Let It All Go….

one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…(Php 3:13).

It’s time to let it all go. I know that sounds trite and it rolls fairly easily off the tongue. I know that’s what you want to do as well, but if you’re like me, there’s a deep wound that was attached to that something you need to give up to the Lord. Until you do though, you’ll never be able to move forward in the freedom of Christ over that situation.
 
Paul could have stayed stuck in his past, the bad decisions he made, the unfair treatment and discouraging moments. He could have dwelt on what used to be, but he didn’t. He stayed focused on one goal- seeing Jesus.
 
I remember as a teenager being hurt deeply by someone in my life and so I went looking for my dad. I knew that if I found him, he would embrace and comfort me. Truly, once I found him, he did. This is what our Heavenly Father offers for us too, comfort from all our pain. If we would simply seek His face, we would find that His comfort and joy meet us as He embraces us in His arms.
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As I was sharing with the teens this past week at youth group I reminded them that God often takes our most broken, painful seasons and uses them for our next steps in ministry. If we are willing to let go of the anger, hurt and resentment, we will find that what lies before us is now a great purpose to use our pain for the glory of God.
 
But we must be willing to share our stories, not for the purpose of complaining about them and gathering others on our side, but simply for the purpose of redemption. Yes, as we share, not to make ourselves feel better, but to connect our hearts with others, we find that God sends people our way in need of His comfort through us. That’s the kind of life I want to live, one that brings comfort to those who are hurting because I understand what they’re walking through.
 
So feel the freedom to let it all go as you go looking for your Father today. Let Him hold you in His embrace and be refreshed by His love. Share your hurt, pain, and frustration with Him. When you’re ready, share that with others too, so you can connect your heart to theirs as we all journey towards our freedom in Christ.
 
Father, today, I want to live in the freedom Jesus offers me. I long to keep walking towards my victory in Christ, for truly, it is mine through your love. Jesus, be my greatest joy today, I pray, in your name, Amen.

For a Long Time I Was Really Good at Making My Husband Feel Like a Problem…

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…. (Php 2:3).

The quickest killer of any relationship is selfishness. I have noticed in my life that selfishness tends to manifest itself in self-righteousness. I tend to place people under me and in doing so act selfishly towards them as I undervalue them because of the fact that I have wrongfully believed I was better than them.
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For a long time I did this with my husband. As you can imagine that didn’t make for good dynamics within our relationship. It was easy for me to see the flaws, the things I wish he wouldn’t do and the ways I wanted to fix him. This is selfishness at its worst, because it makes people immediately feel unloved, uncared for and disrespected. No man or woman can thrive in any relationship with someone who sees them as a person to be fixed instead of a person to be loved, honored and cherished.
 
It took me awhile, but I finally learned to let go of my idea that I was better than my husband. I just realized that we’re different and there’s nothing wrong with that. We have different likes and priorities. That didn’t make him wrong, just different from me and until I learned to embrace our differences with joy I saw them not as a blessing, but a curse.
 
No one wants to be seen as a curse, but that’s what selfishness in the heart will do to people in our lives. It will always devalue, and strip the honor that we should be giving that person from their lives. Now, this doesn’t mean that we put up with destructive or abusive behavior and somehow honor that type of action towards us, no. It just means were not always looking for ways to fix that person to make them more like us, because, in our own hardened heart, we obviously know better than them.
 
Lord, help me to honor others above myself and to value who they are even though they might be different from me. Help me God to live in your grace and not in my self-righteous pride. I want you to be honored in me so that I might be a woman who gives others an opportunity to shine brightly for you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Stop Looking For Encouragement and Start Offering It Instead

 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you….(Eph 6:22).

Someone out there needs encouragement. I don’t know about you, but I love encouragement. I love it when people offer it to me. Wrongfully, I almost expect them to.
 
I think this reveals something about my heart that is still growing and changing. Although there’s nothing wrong with being blessed by encouragement, it is never wise to place such high expectations on others. It’s as if we’re looking to people to remind us that we’re OK and that we are enough. Truly, the only person who can satisfy us with true encouragement that fills the soul is the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
If no encouragement is offered to you by someone on this earth, be reminded that the Holy Spirit, that dwells inside of you is always seeking to encourage you. Truly, you can drink from a well that never runs dry for your thirsty soul. Sometimes, when I’m looking for encouragement from others and don’t get it, I have to stop myself and go looking for my Father. As I sit myself down at the shores of His great love, I am filled to the brim with the goodness and encouragement of my Father.
 
Although the Spirit reassures us, this doesn’t dismiss us from offering encouragement to others. Since we’re often looking for encouragement instead of offering it we miss out on great opportunity to bless someone else. Truly, this kind of blessing is far better than always receiving the praise we’re looking for.
 
I wonder then, who you can be an encouragement to today? Who can you serve, not expecting anything in return, but truly, out of a desire to simply be a blessing? I’ve got a few people in mind and I’ll start by asking the Lord how I can bless them today, in Jesus name.
 
Abba, I want to live my life as a blessing. Although I love encouragement, I don’t need it to keep living in how you’ve made me. Truly, your Spirit encourages me if I’m willing to drink from the well of living water that lives inside of me. May my cup run over with that kind of love bursting inside of me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Every Man Needs to Hear, “You Have What It Takes”

and the wife must respect her husband….. (Eph 5:33).

Yesterday, the many times when I wanted to speak, the Lord told me, “Heather, keep your mouth closed. Your husband has what it takes.”
As I sat there for two hours in the AutoZone parking lot with my husband as he struggled and wrestled through hooking up a converter on the truck and trailer we were borrowing something inside of me kept saying, “He’s going to figure this out.”
Since I know my husband, I know how much grit he has when it comes to figuring things out he’s never done before. I’ve watched him strain and struggle through multiple projects around the house as he’s put his very best towards accomplishing something so frustrating that most people would have given up and given in. I know I would have given up on that truck and trailer yesterday. But, my husband didn’t and at that moment, my role to play was as his helpmate, lifting him up and supporting him, allowing him to just do his thing.
Sometimes, as wives, and just as people in general, we get in the way of letting people figure things out and be who God has created them to be. We feel the need to insert our own “help” or opinion and end up discouraging them instead of uplifting them. It’s hard for us to sit on the ground at AutoZone for two hours, saying nothing, but “how can I help?” It’s a whole lot easier to say, “Just give up, this thing just isn’t going to work.” But, doesn’t that speak to a man that he doesn’t have what it takes? Every man needs to know, whether it’s his wife, mother, friend or sister, that he has what it takes.
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There came a moment when my husband said, “I just can’t do this. I’m done. I don’t know what to do.” And for the first time, I felt the Lord’s grace to say to him, “You did your very best.” It would have been so easy to say, “I’m really disappointed. Now how are we going to pick up all that furniture?”
Don’t you see, so much of life isn’t about getting things the way we want it, like furniture on the day we were hoping to pick it up. It’s about coming alongside people, supporting, loving and encouraging them to become their very best in how God has shaped and wired them. Sometimes, that means supporting people through struggle and failure. It means that we must always be willing and prepared to say, “I’m still so proud of you and I still believe in you,” and show it through our words and actions.
Trust me when I say that I have not always been this wife. In fact, I’ve been the exact opposite. It took me a long time to figure out how to truly listen to the Lord and keep my mouth shut. Now, because of it, I got to see the Lord work through my husband as I learned to take a back seat and play the life-giving role of an encourager. Thankfully, my husband didn’t give up but kept plowing forward and finished the job. I knew he would.
Lord, help us all to be people who lift one another up and now tear each other day. Help us not to speak discouraging words when it could be so easy to do. Forgive us when we make life all about us. Help us now to have grace for our loved ones and to be their support system, in Jesus name, Amen.

Disarming the Enemy

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord… (Eph 5:19).

 
Audible singing has a way of disarming the enemy. I can recall, not long ago, in deep anguish, and pain how I would sing to the Lord. It was the only way I could free my thoughts and mental worries. Truly, it was God’s way of soothing my broken heart. As I sang to Him, I sensed His goodness near to me and His heart wrap around me.
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You see, the enemy loves to sing songs into our hearts as well. If we are not careful, they will become the ones we allow ourselves to listen to on repeat. They sing dreadful melodies of doubt, discouragement, and despair. They joust against us, seeking to steal our joy and confidence in Christ.
 
Can I be really honest? I don’t always sing the songs of God into my heart. More often than not, I sing the songs of doubt, discouragement, and fear, but I want to sing the songs of praise that disarm the enemy and sing of my victory in Christ.
 
God is always waiting for us to choose praise. He simply waits for us to come to Him with praise. When we do, His mercy floods our hearts and minds as we meet Him there at the crossroads of doubt and faith. As the song of the enemy intersects with the songs of our Father, the Heavenly Hosts sing louder and their praise shouts forth of the beautiful victories of God in our life.
 
So wherever life has brought you today, sing songs of praise. Truly, this is where your victory is found, in the middle of the songs of your Father whose heart is for you and whose mercy is endless.
 
Lord, I want to sing songs of endless praise. Songs that set you up as the true king of my heart. Truly, you are a good, loving and mighty God. I have this joy in my heart and singing unlocks that joy, so let my heart sing forever of your love, in Jesus name, Amen.

Exposure is Scary….But it Disarms the Enemy

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them…(Eph 5:11).

Exposure is scary, isn’t it? Opening up about our struggles and our pain is never easy, but when do step out in courage to share a part of our story that is less than desirable, we begin to find healing for our souls. Yes, this is when our lives collide with God’s grace so that His life starts to become formed in us with ever increasing glory.
We cannot shine very brightly for God if we are unwilling to bring the darkness we wrestle with out into the light. Yet, if we are willing to do so, we find that the darkness within us becomes disarmed as we surrender to the light.
I know this to be true, because, in dealing with my husband I feel closest to him when he is shares something vulnerable with me. I feel like he trusts me and knows that I will receive him with love and so when he shares it makes our relationship grow. But, every time he closes himself off and doesn’t let me in I never sense that we are moving closer towards one another. I always sense a disconnection.
The same goes in our walks with God as we journey together with other believers in the body of Christ. Until we are willing to open up about ourselves, our struggles and our mistakes, we will stall our growth in Christ and our victory over the lies of the enemy.
The enemy knows how to deal with us, keeping us from bringing things into the light. He’ll convince us that we should be ashamed of ourselves, it’s not safe to share this with anyone and if others found out they would completely reject us. These are lies. There are those within the body of Christ who understand their own need for grace and they too will receive you with it, if you would be so bold to share.
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Lord, help me to live fully transparent before others, because I want to grow. I want the lies of the enemy to be disarmed in my life so they don’t hold power over me anymore, in Jesus name, Amen.

Learning to Let Go of the Expectations of Others to See Jesus

we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ…(Eph 4:15).

The head of the church is Christ. The one I should be looking to for guidance, direction, joy, and purpose, but if I could be quite honest, He is not the head I look to the most. My mind tends to get locked on the faces and expectations of people. This stifles my ability to hear clearly from the Lord, because of the names, faces, and requests of others that seem to fill my heart more often than my love for wanting to simply do what pleases God.
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I know that I truly want to honor God the most, but whenever my heart drifts towards pleasing people and gets focused on their faces instead of His, it’s hard for me to live fully alive in the person of Jesus. Jesus becomes a person in the background, instead of my closest friend. His headship in my life is replaced with the desire to please other people. These talking heads always have lots of opinions, which steer my heart away from being centered and focused on God.
 
Amongst the noise and clatter of the expectations of others, we must take time to simply be still before our Father to hear clearly from Him. This requires solitude and rest and intentionality to keep our gaze fixed upon Him.
 
So much of my life has been lived to please other people. I have seen the face of my Father very little in my heart and mind, but I want to see Him and be led by His grace. I want His headship in my life to be what directs my path and holds me close to Him.
 
Lord, be my hiding place. Be my joy and delight. Be the one I fix my gaze upon. Jesus, awaken my soul. I long to be close to you, Amen.