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Life is For Living

This morning I was praying about what encouragement to send out today and I heard Romans 8:10. This is the verse:

Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.” Romans 8:10

Jesus came to give us life. Not so that we could just exist or barely make it, but so that we would really live full and abundant lives!! In other words, life is for living!!!

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” John 10:10 AMP

We are spirit. We have a soul (mind, will and emotions). And we live in an earthly body. That body will die. Because, here on earth, death is inevitable.

But death here is not the end.

We are spirit. Spirit doesn’t die like the body. So when we leave this world it’s not the end of life, but the beginning of eternity with Jesus.

For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 NIV

So live this first life fully, but there’s no reason to fear death. To leave here means we will be with our Savior, Jesus.

Point to ponder while you wander. . . We were given freedom so that we could be free. (Galatians 5:1) We were loved first, so that we can love. (1 John 4:19) And we were given life to live!! (John 10:10) #hope #lovewon #lifeisforliving

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Seasonal Anxiety

It’s supposed to be the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and yet all I am hearing is:

I’m so stressed out.”

I cannot wait until this season is over.

I don’t know how I’m going to afford Christmas this year.”

I meant to only have a glass of wine, but then x, y & z happened, so I just drank the whole bottle.

I need a drink or a xanex or both.”

I’m freaking out. I don’t have enough time to get everything done.

Probably sounds familiar to you, right? You hear it at work, in the stores, and from family and friends.

I’ll be honest, hearing this breaks my heart and pisses me off. I’m angry because anxiety/stress is basically fear. And I loathe and detest fear!!! And it breaks my heart because this season should be about the joy of the greatest gift anyone has ever given, Jesus.

Jesus came to give us peace & rest. He came to set people free and heal their bodies and broken hearts. A celebration of His birth should not drive you to wino-hood or prescription meds!

Here’s what the Word says about anxiety:

1. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB

Don’t let stress win! Change your perspective! Give God the things your stressing about & focus your energies on the things your thankful for!!

2. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT

Give your anxious thoughts to God and THEN His peace comes & guards your heart & mind.

3. “And now, dear brothers & sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT 

A mind fixed on lack of money or creating perfect holiday will find stress. And stress is fear! Fear is a bully! And bullying is unacceptable!

You do not HAVE to spend a fortune on presents and decor! You don’t HAVE to cook a 7 course meal! If that stuff is stressing you out, scale back! I don’t care if it’s been done that way since forever! It’s not worth it.

Jesus came to give life and life abundant! He came to free you. He came to heal you. He loves you! He doesn’t want you to be full of anxiety!

You have the right to say no. No day, meal or gift is worth the loss of your health or sanity!

Point to ponder while you wander… Ask yourself what is important to you. What do you enjoy about the holidays? Now focus on those lovely and excellent things.

Point #2…Fix your mind & focus your energy on loving your family and friends well this year instead of big expensive gifts and perfect dinners.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

God of Restoration

Today I am thankful that God is a God of restoration.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

Normally I’d dissect this verse and display all the treasure found in those 4 amazical things our God of all Grace will do for us. But today I’m focusing my gratitude on restoration. Today, for me, restoration looks like this…

image

For those of you who don’t know the story, here is my tale of woe: About 4 years ago, my Canon Rebel jumped out of my camera bag, rolled down the stairs, and crashed spectacularly at the bottom. I took it to get it repaired, and the guy told me that the good news is the lens is undamaged. The bad news is that mechanism inside the camera that actually captures the image is broken. It would be cheaper to buy a new camera. Yeah. Worst news ever for a photographer.

To say that I was devastated doesn’t begin to cover it. I had just paid that camera off, and a photographer without a camera is like a person missing an appendage. Sound tragic? It should! It was a tragedy to me! I grieved that loss deeply.

Don’t tell me it’s just a camera. Just a possession, a thing…I know that. But many of my dreams include photography, so no camera…no dreams coming true.

Fast forward 4 years to my women’s group having a discussion about dreams. I have a lot of dreams, BIG ONES. But I felt like I needed to talk about photography, the dream I felt had been shelved. I had forgotten how much photography meant to me, until I started telling them about my passion project with God. The one that stirs my heart and moves me to tears. The one that requires a whole lot of money and other people to pull off. The one that I don’t tell people about. Then this beautiful, amazing, generous friend looks at me and says, “I have a camera for you.”

And I cried.

I am still moved by the gravity and meaning of those 6 words. The extravagant seed she sowed into my dreams. It’s at times like this that I’m also grateful God is a rewarder. I cannot wait to see what she reaps for sowing into my dreams.

Something to ponder while you wander…God is the one who restores, but He usually chooses to work through people. Are you willing to let Him work through you? Are you willing to believe in and encourage others. Are you open to investing in others with your time, talent, and finances. You may be the one to change their life.

God believes people are worth investing in, shouldn’t we?

Wonderful Wednesday: Don’t Stop Believing

Don’t stop believing!!

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 NIV

Running low on strength to persevere?

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He trains me for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me.” Psalm 18:32 & 34-35 NIV

To be still and know that He is God requires you to believe Him not just believe in Him.

Do you believe He will do what He says He will do? Do you believe He is a God of His word? Do you believe  He is faithful.

If you’re struggling with believing Him, I recommend two things. 1. Worship. Nothing reminds me of who God is and His faithfulness more than worship music. 2.  Study the lives of those mentioned in Hebrews 11, their perseverance, their relationship with God, and God’s faithfulness to them.

Something to ponder while you wander…true perseverance means no matter what you see or feel, you don’t stop believing God.

Vintage Beauty

I was waiting in line the other day, when I noticed the woman being waited on was vintage. Late 1920’s or early 1930’s vintage. After she finished, she gathered her things, and moved to the table directly across from me to reorganize her bag.

When I saw her face I though, “Wow, I bet she was stunning when she was young.”

And I heard the Lord say, “Look again.”

So I did.

I saw that while she was thin, she wasn’t frail. I saw her face, wrinkled and crinkled with smile and laugh lines. I saw her well-loved tan sweater over a lovely, feminine button up shirt. I started to see she was one who lived her life intentionally, she wasn’t just floating through.

I was admiring her wide-brimmed straw gardening hat when she looked up.

I saw light and wisdom radiating from her eyes. I instantly wanted to have tea with her, and listen to her story.

I smiled at her. She smiled back.

I realized in that moment she wasn’t only a beauty then, she IS a stunning beauty now.

This got me thinking….Outside of the true narcissistic few, most of us dismiss our own beauty. We see our flaws, and areas of our body we want to shrink, grow, or change. But we don’t see our own beauty.

I know I don’t. I see the beauty in sunsets and nature but not in myself.

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Truth is not all of us will be super models or grace the covers of magazines, but all of us are beautiful. That’s how God made us and how Jesus sees us.

This is from Song of Songs chapter 1 in the Passion Translation:

The Shulamite Woman: “In this twilight darkness, I know I am so unworthy–so in need.

The Shepherd King: “Yet you are so lovely.

The Shulamite Woman: “I feel as dark and dry as the desert tents of the wandering nomads.

The Shepherd King: “Yet you are so lovely–like the fine linen tapestry hanging in the Holy Place.

Jesus is our Shepherd King and He calls us lovely.

In Genesis 16 Hagar was a runaway maid, pregnant by her boss’s husband. She was in the desert, alone. Desperate.

She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, You’re the God who sees me! Yes! He saw me and I saw Him!” Genesis 16:13 MSG

The one who spoke to her was no mere angel, it was Jesus, Himself. And He saw her.

Something to ponder while you wander…Just like He told me to look again at the vintage beauty, take another look at yourself. See you how Jesus sees you. Because Jesus sees you clearly, and He calls you lovely.

PS Give a fellow human a genuine compliment today. They need to be reminded of their beauty too. ❤

Wonderful Wednesday: Real Relationship

“I admit I once lived by rumors of You; now I have it all firsthand–from my own eyes and ears.” Job 42:5 MSG

If you focus only on the stuff Job lost & gained, you’ve missed the best part! Job exited the worst 9 months of His life with a real relationship with Abba Father. The stuff was just an added bonus.

Brings to mind Mathew 6:33’s seek first and the rest shall be added doesn’t it?

Something to ponder while you wander…”When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me, you’ll find Me. Yes, when you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 MSG

Love is Practical

“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Proverbs 11:24-25 MSG

Real love is practical. It almost always wears work overalls. Do you want to be loved? Then love those around you. Here’s what that looks like…

Babysit for a single parent or give a date night to coupled parents so they can have a break. If you can do it for free, even better.

Do you feel like no one ever listens to you? Than give a listening ear to someone else.

Are you struggling to believe a promise from the Lord? Then pray for someone else to be strengthened and encourage them.

Do you have a need that is beyond what you can do? Then find someone else who has a need you can meet and bless them! Maybe give away nice clothes that don’t fit you, help clean or do yard work, pay an electric bill or drive someone to the store or pick them up for church.

Are you fighting depression or feeling miserable? Then find someone to compliment or encourage. Send a card or bring balloons or flowers. Call and tell someone you’re thinking about them.

Think about this…you can’t give a hug without getting one back.