Joy Comes in the Morning…

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Joy.

I have joy down in my heart.

Not because I have my life figured out. Not because my life is where it needs to be. And not because anything has changed.

But I have joy, because of Love.

God’s Love.

A love that never fails. A love that never gives up. A love that never runs out.

Even though I still make mistakes and there are still mountains in front of me to overcome. Even though I ran away and feel like I am in the eye of the storm.

I don’t have to be afraid.

Because I know that my Father loves me and nothing can separate me from the love of God.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38

In the midst of my trial and pain, when I am too weak to fight –

My God fights for me.

He is fighting on my behalf and working to ensure that all things work together for my good.

God takes my sin and failures.

He takes the things that could destroy my life and He works them all together for my good and for His glory.

How can that not bring Joy?

I am covered and protected –

By the power of my Father’s great Love.

I have spent the last few months in darkness. I was lost and wandering. I got tired of waiting on God and grew impatient. I took my life into my own hands and made a mess of things.

Today, I realize, that although I felt lost and alone, God knew right where I was the whole time. He was watching after me. He was picking up after me like a loving Father does. He has been patiently waiting for me to come back to Him.

Waiting for me to run back  into His open arms.

And so today I run.

I run into His arms where I met by His love. And surrounded by His love I find…

Joy.

Buried in the Sand

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Sometimes the first thought that comes to our minds when we think of something being buried in the sand is a beautiful sunny day, on a beach, with our toes burrowed in warm golden sand.

But, being “buried in the sand” is not always a glorious thing. This picture looks silly and downright ridiculous, and when we burry our heads in the sand to avoid the tough things, regardless of the reasons,  it’s a downright ridiculous thing to do.

Out of sight. Out of mind.

Just because you are not facing it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Evasion.

Just because your avoiding something,  it doesn’t mean it’s going away.

I’ve been neglecting things in my life out of fear,  out of shame,  out of uncertainty,  out of “busyness”, out of regret.  But the neglect made nothing go away;  it made nothing better.

It. Just. Makes. Things. Worse.

I’ve always believed I was a faith filled person,  but I realize if I’d of had faith,  I wouldn’t have felt the need to bury my head in the sand.

Matthew 8:26  keeps ringing in my ears,

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

When we stand up in faith,  God rebukes the storms in our lives.

It doesn’t matter how bad we feel. How sincere we are. How much thought we give it. If we DO NOTHING then NOTHING HAPPENS.

God does and will act on our behalf, but we have to DO what He tells us to do.

We can’t do anything or hear anything, with our heads buried in the sand.

Maybe you are like me and it’s time for you to rise up in faith and face the mess you’ve made. What you’re facing might look hopeless. Looking up might be scary. The road ahead could possibly hard and humbling, but we are are called to walk by faith and not by sight.

Maybe you’re like me and your faith seems to be in short supply.  Cling to these scriptures and know you’re not alone. You’re not the only person whose made a mess of your life and God is with us, and he will be. Every. Step. Of. The. Way.

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Inspiring People #2

Mark & Rhonda

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Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. Ephesians 5:25-28

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I don’t even know where to begin describing how inspirational this couple has been for me, so I will just jump in…

I love the way Mark loves his wife. He is undeniably crazy about her, and I love it. I cannot wait until I find “my Mark.”

I love that Rhonda is such a strong woman who has started a successful non-profit, is a published author, and an amazing mom. Her commitment and dedication has tangibly changed lives. Mark comes in right along side her and unconditionally supports and changes lives, too.

Mark has a servant’s heart and can single-handedly whip up an amazing dinner for a crowd…and it is tasty too!

They fiercely love their children and grandchildren.

They work hard and take time to play hard.

They have been transformed by the love of God and are not afraid to share their story to inspire others.

I am thankful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to see a glimpse into their relationship. Watching them interact with each other, their community, and their family has inspired me more than words could say.  They have been through the worst of times, but they stand firm on the promises of God and live life on purpose and for a purpose. The encouragement Rhonda has given me and Mark’s joyful spirit have truly impacted my life and gives me something to look forward to. Thanks Mark and Rhonda!

Inspiring People #1

I love people.

When I see people, I see potential. I see possibilities. I see destinies. I see purpose and value.

Today, I have decided that I am going to start blogging about some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. They are not famous nor are they perfect. They are ordinary people like you and me who have an unordinary zeal for life; and, I am blessed to call them my friends.

Today I am going to blog about two young men who quite honestly impress my socks off.

 First up, is Dimitri.

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Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are the people who know the joyful sound [who understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts]; they walk, O Lord, in the light and favor of Your countenance! In Your name they rejoice all the day, and in Your righteousness they are exalted.
Psalm 89:15-16
 

Dimitri lives life with contagious enthusiasm. He makes me happy just by watching him be happy. 

He loves God. He loves people, and it shows.

He prays for people just because they liked one of his Facebook statuses.

He hears from God and is not afraid to share what he has learned.

He listens and obeys the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Dimitri is a role-model for men of all ages.

He is learning what it means to wait on the Lord, and is learning how to wait expectantly for what is coming in his life.

He gets excited about the Word of God and new revelations.

He pursues God with every fiber of his being and out of an overflow of what is in his heart he pursues living a life of purpose, integrity, and lost souls.

Thank you, Dimitri,  for stirring up excitement in my soul.

 Next up, is James.

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So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Psalm 78:72
 A cheerful disposition is good for your health…
Proverbs 17:22
 

James has a heart to lead the upcoming generation of young men. He inspires me to be a better leader and can make me laugh until it hurts.

He has a passion to see mentors rise up for young men.

He finds humor in any situation.

He builds people up with his words and helps them see their value.

James challenges himself to grow, and is honest with himself about improvements he needs to make.

He seeks to know God deeper and apply what he learns to his life.

He talks to God with genuine conversation as if he is talking to Him face-to-face.

He is preparing himself to be a godly husband and strives to make decisions today that will protect his future wife’s heart.

Thank you, James, for making me smile and reminding me that my influence in this world is making a difference.

My prayer is for everyone to have a “Dimitri” and a “James” in their life.

Someone who brings them excitement and pure joy, and someone who fills their life with laughter, inspiration, and encouragement.

Snow Day!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:17

No matter how old I get, I still LOVE snow.

There is just something about those tiny, glistening, white snowflakes that get me excited the same way it did when I was a child.

One of my co-workers who just moved here from Florida and who has not seen snow since she was a little girl sent me a text message that read: Everything is all white and pretty. It’s like all nice and brand-new.

Maybe part of the excitement of snow is that it makes everything look brand-new. I love looking out over a field after it has just snowed and is covered with a fresh blanket of flawless beauty.  It makes me think of – New Beginnings. Purity. Possibilities.

As I was reminiscing this morning about my childhood snow-days and how excited I got (and still do) this thought occurred to me: What would happen if people got just as excited about Jesus as they do about snow?

What if people prepared for Jesus coming, the same way they prepare for the threat of possible snow?

Snow can teach us a lot about Jesus. The blood of Jesus makes us new again. It makes us flawless and pure. The blood of Jesus erases our mistakes and brings new beginnings. With Jesus anything is possible. The realization of who Jesus is and what He can do is something to get truly get excited about. Unlike snow that melts away, Jesus is always there to cleanse us, forgive us, and make us new. His love never changes.

I am reminded of a song this morning that says:

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small;

Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.

‘Cause Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find Thy power and Thine alone,

Can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone.

Thank-you Jesus for dying on the cross for me so that I could become spotless. Thank you for forgiving me so that I can experience what it feels like to be free from my past and have a spotless, clean slate as I move forward. Thank you for bearing the weight of my sin so that I can experience peace. Thank you for the snow that reminds me of how great your love is. I praise you, Jesus, for paying my debt and making me as white as snow.

Finding Purpose in Singleness

I read a blog today titled, Singled Out.  The author wrote something that made me smile with a new realization.

 “When I meet another single Christian woman in her 30s, I automatically envision how God has used her singleness to teach her wisdom, selflessness, self-control, joy, patience, and faith because that’s what God has done in my own life.”

I love this! I don’t think many people automatically envision these qualities. And, I sometimes forget, that is exactly what being single has taught me.

While singleness has of course at times brought about feelings of loneliness, what I have learned and how I have grown during this season has been invaluable.

Our society often views singleness as a curse.  I can sometimes sense the pity from others when they find out I am single, but I can honestly say that I am content. I know that God has used this time in my life to shape me into a stronger and better woman. During this season of my life my relationship with my Savior has grown and He has been preparing me to be a better wife for the man I will one day marry.

Thank you Jesus for being with me every step of the way. For comforting me in my pain, reassuring me in my doubt, and using this time in my life to make me a better woman. Thank you for helping me become a woman with:

Wisdom. Selflessness. Self-Control. Joy. Patience. Faith.

The Chains that Hold Us Captive

Our country has always thought of ourselves as being “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, but everyday I encounter people who long to be free – free from the chains that hold them captive.

The chains that keep them from living the life they were created to live. The chains that hold them back from the dreams in their hearts. The chains that cripple them from moving forward.

Fear. Addiction. Insecurity. Past mistakes. Hidden sins. Adultery. Sexual immorality. Doubt. Painful experiences. Loss. Divorce. Lies. Unforgiveness. Depression. Anxiety. Hurts.

Each of these things has the power to bind us, hinder us, and keep us from living life to the fullest. Sometimes these things leave us paralyzed, feeling defeated and hopeless. Everyday I hear people ask “How?”

How can I overcome?

How can I succeed?

How can I fit in?

How can I make progress?

Although they may not say it, I know what they are really asking is “How can I be free?”

How can I get rid of this burden?

How can I escape this chain that is holding me captive?

How can I overcome?

How can I enjoy life again?

Although being free from your chains might seem impossible, I am here today to tell you that it is not. I have been set free from the chains that held me in bondage. The chains that altered the way I viewed myself. The chains that made me doubt in my value and worth. The chains that kept me from living with purpose and confidence.

I have the answer to breaking free.

I know the solution.

I know because I have experienced first-hand in my life that:

There is power in the name of Jesus to break EVERY chain.

Tonight the words of this song are on my heart, and as I sing it the faces of people that I love, the faces of people who confide in me, the faces of those I lead, and the faces of people I barely know are who I see scrolling across my mind.

I see chains breaking, and people being set free – and I can’t help but be excited.