God is the creator of everything that has ever existed, love, and our protector against all things evil. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord… More
Have you ever felt…
There’s nothing special about me.
I’m worse than ordinary; I’m boring.
I don’t have anything to offer.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Yes, that means you too!
She’s so much smarter & more talented than I am.
And that one over there? She’s got it all together. I’m a mess.
And her? She probably prays and studies the Bible for hours on end. I’m not like that. God wouldn’t want to use me.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
“Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’” I Corinthians 12:12-21
Did you catch that?
This past January I remember the day I asked myself, “Is God still good to me?”
I didn’t doubt His goodness throughout history or His goodness today. I didn’t even doubt His goodness to the people I loved and knew. But there was a moment where I doubted His goodness to me.
I’m not proud of that moment, but if I had to guess I’d say maybe you’ve had one of those moments too.
Christmas is a busy season! There are many activities that keep us running around this time of year.
- Purchase gifts
- Wrap packages that are Pinterest worthy
- Bake Christmas cookies
- Attend parties
- Decorate the house
So much that fills up our calendars! In addition, we have to keep up with the regular chores that can never go undone, like laundry and dishes. We find ourselves extremely busy, often overwhelmed and sometimes exhausted.
As for me, I feel like I am always struggling to keep up with the “To Do Lists” that would exhaust the Energizer Bunny. How do we fit it all in and not lose our marbles?
And then…there are the kids! How do we stay sane when the kids start misbehaving? Most parents know in advance that it is pretty much guaranteed that the kids will act up at some point. That is why the Elf on the Shelf and Santa have become popular traditions for many families. Being a parent myself and someone who works with children for a living, I TOTALLY get it! I am also guilty of this, so there is no judgment here!
As we run around in a frenzy checking off the items on our lists, we might find ourselves wondering…
Are we making things MORE hectic and complicated than they need to be?
Are we piling on too much?
In an effort to motivate our children to behave, are we burning ourselves out?
Are we frustrated with finding new and creative ways to pose the Elf on the Shelf?
Do we have anxiety about forgetting to move the Elf before the children wake up?
Are we feeling the pressure to provide our kids with the next best toy or newest technologies?
Are we going into debt to buy material things that can never be a substitution for loving relationships?
Are we sad when our kids are too old to believe in Santa?
In an effort to make the holiday special, have we allowed our holiday traditions to distract us or replace the TRUE meaning of Christmas?”
When my kids were little, I began planning for the holiday WAY early!
So much thought went into selecting each gift. I would search through my recipes for delicious cookies and candy to make. We hosted an ALL DAY party on Christmas Eve that ended with our extended family attending church together. We would spend a LOT of time discussing how early to get up on Christmas morning. We savored every minute of that day and the afterglow lasted for a few days.
It was so much fun!
Now our family has grown to include a wonderful daughter-in-law, son-in-law and grandchildren. We are very blessed. But…
The nest is empty and we share our family with their friends and “in-law families”.
No more school programs to attend.
No more holiday parties at our home.
Quiet Christmas mornings.
This has been a struggle for me. If you know me at all, you know that I thrive on planning and having people in my home. This is quite an adjustment. It has gotten to the point that I find myself dreading the holidays.
Can you relate?
Continued from last week…
(Missed Part 1? Read it HERE.)
Let’s look at a woman who had every reason to hang on to her shame, but Christ handed her freedom.
John 8:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Jesus meets us where we are, but He will not let us stay there. He transforms us through His grace.
I heard this quote the other day and it really resonated with me- “Christ’s ability to save us is greater than Adam’s ability to corrupt us.” (John Calvin)
Not one single person EVER has been beyond the reach of Christ’s forgiveness.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I have been in performing arts since very early childhood. Mostly singing and acting, but I have done some dancing too. My church youth group was very large, and we were having a church wide version of America’s Got Talent. A girlfriend of mine was a fantastic dancer and we decided to do a “duet” where I sang while she danced and then I joined her dancing for the final chorus of the song. We rehearsed it and had it nailed down. We were feeling confident too. I distinctly remember our mothers saying to us a variation of that old proverb- “Pride comes before a fall”. I brushed it of at the time, but it literally happened! It was going perfectly- we were nailing it. Then the final chorus came where we were supposed to do the combined choreography. Something happened and before I knew it, I went tumbling through the air and landed right in front of the judges’ table. I threw my hands up quickly and said TA-DA! To try and make light of the fact that I was DYING inside. I beelined for the ladies’ room and missed the final awards because I was so mortified and couldn’t stop crying. We walked away with 2nd place, but that day will live on forever! Good thing there was no Instagram, SnapChat or Facebook at that time. HOWEVER, there were video cameras and every painful moment was captured for all of eternity.
While I can laugh about that now, so many women carry around the weight of guilt and shame from past mistakes. You know, the BIG kind. The unthinkable. The UNFORGIVEABLE. By man’s standards anyway.
Satan likes to use these moments and play them over and over and over again, so we never forget. It’s like a sick, spiritual version of Insta that instead of catching everyone’s #nofilter moments, it’s all our #theresnotenoughmakeuptomakethisgoaway moments.
You see, God created us with a conscience to point out our sin. It helps us to know the basic difference between right and wrong. It’s that sick feeling you get when you know you screwed up. THAT’S your conscience. It shines a spotlight on our need for a Savior. Furthermore, He gives the Holy Spirit to those who choose to follow Christ. He convicts us and brings us to repentance.
Let’s break this down a little bit:
Recently I attended a wedding in Luray Virginia. My husband and I decided to stay for the weekend because of the time of year to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall in the Shenandoah Mountains and to get away for some “us” time.
Well, it wasn’t long before we realized that with the very unusual weather this summer (i.e. 1000 inches of rain…lol) that we were not going to experience that beauty on this particular trip. I was sad for the Bride a long time friend’s daughter as her desire was to have this same backdrop at her outside ceremony. To give you a quick background on the Bride now 23 and a Registered Nurse in a Cardiac unit in PA. She lost her father of a massive heart attack when she was still in high school. He was only 39 years old. He was a wonderful God fearing man that loved his family, friends and bluegrass music with a passion. I was honored to be among his friends and still miss him greatly. The Wedding was going to be a day filled with many emotions both joyous and sad. But God knew this and painted a beautiful backdrop of love with family, friends and of course her new Groom. The weather was absolutely perfect as was the ceremony and reception that followed. It was a gorgeous venue with a beautiful green Mountain range to serve as a backdrop.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:6-7
God spoke to me on this trip telling me that I often place great value on what I believe God’s priorities are for me; when in reality he has a well mapped out plan that will result in a beautiful ending; it just might not look the same to me. Every day offers us a chance at a new beginning. We can choose to be joyful and loving despite the clouds, disappointments, disputes and difficulties or we can be entrenched in a sea of emotion that drives us to be unhappy, complain, jump to conclusions, make bad judgements, harbor grudges and be victims without voices which would be the enemy’s “Playground”.
“You have a headache again? It’s like you always have them.”
I blinked at the person who said this to me, even though I really wanted to break down crying. Yes, I wanted to say. I ask that question of myself all the time.
Ever since I can remember I have grown up with chronic migraines. My migraines range in intensity from being pain levels of 12 (on a scale of 1-10 that is), to being just painful enough to cause brain fog that keeps me from interacting normally.
At the beginning of 2018, I was in pain constantly. Looking back on my January, February, and March, I spent most of my time after coming home from work laying down in a dark room trying to block out the intense pain.
If you don’t know me, you don’t know how difficult this was to accept with my lifestyle.
You see, I’m a writer.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and in the last several years of my life, God has used my writing as my greatest form of ministry. I have been humbled to see how He has used my words through my books, blogs, and magazine articles for His glory.
But as a busy writer, my life was almost always on the computer. I was always sitting down behind a computer screen and typing out my heart. However, the computer screen was triggering much of my headaches.
And this hurt even more than the migraines.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing… Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13
A while ago, I decided that I was going to post only uplifting things. After all, there are enough people posting negativity. Today, I feel that there is something I need to share, because if I am silent, then I am part of the problem.
Yesterday, I read one of my dear friend’s posts. A stranger called her the “N” word.
I was heartbroken and angry for her. I cannot even begin to imagine how she felt, because I have never walked in her shoes. But I hurt because she is hurting. I spent most of the day thinking about her. I also thought a lot about my Jewish friends and family members and the recent killings in Pittsburgh.
After I put the kids to bed, I flipped through Netflix and Amazon, but my heart was too heavy to watch anything cheerful. So, I watched a documentary about Auschwitz, where some of my husband’s family members were murdered. I wondered, “What can I do? How can I change the world?”
I don’t know about you but there are a few things going on up in here. I want to personally share with you some of the voices that have been playing in my head recently, especially when prepping for these devotions. I feel like the enemy is working double time on my thoughts trying to manipulate and deter me from sharing what God has laid on my heart to share with you tonight. If you feel comfortable, I want you to raise your hand or give me a sister nod/wink or something that tells me you feel me.
I am not enough
I am not loved
I am not cared for
I am not smart
I am not qualified
I can’t do anything right
I’ll never change
I can’t do this
I am a quitter
Why do I fall into the downward spiral of believing these voices? The voices of lies and negativity. Strongholds that I over and over again keep allowing to hold me in bondage. I need to keep giving them to God. Allowing Him to work through me. Have His way in my life, His will. His voice should be louder than anyone else’s voice in my head. I will take for example one of the lies such as I am not loved. I will soak in the presence of Gods truth about that for a couple days or you know until it feels good and I start believing it but then once that euphoric state is reached I stop soaking. Why? Sin. I’m trying to do it without God and that’s impossible. Or with God, but only until I can take it over myself. That’s some harsh truth right there. My need was met and now I don’t need Him.
Sin. Cue in enemy. I’m at my vulnerable state. Now he can take that truth and he can manipulate a question mark at the end of it. Am I loved? I start to think and go down that rabbit hole and those voices start to fly around again and I soak in that filth for a few days. And it typically goes downhill fast from there. Gods is refining me. I am learning I must not only retrain those voices and the knowledge of truths in my head, but I must also maintain them daily by spending time with God.
Lately, I have been resting in the confidence of knowing I am loved I know that if at any time there is a promise of God in my head with a question mark at the end of it instead of an exclamation point…. there’s a problem. I am loved? Problem. I am loved! Much better. Now you’re catching on. The enemy cannot take away Gods promises to us girls! You are His. His child. An heir to the kingdom. As 1 Peter 5:8-9 says…the enemy prowls around just looking for His opportunity-we must stand firm and be ready for it! We may not be able to physically outfight the enemy-but we can out truth him. How do we out truth him (the enemy)? We need to be aware on how to recognize or filter out what is a lie from what is truth. The record that is playing over and over in your head.