Saturday, February 6, 2016

He Doesn't Have to Love Us

I love doing Bible studies.  I love sitting around the table with women of all ages and just "doing life" with them.  I love the wisdom that comes from knowing that others have been there.  Most of all, I love learning that there are things that God wants me to know in the quietness of the room filled with only Him and me.


The ladies of our church just started a new study called Seamless by Angie Smith, whom I have grown to love over the years by way of her blog.  I can already tell this study is going to change my life.  In short, this study is designed to take you on a 6-week journey through the Bible as seamless story.  I am on the first week and I have already learned so much that I did not know.  I don't consider myself a beginner, necessarily, but I am certainly not a Bible expert.  I have just fallen in love with this study in a very short period of time, and my prayer is that it will allow me to fall deeper in love with Jesus.  

This morning, Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:00 am.  Not by choice, mind you.  This seems to be a recurring theme on my blog posts.  Anyway, I put some clothes in the wash and came to the office for my Bible reading.  Jesus met me here.  I want to share with you what He taught me this morning because, somehow I have a feeling, someone else needs this truth this morning too.

"The greatest freedom and joy you will ever know are wrapped up in God's work, offered as a gift from the King of all kings." ~Angie Smith, Seamless

About five years ago, when I decided to stop running from God and surrender my life to Christ {fully}, I felt that I needed to speak to certain people regarding my abortion experience before speaking publicly about it.  I had already confessed everything to God but there were a handful of people in my life that I knew thought would be heartbroken if they found out at the same time everyone else did.  Many of them were very understanding and to my surprise, everyone I shared my story with still loved me and embraced me with kindness and friendship.  There was one person that I was very nervous about talking to.  She was like a mother to me.  When I met with her, although devastated, she embraced me, loved me, and our relationship has only gotten better.  The situation was very intense and at one point, through sobbing, I remember looking at her and saying, "I was afraid to tell you because you don't have to love me."  Her response was, "Yes, I do.  I want to."  I don't think that I will ever ever forget that moment.  

This morning, Day 4, in my Bible study, written on the page of my book, Angie writes, 

God doesn't have to love you, but He does.

Please understand me.  I am not saying that Christi is God but in the very intimate moment of me telling her something that, what I believed, could have destroyed our relationship, she could have turned away and said, "This is too much."  But she didn't.  She loved me and she did not have to.  God loves us and He does not have to, He WANTS to.  That is such a powerful thing to me. When I read that, all of those emotions came back to me.  The good news is that God is never going to stop loving us no matter what we have done!  Angie goes on to say,

You can't do anything to earn it, because you're flawed in ways that make your best efforts completely useless.

I am going to say this more for me than anyone but STOP TRYING SO HARD!!!  I am a perfectionist.  I am.  I admit it.  God does not need anything from us.  We are enough.  He loves us.  
We are enough because He is enough.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Alarm to Say "I Love You"

For the past two mornings, something has made me wake up at the amazing hour of 4:00 am.  I had a small procedure last week and cannot workout right now, so it was not for getting up to workout, my alarm was not set, and frankly, I did not want to get up at 4:00 am.  Yesterday, I got up, did some laundry, did my Bible study, made lunches, picked up the living room...you know, normal "mommy things."  This morning, it was different.  I woke up to what I thought was the house alarm beeping.  Not like it was alarming, necessarily but what I thought I heard was it beeping about 4 times.  Anytime one of our doors opens, the alarms beeps.  I know that all of our doors were locked (and re-locked 5 times because I have an OCD husband), but I also know that I have a 9-year old daughter who sleep walks.  Long story short, everyone was still sleeping, no doors had been opened, and there was no one {that was not supposed to be} in our home.  I went back to bed and picked up my phone for a few minutes and laid it back down on my nightstand.  Then I said, "God, what are you telling me?  What do you want me to know?"  I have heard people before say that they hear God speak audibly.  I do not.  Or at least, I never have before, but I felt the urge to go ahead and get up and go downstairs to the office and read my daily Bible reading.  

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."  Jeremiah 31:3

That was my Bible verse for today.  That is the message that God wanted me to know this morning... and for about the past week, honestly. If I am truly honest with myself, He has been speaking this particular truth into my life for several years.  HE LOVES ME!  HE LOVES ME!  HE LOVES ME!  I don't have to be perfect.  I don't have to perform better or more.  I don't have to do more.  I don't have to less.  Nothing I can do can make Him love me more.  Nothing I can do can make Him love me less.  I don't have to go back and UNDO the horrible things that I have done in my past.  BUT...because He loves me and I love Him, I desire to have a relationship with Him and I desire to be more like Him.  This truth causes me to grow IN HIM and that helps me to be more like Him each and every day!  

Let me back up a little...yesterday was a yuck day for me.  Not wanting a pity party...AT ALL...just trying to be vulnerable a little bit.  Sometimes I TRULY think that there is something clinically wrong with me (it's my field of work, I think).  I have the WORST insecurities in the entire universe sometimes and they spiral out of control faster than anything you could imagine!  While I want my friends to know these kinds of things about me, I also don't want to scare them off (who wants needy, insecure friends??) so I usually just deal with it inwardly, cry a lot and hope the next day is better...if it isn't, usually the day after that is.  Anyway, I was having an insecure kind of day yesterday.  By the end of the night, I was convinced that my friends did not like me, that one of my friends was mad at me, that I had said something that offended someone, and pretty much that I was a complete failure.  I had communicated this with NO ONE.  I just felt crummy, isolated myself, and went to bed.  Then God woke me up this morning to this verse which piggy-backs on several other messages of the same from the past few days.  

Here is what I know....

1.  I have wonderful friends.  We are all needy at some point and our friends are there to encourage and pick us up as we are them.  If that is not true, we need to re-evaluate who our friends are.  

2.  Sometimes I say things that offend people.  I would say 95% of the time, it is not intentional.  What I say is something I can control.  How people react to it is something I cannot control.  I need to be asking God to help me control my tongue.  This I will continue to do.  In this particular situation, I am not sure if I did because my reality last night was pretty distorted, but that is irrelevant at this point.

3.  I am NOT a complete failure.  I was created in God's image.  He created me for a purpose.  Yes, sometimes I do fail but that does not make me a failure.  It makes me stronger and it helps me grow.  If I did not learn from my mistakes and failures, that would be the biggest failure.  God is still working on me.

4.  Most importantly, GOD LOVES ME with an everlasting love.  Even if....even if all of my friends were mad at me and I alienated all of them {I have anxiety even thinking about that}, God would STILL love me.  He does not want anything from me but me.  

I write all of this to say that I know that I am not the only one that struggles with this.  I know that I am not the only one that has insecurities.  I know that I am not the only one that has a messed up perception of what love is meant to be.  I did not know what real true love was in human form until I met my husband. The best kind of earthly love that you can imagine....God's love is THAT MUCH BETTER!!!!

How deep the Father's love for us

How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory


Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers


It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished


I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection


Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom





Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Good Day

I love days like today!! Days where I worship my Savior. The sun was shining. We shared lunch with treasured friends who remind us that God is good and He is faithful. Afternoon spent with precious girlfriends, talking, laughing, and living. 

Today, the anniversary of my Granny's death could have been spent gloomy and sorrowful but instead I am clinging to His promises and His goodness.

 God is good, SO GOOD!!!! 

"Through these trials
You have always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

I am not alone, I am not alone 
You will go before me
You will never leave me"

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Love You More Today

I enjoy time with my friends...away from normal activities where we can have time to just sit and share.  I don't get to do this as often as I would like for various reasons, but when I do, I cherish the moments.


The other night, I was privileged to sit and visit with a friend that I feel like I know pretty well.  We laughed and talked over coffee (and a smoothie) and I just learned so much about her that I did not know.  She shared part of a story, a special time in her life, and it meant so much.  What I realized at the end of this evening, when I was back home, was that sharing new stories with someone that I have known for 10 years makes me feel even more connected and closer with her.  You often hear people say, concerning spouses on anniversaries, "I love you more today than the day we married."  While that can sound like a cliche there is likely a lot of truth in that statement.  Why?  Well, simply because you grow closer together each year (hopefully) in your relationship to one another.  

As I thought about this precious friendship and the time we had visiting the other night, it reminded me of my relationship with Jesus.  When I first became a Christian and asked Jesus to live in my heart, I did not know him very well.  As time went on, I got to know Him a little better by listening to preachers, going to church, praying and reading my Bible, but what happened when I would quit doing some of those things?  My relationship with Jesus would lack.  I would feel like we weren't on the same page or that maybe I didn't know Him as well as I should.  Like a friendship with a sister in Christ, if we don't talk to her for a long time, we are still friends but we may not know what is going on in their life or may not feel as close to her as we once did.  Jesus is the same.  If we stray away from reading the Bible or talking {praying} to Him every day, we aren't as close with Him as we once were.  

Our relationship with Christ grows as we seek His face, read his Word, and learn more about Him.  As I have said in my previous blogs, He longs to have a relationship with us.  He wants us to know Him more.  The only way we can grow and produce fruit is if we seek Him out and then He will show us what He would have us do.

Just like those couples on anniversaries, my desire is to "know Jesus more today than the day before."  As I listened to my friend tell her story and how much emotion there was in telling it, I was reminded that as we read the Bible, we learn about God's character, we learn about what He wants from us.  We don't have to guess about what He would want us to do - we would know Him well enough to know the right things, without question. Instead of worrying about His will for our lives, we would simply marvel in His goodness and He would reveal Himself to us without any worry or doubt in our minds.

 Jesus, help me love you more today than the day we first met.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

More of You, Less of Me

When you fall down, it is hard sometimes to get back up.  It can be painful to continue on but most of the time, you will be glad that you did.

I am one who likes object lessons, mainly because I am a visual learner.  I like to have something to visualize in order for something make sense to me.  Friday, I started a new exercise program called Camp Gladiator.  It is quite popular all over the globe so you may have heard of it.  I have done many things over the years to try to lose weight, diets, gym memberships, etc. so this is not an advertisement for that necessarily, but I did find it to be quite fun.  What I also found was that it was hard!  Another thing I found hard was the concrete as I hit it full force with my body when I fell!!  That’s right, I fell!  I am not the most coordinated person I know, to say the least, and I find myself falling more the older I get.  I blame it on my equilibrium…or something.  Ha! Nevertheless, I hit the ground as I was taking off in a sprint and landed with all of my weight on my knee and it hurt.  I laughed (or else I likely would have cried), I got up with the help of my trainer, and continued. 

We are doing a study on Sunday mornings at church right now in the book of James.  This morning, Bro. Tommy was talking about the things that James instructs we must do to produce the righteousness of God – this is – growing in Christ.  In James 1:19-20, it says, 

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” 

Then verse 21 states that the Gospel is able to save our souls – the Word changes us and we grow in Christ.  We ought to be more like Jesus than the day we were saved.  We will fall but we get right back up and walk with Jesus.  Sanctification is a process.  We will never reach perfection this side of heaven but with Christ’s help and with a relationship with Him, each day, we can grow closer to Him and be more like him today than we were yesterday.

When I fell down at the boot camp the other morning, my trainer came alongside me and picked me up.  It hurt…not only physically but it hurt my pride.  It was down right embarrassing.  I did not know a soul out there and I FELL within ten minutes of the morning workout.  But I got up, shook it off best I could and kept on running toward my goal – finishing for the day.  What I found out was that it was fun, those people were supportive, and although my knee stung a little, it was worth it. 

When life stings, we look to Christ to pick us up, we look towards our heavenly prize, and we keep on pressing on.  We do the things each day that we ought to do to reach our goals and eventually Christ places within us the DESIRE to do those things.  We want to please God because it gives us a closer relationship with Him.  We want to walk in the light because it helps us to know Him better. 

More of you, Jesus, and less of me.  Make me who You want me to be.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

My Want To Needs a Tune Up

I love to read but I am not a fast reader.  A good friend of mine recently let me borrow Beth Moore’s new book Audacious.  I do love Beth Moore, and generally, I can pick up one of her books and read it in a fairly short period of time.  This book was a little harder for me.  I am not sure if it is because the word "audacious" just seems to be a weird word to me or just because it was a difficult book to get into, but whatever the reason, I am almost finished with the book and I love it now!

Last night I was able to read and before I knew it, my clock on my wall was chiming the Beatles’ song "Let It Be" to let me know it was midnight.  My eyes were getting a little crossed or I would have sat there and finished the book. 

I have also been reading through the Bible daily, something that has always been a struggle for me but, thankfully I found a great blogger that made a schedule for daily Scripture writing/reading and it is keeping me on track.  I am hoping that this will get me in a routine, give me a new zeal for reading Scripture, and then I will crave it so much that I cannot leave my house without it in the morning!  Today my Scripture was the following:



I have always loved these verses but after reading Beth’s (yes, we are on a first name basis…um, not really but a girl can pretend) book, those verses meant even more to me today.  I want to focus on the word “wants.”  There are so many things I do out of need but what about my wants.  I know that kind of seems backwards because we normally think about things the other way around…we should purchase things we need over things we want but hang with me.  I go to church on Sunday morning because I need to hear the message or because my 4-year olds need a Sunday school teacher.  I started off reading my Bible each day beginning this year because, as a Christian, it is something I need to do and I need the Word in my life but do I really, truly LONG for and WANT Jesus in my life?  Do I want a relationship with Him?  You see, Jesus does not need us.  He wants us.  He longs for a relationship with us. 

Jesus wants me. 

My prayer is that I will want more of him each and every day. I want to turn from my selfish ways, take up my cross, and follow Him. It is the true desire of my heart.  I don’t think I have ever actually thought about this concept until I read it in the late hours of the night last night with just me, the crackling fire, and the words printed on the page of my book...well, and the Beatles I guess.  :)  It was what I went to bed thinking about last night.  Then when I woke up this morning and went to the Word, the Scriptures reminded me of that thing again.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Lord, line up my desires with your desires.  My prayer for 2016 is more of You and less of me.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

So That Times of Refreshing May Come

Wiping the dust off the 'ole blog tonight.  I have missed this.  I love to write.  I love being able to look back on what my kids did...what we did as a family.  I hope to blog a little more regularly in 2016.


As I thought about what to write about, I had many different things come to mind but really I will just start off with my desires for the new year.  Every year I think about what I can do to make this year even better than the year before.  That is always my problem...with everything in life.  I.  What can I do....the problem is that I just try too hard.  I am a perfectionist by nature.  That is just simply who I am.  I like things to just fall into place.  I like to have a plan and when that plan does not work out, my life seems to crash down on top of me at a devastating speed.  I know that sounds dramatic, but honestly, it is true.  I can be having a great day and one thing....tiny thing can make me lose control.  Control.  That is what perfectionism is all about.  Having control.  When I am not in control of the situation, I feel reckless and helpless.  

This year, 2016, there are many things that I want to accomplish.  There are many characters traits that I would like to develop a little more, and I really want to do things like: read my Bible daily, prayer more, be a better friend, wife, mother, etc....you know, the usual BUT...I really want to let go of perfect.  

I received a birthday card this year from a friend (my favorite thing ever) and at the bottom of the front, it says, "God has created you and rejoices in all that you are."  God created me.  He created me and all of my inadequacies.  He rejoices in all that I am....not all that I do.  Not all that I say.  Not by the number of friends I have.  ME.  He rejoices in ME because He created me.  Sometimes most of the time, I forget this.  God loves me.  He wants to spend time with me.  He wants to have a relationship with me.  He does not want our time to be divided.  I want, this year, to KNOW that God loves me and be able to truly, from my head to my toes, believe that with all that is in me.  I don't want to doubt it, I don't want to wonder if a God like Him could love me like...well, like me. I truly believe as I grow closer to Him this year that He will reveal this more than He ever has before.  This is my desire.  

I want to be more loving and less critical.  I have prayed and prayed about my struggle with friendships.  2015 was a rough year in terms of friendships for me.  I prayed that God would place special people in my life - not only to encourage me, but for me to encourage and love on them.  While I have a few close friends, this just did not happen.  I do believe that the relationships with those close friends have gotten deeper and stronger.  I have had to grow up a lot this year...not by choice! Ha!  My prayer is that God give me discernment about who I can trust, as this is hard for me, and allow me to be the friend that I need to be to those that He puts into my path.  More than anything, my prayer is that I not have a pity party when I feel lonely.  I have not felt the way I feel these days, with respect to my friendships, since I was a little kid.  The lonely feeling is terrible, but I read something yesterday that really put things into perspective for me.  The article talked about not being invited to a party and feeling insecure about not being good enough to be invited.  The article was SPOT ON for what I was feeling that particular day.  This is what she said:

So, I wasn’t invited to the party. I decided to see that gift of time as a special invitation by the Lord to be with Him. Dream with Him. Be loved by Him. Be doted on by Him. To be held by Him.
I would still love to be invited to the next party.
But even if not, having a night with the Lord is good. Very good. Better than good enough.
What I have to realize is that when my plan does not work out, God may be telling me something.  Like, BE STILL or THIS TIME IS FOR ME.  I pray that I leave my insecurities back in 2015 and start fresh with a new perspective this year.  I know that it will please God and I for darn sure know that it would make me happier!  (As well as my friends who have to listen to me whine).  

I pray that you all have a wonderful 2016 and that you find something that God can teach you this year.  I hope to be back again soon!

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." 
~Acts 3:19




Reason to Rejoice
 
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