"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:3 NIV

I spent some time this past weekend in my quiet time, my prayer time, asking God to shed light on the places in my heart that I may have not wanted Him to see. My weaknesses. My inadequacies. My lacking of anything that would be fully and completely His. Questions I was left to ponder from two amazing Bible study/worship gatherings yesterday.

Am I cold, hot, or-God forbid-lukewarm in my faith?

Is my life a reflection of the hallowed name of my Father God-fully glorifying Him in all I say and do?

First truth that comes to mind clearly: I am a child of God. The day I accepted life in Christ, is the day I chose to live fully and completely in His beautiful purpose for my life. I didn’t get it at the age of 7, but as I have grown and matured in my faith, I have found strength, certainty, and confidence in the God who made me and saved me. So why on earth would I allow my life to become some lukewarm, watered down, stagnant, nasty version of myself? There is no greater desire within my heart than to see Christ glorified through me in my brief time on this earth. He has purpose for me even greater than I can fully imagine in this very moment.

“Hurt is inevitable, but misery is optional. How we respond to pits and pain is our choice.”(Girlfriends in God: What Will You Do With Your Pain? Mary Southerland, May 23, 2016)

I can either be propelled by the power of the Holy Spirit, or throw my hands up in defeat and fall into a hole of despair. I choose the first. It may require more of me than I think I’ve got to give, but I’ll grit my teeth and push on because it’s worth it for His Kingdom purpose.

Prayer is my greatest and most powerful tool I believe I have in my walk with Christ. I found the message last night to be particularly enlightening because of the expectation Father God has for me. I am convinced now more than ever, prayer is the key to unlocking a limitless level of connection with Him. When I choose more often to close my mouth, and instead open my ears and my heart to listen…..that’s when He speaks, that’s when He moves and my purpose becomes reality. I don’t think I am the only one who has a lot to learn still about simply listening, choosing to be still. I’m learning to embrace it far better as I get older.

There is treasure for each one of us, at the time God has chosen for us to receive it. That comes in different shapes and sizes for each one of us. What are you impatiently asking God for and what are you expecting of Him? Have you considered perhaps beginning your approach to Father God by simply thanking Him for being Who He is? Choose to refresh, reboot your time with Him today and make it your practice every day. He has beautiful purpose for you, but we cannot approach this with any other expectation than full and complete trust in Him and His perfect timing. Leave your humanity at the door, step into the presence of the Father with an open mind, open heart, and practice listening. He is ready to speak life abundant over you. It won’t come as you expect it, so lean into Him and He’ll move as He intends.

He knows you best, He loves you most, and His purpose for you is far beyond anything you can imagine.

Embracing the interruptions....

Some days are better than others. I count myself entirely blessed each and every day when I arrive home and can proclaim, “I survived!” Can you relate? We are all in a race to the finish line, busy all the time, places to go, people to see, goals to reach, lists to check off. So how do we handle a day when our schedule is interrupted? I didn’t blink at first when this happened yesterday. I picked up Chloe from preschool after work, and I needed to make a stop to pick up a prescription at the store, and then it happened. I saw them standing at the stop sign, a common place that many in our homeless community stand in hopes of some help as we all drive by. A middle aged man in a wheelchair, and a young woman probably late 20’s next to him. Not far behind them was an older model SUV vehicle, looked like it had been in a couple wrecks at best. I felt that all too familiar nudge from the Father in my heart as I pulled into the parking lot for us to go in the store, “They need your help…”. I didn’t hesitate. I told Chloe we were going into get a few things and would be going out to talk with them and give them some things to help them. She didn’t ask why, she just said as we walked into the store, “Yeah, Mom, let’s go and get them some snacks and help them!” As we walked in the store, Chloe helped me pick out a few items and then bag them up as we checked out and headed out to meet them. As we pulled around and parked close by, I prayed for Chloe and I as we prepared to meet these two precious people. I prayed for us to be safe, to be loving and to be ready to listen to their stories. As we approached them and visited with them, what a sweet conversation it became. It has been my experience more often than not, to hear such a positive and hopeful outlook from those I encounter on the streets of Springfield. They aren’t different from us, just simply trying to make a good life for themselves in this world. In our brief conversation, I learned they had been living out of that beat up SUV, along with her 5 children. Their greatest need? To find a place to sleep that night. As her son came over during our conversation, he listened intently as I asked them how I could be praying for them and let them know we care about them and God loves them deeply. After I prayed with them, she struggled to say thank you and had tears in her eyes, and he expressed thanks for both of them for what little I was able to provide. He said to me, “You know, we aren’t out here to take advantage of anybody, we are thankful for what anyone is willing to do to help us. We are just trying to make it like anybody else.” I watched as we got into our van, and the young woman’s older son was enjoying a can of the soup I’d given them, looked as if he’d not had much to eat that day the way he gulped it down. Chloe was quiet at that point, didn’t say much as we pulled away. We both waved as we passed them and they smiled and nodded. I think it is safe to say both of us felt thankful to have been part of God’s plan that night, to have helped someone in need.

We got home a short time later only for me to realize that I’d left my phone on silent, and missed my son’s text reminding me he had Scouts that night……and I had forgotten. I immediately apologized, and started to feel so bad about it. But then as I thought about it, I talked with my son and said how this very moment was a reminder to me that in fact what I perceived as an interruption in our day to day schedule, was actually a Divine appointment. If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same thing. Are we ready to obey His call upon our hearts even to the point of letting go of what was set on our schedule for that day? What’s the greater priority? I know what mine was, and I am so thankful I chose to go the direction I did.

We have opportunity every single day to act outside of our planned schedule, to step with all of our faith into a moment God appointed us for long before it occurred. I’m learning to expect these “interruptions” more, and I am thankful for the chance to love others as Jesus did when He was on this earth. I want to be more like Him, I don’t want to hesitate to help when He calls me to be available.

If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
And even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day.
The Eternal One will never leave you;
He will lead you in the way that you should go. (Isaiah 58:10-11 The Voice translation

Seeking "The One"

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV

Relationships. They are not easy. They are very, very complicated. I have gone through some ups and downs in my 44 years on this earth, and have found over the years God has given me a heart for mentoring young women into a healthier state of mind. Not for what they need in a relationship, but what they need in themselves. Where does your heart reside right now?

If you have a relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and have given your life to Him, then your heart is His. Your heart’s deepest longing is to follow Him.

That is where it starts.

I accepted Jesus at the tender age of 7. I didn’t fully grasp what it meant to be a child of God, a follower of Christ. As my life would roll on, I found myself returning to Him in rededication at the age of 12. My walk with him had not gone deep enough because I was still so very immature emotionally and spiritually. He spoke into my pre-teen heart and I listened, I fell into His arms and gave everything more fully and completely to Him.

In those years between junior high, high school and college I fell easily into the trap that I had to have a boyfriend to be truly happy. I allowed a chunk of my self-worth, my self-image to hinge upon finding “The One”. I discovered very quickly how disastrous it could be to launch into this without even asking God for His guidance. I let my heart, my own ideas, my clouded and emotional vision for a boyfriend to go before what God intended. I was impatient and selfish, and there wasn’t anything anyone could say or do to change my mind once I had my eyes set on someone. This mindset would ruin my heart and my mind over the course of those young years, but I am thankful to say because of the prayers, support and intervention of family and friends in my life, my journey would not end in defeat. God’s powerful purpose and love for me would restore me, and bring me into a healthier, happier outlook on life. Self-reliance, and outright defiance will only get you so far. I came back to the same truth that I learned at the age of 7, and 12, that God is higher, bigger, wiser, and stronger than I can fully understand. His ways are better, and His timing is best and perfect. The moment we attempt to take control of the wheel from Him, we better count on crashing. It won’t end well. I am thankful to say my story didn’t end with a crash. I felt at a certain point that I did crash, but the reality was I found when I reached the bottom, He was there, waiting to lift me up all along. He was with me, He never failed me, He knew me best and He knew what I was seeking was not best. If I could go back in time and teach, mentor, love and empower my younger self, I would in a heartbeat. I choose to take what I experienced, the heartbreak of it all, and use it to remind others that we have every reason to trust God’s timing. When I talk with young ladies who are struggling with their self-worth and self-image, there is a common thread that seems to hold them back from their freedom: what’s been done to them in the past and the weight that has on the vision for their future. I believe the greatest encouragement and empowerment I can give them is to teach them to immediately change their perspective!

See yourself through God’s eyes! If your filter is shaped by what you’ve experienced, what has hurt you, what happened to you in the past, then you are not seeing yourself through God’s eyes. You are seeing yourself through your eyes.

Seeing yourself through God’s eyes is not something that happens immediately, from my experience. I had to develop habits and methods that would constantly turn my mind, my heart back to a God perspective. I found solace and healing in the habits of exercise (it is amazing what a long walk with great tunes in my ears will do!) and yoga, meditation (both internal and external—there is power in repetition in the mind and spoken out loud!) and the accountability/mentoring partnerships of several people in my life. All of these habits are most powerful and effective because of my first and best habit: Prayer! This is my support system, with my Father God seated squarely at the top!

Habits are hard to break, so I encourage you today as you finish reading this to set up for yourself a new habit, a Holy Habit, that I promise will set you on a course for residing more perfectly and consistently in His presence. Your self-worth, your self-image is defined by the Creator, and the fact that He made you with magnificent and unique purpose!

Finding your purpose will mean choosing not to fall for something that seems to be so good at that moment in your life, and you’ve convinced yourself is the last chance for happiness. Only God knows that, and you are not God. Enough said. He knew your first moment before you entered this world, and He knows what your last moment will be. Trust Him because He is God. Trust Him, because for all your hopes, dreams, goals, visions for this life He will certainly provide.

Trust Him!

my Ebenezer...

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