The Year of Great Loss

Taking your own advice

So, I’ve been doing this blog for a while now, and have found it so incredible, how many times, I’ve needed to read my own blog. Like, while my kid was having his outbreak, and I was stressing out, my mom said, “Go read your blog.” (which was this post.) Or, there have been a few times where I just read it, and I pull a little piece of insight that I didn’t have before. It’s been quite the incredible little item of retrospection. And, we all need to do that sometimes don’t we? Take a moment to listen to ourselves, and maybe even let the Holy Spirit help you pick up on some additional insight that you didn’t realize you needed or already had.

So, I said a couple weeks ago, I was going to be sharing about some major life events that would never leave me the same. My biggest and most recent one, was “The Year of Great Loss.” Sometimes when my husband and I go through major life events or stories that we’ll never forget, we give them nicknames. This is a snapshot of what happened to us in 2017. I don’t feel like dragging the story out because a lot of it was Satan, but after I handed it over to God, he’s used it all for good.

The Year of Great Loss

December 2016: my friend is falsely jailed for a crime they didn’t commit

January 2017: My landlord sold our house out from under us. And, the person he sold it to, is a Scrooge.

February (All in 2017): my friend’s wife moves in because he’s in jail until the trial and she needs help; my husband’s grandpa passed

March: friend gets let out on bail, but isn’t allowed to move in with us, wife has to move out

April: life long friend is hospitalized for alcoholism, we inherit the dog, who is very sick (eye infection, skin infection, and some cancer)

May: friend from alcoholism passes, another friend moves in because he moved from far away & needs help (and is suffering from health problems), we continue to try to help the dog-they won’t operate on the cancer until the other problems clear-up

June: finally get the dog “ok” for surgery

July: full of family birthdays (good stress <3)

August: serious fighting with some of our live-in friends and family members, also was notified that our house is going to get demolished – we have 45 days to move out, trial for my friend begins, the wife that lived with us – her dad passes

September: my uncle’s house burned down, he’s in the ICU with his whole family, we’re packing and moving into another house, my friend is found guilty for a crime he didn’t commit

October: we find out the house we just moved into is owned by a crazy person who now tries to triple the rent, my uncle is working on getting out of ICU – everyone else has been released, we find a new place (we have just moved an entire house worth of stuff twice, in less than 30 days), both roommates move out when we do

November: my uncle is finally released from ICU, and my dad passes away from a massive heart attack

I don’t remember much after that.

I literally got to a point during all this, where if I wasn’t keeping you in the loop, I just didn’t even bother trying to explain what was happening. I had a few people tell me that I reminded them of Job. And, the best part of that, is that Job got everything back twice-over. Now, I will say, some of that you really can’t get back – losing loved ones, but in the aftermath of losing loved ones, you really change your perspective on life. That was probably one of the bigger benefits of all this. Also, when I’m looking back on it, I realized, that just a little before EVERYTHING started, I really started praying. Like really praying. Down on my hands and knees, worshiping God for his greatness, being thankful for everything, and praying for others and myself, for more than 3 minutes, sometimes I would lose track of time I was praying so long. And, as Ephesians 6:12 says: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (ESV)

Somewhere around August, between fighting with friends, and getting told that we needed to move out, Satan showed his hand. I had this epiphany moment, where I realized that there was no way that all of this was coincidence. That Satan didn’t like what I was up to, and where I was going in my life, and began to take me down a notch (or five :P). Which only caused me to double-down for a while there. And, as you can see between August and November – it only climaxed into a whirlwind of madness, because Satan and I both knew who we were dealing with. And, then I believe that God stepped in, and took my dad home, and said, “Enough”. Because everything stopped after that. And, it was exactly what our entire family needed to begin healing, to put things in perspective, to draw us closer to Him. I couldn’t have made it through that year without God.

He’s used a lot of those things for good.

The dog needed someone who could care for her, so she ended up with us, and we got her back to being all better, cancer-free and able to live out a few more years. The house we lived in originally, wasn’t the best, and with the weather we’ve had this year, we would probably be suffering for it. My husband and I finally moved into a house that doesn’t allow roommates, which had been a big part of our lives for almost 15 years. We always lived in places that had an “extra” room, and it always seemed to be filled with someone in need. But, God finally closed that chapter of our lives, which has allowed the two of us to grow closer again. My friend who is still falsely imprisoned right now, has started a ministry within the prison, and using this to glorify God. His wife stays strong in the Faith, and helps keep people updated out here, and also shares his ministry information with us – we continue to fight the charges – more info another time here. My uncle’s house burned down, and he was released just in time to be here with us when my dad passed. He’s also been on a journey since then of adjustment and a self-discovery of sorts. And, although it was and is hard, my dad passing has allowed much of my family to grow closer to each other, and to God. We stepped into new roles, we’ve taken on different responsibilities, and we’ve grown as people and as followers in Christ, which is exactly the kind of legacy my dad would want. So, although, 2017 was a Year of Great Loss, it’s been gain since. Just as God promises. Satan tried to take me down, to steal, kill, and destroy. But, when I leaned on God, he lifted me up with his mighty right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) And, currently, I feel like I’m winning life. (Luke 21:19) Which is a far cry from just 2 years ago.

Now, I hope you all know that I didn’t share this story to gain pity, but to encourage you. Although our circumstances are different, God will help you win. It’s a promise. He is the Victor. And he wants us to have the Victory. No matter how big your problems seem, God’s handled them all before, you just need to let him. Also, always remember who you’re fighting. You’re not fighting a diagnosis, or a coworker, or a family member, or a circumstance, you’re fighting Satan. But, we’re on the winning team, we just have to remember that.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, you are amazing. You are our Victor. You are our strength, encouragement, and comforter. You are everything we could ever need. May your blessings pour out upon us. May your face shine upon us, and may we find ourselves always in your arms. Help us to grow our Faith, that we may recognize Satan’s attacks for what they are, and let you handle them. That you use everything in our lives for your good. That you equip us for these battles, that you help us keep our hearts and eyes focused on you. That you give us your supernatural strength and wisdom to win at life. That we may be servants that make you proud. That we can share our testimonies with those around us, to encourage them and give them strength and understanding to win their battles. May we do this all for your glory and honor. In JESUS’ NAME. AMEN!!

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Life

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Life Happens

Amen. Life happens. I’m preaching to the choir, right? Life happens to all of us, we’re living it. Some days are better than others, some days are so bombarded with stuff, it almost seems unimaginable that we’re still here. But, in these moments, I’m reminded of how we are supposed to be handling these things. We’re supposed to be turning them over to God, and letting him handle it. Asking him to lift us up with his righteous right hand. To not be dismayed or discouraged. He is our God, and he will prevail. He is the victor. And, through Him, so are we.

I just went through a rough season, my entire month of February was a wreck. Like, freight train. First, my son got the flu, then my husband, then myself. Only, my son got a fever and some gut rot deal, my husband had a fever for 5 days and pretty much slept the whole time. And, I got some sort of stomach flu deal, that made it impossible for me to keep anything inside me. Day 3 of my flu, I had become so dehydrated, that I required medical attention. I woke up as soon as the clinic opened and told them that I needed to get in ASAP. They could see me within the hour. Amazing. I opened up my front door, blizzard. I seriously was so delirious from my illness that I considered calling an ambulance. But, I knew that if I could just get there, I would be ok. So, I get the last of my strength, and I get in the car to go to the clinic. I’m practically delusional by this point, my mouth and throat are dry, every time I take a drink my lips and throat instantly need more fluids and are dry again. The doctor pretty much just looked at me and said, “We need to get some fluids in you.” I had lost 10 pounds, at least, maybe more. I’m not someone who can afford to lose 10 pounds. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. As they took me back to a room and got me situated, my messenger app buzzed. It’s the women’s feed from church. We use it as a way to share encouraging words, or request prayers, quick notes, etc. The Pastor shared her morning devo: “Come to me for rest and refreshment. This journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.” – (which is an excerpt from Shannon Stoddard on beliefnet) But, this word came to me, right as they are plugging IVs into my arm, and I just shed a tear. Yes, Lord. You are my rest and refreshment. I ended up needing two bags worth of fluids to get me back to some sort of human. And, I rested while they pumped me full of fluids, but I knew I was going to be fine with that word. Amen. Then, we all got to have some sort of break for about a week, where we were kind of getting back to normal. Then, my son had a cold sore outbreak.

Cold sores. No big deal. Not for my kid. My kid doesn’t get like the little one on his lip. He gets blisters all inside his cheeks, on his tongue, they spread onto his lips. He can’t eat, he can’t hardly talk, can’t go to school. It’s a big deal. He takes medication but it doesn’t seem to do much, yet. Maybe we’ll try some different medicine next time. Either way. This outbreak was rough, he ended up getting a particularly nasty UTI as well, that could only hopefully be remedied with one medicine, and if this didn’t work, he’d have to check in to the hospital. One super sick little kid, and two really stressed out parents. It lasts for about 2 weeks. I mean. We just can’t win. He just starts clearing up, we get the call that a friend of my husband and I’s, of 15 years – at least, has passed away.

Sometimes, when it’s too much to stand, kneel. I have prayed so much this month. Prayed for healing. Prayed for direction. Prayed for strength. Prayed for everything. And, today, I needed all those prayers. Today, was a loooong day. A funeral and reception/wake, errand for a friend – which went horribly awry, picking up my kid, stuff for Cub Scouts, eye dr, picking up my nephew, stressful but good work phone call, taking my son to piano, finding out the snowblower is a different kind of broken with a serious blizzard en route, and finally picking up my car from the shop…

Now, my car has had me town-bound for almost 2 years. I had taken it to 3 different shops and dumped a ridiculous amount of money into it, and every time I got it back, it still wasn’t fixed. I was seriously discouraged. But this last year, during my Christmas miracle, the group had wanted to look into getting my car fixed and requested I take it to a specific shop they work with. And this guy, is amazing. I’m someone who knows a thing or two about cars, and loathe when mechanics talk to me like all I know about cars – is that I have a purple one. Please. This guy went for a drive with me, and finally figured out what was going on with my car. Now, although the group couldn’t spring to help me at the time, but I now had a quote to go with my problem, finally. So, when tax time rolled around. My car went to the shop. And, today, I got my car back. I had never realized how much I had been stressing about my car, FOR 2 YEARS, until I was able to touch my brake pedal doing 55 today, and not being afraid that my car was going to rip itself apart. I cried. The relief of not being afraid of my own car, was so overwhelming. I thanked God. And, I realized all the other wonderful things that happened to me this month, in spite of everything else.

Different me

2 years ago, if I had a day like this, I would’ve called my mom, or another good friend of mine, and just railed. I can’t believe this, why won’t this day just stop, on and on…. But, today, when I felt that moment. When I felt that full boar, ROAR! What is going on!?!!? And, wanted to blow it up all over someone’s ear drum, I didn’t. I remembered the moment of rest and refreshment, of God giving me the strength. In the midst of my madness, somewhere between Cub Scouts and my nephew, I was just losing it, and all of the sudden, instead of picking up the phone and proceeding to regurgitate my issues all over someone else’s day. I just plugged in my Christian tunes. Jammed out to some DC Talk, Newsboys, and David Crowder. And, said, “God, you’ve got this. Because I don’t.” And I imagined the “story” where Satan comes knocking, and you see him through the peephole, and go, “God, it’s for you!” and walk away. I couldn’t possibly handle my day today, but God did. I didn’t have the strength to deal with everything that happened today, but God saw me through. I also decided to start thinking about all the great stuff that happened this month. And, I hadn’t even picked up my car yet….

The Good things, the God things:

I shared at church on Wednesday night, my testimony, and many, instead of giving me judgy looks and deciding they didn’t really want to be encouraging me anymore, instead loved me more. “Powerful testimony.” “You’ve really overcome a lot.” “I’m so glad you’re here.” And, I got to pray for a lot of people, who after hearing my testimony, wanted me to pray for them. It was so rewarding, and comforting, and encouraging, and praying for them – felt so good. Just this incredible, otherworldly good. Deep down in my soul – good.

I also got to be a guest blogger this month! Amen! How encouraging! Feel free to check out her site, and my guest blog.

My son and I made a memory this month during his sickness, that we will never forget (but is too embarrassing to share openly here).

I got to reach out to friends during our great loss that we haven’t seen in years, and be people that they could depend on in their time of need.

I got to see an old friend for coffee, and a new one. ūüėÄ

I started making some new career moves, that might pay off.

I had a a couple big wins at work. I mean, God is good.

My son did finally get better, and so did I, and so did my husband.

And, then, I finally got my car fixed. God had it all, the whole time. Continued to sprinkle blessings in with the madness. Reminding me that He was here, and wants good things for me. And rewards those who follow him. And, we need to remember that. He wants good things for us, but we have to trust that he does.

“Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” 1 Thessalonians 2:12

“Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.” Acts 14:22

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

“Stand firm, and you will win life.” Luke 21:19

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray right now, that you lift this person up with your righteous right hand. That you give them the strength and endurance to win life. To remember that you are the victor. The Alpha and Omega. You’ve got it all under control. And, although, we can’t always see the end, you’re already there and waiting. You know the plans you have for us, and we need only to trust you. To give you thanks for all the great things you do, and appreciate all the time we do have here, with our loved ones, friends, and family. That, you, our Great Big God, the Great I AM, can get us through any of our days. That we need only to turn to you. To ask you to take it from us, for your yoke is light, and the world’s is heavy. We don’t have to do everything on our own, because we are not alone. I pray that the person reading this starts to have eyes that see the good in every day and every person. That you have created them all, and they are all perfect in your sight. That we may open our hearts with compassion for all your good works. That we receive your blessings, and we shut the door on Satan when it’s not for us. I pray a shield of protection against the world’s fiery darts, and that you shut the mouth of the roaring lion. I thank you Father for all that you do, for your peace, and your comfort, and for your everlasting life, and your strength. That all these things we may receive. In Jesus Name. AMEN!!

Honor & Changes

“Give to everyone what you owe them; If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7

Honor where honor is due

I’d like to take a moment this week to honor someone: Pastor Kevin Suiter, and his wife, Cindy. Kevin was the Associate and Outreach Pastor for my most recent church home, he served there longer than I’ve been alive. Real quick – don’t worry – he’s still with us. But, him & his wife retired this past week to start the next chapter of their lives. Freeing up their schedules for time to see their grown children and their grandchildren. Also, to enable them to have a more mobile ministry, and in turn, enjoy one of their big joys in life – travelling. I’m wishing them all the best of luck, and much love from all of us as they start this new exciting time!

But, I also wanted to take a minute to shout out here, because Pastor Kevin, is one of my readers!! And has had an encouraging word from the beginning. I mean, it was a pretty big deal to me, to have a pastor tell me how much he loved my blog and how excited he was for me. And, that he didn’t just read it once! He continued to check in, and take a moment on Sundays to tell me how he had enjoyed it this week, and what a good job I was doing. ‚̧ What a blessing! I attend a bigger church, and here I reached out to the entire Pastoral team, by giving them all little slips of paper with my blog address just written down (before I thought of making business cards :P) And, all of them took the time to read it. I couldn’t believe it! And, they all had encouraging words, and have continued to encourage me. Words cannot express how grateful I have been for this. But – back to my Pastor Kevin shout-out! He has been such a light for us – all of us – our church, my son, and myself. And, to hear all the incredible, moving testimonies that were shared during the “Retirement Party”. Not a dry eye in the house. He’s a part of the jail outreach, men’s retreats, Pastor Conferences, tent revivals, plus all his sermons are available on Google Podcasts (and they DO NOT DISAPPOINT!!) And yet, every time, he talks to everyone or anyone, you feel like you’re the only person in the world. He’s just such an incredible Pastor, and he’s touched SO MANY lives, including mine and my son’s – in such an incredible and lasting way. The world is a better place because of him, and I thank God for him. And, even he’ll tell you, he couldn’t have done it – without Miss America (that’s his nickname for his wife – Cindy). Cindy Suiter, who started and ran our Children’s Program, was the church Secretary, and always shared an anointed word. She was one of those behind-the-scenes people, who kept the ship in shape so that we can all rest easy knowing she’s on the case. Her organization, drive, patience, and understanding could not be matched, and our church wouldn’t be where it is today without her. Thank GOD for both of you! I’m so blessed to know you and to have you in my life, and I wish you both the best of everything! ‚̧

And Change

And, of course, with these big, great moments in life, we’re reminded of change. Everything changes. It’s inevitable. And, although, it’s hard to accept change, it’s all for the glory of God, he uses all of it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (NIV)

God tells us, everything changes, seasons come and go, and you just have to be ready for them, or adapt as needed. Just as in, “saying good-bye” to our Pastor and his wife, we make room for a new pastor and his wife. We prepared for the changes, as we should, just like Jesus did. Jesus prepped the apostles for his leaving (whether they were understanding it or not ;)) Jesus got us ready for him not being around, and gave us instructions for what to do until we either we go to him, or he comes to us. You know, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” – BIBLE. And, everything you need to know, is in there. For every situation, for every relationship, for everything – you’ve got the instructions – right at your fingertips. You just have to get it from in there, to your head, to your heart.

Psalms 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (NIV)

You also need to know the word, so that in moments of crisis, you know what the Lord has already told you to do. Knowing the words of God, are what will help you be ready for changes, when you expect them and when you don’t.

Dig Deeper

I was listening to a pastor’s podcast a while ago, and he was sharing about a change that had happened in his life. He had lost his mentor – who had gone to be with Lord. And, in the throws of grief, he was angry with God, for taking the pastor too soon. He wasn’t ready to be on his own yet. He still needed his mentor. And, he was telling God about all the stuff that he still needed his mentor for, and God, in his still small voice, said, “I’ve given you everything you need.” And, the pastor knew, that he had. And, in that moment, he let go and let God. And, accepted that he was ready, as ready as he was ever going to get, and it was time to start a new season.

Because, if you ask us, we’re never ready are we? We don’t ever feel ready to do anything. Not really. I mean, there might be times, where we think we are, but in that last moment, before we step out-there’s just the slightest hesitation, isn’t there? But, in truth, there are some things you just can’t prepare for, not until you’re in it. You can’t always know every little thing that’s going to happen. – That’s God’s job. That’s why we can rest assured, when we’re on team God. Because, he’s got it. So, whether we rail against the change, or easily step into it, the change is happening, whether we like it or not. And, letting go and letting God, is really, how we as Christians, need to learn to handle life. We need to learn to be more reliant on God and understanding of the fact that we don’t understand. I was at a women’s conference a few months ago, and I heard the speaker, Beth Taylor say so incredibly profound: “You receive the peace that surpasses all understanding, when you give up the right to understand.” And, it’s so true. Stop trying to understand what God is doing, or why. Just accept it. That’s the only way we can make it through some of these life changes. We don’t have the big picture. We don’t have the playbook. But, we’re on the team that does. Team God. Trust him. Trust him like you trust a coach, a mentor, a pastor, your parents, your best friend, because he’s all of those things, and more! Let me share some inspirational quotes that help me get through life here (None of these are mine, I’ve picked them all up over the years):

Worry is a conversation you have with yourself about things you cannot change, Prayer is a conversation you have with God about things he can change.

If the world gets you down, drop to your knees and take it to God in prayer.

Do your best, pray that it’s blessed, and He will take care of the rest.

When you have your Bible, and you don’t feel like it’s working, Double the DOSE!

Everything you want is on the other side of Fear (False Evidence Appearing Real – FEAR)

In the darkest times of your life, your praise to God should be the loudest. Let the enemy know you’re not afraid of the dark.

You have obtained the EXACT SAME FAITH AS THE APOSTLES

God performs “stress tests” sometimes to know your heart – just like the doctor

God does give you more than you can stand, otherwise, why would you ever need to call on Him? We were never meant to do this alone.

In your emptiness, it’s your heart that matters.

The SAME GOD that rose Christ from the DEAD, LIVES INSIDE YOU!! (Ephesians 1:15-21)

I hope those help. They’ve all had their time on my warboard. Some of them, have a permanent residence. But, they’re all things that I remind myself of, in times of trouble, times of change, times of stress. We have to remember that we’re on team God. That we serve the Almighty, the God of Abraham, the God who rose Christ from the dead, the God who sacrificed his son for us, the God who saves you from you.

I believe in the upcoming weeks, I’m going to share some major life events, some have resolved, some have not, but I’ve let them all go to God. I’ve accepted that I have no idea what’s going to come of them, but I’m resting assured that God’s got it all figured out. He knows exactly how this is all going to play out, and I’ve just got to trust Him. I hope they encourage you. I hope this all helps you grow and understand your faith and our God, that it helps bring it from your head to your heart. Because, that’s what we all need, and God’s ready to give it to us.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, I’m praying for this person right now. Whether they’re going through changes right now or not, that they know you. That they draw closer to you. That they get it from their head to their heart that you’ve got this, and that you understand it all. That some of it’s you, and some of it’s the world, but it will all be for your glory in the end if we let it. I pray, that this person draw deep in your well of living water, of overflow. That they truly understand that You are the Great Big God that has all the supernatural, amazing power we could ever want or need. That you are the SAME GOD that rose Christ from the dead. SAME GOD. Oh Father. That you may stir within them, draw closer to them, comfort them and hold them in your mighty hands, deep down in the depths of their soul. That you may give them the supernatural PEACE that we all need in our lives. The peace to trust you, to know you, to love you, to let you have it all. The peace of the Messiah, the peace of our Faith in you Lord. That you may know everything this person needs just like you know the hairs on their head, and you knew them in their mother’s womb before they came to us. That they may accept this all, and trust in you Father. The GREAT I AM! IN JESUS NAME, AMEN!!! ‚̧

God bless you and keep you all this week.

Prayer (continued)


 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being РEphesians 3:16

Take it to the Lord in Prayer

I’m building off of last week’s here a little bit. It’s just really been on my heart and I cannot emphasize enough how important this life line is. Please believe, that’s exactly what it is. No ands, ifs, or buts about it.

Let me share a little story here. A couple months ago was the one year anniversary of my dad passing away. And a few people had let me in on a little secret when it first happened. The first year, is a year of “firsts”. First Christmas without them, first Thanksgiving, first birthday. And please believe, they all suck. They all absolutely suck. We smiled, we gritted our teeth and beared it, but we have quite a few small children between us. So, you kinda have to. You can’t call off Christmas because everyone just can’t handle the holiday or thought of this person not being there for it, a 4 year old does not get that. But, the one that took me a little by surprise, was the anniversary of his death…. I’m not sure why I expected that day to not be as terrifying as it was going to be in my mind, that I was blowing it out of proportion, but I was not. There is something to be said about that day. You think about it, all the way up to the moment that you heard the news or the time they told you it did happen, and then you just replay all of it in your head for the rest of the day. And, it’s awful. And, I’m really sorry if you’ve lost someone recently and this is stirring all your stuff up, but I’m just being honest. It’s just brutal. And, I think, moving forward from that moment, the only part that helps is that you get to reassure yourself that you’ve already survived the “first” one without them, so you can handle more. But, anyway, that wasn’t supposed to be the focus here. Got a little off topic, but still important to the rest of the story.

So here we are. The anniversary of my dad’s death, and I’m a wreck. I’m at work, and I’m hiding, and I’m randomly crying, and I’m trying to act like everything’s fine, which it SOOO isn’t. And, I’ve packed my whole day with stuff. I’m going to get off work, then I have to run over here, and do this thing, and over there and do that thing, and, and, and… and my sister asks if I’m going out to my mom’s tonight, and I start making all these excuses, my schedule is full! (Obviously, I’ve done this on purpose). And, so I text my mom to tell her, I’m really sorry, I’m just so busy, and she, in all of her wisdom and awesomeness, says exactly what I needed to hear. “It’s ok, I’m here if you need me. Don’t worry about it.” At which point, I can no longer pretend that everything’s ok. I become hysterical, and I promptly leave work. I come home to my unsuspecting husband, who has no idea that I’m going through all of this. And, proceed to sob and ugly cry all over him. Which, he just holds me, and lets me. And, then, I pull it together and say I’m going to see my mom. And, I go out to my mom’s, and explain everything, and then, we do a few projects (guess where I learned that coping mechanism from…. ;)) And, I’m kinda better, and now I have to go pick up the kids. So, we hug and I feel much better, and I head back into town, and back to that crazy schedule I had laid out. And, one of the things on my list, is church tonight. The kids have been working on Operation Christmas Child (which I did with my dad for close to 20 years), so I feel obligated to go, even though after that huge emotional release, I’m just drained. But, God knew, that I needed to go to church that night, so look at all this stuff come together…. I am dragging my feet to go to church, but we’re doing it, for my kid, here we are. And the message that night was exactly what I needed to hear. And, it changed my life. And, I hope it changes yours too. Because – it changed the way I think. *which is another concept I’ve been trying to share with you here.

*Insert your name here* has the victory

Say it with me. You have the victory. Why? Because God has the victory. That was the message. Let’s unpack a little.

You are “X” years old. You have lived this one life. You have “X” years of experience. You have experienced “X” things. Right? Right.

God is ???? however old. He has watched billions of lives. He has helped billions of people, trillions. He has experienced ALL things. YOUR PROBLEMS ARE NOT NEW TO GOD. God has done this all before. God has a perfect track record. God always wins. God already won. God knows exactly what you’re going through. God has comforted grief before. God has comforted rape before. God has comforted abuse before. God has forgiven murderers. God has solved people’s finances. God has solved every single problem there has ever been. God has helped every single situation of every single person that has ever come asking. God has healed every thing before. Stop acting like God can’t handle your problems!! I’m sorry that this might sound crass, but you are not special. You did not suddenly come up with the very first problem that God was like, “Whelp, you got me there, good luck, let me know how that turns out.”

And, as soon as you grasp that, like really grasp that. Chew on it. Mix it. Get it from your head to your heart – God will show up. You have got to stop acting like we have this itty-bitty God.

Isaiah 40:12
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance? (NIV)

That’s A GREAT BIG GOD! He holds all the oceans, waters, seas, rivers in the hollow (cup) of his hand…. That’s a GREAT BIG GOD! And, he’s the God that lives inside you. He has the victory

1 John 5:4
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith

We have the victory. God has the victory. We, team God, have the victory. Over everything. Over all our problems. Let him. Let him fix it. Let him heal it. Stop trying to do it on your own. Stop acting like you’re so broken, God can’t fix you. He CAN! and He WILL! and HE DOES!! Same God. Same God who always was, is, and will be. THE GREAT I AM!! SAME GOD. Problems change, people change, things change, GOD DOES NOT CHANGE. Same God, who does it for everyone else, will do it for you. Let him. And, that change, starts with prayer. Talk to him. Tell him about it. Ask him to fix it.

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, I’m bringing this person to you today. Because, you are our Great Big God. There’s nothing you can’t handle or fix or forgive. I’m bringing them to you, that they might start understanding this incredible relationship with you. That they might know that you are their God. Their own personal God. Who wants to come into their life and be their Savior. To fix their problems, to let them know they are not alone, ever. I’m praying that you may soften their heart to you. That you may reach inside them and touch them, and take all the ugliness they’re hiding out. That you will make them a new creation in you, Father. That they may truly understand, from their head to their heart, that you’ve got all of this. That there is nothing “too big” for you, Father. That you’ve done this all before. That you are the Great I AM. That you have the grace, and the mercy, and the healing, and the understanding, and the love to cover and cleanse and handle everything we could ever want or need. You know their hearts, Father. You know every need, every hope, every thought they have, and you are everything they need. Please, instill this peace and understanding in their hearts, that they may take it all to you and know that they, and everything that they have and are, are yours Father. IN JESUS NAME, WE PRAY, AMEN!! ‚̧

Prayer

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” – John 15:7

Take it to the Lord in Prayer

It’s really been on my heart this week to share with you the importance of prayer. I’m not talking about the little “Lord’s Prayer” or the little half thoughts we shoot off, “Father please help me” whatever. I’m talking about a prayer where you talk to God. I heard a sermon this past week, where a pastor had done a survey of his mega-church, and less than 5% of those people prayed for 5 minutes a week, let alone a day. I was devastated. Surely, people must not understand the importance of prayer. Or, like in my previous post, we need to change the way we think about it. So, let’s take a moment to discuss.

In all the gospels, as the apostles are following Jesus, listening to him, watching him heal, watching him feed the thousands, turn water into wine, raising people from the dead….When they have a chance to ask Jesus what they want to learn, they say, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) Why? Because they could tell, of all the incredible stuff that Jesus could do, his praying is what was special. Truly special. And, let’s think about it for a moment. Our ability to pray, wherever and whenever we want is truly special. Before Jesus came, we needed to make sacrifices before an alter, and a priest had to pray for us, or we needed to be cleansed before prayer. It was this whole big thing. Obviously, we’ve been struggling with prayer for a long time. But, Jesus came, and then showed us, that we just needed to talk to God. Now, he does in turn, give us the Lord’s prayer as a “pattern” to pray. Which, I could go into here, but you could just search patterns for prayer, like ACTS or PRAY. There’s lots of helpful information out there for these, but I’m going after something different today. We need to pray because God needs to hear us, and it’s our opportunity to hear God.

Let’s Think

When you have a friend, you make time for coffee or phone calls. You have time to discuss details of your life, and get advice and give advice. Use this same concept to talk to God. Prayer is time for you and God. Get alone. And just start talking to him. Talk to him about whatever. It’s not a one-sided conversation either. Once you really start talking to God, you’ll start seeing his answers. That’s also why I started my Prayer box. So, I could start recording his answers to my prayers. I’ve only been doing it for a couple years, and I already have close to 100 answered prayers… And, those are just the ones I remember to write down. Now, I want to take a minute to give you this word of caution. When you start praying, Satan will attack. It’s inevitable. There is nothing he hates more, than someone who is doing the most powerful thing we can do as Christians, PRAY. But, let me share this with you to encourage you to pray anyway, and to know that you’re not alone. 1 Peter 1:3-7
3¬†Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!¬†In his great mercy¬†he has given us new birth¬†into a living hope¬†through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,¬†4¬†and into an inheritance¬†that can never perish, spoil or fade.¬†This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,¬†5¬†who through faith are shielded by God‚Äôs power¬†until the coming of the salvation¬†that is ready to be revealed¬†in the last time.¬†6¬†In all this you greatly rejoice,¬†though now for a little while¬†you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.¬†7¬†These have come so that the proven genuineness¬†of your faith‚ÄĒof greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire‚ÄĒmay result in praise, glory and honor¬†when Jesus Christ is revealed .¬†¬†(NIV)

Double down

James 5:13 says:
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

So, what does that mean? Pretty self-explanatory. Are you suffering? Pray about it. Happy? Thank God for it. Pray all the time. Always praying. Take the time to pray. Don’t know what to pray about? Get alone with God, and pray scripture over your life. Here are some of my favorites:

Isaiah 61:1-4 – very powerful scripture about being restored and anointed and coming out of the ashes

Deuteronomy 28:8 Pray for blessings over your storehouses (financials)

2 Corinthians 5:20 Purpose – being an ambassador for Christ

Matthew 5:16 Being a light for the Lord

Colossians 3:12-15 Everything it means to be a Christian

Open your Bible and speak his words to him. Call out to him from the heart. If you don’t practice talking to God on a regular basis, you won’t think to talk to him when you need it. God wants to talk to you, but you have to start the conversation. He’s a gentlemen. If you don’t have his words remain in your heart, where are they going to be when you need them the most? You can’t rely on his promises if you don’t know what they are. You do not receive because you do not ask. (James 4:2) You have to get down on your knees and ask God. Ask him to come into your heart, your life, ask him to show you which path to take, where to meet him, what to put down, what to pick up. What’s life all about? What’s your purpose? Ask him! He’ll tell you! He’ll show you the way. He’ll give you the strength, the wisdom, the understanding, the fervor, the Spirit. He’ll give you the words you need to ask, and the answers you’re seeking. He’s right there!

I’d like to take a moment to pray for you:

Dear Heavenly Father, I’m bringing this person to you right now. That they may know you better. That they may take time this week to have words with you. That they may open up the inner-workings of their heart to you and let you into their life. That they may be so moved by your Spirit this week, and see you at work in their lives. That they may cry out to you Father in all your glory and your goodness. I pray that they feel you in their Spirit and in their lives. That they may feel your love. That you may guide their steps and guard their hearts. I pray that you pour out your blessings upon them, and show them that they are the head and not the tail. I pray that you soften their hearts Father. Give them a heart of flesh, for you Father. That they may be a light to those around them. That you renew their strength, and forgive them of any and all sins, as you’ve forgiven me Father. That they feel your healing touch in their lives, whether it’s in their bones or in their relationships. You are the great healer. That you reach into them and bless their soul. That they feel this great connection to you, that they may have never felt before, or that they just need to feel right now. That they know that you have them Father. You’ve got it all in your hands, and that we can all rest assured in you. That we can be washed over in your great peace and understanding that surpasses all understanding. That you’ve got great plans for our lives and that our prayers will be answered in all your goodness. I pray that you protect them, heal them, give them peace, give them joy, bless them in their walk, and keep them close to you. That they remain in you, and you in them as they go about their week. That you keep them in all that they do. IN JESUS NAME. AMEN!

Let’s Think

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Changing How we think

After last week’s entry, I realized I can sit here all day and tell you to “Make time” for God, and you’ve probably heard it from the Pastor too. And easier said than done right? I mean, obviously, it took my falling and “breaking” my back to learn that lesson, c’mon. But, really, although physically I broke my back. In my head, and in my heart, all of those circumstances changed the way I think. But, rest assured! It will not take the same catastrophic event to change the way you think. Let me share a story about how changing the way I think about something has made all the difference.

Cooking

Let me be incredibly honest for a second. I hated cooking. Like, hated it! Loathed it. Dreaded every minute of it. I was totally with a Martha attitude in the kitchen, didn’t matter if it was just for my kid or Jesus, I wanted to be out where the action was, not slaving away in a kitchen. I was alone, I could hear everyone out there having fun, watching tv, whatever, and here I’m cooking….ugh!! And, to me, food was just sustenance. It was energy to go. I grew up on many out-of-a-box dinners and tv dinners. Like, who cares?! Just feed me so I can get back to “life-ing”. But, literally, one day, everything changed. Because I changed the way I thought about cooking. Here I am, one night, scrolling through the wonderful world of Pinterest, and a quote shook me to my core.

“Eating well is a sign of self-respect” – Shirley Dee

Um, whoa?! Well, for me, I feel like a respect myself a lot. So, then, my inner voice says, “But you don’t want to go through the work to show yourself that respect?” And, instantly, I was indignant with myself. Of course! I should go through the work to show myself respect! And, from that day forward, I have actively pursued cooking. I have tried to figure out how to make it fun. Make it challenging. I love to try new foods. We try new recipes at least once a week. You know another thing I found out? My kid loves cooking. He has always seen it as one big science experiment. Always asking to help, how this ingredient is going to change things, can he stir. Look at God using that! It’s amazing! I want to say that I love it now, but we’re still working on it. I no longer dread it, and I do get really excited when it’s something new, and for the most part my recipes work out…. ūüėČ But, the point is, nothing changed until I changed the way I thought about it.

Taking our thoughts captive

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

I had to captivate my thoughts. I had to actively do something on my end to force the negative thoughts about cooking that would discourage me. Every time one of those thoughts started creeping in, “what are you missing out there?” “it’s so lonely in here” “nobody cares about this food any way” I had to physically stop them at the door. “NOPE!!!” I care, I’m not missing anything – I’m right where I’m supposed to be. And, many times in order to fight the “lonely” attitude, I listen to Christian music or podcasts, and actually turn it into a time of worship and service to the Lord. <– Look at God use that ‚̧

So, what’s keeping you from spending more time with God? What needs to change in your thinking? I mean, this man died for you. Let’s just consider that for a moment. He died for you. Own that. Don’t try to say, “well, he died for everybody.” You’re everybody! In his final moments, your name popped into his head. He thought about you specifically! And, took relief in the fact that you would now be saved because he was doing this for you. Sometimes that thought just catches me. Shakes me to my core. Any time I start to get nervous about talking about him, or not sharing a word in time with someone, or anything like that, I’ve used that thought to make me take the step. He died for me. Now, I don’t feel like it needs to be a shaming thing, but it’s truth, and I use it as an encouragement, like, “don’t be afraid, he died for you, you can do this.”

You need to take the time to figure out what’s getting between you and your God time. Is it time? Is it because you don’t want to drag out your Bible? Is it because you’re just not sure where to connect? Well, let’s change the way we think!

Time:

You have time to watch TV, be on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram.

Replace screen time with God time.

Or you can wake up earlier, or stay up a little later. (Proverbs 31:15)

Where to connect?:

Don’t want to get your bible out? Download one to your phone or tablet! Youversion has a great one! (Like every version under the sun available)https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/

Podcasts (available in the app stores, I use Google’s podcasts)

Bible journaling

Youtube devotionals

Facebook pages

Instagram accounts

Pinterest (mommyhale07)

You name it, God’s there!

Do your own thing! Make art to the glory of God! Write poetry for him! Start a prayer journal! Listen to devotionals while you cook, drive, go grocery shopping! God will meet you wherever you want! He’s like a best friend that always has time and will be anywhere you could ever want or need.

I hope this has inspired. I hope it has helped. I hope it shaken the wheels loose in your mind to start thinking about where you want to meet God. He walks with you, never leaves you. He’s not at a building waiting – he’s the living God that is everywhere for everyone. God bless you this week, may you grow in your relationship with the Lord. He’s waiting for you.

My grace is sufficient

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9


My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.

This week, I feel like my story is focusing on something that happened, just at this same time last year. Now, little background, in 2017, God had come into my life with a bulldozer. And proceeded to move EVERYTHING around. Literally, everything. Not one aspect of my life remained intact. And, I could see a theme. A theme of letting go, and letting God. Although, I didn’t come to the Letting God part until 2018. In 2017, I couldn’t do anything else besides react. Nothing that happened that year was something that happened by choice. They were all things that happened to us, or those we loved. And, I felt like the theme of trying to Let Go, was pretty evident. I am a control-freak. Like, in every sense of that word. But my family loved me anyway. And, not to say that I’m magically not, now, but I really have eased up, because in 2017, that was the only way to survive. I couldn’t control everything, and God was all done being nice about trying to make me let stuff go. Now, I know it wasn’t all God, because some of the stuff was most certainly Satan, but God has used it. And, the start of 2018, #Godshowedup to let me know, that he wasn’t done with using that “Letting go” lesson, and we needed to get to the “Letting God” part.

Let Go

So, what happened?!?! Right?! Quite simply, I say, that I broke my back. Now, they didn’t actually find any fractures, but they were pretty sure that I herniated at least one disk, if not more. It was my lower back, right above my hips, like just those last few right on top of my hips. I was taking the trash out before we were going to have a dinner with my sister-in-law, and I slipped on the ice, and when I fell, I fell straight on my bottom. And I felt my whole spine *Squish*¬†and¬†I¬†instantly went into shock. Suppressed vomit, cold shaking, blinding light, – shock! I knew that sick feeling instantly. And, I also knew that I had just done something really terrible. I laid there for a long time, just shaking and breathing, and sick, in the cold and snow and ice, just feeling everything drain out of me, and I couldn’t even scream. And, I slowly pulled myself together and walked little baby steps back inside. My husband was frantically looking for me, and when I came in the back door, he came running, but as soon as he saw me, he knew something was wrong. Now, at that time, I thought I broke my tailbone, it was late on a Friday, and I knew that the ER would do nothing for me. So, we had our awkward dinner (since everyone could see I was in great pain), and ended the evening. Then, Monday, I went to the Dr. Who listened to my story, and agreed, that’s probably what happened. Gave me pain killers, and sent me on my way. It wasn’t until my back swelled, and some other symptoms that we really figured out what was wrong. Which, honestly, was worse. Broken tailbone – 6 weeks. My herniated disks – 6 months, at best. I went from someone who could lift 80-100lbs on a regular basis at work, to not being able to lift a cast iron skillet, or stand for more than 15 minutes without feeling like I was going to pass out. I went from a non-stop employee, mom, Cub Scout committee member, etc. etc. to Stephanie, and absolutely nothing more. I was only allowed to continue working because they essentially put me on desk duty, with light errand-running (that took 5x as long as it should because I could only walk in baby steps). – Which is exactly what the Dr ordered, don’t sit, stand, or lay down for too long, keep moving, as much as you can, but get plenty of rest…. I’m sorry, have we met? But, God is good, all the time. If I had any other job, I would’ve been put on medical leave, which when you look at my “Christmas Miracle” would’ve been way worse (because in just a few short months, I’m about to be garnished.) But, here’s the deal, folks. I was the “do everything” mom. I did everything, all the time. Our days were packed with everything, Mondays this, Tuesdays that, etc. And, I needed to be still. (Psalm 46:10a, Be still and know that I am God.) To Let Go. And to let God. And, here we’re about to Let God.

Let God

The first couple weeks were rough, you know, until like April. *lol. But, seriously. I couldn’t cook supper, I couldn’t wash dishes, I couldn’t do the laundry, I couldn’t make my bed, I couldn’t put my pants on, I couldn’t take a shower. I had to relearn how to do some of the basic stuff, like putting on pants, because, when you can’t bend at the waist… putting on pants and socks is a little tricky. But, I also had to learn to let my family do it. My son had been helping with chores, but now, it was a need. My husband, who is amazing, can do everything. And, he just stepped up. He totally understood and was gracious and absolutely what I needed. But, here was the other thing. I couldn’t focus on anything except myself because the pain was so bad. I couldn’t even think about some of this other stuff because just going to work, took me out. There are some nights (a lot of nights), where I just came home and went straight to bed. Because my body needed rest, to heal. And, so many days, I just needed God. I needed God. Like, I needed him to heal me, I needed him to give me patience with others, with my body, with my mind. I absolutely needed him. And, although 2017 had started opening my eyes, 2018 drove it home. Let God do it. God has given you this family, God has given you a good job at a great company. God has given you a good doctor. God has given you everything you need. Just let it happen. Let all these people that you care about take care of it. And let God heal you from the inside out. There were quite a few days throughout those months, where I just cried. Just cried for it to be over. Cried for my dad to be there to fuss over me. Cried because it took me 45 minutes to get dressed. Cried because everything hurt. Deep down in my soul. And, God said, “My grace is sufficient, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” And, it was. I, slowly, started getting better. We went from 5lb weight limit, to 10lbs. to 15lbs., until finally no more restrictions. I took that time, to focus on me. Focus on my relationship with God. To pray, more. Every day. To start reading my bible. To start being present for my family, instead of just running. I needed to show up. Instead of my gigantic to do lists, and my not enough time in the day, and, and, and, ….. I just let it go. I didn’t have a choice. My kid’s going to be grown in less than 10 years. Where did it go? What was I teaching him? When were our moments together? My husband was spiraling at work, and I didn’t even see it. My family didn’t need all my stuff, my clean dishes, my clean laundry, my whatever. They needed me. And, so did God. And I needed Him, and them. And, you know, if I hadn’t, I would’ve never started a ladies’ bible study, never reached out to those around me, had this incredible relationship with my Lord and Savior, and I wouldn’t be here. Talking to you about it. Encouraging you, to put some of this stuff down. Let others do it, or don’t do it at all (what?!?!) Does every single load need to be put away? Do the dishes have to get done every day? Do you always have to make supper? OR —– Could you spend that time, praying? Reading your bible? Spending time with your kids, or your husband, or wife, or your friends? Encouraging them on their walk. I’m not saying, do don’t this stuff ever, just balance, baby. Are you making time for the important stuff, you know, the life stuff? Are people going to remember that you did everything, all the time, or that you were there when they needed you?

Our purpose is not to do all this stuff, it’s to share the gospel, it’s to grow the Kingdom. And, we don’t do that by checking off boxes on a list, we do that by being present. Being here, there, wherever. Being in the lives of our loved ones. In order for God to show up, you need to show up too. We were not made to the defend the Kingdom, we here to demonstrate it. God is love. Love is action. 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I encourage you, to start taking baby steps, pray every day, read your bible, go to Wednesday night church, join a prayer circle, something that connects you to God more. The more you’re in him, the more he is in you. John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” First step, Remain in me. Tap in. Plug in. Get in with God, and he’ll get into you. Let me leave you with some of my favorite lyrics that have been singing in my heart this week, “Fill me up, so all they see, is you, Lord.” There’s no where else I’d rather be. ‚̧ I hope you join me. He’s waiting.

God is Love

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Holy Spirit Moves

As I started to wonder what I was going to share this week, I decided I wanted share on observing the Holy Spirit moving a little bit too. Maybe I’m “preaching to the choir” here, but it always leaves me in AWE. And to be honest, it’s one of the biggest pieces of evidence that God is real to me. Like, Real in our lives – actively pursuing us – ALIVE – and the only explanation as to how some of this stuff happens. Watching his Kingdom become overwhelmed with his MESSAGE.

Let me explain a little what I mean: I’m reading the Bible – and what I’m reading is quoted in the sermon. 3 days later, I listen to multiple podcasts from churches all over the country and they all have the same theme for weeks at a time. Quoting the same scriptures even. I hear a good word, I feel compelled to tell others, and they tell me it’s exactly what they needed to hear. I mean! Holy Ghost! I LOVE IT! It gives me a child-like wonder – it’s beautiful and incredible to watch and experience. All of these seemingly separate entities – hearing the same word from God. Which to me, just emphasizes that we are all his church. And, obviously, we’re all tapped in, since we’re all hearing the same thing. I hope that if you have not realized that this happens, that I have pulled away the veil for you. That you may now experience this incredible constant miracle – now that you can SEE it happening. I pray that for all of you, right now. That you may all forever see and experience the Holy Spirit moving through you and others, and live in the child-like AWE and WONDER of how beautiful that movement and unity creates in all of our lives. He is ALL things to All people. God Bless It!

God IS Love

So – one of the things that I have been seeing, hearing, and experiencing is the Holy Spirit almost shouting at us is: Love!

I have heard several pastors declare that this is the year of Love. We are breaking out in Love all over! And honestly, let’s dig in! GOD IS LOVE! AMEN! *Mic drop* ūüôā I almost feel like that’s all that needs to be said. Here’s this message that I’m just hearing all over, and when I go to write about it this week, the first statement that came out of my pen, was GOD IS LOVE! Even I, had not put it all together until I was trying to tell you about it. But, let’s unpack it a little more though, right?

Faith manifests itself through Love – through God- through loving one another – loving ourselves. The year of Love. The year of forgiving and letting go and letting God. We are told to love each other as we love ourselves. And, in today’s world, that’s a TALL ORDER. But, it’s true, along this journey, we need to figure out how to love ourselves. I’ve been told for most of my life, that I have a big heart, but my “big heart” didn’t always have space for me in there. But, over the years, I have grown to love me, and in turn, I have found that I love others even more. And, one of the things that has grown me, that set me free, was realizing that God loves me like I love my kid. And, if you don’t have kids, let me try to describe it: Imagine having someone in your life – that you love SO MUCH- it hurts. You physically ache with your love when you think about it. It grabs your chest and consumes you! It’s overwhelming! You constantly wonder how they are – you want everything to be the best of everything for them. Like, your whole purpose in life is TO LOVE THEM. <—THAT IS HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT YOU!! We are his children. He tells us that repeatedly. We are the sons and daughters, and we have a Father who loves us SOOOOO MUCH!!! And, he loves us so much, not because we deserve it, but because he created us. Psalm 139:14 says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV) Every single one of us, and our lives were written in his book before they came to be. I know my own personal capacity for love, and if my God loves me more than that, I am blessed, and so are you because he loves you too. Now, if you didn’t have great parents or any parents or you don’t have kids or anything – GOD IS ALL OF THAT! He IS love! And if you love him to the best of your ability – he will show you what you’ve been missing out on. Because his word does not return void. He IS love, and he loves you and will actively love you if you let him. He wants to have a relationship with you. 1 Corinthians 8:3 “But whoever loves God is known by God.” (NIV) He’s not at church, waiting for you on Sunday or Wednesday, he’s INSIDE of you. Ephesians 3:16 says “…His Spirit in your inner being.”

Quick search tells me that Love is mentioned 310 times in the Bible, that’s almost as much as Fear Not. It’s one of the bigger themes of the Bible, because it’s God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 and God is Love!!! A year of Love – the year of God! God showing up! God being there and here, and ALL things to ALL people (1 Corinthians 9:22) And let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more love in their lives? Less of me, and more of you Father. More Love. I’d like to pray for you today:

“Dear Father, I pray for everyone reading this, that they accept you. That they embrace you and your love. Bless them in all the work of their hands, in all their lives, and all the lives they touch – today, and all the days of their lives. May they go forth showing your light and your love for all the world to see. That they be consumed by your love, and that they consume others with it. Spread it to all the world. That others may see you through them, and that may see you through me. God bless us all, Good Father. We thank you for all your blessings Father. And may we all walk in your love, walk in you THIS YEAR, and ALL the years of our lives. AMEN!!!”

Don’t quench the Spirit

1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not quench the Spirit.”

My mom is constantly reminding me not to quench the Spirit. And it’s true. Don’t quench the Spirit. This means when the Holy Spirit moves you to do something – Do it. That’s what this blog is all about – literally. I’m not a writer – but the Holy Ghost is. So here we are. Here I had thought that I had this next week’s post all figured out, but then as I woke up this morning, the urge to post it now just wouldn’t stop. So, double dose this week. Also, you never know what small gesture is going to change someone’s life, in a small way or in a very big way. Let me share a quick story about something that actually happened to me.

I had been working somewhere a while back. And I had a desk job that didn’t really have me interacting with a lot of people. A lot of leg work and paperwork. But there was another gentleman that worked in a different dept across the way, who also had a desk job, and not a lot of interaction with others. We occassionally would see each other, he seemed friendly enough. Anyway, time went by, life was happening. And one day, I saw him in passing, and he just looked off. Just kind of not the same. And, although I didn’t realize it at the time, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me shake it. My day was going by, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about him. Something was off. And so, a little before lunch that day, I went over to his desk, and said, “Hey man, I know I don’t know you that well, but you look like you need a hug.” And with a surprised look on his face, he says, “Yeah, I do.” So, we hugged, and I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I came and sat with him for lunch. “Sure.” We started chatting, and he starts telling me about some stuff happening in his life, nothing seemingly huge to me, life stuff. We continued to have lunch, became fast friends. Just chatting. Then, a couple months go by, and I come over to sit with him at lunch, and he says, “I have something to tell you.” And, he informs me that a few months ago, he was going to kill himself. He had it all planned out, his wife was going to be gone that weekend. He picked up his favorite meal that he was going to prepare, his favorite drink, and he was going to end his life that weekend. And, he says, “And you know what happened?” My mind is reeling! I’m trying to take it all in. And, I’m like, “Omg, what?” and he looks me dead in the eye, and says, “You. You happened. You came over here, and gave me a hug.” And we started crying, and hugged again. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t imagine him not being here. Now, we no longer work at the same company, but we’re still friends, and I get to hear about his kids, and his grandkid(!) and see the joy in his life. And the joy that I have because of that, the encouragement and reinforcement to reach out to people. To me, it was just a hug, but to him it was literally a life line. It was just reaching out, where I was at, and taking a chance. He could’ve just as easily shut me down, and I could’ve just as easily not reached out. But, I’m so grateful that I didn’t. He is one of the best people I’ve ever met, that I’ve ever had the privelage to get to know. I wouldn’t take it back for the world.

Some people are called to go. Some people are called to go-where they’re at. You never know what people are going through. You never know what one small thing is going to change someone’s life. This one was in a big way, but maybe someone just needs a friend, to know someone cares. We are called to be the light of the world. That we live so that others might see Christ through us. No man left behind. God doesn’t throw anyone away. Maybe he’s calling you. To make the gesture. Calling you to Show UP!

Isaiah 61:1-3 says:
The Lord God has put his Spirit in me,
    because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken,
to tell the captives they are free,
    and to tell the prisoners they are released.
2 He has sent me to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness
    and the time when our God will punish evil people.
He has sent me to comfort all those who are sad
3 and to help the sorrowing people of Jerusalem.
I will give them a crown to replace their ashes,
    and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow,
    and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness.
Then they will be called Trees of Goodness,
    trees planted by the Lord to show his greatness. (NCV)

The Lord has filled you with his Spirit, to comfort the broken hearted. You know, one of my favorite songs says, “Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness – that is who you are.” Because he lives within us, that is who we are. If He is all these things, so are we. He is the breaker of chains. He sets us Free! He keeps ALL of his promises. He works miracles! He IS THE WAY! And the LIGHT OF THE WORLD in Darkness. A whole world of Darkness, we need to shine HIS LIGHT! To comfort those who are broken. To reach out. Thank God he saves you from you! Get tucked into his glory! Be his light for others, in a world so dark, share his light. Galations 5:6 “… the ONLY thing that counts is faith expressing itself through LOVE.” The world needs more love, and God’s got it in overflow, to flow through you.

The God who provides

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. – Deuteronomy 28:12

Finally, time to share with you the story of my Christmas miracles. Oh, our great, good, good Father who provides. I’m just going to jump right in today because I have been dying to share this with everyone, and because it’s a bit of a long story, but it’s a good one.

In September of this past year, my husband and I were deep in the throes of struggling to not even make ends meet, our ends couldn’t even see each other. This past year had been a year of adjustment. Some stuff just had not panned out in our lives, and we’re were trying to figure out how to live on one income again. During this time, I had started my ladies bible study, and I had really started going to my newfound church regularly. But, for four months of the year, April through July, I had also been garnished. When my husband quit his job, I was literally served within the week. Great. So, we survived that, by the skin of our teeth, and then, August was kind of looking up, but one night early September, I had a massive snit about money, and in my anger, applied for a second job. Took me a whole 15 minutes, and after I completed it, I just went on with my life. Didn’t even really think about it. Whatever. I did it out of spite. 2 days later, I get a phone call. They would like to give me an interview. Wow. Job opening hadn’t even closed yet. Well, I come to find out, they wanted me to be a checker, not a stocker, but again, I don’t really care, we are HARD UP for money. So, this is like mid-September. I interview, they accept, they give me my starting wage, and tell me that they’ll call me soon for training. Bills are piling up, I’m stressing, no one is calling. 2 weeks go by. Please come in and fill out the paperwork (W2s, etc.) Ok. So, I schedule it for a Friday, and that Friday morning, while I’m at my regular job, I get a phone call, from the Sheriff’s Dept. We have paperwork for you, please come pick it up. I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding. So, when I get off my regular job. I go to my new part-time job to fill out my W2 stuff, and then I leave there to go pick up my paperwork from the Sheriff’s Dept. and low-and-behold… I’m getting a continuation of my garnishment…. Suhweet. But, to be honest, that was the most chill and accepting I have ever been of a garnishment. Look at this, in my anger, over a month ago, I now have a job that will at least make it so my garnishment isn’t nearly as devastating as it would’ve been…#Godshowedup. And, I literally started at that second job, just in time, that as my first garnished check hit, so did my first second paycheck. *Ok, so here you might be thinking, coincidence. But this is just the intro ūüėČ So, fast forward a little bit, my second job paychecks are almost identical to what I’m missing out of my regular job’s garnishment. So, I also tell my boss, I’m moonlighting, just in case he gets a phone call from my current employer, asking for a reference. *Remember this part. K, So, there was September & October. Also, in this time, I’ve started listening to podcasts of sermons (which the first day of podcasts is an interesting story I’ll share sometime ;)) And, between podcasts, regular sermons, and my jobs, it’s on my heart to tithe. I’m not a tither. Although, ever since I was young, I’ve occassionally given the “two mites” that the widower gave (aka – anything I have in my wallet when the basket shows up.) And God has always given me money that week, in some crazy way, shape, or form. So, here I am, man, I should really tithe. I can’t afford to tithe. Back and forth. Stumbling across sermons that randomly go off on tangents about tithing. Ugh, can we say, internal battle. This doesn’t make sense. I’m dead broke. Christmas is coming, start tithing now? Finally, the day after Thanksgiving, I do my first real tithe, pay any bills I can. And, I forget about it. Going on with my life…. Fast forward, 6 days, and I get a phone call. *Please note, I have told no one that I tithed. No one. The phone call is from a lady that started attending my bible study group in August. She’s heard some of my struggle. She works for a non-profit, she had tried to steer me toward some different assistance programs, but not much luck. She calls me because, her non-profit, gets people -especially at Christmas-time – who would like to bless others. Would I be interested? Ummmm, duh. But, I politely say, “Yes, of course.” I’m thinking, you know, small stuff. She starts saying, to make a list of needs, like laundry soap, groceries, etc. Then, she says, make sure you put down some bigger stuff too – like maybe you need new tires? Or one of your bills paid? Also, please put down some stuff you would like to gift people for Christmas, like toys for kids, or whatever. Then, after I make a list, she’ll give it to the people, they’ll review it, and essentially, you’ll get whatever they feel they can provide. I’m not kidding, I was sporadically crying the rest of the day. I couldn’t believe it. I made a list. My car needs repair, pay my electric bill, trash bags, toys and clothes for my son and nephews. All of it. I mean, I wasn’t trying to be greedy, so I didn’t get too crazy, but if you don’t ask, you won’t receive, right? I gave her the list, the next day (7 days from the day I tithed…) And, I shared the good news with my husband. Who did not receive it well, to put it nicely. He does not approve of “hand outs”, well, I felt it was a blessing. Guess that could be a marked difference to feeling like you’re in God’s hands, versus not being there – yet. So, another week goes by. No news on the blessing front, but I’m not worried, whatever I get, I get. God will provide. Then, here we are, about a week and half later, and she shows up to bible study, and tells me we need to talk after. So, we complete our study that evening (which was a crazy spirit-filled time!!! Full of Blessings and Overflow of God in our lives!) And, after it’s over, and she gives me back my list. And says, we’ve paid one of your bills (which was a beast of a bill! :/) I start crying, a little. Then, she says, here’s a card for groceries, and some cash for one of the gifts you listed, and a gift card for you (because we noticed that you didn’t put anything on the list for yourself). And, I have some stuff in my car for you. Then, she literally gives me a gigantic bag full of laundry soap, and toothpaste, and shampoo/conditioner, and, and, and…. And Then, she pulls out another gigantic bag full of gifts for my son and my nephews. And, I’m crying as I’m writing this. I just couldn’t believe it. I tithed, and God blessed me 9x what I gave!!! Just when I needed it. Now, I know, this was just in time for Christmas, and I do not expect this kind of blessing all the time, but talk about #Godshowedup!!! WHAT?!?!!? I’m hugging and crying and I just can’t believe all this stuff! AND WE ARE NOT EVEN DONE YET! I go home, and start bringing all this stuff inside, and my husband cannot believe his eyes. I’m through the moon! Just flitting around the house, restocking everything, we were on our last trash bag, here’s a whole roll. We were down to two loads of laundry soap, here’s a 3 month supply. We were down to the last of the toothpaste, here’s a tube for everybody. My husband had been out of shaving cream for a minute, and here was his brand and particular shaving cream. Are you kidding me? Then, that evening, we had one of our most fruitful discussions about God and his blessings, more than ever before. ‚̧ This was a Tuesday. Then, I walk into church on Sunday, and one of our church members walks up and gives me cash, and says she was asked to give it to me by someone else, Merry Christmas! WHAT?!?!? Sorry, I don’t have better ways to depict my shock and awe at all of this. We have now reached my tithe at tenfold. Then, I walk into my job the next day (my regular job) and my boss takes me aside and says, that starting in January, he has found quite a few jobs and projects he would like me to work on, and that these would require overtime. He asked that I figure out how much overtime I needed to not have to work my second job, and he would try to make sure he found enough work to accommodate that. I was just on Cloud Holy Spirit (I would say Cloud 9, but we totally know who’s pulling the strings here). And, my last garnishment payment, was the Friday before Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!!!). I mean – look at ALL OF THAT!! Just look at it! All of that! To me there is no other explanation. And please believe, that’s not even all of it. This blog, this blog was started because I was looking every where for new inspiration on how to make money, and although, I have no belief that this blog is going to be a money maker – I started it on my ONE day off between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The ONE day, that I had other plans and had requested off, and then God had everyone cancel their plans with me that day, and the one thing I did do got over really early. Which was not lost on me, since I had told God that morning, IF I have time, I’ll do the blog today, and he wiped my calendar. To talk to all of you! To share my stories. My stories of this ladies’ bible study – which is growing! Stories of ministering to others, where I’m at. Stories of #Godshowedup!!! Because he does. He has. He always will. He’s our God of more than enough. God of overflow. God of Blessings! I’m so blessed to share this with you, so blessed to be a daughter of THE FATHER. So grateful! And looking forward to seeing you here again next time. Because, God shows up, will you?