To count up those answered prayers as a bank of faithfulness to cash in on days when it seems like he isn’t present or he isn’t answering your call.  

So we can combat the lies that have their hooks in us.

Like the lie that constantly creeps up in my mind, “I am all alone”.  It’s a lie that I have been fighting since childhood. Feeling out of place, not belonging, unliked, or forgotten feel like a constant companion.  Prone to dramatic hyperboles, it avalanches into despair of loneliness.

It still creeps up on a Saturday night with no plans, even though I love a chill Saturday night.  The enemy creeps in turns up the volume on that age old lie in my heart. And suddenly I am in despair and anxiety.

In that spot, I need those words from the Lord.  

Remember.  Recall.

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And in that moment, I have to stop and count the ways.  List out the answered prayers. I have to remember the friends, the family, the life that God has given me.

God has been abundantly kind and given me a group of friends that I have known for over a decade.  I think back to the day as a teenager that I longed for a best friend.  And remember that he has provided. I think about my dear sweet friends whom I love and that are patient and kind and reach out to pray for me.  I think about the memories gained because I am friends with them.

Those memories, the pictures, bring me back a place of belief and trust that God has got this.  That the whisper from the enemy is a lie designed to make me doubt and despair.

It maybe something else for you.  Some other lie that has a hold on your heart, that never seems to go away.  A lie that you would long to be rid of for good, like those last 5 pounds.

  • That you won’t be able to pay your bills
  • That you your prayers mean nothing to him
  • That you are a mistake and a failure
  • That you won’t get through the day after a night of zero sleep.
  • It will always be this way.

So friend, recall, remember, the ways in which God has provided.  Mark it. Write it down to look back at when the lie seems louder. 

We won’t always be in a season where God answers in the way that we expect him too.  We won’t always be in a season of harvest or abundance. On this side of heaven we won’t always understand or see how God is working, but when we recall his works, we will see that he is not a God of inaction.  His ways are higher than our ways, and thoughts are higher than our thoughts. 

And His ways are more powerful that we will ever understand.

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us,and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:9-11

These verses are Rahab in the Old Testament, talking to the men who are going to conquer her country.  Because she had heard about the powerful acts of God, she knew…her heart melted because of who God is and what he has done.

What has he done…more than we ever thought possible.  Conquered the grave, given us a healer for our broken hearts, and provided the ENOUGH that we need in Jesus.

So squash down the disbelief with the powerful acts of God.  Let your melt your heart with remembering.  Help each other recall.   Tell about the His mighty works, and let the power of the cross remind you of who God is and always will be.

 

On this day…

Facebook can be cruel, right?  Bringing up old memories and the good old days.  The ones that we are trying to forget or maybe long to go back to.

It’s this cruel joke really. Reminding of what use to be.  I don’t know about you, but some days those memories are hard.

  • “I use to be skinnier.”
  • “Look how much fun I had.”
  • “I had so many friends.”
  • “That was when things were good between us.”
  • “Look how happy we were.”

Those memories maybe remind you that you are a long way from where you used to be or where you want to be now. Reminding you of what you used to have or are still waiting for.

Recently, because I didn’t want to sit alone in my pity party, I took a screen shot of a post from a year ago and sent it to one of my best friends.

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I might have said something like… “last year was very different, huh, ugh, sigh!” Not really sure how I felt and not sure what kind of answer I was hoping to get or wanted to get.

This is how she replied. “It is very different. But oh friend, I am so encouraged and encourage you to be comforted with your words. “Everyday He shows his abundant love for me in ways I can’t even imagine” it’s cool to think, wow, he’s still doing that.”

What I wanted in that moment, was maybe someone to say that I was better off now.  Or even to say, I am so sorry that you aren’t as happy! Or maybe even a snarky, cynical remark about how much Valentine’s day is stupid.

How dare she quote me to me!!

The truth….the pity party doesn’t work. 

It feels good for a second.  It feels good to draw someone else into your loneliness and bitterness. We long to have company in that.  We want others to validate our outlook and make us feel comfortable in those feelings. And to quote Gilmore Girls…..

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It is a vicious circle though.  The pity party is one with deflated balloons, and left overs from someone’s wedding. It doesn’t provide encouragement or hope.  In fact, it is the kind of party that you leave feeling worse than when you came.

We look to our circumstances to dictate how we feel about ourselves, the world, and God. Maybe we think our circumstances are a reflection about how God feels about us.  Choosing to bless those he loves more than others, to answer their prayers.

It is easy when things are good to think God is good.  It is easy to say, “Hallelujah” (praise hands emoji) to God when everything is peachy. But what about those days when the invites to pity parties are strong, when you can barely get out of bed, and your heart is heavy and hurting.

My words that I said a year ago mean just as much as the did on that day “Everyday he shows his abundant love for me in was I can’t even imagine.”

He is working out all things for the good of those whom he loves. And oh, how He loves you. 

He loves you, not just because you have it all worked out.  Because you can do at lot of great things for him.  Not because you have all those spiritual disciplines down.  Not because you have all those ducks in a row.  Not because you can smile at strangers or keep a tidy house.  Not because you don’t complain or are good with your money.

He loves you because he loves you because he loves you.

It might sound trite in your circumstances today.  It might seem empty and lame to whatever you are walking through.  But it is no less true.  There is no other truth I want to lean into. And I long to have a faith that is quick to see His goodness even in the midst of hard days.

Our God is not one of empty promises or of accidents.  He is not wondering what to do next in your life.  He is not surprised by the things that happens. He is the God of Jacob and Moses.  He comes through. He is faithful.

Because a pity party is really about ourselves, it is about us looking at our lives and thinking only of ourselves, the only thing that helps me make a quick exit, is remembering. 

Remembering the one in whom I say I trust.  Remembering the works that he has done in my life and those around me.

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“I will remember the dead of the Lord, yes, I will remember your wonders of old.  I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” -Psalm 77:11

Remembering His faithfulness.  Remembering how he has answered my prayers and fulfilled desires in the past.  Remembering how he hasn’t given up on me, even on my darkest days.

Our God is not like us, one that gives up on people, letting us just figured it out on our own or resigning to defeat.  He is a God that works….sure it may not be how we hope he would work.  It may not always wrap up in a neat little tidy bow.  And it may not be in our timing. But He isn’t like us, thank goodness!

Psalm 77:16-20

“When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.  The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.  The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.  Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

 

Friends, sometimes God’s way is through the sea, through great waters, where we cannot see his footprints.  I pray that if you are in that spot that you would remember. Remember his works, his faithfulness, his goodness, his grace and love for you. He is trustworthy.

God Had a Different Plan

God has a different plan than I do.  (#storyofmylife)


He turns things out in a different way then I anticipate.  Always for the best.  Always for the better.  I used to interpret this as him loving me less because he didn’t fulfill my plans in my ideal way.  Oh, how wrong I am.
God works like this.  He works out his story, his plan, in the way that is best and for the good of those that he loves and for his glory. And OH….how this paints the most beautiful picture of the way he loves us.  

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:8-9
Stories throughout scripture, Abraham and Sarah, Abraham and Isaac, the Exodus from Egypt, Joseph. All of these stories, he made a promise and fulfilled it, but not in the way that was expected.  
God is a God of the unexpected.  Maybe because he is all about the dramatic twist or he is all about the March madness type of ending.
This what makes Easter so powerful.  It is the ending that no one expected. 

Except God himself, he knew, he planned it this way.  
As I read and ponder this story today, I can’t get over what the disciples must have been thinking as they watched Jesus die on the cross.  They probably couldn’t fathom what could or would happen next.  They were in total despair and hopelessness.  

If they were anything like me after a big disappointment or heartbreak, they wanted to crawl in a hole and watch Netflix all day, trying to escape that feeling of despair.
They were in mourning, not only over his death, but what his death seemed to mean to the story they thought was unfolding in their world.  They thought he was supposed to come and save them on chariots and horses.  They thought he was the great leader that would help them physically rise to power and overtake their oppressors.  They thought he had come to free them physically from this life of oppression they were experiencing.
They didn’t see, they didn’t completely understand. They didn’t understand that Jesus came to free them the greatest oppressor that they would ever know, sin and death.  He came to give them a new live of freedom and oneness with their heavenly Father. 
As write these words, I am struck by the fact that I don’t think I fully understand this at times.  The prayers I pray; the things I hope for are all for things that would change my physical circumstances or relationship status.  I pray for God to free me from this situation I am in in this world, not spiritually.
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  —Luke 24: 45-47
Friends, often, we water down what Jesus and scriptures say to fit our needs of the day, to encourage ourselves, to fill our cup a little more.  We look to God to answer our prayers for physical needs, and to help us in our circumstances.  We get frustrated when God doesn’t answer in the way we think he should. (Not to say that he doesn’t care about those things, because he certainly does.)
However, we forget that God’s primary goal in sending Jesus was to free us from our sin, to bring in the light and to spread the light in the darkness of the world.  

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Our primary need isn’t physical circumstances, but a spiritual one.  And because He love us, he isn’t going to address our physical needs without first dealing with our spiritual needs. We are in the dark and he has come to let the light in.  At the end of the day, all the other prayers could be answered but we would still be in need of something that WE cannot doing anything about, the darkness.  But the good news is that is exactly what he came to do.  In the 1stcentury, they didn’t get it and often we don’t either.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” –Isaiah 60-1
Friends, some of you may be in a very dark place, goodness I know how that feels, I know how it feels to want to hide under covers, to avoid happy people, to live in fear of what else could go wrong.  The darkness sometimes is overpowering and debilitating.  The darkness is all you can think about.  You feel trapped, paralyzed and utterly destitute.
But there is GOOD NEWS…..he has come. 
He has died the death that darkness wants us to die, and he came back.  
He overcame death, so that we wouldn’t have to.  
He came to bring light into our lives so that the darkness would not overcome.  
He came to save us from the darkness.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  BUT TAKE HEART; I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” –John 16: 33
He came with a different plan in mind.
He came with a plan that was there from the beginning.
He came to save us from something that we couldn’t never be able to save ourselves from, sin and death.
He came to give Himself as a sacrifice, so that we could live free of death and condemnation.

Friends, on this Easter Sunday, there is GOOD NEWS. He is risen, and he conquered death, so that we wouldn’t ever have to, so that we could live free and in the light.  The darkness will be always be there on this side of heaven, tempting us, calling us back, but…..we he made the way, he died to give us a different and better option.

Do I really believe it?

“Do you believe that God truly loves you?”

Sitting across from my counselor, staring her down a bit, I thought I was ready to do the counseling thing.
I had read somewhere that everyone should go to counseling at some point in their life. So I thought this was a wise decision, especially after several anxiety attacks and this deep anger and frustration in my heart.
What I didn’t realize maybe was that most of the work of counseling is down outside that office, beyond the couch.  
It took me a while, but I realized that in order to begin healing, I had to start doing the work.  I had to do the homework, and challenge myself to open some of those partially healed wounds.  When I began doing that, God started to disrupt things.  He began to push me out of my comfort zone, to a place of uncertainty but profound freedom.
One of the first places he started was when my counselor asked me that question.

“Do you believe that God loves you?”
As a good Christian girl, growing up in the church, I knew all the right answers, I knew the right scripture to quote, I knew how to pray in a way to impress people, I knew the songs.  On the surface, I could answer that question.  I could say, yes, scripture says he does.
Scripture says it but do I—in my heart of hearts—believe it?  Do I believe that he loves me at a deep, soul wrenching, unwavering level?  Do I believe that He loves me, not just because he created me but because he truly knows me and is my Father?
At that moment, I couldn’t respond.  I didn’t know if I really believed that. That kind of answer scared me.  
See for years, I have been chasing this “Christian Life” that I thought I was supposed to lead. It looked neat and tidy, it was clean and simple.  However, I some how couldn’t achieve it,  couldn’t reach that level. 
I was always messing things up.  I couldn’t get up early enough to spend time with Jesus every morning.  I wasn’t disciplined enough, didn’t pray enough and had too much sin in my heart.  

Ultimately, I thought I made wrong decisions that led me down this path of singleness and loneliness.  I had somehow messed up God’s plan for my life and now I missed out on this “Christian Life.”
What I realize in typing all this out is that somewhere along the way, I got the idea that there was this one way to love Jesus, a formula for living the joyous Christian life.  
Slowly I am discovering that there isn’t.  God didn’t design us to all live in the same way.  In fact, our relationship with him is going to look very different, because he made all of us unique and special.  He made all of us one of kind, so our stories are going to be different. 
Unique is the way that he designed it.  He wove our DNA to be so very different for every person.  He placed us each in the womb, and knitted us together from the beginning. He is the great creator, ultimate artist. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)
What is even greater is that GOD LOVES US for all those unique and special things he created.  Even when we mess up and sin, he loves us.  Even when we aren’t super disciplined and avoid him, he still loves us.  Even when we run, and try to hide from him, he loves us.


Nothing we have done can separate us from his love.  
Nothing we will do can separate us from his love.
Nothing this world will do can separate us from his love. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

But yet we still continue to fight that thought, right?  

We still carry our guilt and shame around, thinking that he will reject us if he really knew. 
He already knows, he knew before we did, and loves us before and after and through it all. 
Friends…. Oh, how I want that truth to soak into my heart and yours.
I feel like I just scratched the surface on understanding this, and want to continue to the day I die, knowing and understanding his deep love for me.  

Because when I struggle to love myself or feel rejected by others, I need to be able to stand assured in his love.  Isn’t that an amazing concept, that on his love we can stand sure.  Because of his great love, we can live in broken world and not be torn down or shaken. 

Because his love is so strong, we don’t have to do it all on our own.  Ultimately that is the message that I cling to even when I doubt his love for me.  That he is stronger than my doubts, fears, and weaknesses.  

Friends, we can live confidently in is strength, his power, his grace, and his love for us.  I pray that you and I would believe that and when we don’t, we will run to him. 

It won’t always turn out how you think

“Just enjoy where you are at.  Just enjoy this moment, let yourself soak up this moment and don’t think about anything else, but right now. Breath it in, this experience, this day. Just be still.”
Oh that is so hard for me.  It is so hard for me to not let my mind wander and jump to all sorts of conclusions, because I am that girl.  The one that jumps to the worst possible scenario or five steps ahead.  (Can I get an Amen!) I have always been that girl, leaping ahead instead of just living in the moment. However, I have learned a few things about myself in these last couple of years.
It won’t always turn out how you think.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year didn’t turn out at all how I thought.  It took a while, but I have finally found my sweet spot.  After years of rolling around in a weird awkward tension of not yet, but already adult hood.  I have found the spot where my soul is at rest.
I started this year with the theme of REST, thinking I have been so exhausted trying to figure my life out.  Trying to dream new dreams, have hope again after some major disappointments and despair over life. God did that and more, not only did he teach me to be at rest in him, but he also taught me how to wait for him alone and put all the longing onto him. 
God gave me strength to finish well, to finish strong, to go after things that I wanted and not deny that where I was at was not okay.  He gave me permission to be confident in the skills and talents that he has given me, he opened the doors.  He gave me strength to let go of insecurities and fears and run forward.
As I stepped into a new role at work, and a new place to live, God stirred other things in my heart, he pursued me, he drew me near him, and showed me how much he loves me.  

He revealed how much I hold up walls against him, only fearing his judgment and anger.  But instead finding, a Father whose love has no match or end.  A Father that has never abandon, given up or just tolerated me, even at my very worst.  (Oh, and there are so pretty bad moments.)

Friends, never have I felt at ease with God as I do now.  Not to say I have arrived, (I used to think that everyone else had and I would never) or that I have figured it all out, because there are certainly things that are still confusing and anxiety ridden.  However, my trust in the one that knows how it all ends is stronger than ever.
After reflecting this last month on how God has transformed my life and my heart, my heart is bursting with excitement to see what he does in this next year.  I already feel it.  His doing more than I can ask or imagine and I can’t wait. 
Oh, I serisouly can’t wait, to see the lives he changes, to see how he would change this world, bring justice, and peace.  I can’t wait to meet the new people or find myself in new places.
With all this to say, my theme for this year is to Be Present and to Be Joyful. 

Too much of the time, I spend in the past or the future, but I want to be here, right now, and leave the rest to Him.  I want to be in the moment and really live for now, this time that God has put me in.  I don’t want ot look back in 10 years and long for this time back too much or regret not enjoying it more.  I want to know that I lived this moment, this season to its fullest. 
As for joy, God has renewed the joy within my heart in a myriad of ways and I want to share that with those around me. Joy of salvation, eternal joy, joy of a hope unseen, all of it! 

I work in a job that is easy to forget the joy, because it is hard on a daily basis and we need joy. We desperately need it and our students need it too!  I want to be known as a the joyful one.  I want to be known for my joy.

Friends, my challenge to you is to set your minds and hearts forward in hope and joyful expectation in how much God can change in year.  He is without bounds or limits, nothing is impossible for him.