I’m Still Learning How to Love Like Jesus

perfect love drives out fear…(1 John 4:18).

If love is the laying down of one’s life to serve someone else than fear must be the exact opposite of it.
 
I have watched my own heart and mind be captured by fear on countless occasions. This fear has kept me from being a servant, practicing humility or giving up my rights to value someone else above myself. Fear is always trying to protect me from something. Something unforeseen, something that happened in the past or something that I’m not willing to let go of. Fear truly is a liar and has kept me from truly loving people like Jesus would.
 
I’ve allowed fear to keep from praising the gifts of others. Thus, my pride has taken center stage because my fear encouraged it too. I’ve not led well, in those moments, because my heart was not captured by and being led by love.
 
For many years I believed that leadership meant I was the one who was leading and if I could be quite honest, letting someone else lead felt very threatening to my ego. I was unwilling to lay myself to make someone else look good because my fear told me that if I did, I’d lose the recognition I longed for in other people’s eyes.
 
Thankfully, through many humbling circumstances, the Lord taught me that the best leaders give up their need to be known, seen, and acknowledged before man. Just like Jesus, they live their lives not to make a show, but to be a servant, letting go of their ego to take up His humility, forbearance, and love. It is His love, being made perfect, in us that gives us the grace to love others in a way that our fear tries to convince us not to.
 
It is His love that calms and quiets the fears we’ve held onto for far too long. Truly, in Christ, we can walk, knowing that our position is not one of needing to be recognized before others, but instead one of being of little repute, so that others can be served, in Jesus name.
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Lord, I want to be small so that others can be celebrated. I want my life to reflect your love unto the ends of the earth. Jesus, I want to be your servant. Shower me with grace. Help me to walk in faith, hope and love and not fear, insecurity and pride, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I’m Learning How to Let Go of Past Wounds to Trust My Husband

I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar… (1 John 2:4).

Sometimes, obeying, submitting to and following God is hard, because this little voice tries to convince me that I can’t trust Him. I’ve noticed this happens in my relationship with others fairly easily too. Especially my husband.
 
As we are learning this beautiful partnership of submission in marriage, the Lord is taking me to some difficult and hard places; some wounds from the past where I was deeply hurt. Now He’s asking me to trust my husband and let go of what happened in the past.
 
It’s easy to hold the past over people’s heads and believe that they’ll always be the same way. I find myself dealing with these thoughts, “Your husband’s kindness and patience are fake. He’s just acting this way towards you so he can get what he wants.” Then, I’m flooded with all the memories of the pain from the past.
 
Last night as we were sitting on the couch talking through an issue that we’re trying to navigate together I said to my husband, “Rodrigo, I am so sorry and this is not on you, this is me, but I just am struggling to say that I trust you. I know I’ve put a lot on you tonight and quite honestly, its because I’m fearful to let go of control. I’m afraid that you won’t lead me with gentleness and that you’ll run ahead without me because you’ve done that before.”
 
I asked my husband to forgive me for my lack of trust and for allowing the past to become our present. Then, I kindly asked him to give me the grace to heal from the wounds of the past as they surfaced themselves through a now present-day situation that was similar to one we faced years ago. I expressed to him the deep hurt I had experienced through that experience. Then, he kindly and humbly asked for my forgiveness.
 
Trusting others is hard, isn’t it? It challenges us to let go of the wounds of our past and not treat people with contempt or try to control the situation out of fear that we might get hurt again. That was me last night, a woman, not willing to really trust her husband, because she was deeply afraid that if she did, she’d get walked all over and taken advantage of.
 
This beautiful dance, this partnership between husband and wife requires humility, honor, and trust. Without it, the dance dies and someone reaches for control. But when the dance is flowing, both persons are valuing the other above themself.
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I have learned that submission is not me giving away all of my rights, wants, needs and desires to simply become a “yes” woman. Submission is me, entrusting myself to someone who loves, honors and cherishes me. Someone who patiently waits for me to join him on the dance floor and doesn’t take a step without me. That my friends is leadership. It doesn’t have anything to do with control, but it does have everything to do with trust. It would be wrong of me to wait in joining my husband on the dance floor because I’m trying to stay in control. It would also be wrong of him to grab for my hand forcing me onto the dance floor when I am not ready.
 
You see, a husband leads not with a rod or first of anger or a controlling spirit, but with a gentle hand of strength, that awaits his bride to join him as they dance together in the strength and wisdom of God.
 
Lord, I want to do what you say. I want to walk in your wisdom. Help me, as a wife to honor my husband and to trust him as I learn to let go of my pain. Father, help us to dance together, not apart. Please forgive me when I reach for control instead of trust. Grow me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Falling Up

be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position…. (2 Pe 3:17).

I have spent much of my life falling. Mostly, because of my own insecurities, fears, and pride. All of these issues in my life eventually led to my swift and sudden disaster. They all left him in a heap of ruins, fashioned from my own unhealthy desires.
 
Until you’re sick and tired of falling, you’ll keep obeying the same voices that get you there.
 
For me, I had to learn how to stand. Now that I know how to stand firm, not following my feelings, emotions or need to be in control, I fall much less than I did before. There’s something about standing that grows our faith up in the Lord Jesus as we plant ourselves in His great love.
 
I know what you’re thinking though because I’ve been plagued by such thoughts too. What if God doesn’t pull through? What if something bad happens or what if I let go and He lets me fall? All of this comes from a heart that has yet learned how to stand.
 
Standing firm means that I train myself up for war. It means that no matter what emotion hits me, I take each of them captive as a warrior for Christ. It means I give Him complete and total control without letting myself drown in unbelief or fear. The more I stand, the stronger I become through Christ and the more victories I see.
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Truly, for those who know how to stand no longer feel the need to run ahead of God. They simply watch Him work and rely on Him to bring victory. I don’t know about you, but I need God to work on my behalf, but in order to do so, I must learn how to stand.
 
I often envision my walk with God in slow motion. This helps me process through my thoughts as I slow my heart and mind down asking myself where these feelings are coming from. It allows me the time and space to recognize what’s being put in front of me. Either I’ll chase the bait of Satan or I’ll stand firm in the peace and mercy of God. The choice is really up to me.
 
Lord, I’m tired of falling because of my own sinful actions. I want to continue to grow as I practice standing firm. I know that I am stronger than the enemy. I know that he can’t control me. Help me, as I grow, to continue to stand firm in your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.

When I Hang onto Fear and Control….I Always Let Go of God

the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials… (2 Peter 2:9).
 
I have seen the Lord do mighty things in my life. Things I never dreamed He could do, because quite frankly, I’d never seen God work in these ways because for too long my fear told me He wouldn’t.
 
For all my life I’d read about the stories in the Bible of God’s great deliverance and provision for others, but I had a hard time truly believing that He would do the same for me. This only kept me trapped in prisons of unbelief, where I tried to stay in control.
 
Let me tell you, if you want to make a quick mess of things try to stay in control of your life while not trusting God to pull through for you. I cannot tell you how many times this has ended in disaster for me as I’ve tried so hard to stay in control. The entire time I was grasping for straws and living in anxiety and fear in my pithy attempts to gain and keep control.
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Thanks to some of the Lord’s loving discipline and me falling on my face so many times that I was just tired of the repercussions of my sinful choices I humbled myself before God and asked Him to change my heart. As I was met with new opportunities to trust God, it was hard at first, but I kept letting go and walked forward in my newfound trust in God. For the first time, I saw God start to do mighty things and I had peace.
 
That was the best part. No longer was I flooded with fear and anxiety, but my heart and mind were covered in the grace of God. Something changed in me, as I learned to practice faith in God and let go of my fears. He was growing within me a beautiful city of confidence, peace, and trust. It was and is a strong city where I can rest my weary head. It is indeed a city full of life and peace, in His name.
 
Father, help us all to let go of our fears and trust you. Help me as I continue to grow, change and heal as your daughter, made in your image. Lord, shower me with grace. Continue to work in my life. I trust you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Insecurity Traps Me in Unhealthy Thinking….But, How Christ Sets Me Free

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside…(2 Peter 1:13–14).

I care, at times, way too much about my physical body. I’ll obsess about this part or that. Worry about how it appears to others and constantly attempt to fix, and change it to make myself feel better.
 
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All of this is a trap set forth by the enemy to steal my joy and delight in Christ. In all honesty, it makes me anxious and puts my thoughts on unhealthy things instead of the freedom, joy, and purpose that I have in Christ. I’m not sure why I do this. I have nearly all of my life. This deep insecurity has burrowed itself into my heart and mind for many years and I have learned that the only way to keep it in check is to constantly bring it out into the light. To proclaim my freedom and newness in Christ and to replace the lies of the enemy with God’s truth about me.
 
I’ve also learned to no longer ask people to pray for things that I do, like my performance in ministry, this project that I’m working on or something else upcoming in my life. Instead, with those I trust, I ask them to pray for me as a person, who struggles to become more like Jesus. I need them to pray for my fight against sin. I need them to hold me accountable for pursuing the right thoughts and actions. I need them to lovingly call me out when I’m not. There is beauty in transparency. It not only disarms the enemy, but it connects us to others who struggle against sin too. It breaks down this false pretense that we somehow have life all together.
 
Much of our problem is that we keep trying to cover up and hide our true selves hoping that somehow, one day, through our own vain and unhealthy attempts to control our insecurities that we’ll feel better. But, beloved, you’ll never get there. You will never actually get to a point where you feel better if you keep trying to be in control of your insecurities. You must be willing to admit them, bring them out into the light and confess that controlling them only hurts you and others.
 
We must approach God with a spirit of thanks, knowing that as we let go, He meets us with more grace and freedom for our hearts and minds that can so quickly spiral into places of insecurity.
 
Lord, I confess before you that I am in daily need of your grace. I care too much about my physical body. I want to care more about the fruits of the spirit that lives inside of me. I want to cultivate a heart of love instead of a spirit of fear and insecurity. God, I place my whole self before you and I thank you that you have made me a warrior. You have made me new in Christ and because of that, I have victory in Jesus name, Amen.

Dear Sister, You Are Not Called to Submit Yourself To An Abusive Husband

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…(1 Peter 3:1).

Although this verse in 1 Peter is a beautiful description of how a woman can act in ways that would lead an unbelieving husband to the Lord, it can often become a tool of shame in the hands of the enemy against her.
 
There was a season in my life when the voices of shame screamed loudly into my soul-
 
“If you just would submit more, he wouldn’t be like this.”
 
“This is your fault that he’s like this, because you’ve failed to live out this Scripture”
 
At that time in my life, when I would live out this Scripture, sadly, I was very much taken advantage of. Yet, I was still encouraged to keep submitting because, as I was told, eventually my husbands heart would turn.
 
Were there issues in my heart that needed to grow and change during that season? Yes, of course, but at the time, during a season where rage and anger were used against me almost daily I didn’t understand how to set healthy boundaries. Nor did I truly comprehend what biblical submission actually was.
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I can tell you what submission is not. It is not submitting yourself, time and time again to someone who is leading with rage and anger. Nor is it letting go of yourself, only to be taken advantage of by another person. Maybe someone told you that it’s what God would want you to do and living out this Scripture would please God. Let me just say this, I truly do not believe that God is more pleased when women submit themselves to destructive behavior over setting healthy boundaries for themselves as image bearers of God.
 
Think about it, does God really value a woman having destructive behavior heaped upon her time and time again, because she’s simply called to submit? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that’s true. For one, we’ve misunderstood what it means to submit to our husbands if that’s the case. Submission is a beautiful dance done between partners who love, honor, cherish and value the other above themselves. It is not a power play to be used against women to shame and keep them in destructive situations.
 
God forgive us for making women feel as though it’s their fault that they are being treated so poorly by their husbands. God forgive us that instead of stepping up and holding men accountable, we have instead shamed women into thinking that if they would just submit more, their husbands heart would change.
 
Sadly, for me, years ago, when I tried again and again to submit to my husband, which mind you, really wasn’t true biblical submission, but a distorted view of it, I kept placing myself under rage and anger. What my husband needed was not a “yes” wife, but a woman who was strong enough in herself to say “enough is enough.” He needed a woman bold enough to declare, “I’m here with you to support you in whatever you need, but this is not ok.”
 
Amazingly, after I learned this, started applying it, and then gathered men who were willing to lovingly hold my husband accountable, he finally and fully repented. Now, for the first time, we are submitting to one another out of reverance for Christ. Submission is no longer a power play to be used against me, but instead it’s a beautiful dance of a partnership between two people who love, honor and value one another above themselves.
 
Lord, forgive us for how we have used Scripture such as this to shame and hurt women. Forgive us for misunderstanding what submission really is and in the long run only hurting people because of it. Forgive us for not teaching women how to stand strong and draw healthy boundaries for themselves. Help us to love hurting people. Help us to walk alongside of them in love, grace, kindness and truth, in Jesus name, Amen.
 
***If you’re in a situation like this, please get help and don’t allow shame to keep you from it. Things can get better and you don’t have to continue to live believing it’s all your fault.***

I Have Discovered The Remedy To Grow in Christ

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…(1 Peter 2:2).

I have encountered many people over the years who feel stuck in their faith journey. They aren’t growing closer to God and are unsure of how to change that. I’ve lived there too, feeling as though my faith was on cruise control, not really growing, but just existing.
 
I have since then found the simple remedy to grow and mature as a Christian.
 
Peter encourages his readers to be like newborn babies and to crave pure, spiritual milk so that they might grow up in their salvation. Peter understood something that’s vitally important for us to apply as Christians if we want to grow and change. He understood, as I have found, that without a dependency upon God like a newborn child has to their mother, we cannot grow into mature Christian adults.
 
Maybe this remedy seems to simple- too elementary, but can I be completely honest? God doesn’t over complicate things. He understands how stubborn we can be, so in instances like this, He makes it really simple. He only asks us to abide in Him like a newborn baby.
 
As I prepare to welcome my own newborn into the world I am blown away by just how dependent she’s going to be on me. Literally, without me, or someone feeding and caring for her, she cannot survive. Our issue is that we don’t understand that without God, we’re good as dead. Truly, I need Him just as much as any newborn needs the love, care, and concern of someone caring for them. I have to stay just as close to God, with just as much frequency and desperation as any newborn infant.
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When I understand this, I find that there is rest for my weary soul, joy at my fingertips and sustenance to keep pressing forward with God into maturity. So if you really want your faith to take off, press into your Heavenly Father like never before. Come before Him, not with an attitude of self-sufficiency, but one of total and complete dependence upon Him for your very life.
 
Drink in His word like any newborn infant drinks in her mother’s milk and fall into His grace like a newborn needs the loving touch and embrace of her mother or father’s touch. Then, simply sit with God there, in His promises, knowing that truly, He wants nothing from you in those moments, except to simply drink in His deep love that dances over you.
 
Lord, it is such a trite thing for me to say that I need you. Truly, I am desperate for you. You know how much I struggle and how much I wrestle. Yet, you keep pursuing me. You keep loving me and providing for me. Truly, God, I want to live desperate for you, in Jesus name, Amen.