Valentine’s Day

It is a lovely day honoring those we love. To cherish our spouse. A day of cards and candies for children already sweet enough. On the other hand, it can feel discouraging for those who don’t have a significant other. Regardless of where you fall on this Valentine spectrum hear me out. In addition to the mushy stuff, today is a day to honor God, be compassionate to ourselves, and bless someone in our lives.

This day is more than a reminder of our precious love story. It is a reminder of the ultimate love story. “Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely we should love one another” 1 John 4:911 The Voice Translation. Take time out of your busy schedule to sit down and have a quality quiet time in honor of Valentine’s day. Spending time with God will without a doubt sweeten your day! Try something different such as praising Him in a new way or writing out Scripture or recording your prayer.

rose-1364165_960_720.jpg

The Father gently and compassionately handcrafted every cell in your body. He thoughtfully constructed your character. Zealously selecting your talents. The beauty He bestowed on you has depth beyond physical appearance. He delights in You. You dear friend, are the apple of His eye. God is pursuing you. He is doing a mighty and awe-inspiring work in your life beyond your dreams. Blessings are around the corner.

I want to encourage you, precious friend to take even just five minutes to be compassionate to yourself. It can be something extremely simple. A few examples include; making a cup of tea, reading a book, enjoying some time of silence, or doing a face mask.  Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship Romans 12:1.

Lastly, do something sweet for someone outside of your family. Maybe even someone you aren’t close to or someone enduring a struggle. We love because He has first loved us. 1 John 4:19. We are called simply to love on another and to share one anothers burdens. Send a note of encouragement. Offer to help a new Mama with her children. Make a meal for someone who is chronically ill. Ask your friends how you can be specifically praying for them and then pray with them there. Find a simple way to let another person know that you care.

Wishing you a day consumed with love. A day of joy. Time to honor the Lord, those you love, and yourself.

 

Advertisements

Live Loved: Advent

 This is our fourth week of advent, which focuses on God’s love for us. In addition, our love for Christ and for others. God desires nothing more than your love.  He cherishes who you are today with all your imperfections. “The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.” Zephaniah 3:17. God invites you in to have a deep personal relationship with Him. To live loved every day from here on out. God’s love for you surpasses human understanding it is that complex and beautiful.

The Christmas story is laced with love. Christmas points us to the cross where Jesus displayed His amazing love for us. Jesus lived loved in His ministry. God’s love is evident through Scriptures, creation, and our personal lives. “ This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

An element of living loved, is giving love. Christ enables us to love others. You can give love from where you are today. You don’t need to be wealthy or healthy. You only need a willing heart to serve the Lord and to give love to others. He will surely direct your steps. He will deeply bless your words. A hug, words of encouragement, or praying with someone goes a long way.

Additionally, living loved is praise God with a thankful heart for the simple blessings in your life this advent. Worship Him as the shepherds did in the Christmas story with a sincere heart. Mary also praises the Lord for His favor, “My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s name!” Luke: 1:46, 47, and 49.

As Christmas draws near find someone to give love to; someone to encourage. Practice living loved this week. You are a child of the one true King. Reflect on His amazing love, which is evident in your life. Remember times this year that you felt His love and praise His holy name. Consider how you can live loved this advent season as well as in the new year.

God,

We praise you for the gift of Your Son consumed with Your love. For His example of love. Thank you for loving us. Allow us to live loved no matter what events play out in our daily lives. Enable us to give love to others. Let us be a blessing to them. May our hearts forever sing Your praises. Bless these days leading up to Christmas. We love you, Lord.

Amen

Thankfulness

Tis the season to be thankful and pass the turkey. Thanksgiving is a magnificent holiday. A time of reflection. Recounting all the blessing in life. Cherishing moments with those we love most.

There are infinite Biblical lessons on thankfulness. Thankfulness in trials, daily life, and for the joys in life are a few examples. Eucharistia is the Greek word for thankfulness. Bible Study Tools additionally defines it as, ” gratitude; giving of thanks, thanksgiving”. An attitude of thanksgiving is a foundational element of a Christian’s life.  At the soul of each element we are thankful for is God.

Not long ago I heard a sermon by Frances Chan (The Author of Crazy Love). He had posed an excellent question, which I would like you to ponder. When is the last time you thanked God for your salvation? Additionally, when is the last time you thanked Him not only for material things but for who He is? Those amazing gifts He has graciously bestowed on you, which are not tangible. When is the last time you thanked Him for your personal relationship with Him? “Praise God for this incredible, unbelievable, indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 The Voice.

While it is excellent to thank God for all the material things and all the countless ways He has provided for you. It is equally important to thank Him for who He is and Your personal relationship with Him. “Go through His gates, giving thanks; walk through His courts, giving praise. Offer Him your gratitude and praise His holy name.” Psalm 100:4 The Voice.  Praising God shifts our perspective. It renews our soul. Worship is as vital as air for the soul. 

Elohim,

We adore you. Praising Your holy name. Thank you for the breathtaking gift of salvation, sanctification, and Your agape love. Your love endures forever. We find deep joy in having a personal and daily relationship with You. You have abundantly blessed us beyond anything we could ask. We sing of Your faithfulness. We rejoice in You for the deep blessing of today. Enable us to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Deeply bless this lovely Thanksgiving day.

Amen

 

 

Living Loved

Living loved is an adorable phrase. It would look perfect on my wall or on a t-shirt. The concept is lovely, but actually living loved that is a different story. I had to ask myself, am I living loved? Honestly, it depends on the day. Many days, like tonight I do not feel loved and I do not feel like I am living loved. Living loved shouldn’t be dependent on our circumstances or the people we encounter it should come from the stability of the love Jesus pours out to us. This is a new concept for me. Maybe living loved is a new concept for you as well. We can work through what this practically looks like together.

13906606_10210441571382317_8996224770806174670_n.jpg

To live loved I need to be filled with God’s love.“I needed to reconnect with the One who knows how to breathe life and love back into the dead places. Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life like abiding, and , delighting, and dwelling…” I need to have my quiet time, daily. Ideally, this would be three hours minimum. Realistically it is usually an hour and a half to two hours. No, it’s not impressive I am desperate for my time with God. Just like the amount of time everyone’s body needs is unique to them so is the amount of quiet time one needs.

Living loved is pouring out love. Some days this comes naturally. However, I become discouraged when I feel as though I am endlessly pouring into certain people with no response. Finding balance when pouring into people is essential. Blessing others  ultimately blesses us. Walking into a situation as Lysa says looking to bless others.

Precious friends, ” and live in love as the Anointed One loved you—so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.” Ephesians 5:2The Voice

Lord,

Enable us to lived loved completely confident in You. Thank you for the depth of Your love. Allow us to pour blessings into others lives. To invite others in and help them to feel loved. Fill us with Your goodness. We love you.

Amen

Dear Uninvited

Dear Uninvited,

Left out, less than, and lonely are just a few words to describe how you feel. The depth of you isolation makes you feel numb. Unworthy. Emotions race. Questions taunt you. Betrayal crumbles your confidence. Everyone belongs somewhere but you. Rejection slices into the core of who you are. The wound is deep. Lies replay like a broken record.  Burdened.

Sweet friend, you have not been set aside, but set apart by God. You are deeply loved. No matter what happens God can never love you more or less than He does in this moment right now. His love is flawless. Whole. You are completely cherished. God understands how every moment of your life will unfold. Before, He laid the foundation of the Earth, He had you on His mind.

You are invited in. Always accepted. And deeply loved by Jesus.

 

Silence So That…

Just a note before I begin, this post goes with the book Living So That By Wendy Blight and is specifically written for the online Bible study that I have the honor of assisting with.   With that being said, even if you are not in the study and have never read the book I strongly encourage that you read this post.

Are you going through the motions in your prayer life? I know life is super busy, your lucky that you have a few spare moments for a quiet time. We know that prayer is a dialog, not a monolog that we are so often tempted to have. We know from the Bible that God speaks to His people. He speaks to us in many ways such as dreams(Joseph), the Bible, other people(Moses spoke to Pharaoh) , an audible voice (Samuel or Moses), or a gentle nudge at the heart.

To sit with the Lord in prayer is powerful. Putting anxiety to rest and our chaotic thoughts to rest. Just being present in The Savior’s arms. Allow Him the chance to renew you. Allow Him the chance to speak to your heart.

photo-1427435150519-42d9bcd0aa81.jpg

Around the time I was seventeen years old I had the privilege to travel to Taize. Taize is a retreat also known as a pilgrimage with over 5,000 teens and young adults from around the world held in France. This is where I encountered silence. This is where I encountered God’s nudge on my heart. This is where I encountered a deeper relationship with Christ. Worship was three times a day accompanied by eight minutes in silence.

Towards the end of my stay there, our Bible study leader asked us to spend an hour in silence. Let’s experiment and see what it’s like to spend an hour in silence.

281242_260035020674604_7129908_n

StEtienneTaize05

 

Just kidding! That never gets old. I know the look on your face was priceless. Anyways back to my story. After being told to go find a place to spend in silence, I ventured down to a place called the source. Its beauty is breathtaking. When you breathe in it’s as if you are breathing in peace and when you breath out along with the breath that escapes your lungs all your worries vanish too.

The time there flew by. That is where I let go of many things. Surrendering the future and letting go of the past.  Where God called me into ministry, though I am learning that word is used to describe so much more than pastoring. I cannot fully captive in words my experience with God in silence. The peace surpasses all understand. The joy is unthinkable.

photo-1467318289505-c20a45d62429.jpg

God speaks to us today. We need to have ears that hear and we must be intentional in seeking His voice. “Planned times of quiet and solitude are a good balance to a busy life. Cultivating a heart of prayer helps you see God’s perspective and to more fully experience His presence throughout the day.”

My challenge to you precious friend is for you to take two to five minutes of silence at least once this week. Silence is a break from the chaos of life, a chance to reconnect with God, and to worship Him in a new way.

Appreciating Communion

I struggle to find the right words to share with you this beautiful day. I know my words cannot fully explain the depth of all Jesus has done, but I pray that you will be encouraged in some way.

Holy week is a time for reflection. Reflecting on Jesus crucifixion. Reflecting on God’s love. Reflection on our lives; on our relationship with Christ.

Holy Thursday gives us the chance to refocus our hearts on the events of Holy week. A time to remember the first communion. We are also reminded that Jesus came to serve others as well as give his life for our sins.

last-supper-655691_960_7202

One way Jesus remains close to us is through communion. Communion is more than just bread and juice. Every time we receive communion Jesus becomes a part of us. Communion is an outward remembrance of the inward presence of Christ.  This is the personal presence of Jesus in the world today. Communion can be a very powerful experience.

However I can recall a time as a teenager when I was just going through the motions with communion, I didn’t stop believing in it, but it didn’t mean a lot to me. I had stopped appreciating it. It was just something that happened right before worship was over. On our journey home from Taize (which is similar to a retreat) experienced the most powerful communion in my life. It’s something I can’t completely put into words. The pastor who was severing it made it completely personal to the group of teens I was with. She didn’t just read words from a piece of paper, she spoke from her heart. I don’t remember everything she said however I do remember feeling completely overwhelmed and breaking down in tears. That moment I remembered how much God loves me and that He sent his son for me.

It’s not enough to merely go through the motions.

 

Online Bible Study

Being mainly homebound is difficult. We long to be as normal as possible, yet our bodies seem to fail  repeatedly. Technology paves the path to socialization. Of course, being in person is ideal, but not always reality.

We weren’t made for isolation, yet slip into its trap all to often. Community is an essential aspect of life.

Online Bible study, is a fairly new concept. It provides a wonderful chance to get into the word of God, grow Spiritually, and to have some degree of fellowship. A Bible study or small group can also provide accountability. This is by no means only for those with a chronic illness. Just like at most churches, you get a mix of people coming from all walks of life.

About a week ago, I began my second online Bible study through Proverbs 31 Ministries. Proverbs 31 Ministeries is an excellent resource for women of all ages. ” Wherever a woman may be on her spiritual journey, Proverbs 31 Ministries exists to be a trusted friend who understands the challenges she faces, walks by her side, encouraging her as she walks toward the heart of God.”

I began participating in a Proverbs 31 Ministries Bible study about a week ago. We are reading, I know His name by Wendy Blight. In addition, to reading a section of the book daily (Monday – Friday) we have a private Facebook page where we are able to share with one another. For this particular study, there are a lot of women. For me, at this time, it is not realistic to read every comment (though I did try). I aim to read five to ten post and comment on a handful.

Another online women Bible study is Good Morning Girls, by Women Living Well. I highly encourage you to consider joining some type of Bible study or small group either in person or online. If you think you would benefit from an online setting make sure to do your homework, find out what the group believes. And, of course, pray over it before jumping in.

 

Valentines Day

Happy

Originally, I had no intentions of blogging today, but God nudged my heart. The concept of Valentines day has always been appealing to me. I love all things girly like hearts. The more I ponder this day, the more I realize it should not simply be about candy, flowers, and couples. It shouldn’t be a day dreaded by us, single people.  It should be a day to reflect on all the people we love in our lives- not just our significant other. Valentines day is more than a romantic movie or other things the media might say. Not that any of these things are bad but the meaning gets lost in the shuffle. It is a day to be grateful for the people who deeply love you, encourage you and support you.

It is fitting that Valentines day is during lent this year. This day our hearts should also be focused on God’s indescribable love for us. A chance to deepen our relationship with Christ. You are Gods favorite; his pride and joy. He delights in you. He longs for you to find all you need in him, to rejoice in his love, and be content in him. Before He crafted the universe he already knew how every moment in your life would unfold. His love for you remains the same. Nothing can sperate you from it. He will continue to bless you greatly. “Jesus turns lives into legacies. He is transforming history through you.”

Valentines day is also a reminder to be nice to ourselves. To try to love and accept who we are and where we are in our journey. You are valued beyond words. Perfectly flawed, just human. You are worthy of love, all things good, and worthy of blessings. I wish you would see yourself through others eyes, maybe then you could see your radiant beauty understanding your worth.

12279104_789040341206016_6734371129823631054_n

How are you celebrating Valentine’s day?

The Heart of Worship

Worship is essential to our spiritual well-being. We were created to love and worship God. However, God does not need  you to worship him. He desires to be in close fellowship with you. He craves, for you to understand his love for you. Worship renews us providing us with joy, strength, peace, and much more.

photo-1446974212588-b226d9d5e2c4

This song is a classic. Without knowing it many times our unfocused hearts, shove God out of the way; even during worship. We idolize other things or become prideful.  Our sin coved hearts begin to harden as we take steps backwards, away from the throne. How many time have we speculated how those around us are worshipping. In our minds saying, “She is showing off, that is not real worship.” Also allowing our minds to paint a captivating daydream. Consumed with our schedule, we fidget entertaining anxious thoughts.  Or we are more focused on the talent of musical ability than on the Sovereigness of God.  Music is a magnificent way to worship, but it is not the heart of worship, not the main focus.  Ironically, I am using songs to get me point across. The lyrics demonstrate truth,

“I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the things I’ve made it”

“The heart of worship is our heart, delighting in Jesus and expressing praise to him for the true things the Scriptures teach us about who he is and what he has accomplished for us.” God does not want us to participate in a drama production; he simply wants us to come as we are to authentically worship him. He knows our hearts. He knows every flaw and failure; every negative thing in our character and in our life. Despite this, he commands us to come as we are, as he lovingly extends his grace to us.

The majestic name of, the Lord is worthy of all honor. He lovingly crafted every corner of creation with passion. His fingerprints are evident throughout nature. “God’s glory is everywhere from the smallest microscopic form of life to the vast Milky Way, from sunset and stars to the storms and seasons.” Before God crafted the universe he construed a purpose for your life. Our righteous Lord is the source of life. Allow your heart to align with his will and worship his name.

QoR8Bv1S2SEqH6UcSJCA_Tea

It is good to passionate pursue things, striving to succeed as hard work pours out. However, none of these things should become a god in our life.  In the spoonie world chasing after the Spoonie dream is easy. The dream of a perfect treatment plan, pain-free living, healing, or aspects of a healthy person’s life such as a social life. “To treasure God more than pain-free living.”  Do you treasure God more than anything in your life?

I love the words to this song though it the Spirt has showed me a lot.

“We must not worship something that’s not even worth it
Clear the stage, make some space for the one who deserves it
Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol

And we can sing all we want to
We can sing all we want to
And still get it wrong
Worship is more than a song”

If we are not intentional about riding our hearts from idols we, fall into the trap of worshiping them without even noticing it. The enemy longs to disconnect us from our creator. Keeping us away from worship is included in his laundry list of ways to diminish our faith. He attempts to keep us too busy to spend time with God, “the primary purpose of Sabbath margins- of saying no when appropriate- is to diminish our devotion to all other suitors and crystallize our allegiance to God.” Spending a substantial amount of time with God on a regular basis is not only a command the Lord gave us, but it is also essential to life. Time in worship allows us to be renewed in a unique way. Enter boldly into the Lords presence’s and worship him fully.