Who I Am…

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I was recently challenged with the question “Who Am I?”  Now, when I say challenged, I mean it!  In more than one way!

I started out with the standard answer: “I am a wife, a mother…” only to be quickly rebuttal with the statement that “…those are roles you fill, not who you are.  If you lost all that tomorrow, who are you?”  So there’s challenge one.  The control freak in me instantly panicked.  I cannot imagine myself without those roles. I’ll deal with that in another therapy session though…

Now, here’s challenge number two…I didn’t have an answer. I truly didn’t know.  Most people who know me know that this is not a typical issue I struggle with.  I always have an answer, response or witty comeback!  However, when this simple, yet difficult question was posed, I had nothing.  In that moment, fear REALLY set in…if I don’t know who I am, then how do I know that I am not making a mistake with the life that God has given me?

I guess that is where faith must step in.  I have seen God work beautifully in previous instances in my life.  Whether that be to bless me with absolutely amazing family and friends, or showing me the little signs that I asked for, like a butterfly, to reassure me everything would be okay.

So I decided to take some time to really dig deep and explore the question of who am I, and here is a little bit of what I discovered:

Who I am is a complete oxymoron!  On the outside, I am a grown 34 year old woman, with an amazing husband and two beautiful and healthy children, a nice home, and a fulfilling job (although stressful at times!).  On the inside, I am confused and scared about my life and what lies ahead of me.  I often struggle with irrational fear.  For example, I fear the future for heaven’s sake!  In the back of my mind, I know I have no control over the future, but that doesn’t stop me from trying! (Is there AA for Control Freaks???)

Some days I feel strong and competent and some days my thoughts/fears get the better of me.  Right now I feel like I live life on an emotional roller coaster, and I have trouble accepting that.  I have trouble accepting that I cannot be strong all the time, and that everyday isn’t going to be a good day.  Yes, I am weak, and I do feel broken.

I am also strong.  I am a great mother, and my children adore and love me.  And I adore and love them.  My husband accepts, supports and loves me just as I am.  My boss says I do an amazing job.  I am a loving, caring friend who has been blessed to have so many amazing caring people placed in my life.  Some of them know my struggles (and now you do to…hahaha!) and guess what, they love me anyways!  They don’t judge me, and they haven’t turned their backs on me.

Sure, there is a chance that on any given day something could go wrong, and I could go “crazy,” but probably not.  And even if my worst case scenario happens, the people who love me will still love me.  And the people who choose to leave me as a friend probably didn’t really know and love me to begin with.

I believe I am a child of God and my sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus, but I am very hard on myself.  I don’t ask for help and I expect that I should be perfect and that I shouldn’t be emotional or have bad days.  I struggle with those things and probably will for a long time because I am also very stubborn, and I think I have to be strong all the time.  Here’s the reality: I am not.  I’m not always strong.  News flash, self…no one is, and I’m working to accept that.

I do think there is strength in weakness though.  By letting other people know my struggles, I open myself up to be relatable. I let down my guard and the pressure to always be perfect.  I am presented with an opportunity to help others. Perhaps that is my purpose… to be courageous enough to be real and to be broken so that I can help others.  BUT, when I am weak, I have to ask for their help and let them have the opportunity to live out God’s purpose for them, which may be to help me.  There is strength in weakness, and yes I have thoughts that make me feel weak, but I am also strong too!

So, to sum all that up…
I am a child of God
I am a daughter
I am a loving mom and a wife
I am beautifully broken (just how God wants me to be)
I am a student, still learning about life
I am a gardener (there’s an identified God given talent!)
I am a giver
I am a friend
I am a hiker and tree lover
I am a chocoholic! (Don’t tell my dentist)
I am funny (sometimes)
I am strong, capable and competent (some days)
I am weak, afraid and emotional (some days)
I am not perfect in the eyes of the world or even in my own eyes, but I am perfect in the eyes of God
I am a beach lover
I am a movie trivia buff
I am a child of the 80’s (best music ever!)
I am loved
I am too hard on myself
I am still a work in progress
I am thrifty and resourceful
I am a hot mess
I’m feisty (according to my husband)
I am hopeful
I am forgiven and saved through Christ Jesus!

I am working to accept that figuring out who I am is going to be a lifelong process because I’m never going to be done growing or changing.  But, the beauty is that I am never alone, and that is God’s promise to me.  No matter the trials, or life changes that come my way, I will never be alone, and I may not always be able to define who I am…but He knows!

I call to mind something Lysa TerKeurst said, and I’m paraphrasing here…Putting our weaknesses out there for all to see, on a stage or platform, doesn’t make them any easier…it just gets them out there.  I’m still working through this crazy thing called life, and some days are still a struggle for me, but I try to hold onto certain truths, like…

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
(James 1:2-4 MSG).

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39)

 

Love,
Olivia

Do You Make Time for God?

Have you ever felt that you were just floating through life?  Your life gets so chaotic and so busy that you just seem to get lost?  I think as a woman, I get so caught up in all the kids’ activities and social scenes that I sometimes get lost and lose track of what really matters.  I have been struggling with balance lately.  Often times I get so focused on things that really do not matter at all—and yet they are taking up the majority of my time.

Have you ever felt a tug that’s pulling you to do something outside your confront zone?  Even though you know you probably should listen to God urging you to do it, you tell yourself, “No…I am not going to give into those feelings.  I don’t have time to give in!”  That “tug” could be to lead a bible study or coach your child’s team, or maybe even write a blog.  You may be thinking that you are spread too thin and can’t possibly give any more of yourself.  Those thoughts are the devil talking!  He tries to come in and put thoughts in our head that discourage us and make us feel inadequate. He wants us to believe we do not have time for God’s work. He is a liar!

When you feel overwhelmed, just stop and pray about it.  Do you let God lead your life, or are you still hanging on to that control?

We will suffer if we do not pause to let God speak to us.  We have our to-do list and we just go, go, go.  We may not know it, but we are letting the devil control us when we leave God out of our busyness.  Stop, pray, and let God intervene!  If we are obedient in following Him and taking His lead, everything will fall into place.  I am the first to admit that I do not fully allow God to control my life.  Sometimes Satan wins!  Did I just say that?  I did!  But we have to fight back.  It’s a war and we can choose to rebuke Satan and choose to allow God to step in and save us.  The battle has already been won—Jesus died so that we can fight from victory!

We need God.  We need to seek God as soon as we wake each morning.  I’ll admit that I do not always remember to do this.  I would love to say that I wake up and read my Bible and devotional right away each morning.  But it doesn’t always happen.  We are not perfect human beings.  We are perfectly imperfect!  That is what is so great about GOD!  He loves us for who we are!  He’s there waiting for us to seek Him and ready to take over our stress and busyness—we just have to let Him!

2 Corinthians 5:7   For we live by faith, not sight.

Psalm 96:6   Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 36:9   For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

John 8:12   When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

So today let’s follow His lead!   Let’s let Him lead us!  Whatever it may be, stop and pray about it.   I challenge each of you (including myself) to make God the first person we talk to when we wake each morning.

 

Love,
Leah

Little Confirmations Everywhere

Sometimes, you are not even looking for anything from God.  Maybe you have forgotten to seek His help for a decision that needs to be made.  God may even seek you.  If He did, would you recognize it?  What if you don’t think you need Him, but He blindsides you, leaving you wondering what just happened? What, then, will you seek next? Well, it happened to me that day when my co-worker prayed over me in my cube last year. (If you missed that post, you can read it here.)

My co-worker walked away after one of the most powerful moments of my life and I realized that there was no one I could go tell. I wanted to tell someone what just happened, but my friends were not at work yet.  Sadly, I was not seeking God for answers, but friends.  So, naturally, where else do you go to find your friends? Facebook, of course! Ha!

{Thankfully, a few months earlier, I did a 21 day social media fast and ultimately scrubbed my Facebook feed after I realized that the information I was allowing into my mind was key to my happiness (or lack thereof).  I made an effort to “unlike” all of the things that brought me down or clogged my mind with unwanted information.  And at the same time, I made an effort to “like” more Christian pages that posted scripture and uplifting information.}

So, the first thing I saw on Facebook that April morning was an invitation to an online book study with Proverbs 31 Ministries. –Confirmation- How wonderful that because of my “seeking God” in January, I found Him, in God’s perfect and providential timing, on Facebook. I don’t remember exactly what that post said, but I do remember it said, “Click here.”  And y’all—it was like my body was on auto-pilot.  I clicked. I signed up. I ordered the book. Done.  Without even having the words to ask God what to do after my wild encounter with the Holy Spirit in my cube, He gave me what I needed.  About a week later, I received my book in the mail. What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst launched me on a faith journey so profound that my whole life has changed drastically because of it.

The book study led me down a path of self-exploration and soul-searching. Phase one of walking in faith is “leaving.”  During that first week, I discovered that I had to leave behind something crucial for my walk in faith to progress.  I wanted it to be my job, but definitely didn’t get any confirmations on that one.  By that Saturday night, I felt like maybe God was telling me to leave behind shame.  Shame?  Yep—good ole’ shame. I would venture to say it’s probably Satan’s most common stronghold.  Oh, how he loves to sneak in and make you second guess everything and feel bad about, well, pretty much every choice or decision you have ever made. I’ll be honest: I didn’t even know I was holding on to shame. Seriously. I didn’t think I had a problem with it (that’s the pride issue, but I didn’t realize that was a problem until about 6 months later…).

And, you’ll never guess what He said to me through that Sunday’s message at church.  In reference to Adam and Eve in the garden after they ate the fruit to gain God’s knowledge and wisdom in Genesis 3, I wrote in my notes, “When you choose the worldly view (tree of knowledge of good and evil), it produces a loss of innocence and shame.”  It was as though the flood gates of shame were open and I felt it all at once.  It was like God was bringing it to my attention just so that I could let it go—and all because I asked Him for help.  And at the end of the message that day, I wrote, “If you have felt shame, choose to live in the tree of life. Fall in love with Jesus. Don’t allow condemnation. Make the choice every day. Come into a relationship with Jesus. God, please transform me from the inside.” -Confirmation-

Leave the shame behind. Transformation has begun! Hallelujah!

Throughout the next 4 weeks, I wrote prayers asking God to help me get my priorities straight. I asked Him to help me see the things that were holding me back from walking in faith like Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, and Moses (among the many examples in the Bible).  I began to *finally* seek God for help. I was seeking Him for answers to questions that Lysa Terkeurst helped me to ask.  And he slowly began to reveal things to me that would absolutely rock my world—this path of exploration ended up taking me to my knees in complete and total desperation in August—where God met me in my weakest moment. (More on that next time!)

Friends, seek God first. It’s really not just a cliché. Before seeking help from anything or anyone else, seek Him. Recognize that He is always present and trying to help you—even when you don’t ask for it, He’s still there guiding and nudging, waiting to give you those little confirmations to help you move on.  Sometimes it’s hard to physically see or feel Him with us.  Of all places to find a confirmation, I found one on Facebook!  He confirmed that what I had just experienced was indeed from the Holy Spirit and I was to step out in faith and follow Him.  God can and will use whoever and whatever possible to reach you! But oh, how much easier it is to go straight to the source! Ask Him. Seek Him. Knock and He will answer.


 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  ~Matthew 7:7-8


Heavenly Father, thank you so much for helping me to see the little confirmations everywhere.  Thank you for your guidance and your gentle nudges that steer me in the right direction; may I always recognize your presence. I pray that my friends reading this post today will seek you and see their own confirmations of your presence in their lives. May they feel your grace and mercy and know that it’s you! Thank you for your son, Jesus, and it’s in His name I pray. Amen!

Love,

Jamie

The Warfare of Worship

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:8-11, NIV

This exchange happened as Jesus was being tempted by Satan himself for 40 days in the wilderness. Satan offered Jesus the entire world in exchange for Jesus’s worship. As you can see, Jesus’s declaration of singular praise to God drove Satan out. Satan had to leave as Jesus spoke the Scripture (Deut. 6:13), proclaiming that worship belongs to God alone. In addition, Jesus’s declaration of worship set the heavens in motion as the Lord’ angels came and attended to (NIV), took care of (NLT) and ministered to (ESV) Jesus.

In Isaiah 14:13-14, we see that Satan was cast out of heaven because he wanted to be worshiped. He wanted his throne to be “above the stars of God” and he wanted to be “like the most high”.

Listen, beloved: every temptation Satan throws our way is an attempt to steal worship from God and redirect it to himself; stealing worship from God is his primary goal in his attacks against people. He is often persistent in his attacks, but his strategies do not change. He uses the same old distraction tactics, and when we realize that, we CAN fight back.

Because of these truths, worship is an act of spiritual warfare. Worship redirects your focus from your problems to your provider. When you worship the One True God, Satan becomes paralyzed. He MUST leave, just as he left Jesus in the wilderness. The heavens act on our behalf in protection when we worship God.

In her book, Girls With Swords, Lisa Bevere states it this way on page 173, “As you sing, the environment of your life will literally vibrate with a new frequency of expectancy, as the enemy’s progress is arrested and you are ushered into God’s presence.”

What are you struggling with today? Fear? Anxiety? Betrayal? Sickness? Conflict? Turn on some worship music and sing praises to your Creator, Father and Lover of Your Soul. Remind your soul that God always has and always will have your back despite how bleak your circumstances may feel in the moment.

Fight for your freedom to worship God, and you will bring joy and glory to the Lord, peace to your heart and trample the enemy simultaneously. Declare that He alone will receive the highest adoration of your heart, and Satan loses his leverage in your situation – in your mind, heart, attitude and perspective.

~Lacey