Happy Endings

“I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭118:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I love Christmas movies. I love them so much I start watching them before Halloween. Although the storylines are predictable, each one is heart warming, romantic, filled with hope and an unshakable belief in miracles. Each one always has a happy ending also. Who doesn’t love that?

This may sound ridiculous and a little like I see the world through rose colored glasses, but our real lives can very much be like a Christmas movie. I’m not referring to an eternal state of winter, homes decorated with Christmas trees and stockings hung 365 days a year. Life isn’t always heart warming or romantic either. What I’m referring to is the hope, the belief in miracles and the happy endings that most Christmas movie storylines encompass.

In the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey is down on his luck. He’s facing bankruptcy, poverty and loss of his family business. He’s in such despair that he contemplates taking his own life. At his lowest moment, he meets Clarence the angel, who shows him what life would be like if George never existed. George realizes just how much his life choices positively impacted his family and town and chooses to live. What he later learns is, the whole town came together to help financially sustain the family business. In the end, George is reunited with his wife and children with a restored faith and Clarence the angel earns his wings.

The Bible is full of happy endings too. Every trial and tribulation, every story of captivity ends with God’s deliverance and victory for those who obeyed and trusted in Him. Abraham goes from childless to the father of all nations. Moses is an abandoned child raised by Egyptians. He spends 40 years in the wilderness after murdering someone and then is used by God to deliver His people from the very Egyptians Moses was raised by. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown into jail because of a lie and raised up by God to be the Governor’s right hand man saving multitudes during a famine. Daniel was taken into captivity and elevated by his captor. Even when he was thrown into a lions den, God delivered him and elevated him once again. Jesus Himself was tortured and murdered but conquered death when He rose from the grave three days later.

Why did all of this happen? Because God’s victory is inevitable and He clearly loves happy endings. Don’t just take my word for it, feel free to check out each example in His word and read about His victories first hand. The Old and New Testaments are full of testimony showing God’s ultimate power and victory.

I have no idea where you’re at in life right now. Maybe you’re at the top of the game and you think life couldn’t possibly get any better. Maybe believing in happy endings comes easy for you because you’ve never experienced anything shattering or disappointing. But maybe you’re in a constant state of chaos and unrest. Life keeps throwing you one crisis, heartache or disappointment after another and you’re barely holding on. Maybe you’re like George Bailey and have even contemplated taking your own life. If that’s you, stop right now and pray. Pour out all your hurt and sorrow to Jesus and ask Him to comfort you. He may not change your circumstances immediately but he can take away the hurt and pain if you seek His comfort. He is with all of us in the best and absolute worst of times and He’s always ready to comfort us in our time of pain.

When you’re done praying, resonate on this: what you are going through is a season. It may feel like a lifetime. It may even feel like a curse. But it’s honestly, just a season. Recognizing that your situation is temporary can strengthen you to persevere. It can also increase your hope in God’s ability to deliver you. God didn’t stop delivering His children when the Bible was done being written. Every person’s redemption story is merely an extended version of His word. Our testimony is a living chapter of the Bible. Instead of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John-these books are titled by our own names and hold the stories of God’s unique work in each of lives. But living books don’t come in print-they are books filled with stories that can only be told by the one God wrote the story for. No matter how many twists and turns your story holds. I am confident it holds a happy ending. God needs you to endure the conflict so you can live to tell the story of His happy ending for you.

Some of you reading this have experienced tragic endings. You’ve lost loved ones in horrible ways and you’ve experienced things no human should ever go through. The idea of a happy ending may even anger or enrage you. All I can say is, I’m living proof that God can turn any tragedy into a happy ending. Death is a permanent loss that leaves a huge void. The idea of living without your loved one brings no idea of a happy ending. But God is faithful and can still produce one. It comes down to healing, believing and surrendering.

Happy endings come when we allow God to comfort us and heal our wounds. Happy endings come when we stand on His truths and believe Him at His word. Happy endings come when we surrender to His will and His way. If God promises to fight for us, we have to believe He will no matter how long it takes. When God tells us to be still we have to obey. Trying to manufacture our own miracles only delays His promise. Getting in God’s way produces Ishmael results when God promises us an Isaac. Surrendering takes great discipline and a trust to know that God always keeps His word. But the obedience of surrender also brings great reward including God’s happy ending.

Keep in mind one thing: although Christmas movies have predictable happy endings, God’s happy endings aren’t the same. God may allow a loved one to die from cancer. But their happy ending is perfection in eternity. God may allow a marriage to end. But he may bring provision as your happy ending making the transition back into singlehood a little easier. God may not give you the job you’re hoping for. His happy ending may be in the form of a different job that exceeds your wildest dreams. God may not heal you from a chronic disease. His happy ending may be in the strength and ability to prevail in spite of chronic pain. God’s ways are not our ways. But His ways are always perfect and victory is always His. That happy ending is 100 percent guaranteed!

What’s Your ETA?

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m a planner. I love having a schedule planned out for the day and/or week and sticking to that plan. I don’t tend to respond well when my plan goes awry or doesn’t play out at all. That holds true even when I’m traveling or running errands. I plan out my stops to ensure the shortest route and alleviate driving out of my way or back tracking. What I typically don’t plan for are detours.

When I take a road trip, I plan out the start time, my expected time of arrival (ETA) and my return home time. When I lived in another state, I used to travel several hours to get home for visits and even had designated stopping points along the way-for every single trip. As a traveler, I’m more of a “let’s look at the map and find the shortest route from point A to point B.” I tend to always be running behind so short cuts are the best at helping make great time.

When I was younger, I traveled with someone who was the complete opposite of me. Sure they’d plan out a trip but their idea of travel was not “let’s get there.” Their idea of travel was more like, let’s find the longest route possible, make an innumerable amount of stops and enjoy all the sites we experience along the way. When traveling with them, I learned not to have a planned ETA. I also saw many spectacular views of waterfalls, caves and other beautifully hidden treasures that go unseen when you’re merely focused on getting to where you’re going and avoiding delays.

Where I live, there’s a joke that says, “We have four seasons-winter, spring, road construction and fall.” This is said because every summer our highways are covered with orange barrels and reduced down to one lane in an effort to repair the cracks and damage our harsh winters do to the pavement. Although the never ending process brings about safer roads, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or trying to navigate your vehicle through orange barrels or even better, detoured through areas you’re completely unfamiliar with-your appreciation for road construction is more like the feeling you get when you have to go to the dentist and have a tooth pulled. You simply want to avoid it altogether.

My daughter is learning to drive now. Recently I let her drive home from a family reunion that was two hours away. We were talking and I got distracted. I forgot she didn’t exactly know the way home and we missed the exit that led to home. We were probably 10 or 20 minutes passed that exit when I realized what had happened. I was tired and didn’t want to drive an hour out of our way to get home. I quickly got onto my iMaps to find the shortest route from where we were at. It consisted of backroads but it got us home. My daughter’s response, “It’s ok mom. It’s an adventure!” She even turned it into a site seeing tour pointing out strange lawn ornaments in peoplE’s yards from time to time.

Not to sound like Forrest Gump, but life is merely a journey full of point A’s and point B’s. We each have starting and ending points with many scenic tours, detours, back tracks, side steps, and even stand stills. Some parts of the journey are painstaking and we wish for a shortcut to get us to where we want to be a whole lot quicker. Somedays life is like trying to go around the block in a city filled with 1 way streets. What seems like the simplest of task ends up taking you way out of your way, just to get back to where you started from. It’s even more frustrating when we have a goal in mind, we’ve been working hard to reach that goal, we can see it in reach but life takes a right turn and feels like we’re driving the opposite way of what we are striving for. It can be additionally frustrating, even faith shaking, when we believe that goal was God spoken yet seems as though it will never come to fruition.

My own life has felt like a constant detour. Some road blocks I created myself based on wrong turns. Others are like traffic jams where I feel parked and no matter how hard I try, God is not moving me at all. Yet other days it feels as though I’m actually driving in reverse. Those are the days I realize I keep going back to the same sin or the same destructive pattern. On the days when life actually feels like a good traffic day, I’m learning those days still don’t reveal to me where I’m going or what God’s ETA for my goals really is. Those days were merely smooth driving days with minimal speed bumps.

Everyone has a starting time (your date of birth) and an ending (your date of death.) The dash in between is our individual road map of our own individual journey. Life is a road trip. You can get impatient and try to shortcut to your goals. Or you can enjoy the scenic route God takes you on, even if He makes you go the opposite way. Let your ETA be His ETA for you. During your roadblocks, speed bumps, traffic jams and detours, look around and admire the view. God has beauty in every moment of our lives and He shows it best when we’re less focused on the goal and more focused on the journey. If you make a wrong turn-that’s ok. We all get lost in our travels. God’s GPS will always bring us back to the road He has set before us when we repent and surrender to His ways.

If today you’re feeling like Abraham, Moses, David, Sarah, Hannah or Elizabeth, with a God given goal but no direction on how tor each it, or you’re experiencing road blocks that feel like closed doors, read about the delays the experienced before God gave them their ETA’s. Abraham specifically experienced this: God promised him offspring. Then told him to move away from all he was familiar with. Twenty-five years later, God’s word finally came to pass for Abraham. May his and the others’ stories give you the strength to trust God most during the road construction detours in your own life.

What’s Your ETA?

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m a planner. I love having a schedule planned out for the day and/or week and sticking to that plan. I don’t tend to respond well when my plan goes awry or doesn’t play out at all. That holds true even when I’m traveling or running errands. I plan out my stops to ensure the shortest route and alleviate driving out of my way or back tracking. What I typically don’t plan for are detours.

When I take a road trip, I plan out the start time, my expected time of arrival (ETA) and my return home time. When I lived in another state, I used to travel several hours to get home for visits and even had designated stopping points along the way-for every single trip. As a traveler, I’m more of a “let’s look at the map and find the shortest route from point A to point B.” I tend to always be running behind so short cuts are the best at helping make great time.

When I was younger, I traveled with someone who was the complete opposite of me. Sure they’d plan out a trip but their idea of travel was not “let’s get there.” Their idea of travel was more like, let’s find the longest route possible, make an innumerable amount of stops and enjoy all the sites we experience along the way. When traveling with them, I learned not to have a planned ETA. I also saw many spectacular views of waterfalls, caves and other beautifully hidden treasures that go unseen when you’re merely focused on getting to where you’re going and avoiding delays.

Where I live, there’s a joke that says, “We have four seasons-winter, spring, road construction and fall.” This is said because every summer our highways are covered with orange barrels and reduced down to one lane in an effort to repair the cracks and damage our harsh winters do to the pavement. Although the never ending process brings about safer roads, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or trying to navigate your vehicle through orange barrels or even better, detoured through areas you’re completely unfamiliar with-your appreciation for road construction is more like the feeling you get when you have to go to the dentist and have a tooth pulled. You simply want to avoid it altogether.

My daughter is learning to drive now. Recently I let her drive home from a family reunion that was two hours away. We were talking and I got distracted. I forgot she didn’t exactly know the way home and we missed the exit that led to home. We were probably 10 or 20 minutes passed that exit when I realized what had happened. I was tired and didn’t want to drive an hour out of our way to get home. I quickly got onto my iMaps to find the shortest route from where we were at. It consisted of backroads but it got us home. My daughter’s response, “It’s ok mom. It’s an adventure!” She even turned it into a site seeing tour pointing out strange lawn ornaments in peoplE’s yards from time to time.

Not to sound like Forrest Gump, but life is merely a journey full of point A’s and point B’s. We each have starting and ending points with many scenic tours, detours, back tracks, side steps, and even stand stills. Some parts of the journey are painstaking and we wish for a shortcut to get us to where we want to be a whole lot quicker. Somedays life is like trying to go around the block in a city filled with 1 way streets. What seems like the simplest of task ends up taking you way out of your way, just to get back to where you started from. It’s even more frustrating when we have a goal in mind, we’ve been working hard to reach that goal, we can see it in reach but life takes a right turn and feels like we’re driving the opposite way of what we are striving for. It can be additionally frustrating, even faith shaking, when we believe that goal was God spoken yet seems as though it will never come to fruition.

My own life has felt like a constant detour. Some road blocks I created myself based on wrong turns. Others are like traffic jams where I feel parked and no matter how hard I try, God is not moving me at all. Yet other days it feels as though I’m actually driving in reverse. Those are the days I realize I keep going back to the same sin or the same destructive pattern. On the days when life actually feels like a good traffic day, I’m learning those days still don’t reveal to me where I’m going or what God’s ETA for my goals really is. Those days were merely smooth driving days with minimal speed bumps.

Everyone has a starting time (your date of birth) and an ending (your date of death.) The dash in between is our individual road map of our own individual journey. Life is a road trip. You can get impatient and try to shortcut to your goals. Or you can enjoy the scenic route God takes you on, even if He makes you go the opposite way. Let your ETA be His ETA for you. During your roadblocks, speed bumps, traffic jams and detours, look around and admire the view. God has beauty in every moment of our lives and He shows it best when we’re less focused on the goal and more focused on the journey. If you make a wrong turn-that’s ok. We all get lost in our travels. God’s GPS will always bring us back to the road He has set before us when we repent and surrender to His ways.

If today you’re feeling like Abraham, Moses, David, Sarah, Hannah or Elizabeth, with a God given goal but no direction on how tor each it, or you’re experiencing road blocks that feel like closed doors, read about the delays the experienced before God gave them their ETA’s. Abraham specifically experienced this: God promised him offspring. Then told him to move away from all he was familiar with. Twenty-five years later, God’s word finally came to pass for Abraham. May his and the others’ stories give you the strength to trust God most during the road construction detours in your own life.

While You’re Waiting…

“For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭38:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When you live in a world of high speed data, iInstapot cooking and even drive thru medicine, waiting seems like a never ending inconvenience. It’s especially frustrating when you’re running late and caught in a traffic jam or you have a screaming toddler on a long flight. Maybe you’re waiting for a job promotion or for an open door to get a job. Maybe you’re struggling with an illness or debilitating ailment and God hasn’t healed you yet. Or maybe you’re like me, waiting for God’s best when it comes to dating and marriage. Whatever your season of waiting is, it may feel like God isn’t there, that He’s said or no that maybe He even wants you stuck. Rest assured, God is there, waiting is not always a “No” and He definitely does not want His children stuck.

I’m going to be very vulnerable for a moment and share something I’ve been waiting for-a godly marriage. My biological father left my mom and I when I was a toddler. My mom married the man I called Dad when I was 3. Sadly, he died when I was 8. When he was alive my family felt complete. I’ve lived with a big hole in my life ever since.

In high school I fell for boys who were unkind and just wanted to play games. I had one serious relationship with a boy that lasted through college. He was loyal, kind and hardworking. He even wanted to marry me. But we were both too young to know how to make a relationship work, let alone a marriage. So, five years after it started it came to an end. After that, I settled for relationships that were not God’s design for me simply trying to fill the hole my dad’s death left in me. Each break-up led to more self defeat and left me in a constant of rejection.

As a single mom, now in my early 40’s, I am clearly still waiting for God to give me the desire of my heart. I’ve spent years watching others’ fall in love and get married. I’ve seen redeeming love stories and wondered when I would be next? I’ve cried, begged and yelled at God wondering what He was doing in this area of my life. Then I convinced myself God had so no to my heart’s desire and I gave up on dating altogether. I even professed the enemy’s lie that I simply wasn’t marriage material. I even used to tell my family and friends that if God wanted me married then He was going to have to drop my husband on my doorstep. To which one of my funny besties replied with; “So you’re going to marry the UPS man?”

Clearly, I have not waited well. Thankfully God gives uses the story of Ruth to remind us how to wait. But also, I think Ruth teaches us that God is the only one who can fill the hole left from losing a loved one. Boss may have been Ruth’s kinsman redeemer but he’s not who made her whole. God did before Ruth even met Boaz.

Ruth experienced a great loss in her lifetime. She lost her father-in-law, her husband and her brother-in-law also. In Ruth’s day, men were the provider and stability of their household. She lost family members. She lost her spouse. But she also lost her financial stability and her home. If there was anyone who was left with a big hole in their life, Ruth would be the poster-child example.

Here’s an interesting fact about Ruth. She lost much but she clung to what she had left. While Orpah even let go of Naomi, Ruth said; “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬) If Ruth had stayed in Moab, she would’ve never met Boaz.

The first thing Ruth did in her season of waiting was clung to what she still had. The second thing she did was go to work. As the now provider for herself and her mother-in-law, Ruth has to find a way to ensure they would have food to eat. So she set out to the wheat fields and she gleaned. Please note this-Ruth did not apply for a top notch job with excellent pay and amazing benefits. She didn’t even apply for a minimum wages job. She went to work picking up the scraps left behind from the harvesters. Her primary focus was gathering enough grain to feed Naomi and herself. She was not too proud to glean.

The third thing Ruth did was listen to godly advice. There’s nowhere in Ruth’s story that mentions her desire to remarry. Yet Naomi knew a husband for Ruth would redeem both of them. When she learned that Ruth was gleaming in Boaz’s field, she gave her daughter-in-law some crucial advice. Ruth worked for Boaz through at least two season before Naomi said this; “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” (Ruth‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬) Ruth’s response was this; “I will do everything you say…” (vs 5) Talk about a trusting and obedient heart.

Ruth did what Naomi instructed her to do and not only did she end up married to Boaz, the Lord redeemed her and Naomi when Ruth bore a son named Obed. Obed was King David’s grandfather. God’s love story for Ruth was merely a chapter in His great design for king David. Ruth was a woman who waited well.

If you’re in a waiting season, what are you waiting for and what are you doing while you wait? Are you making your heart’s desire a god in your life or are you trusting God and waiting on His timing? Are you trying to manufacture your own miracle and producing Ishmael’s when God has promised you an Isaac? Are you running in circles through modern medicine trying to heal yourself? Are you financially drowning because you tried keeping up with the Joneses? Are you wallowing in self-pity, bitterness and wrestling with a spirit of rejection? Are you giving up on everything and losing all hope in God’s goodness? OR-are you clinging to Jesus (what we will always have), getting work (doing your best to make ends meet and not living beyond your means) and following godly advice? If you are waiting well, there’s no guarantee you won’t have to wait less than someone who’s waiting poorly but it will give you peace of mind, added measures of patience and keep your focus on where it needs to be which is fully trusting and relying on God.

Personal Prayer Request

“Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Please pray for my son. He suffered a concussion tonight. He experienced excruciating head pain while in the emergency room. He is home now and pain meds are finally bringing him some relief. We now begin the journey of a concussion recovery program. Jostling the brain is a scary thing and although this injury was no surprise to God (and I trust God with my children), it’s still a heartbreaking experience to watch your child suffer and feel helpless to make them better. Please for for full healing, comfort from pain and a hedge of protection over him physically, emotionally and spiritually. He is unable to participate in his sports event until he is cleared from his doctor and he’s struggling with disappointment from the inability to play right now. Thank you all in advanced for your prayers. God is good and how blessed we are to have direct contact with the Great Physician. 💙

Do You Trust Me?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have felt stuck on a hamster wheel going nowhere for far too long. Everyday feels like another battle of jumping on the wheel exhausting every ounce of energy I have only to end up in the same place, worn out and disappointed. Every time I see what appears to be an open door to get me off this hamster wheel I run harder and faster only to watch someone else go through the door and close it behind them.

I’m gonna get real and confess I am so tired of closed doors! I want off this daggone hamster wheel and actually moving forward thriving like some preachers tell us God wants us to be doing. Last night I stopped running in place and prayed a very angry prayer to God demanding I be moved out of the pit and into the promotion in life I long for. I pulled out all the stops too. I reminded Him of how faithful I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked to learn the lessons He’s teaching me on this hamster wheel journey. I also reminded Him of how old I was and that I wasn’t getting any younger so this whole “waiting” thing and trusting His perfect timing no longer resonates well. I lastly reminded Him that I’ve even made efforts to fix my mistakes.

At one point I was so angry I actually told God that I didn’t want to speak to Him. Of course I just kept rambling though. A few minutes later I demanded to hear from Him. No more silent treatment. But the only thing I heard was my own sobs. So I picked up my phone, checked my Bible app and turned to Proverbs 3. I read verses 5 and 6 and cringed. Sounds completely sacreligious to cringe over scripture doesn’t it? Well I cringed because God tends to send me that specific scripture when His answer to my prayer is a big fat “NO!” I throw my temper tantrums and His response Is simply, “Trust in Me and do not rely on your understanding. Acknowledge Me and I will make your paths straight.” Grrrrrrrrrr!

But then I read farther in Proverbs 3 including verse 11; “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline and don’t be upset when He corrects you.” Double Grrrrrrrrrr! How does a person NOT get upset when they’re being disciplined? In my anger I envisioned a callous God with His back against me completely ignoring my cries.

At one point in my prayer rant last night I actually said “You are not the God I know and love right now.” WHOA! Right? Some might think “That’s awfully bold!” Others reading this may think “Who is she to speak to God in such an irreverent manner?” Those words were spoken in a moment of deep disappointment and feeling of great defeat. Those words were spoken to a god who had turned his back away from me. Those words were not spoken to the real God.

You see in my moment of despair, I saw satan’s version of God. But God, through His word showed me who He really is. Even when He tells us “no”, that no may be firm but it’s gentle and it always comes with a “trust Me” after it. God is our Heavenly Father and just like we parents tell our children “no” from time to time, a parent’s no is always for our child’s own good, even if it’s a form of discipline.

I went to bed last night with only this prayer said “I’m sorry for my angry prayer.” My heart was still stubborn so it was all I could offer. I woke up this morning and read this verse; ““So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” Hebrews‬ ‭10:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬ God again sending me a reminder to trust Him. Notice one thing-God was not shaken by my rant. He also-did not ignore me in spite of my spoiled brat meltdown. He will not ignore you either. God loves you and me even when we don’t agree or accept how He handles us or how He answers our prayers.

I don’t like being told no. I don’t like being disciplined. I don’t like this hamster wheel I’m metaphorically running on. Heck-I don’t like to exercise at all. Ha! Ha! But I have to obey God’s directive which is simply to trust Him. So do you. What areas in your life are you struggling to trust Him in? If your heart is angry, so mine has been too. God is so faithful in forgiving a repentant heart and He is faithful to His word. Do you trust Him? It’s what He’s calling you (and me) to do.

Two Heal Better Than One

“I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭1:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

How often do we exhaust our energy on those who matter least and push away those who matter most in our lives? Why is it when we’re most broken we isolate ourselves instead of allowing the love of Christ to glue us back together through the support and encouragement of our loved ones? Why do we believe we have to walk through our toughest moments all alone?

I’ll tell you why-Because we believe the enemy’s lies. We allow the lie of pride to make us stubborn and refuse to admit we need help. We allow the lie of shame to make us feel unworthy of help. We allow the lie of pain to shutdown our hearts vowing to never love again. If we refuse to love again, we can’t possibly receive love either. We allow our past mistakes to haunt our present and prevent the idea we could possibly have a victorious future. The truth is, pride, shame, unworthiness, hearts of stone and haunting pasts do not come from God. Do you know what does? Forgiveness, healing, redemption, restoration, unity and fellowship.

In Isaiah 61, he tells his readers in verse one; “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me…He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon starts off verse nine with “Two are better than one.” He continues in verses 10 through 12 with this passage: “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” If those passages aren’t convincing enough, check out this passage from Genesis. After God created Adam he decided this; “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Adam had Eve. Abraham had Lot, Sarah and Isaac. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. The two spies had Rahab. Ruth was gifted Boaz after God took the life of her first husband. Mary and Joseph had each other. Jesus had His disciples. Paul had Timothy and Titus. You and I have people too. But the people God has anointed to bind up our broken hearts can’t do so if we push them away. They especially are limited when you or I exhaust our energy on our enemies or busyness and make little time to connect with them.

If you have a stressful job with a toxic manager and you allow yourself to be consumed with frustration, how much energy is left at the end of the day for your family that’s waiting at home? If you have a toxic ex who knows exactly how to entice you into an argument, how open is your heart to even engaging in a conversation with another that fosters love and encouragement? If you’re walking in a state of rejection keeping a tally of all the times you’ve been dumped, how can you possibly recognize someone who genuinely shows an interest in investing in you? The answer to all of these questions is-you can’t.

We only have so much energy and our attention spans are only so long. If we are exhausting ourselves fighting with our enemies, fretting over things we cannot control or walking with rejection like it’s our best friend, then there’s no room for those who truly care about us, for those with sincere hearts, to step in and bind up our brokenness. God can fix us on His own. He doesn’t need any help. But if that’s what His plan was He wouldn’t have designed families, friendships or marriage. He wouldn’t stress the importance of togetherness or anoint others to heal. He certainly wouldn’t have said “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew‬ ‭18:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I’m guilty of isolating myself because of fear, pride and shame. I’m guilty of exhausting my energy on useless arguments with toxic people and having minimal leftover for those I love most. I’m even guilty of walking in a spirit of rejection and closing myself off to love. I’m mostly guilty of crying out for His healing, begging Him to bind up my broken heart but pushing away the people He uses to do it. If you’re focusing your attention on the wrong people and pushing away the right ones-then my friend, you’re guilty to. Guilty people get a conviction but this one is a convicted spirit. There will be no condemnation.

We have a Heavenly Father who chooses forgiveness and is a God of multiple chances. It is never His desire for us to live wounded. In fact, Isaiah tells us in chapter 53 verse five “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him, And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.” ‬‬It is His desire to cleanse from all our sin, break the chains of brokenness and restore us in His redeeming love.

Confession is the key. In order to be redeemed we’ve got to come clean with ourselves and Jesus about the lies we’ve believed. We must tap into His superhuman strength in order to walk away from toxic relationships. We’ve got to ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to be able to accept love. If we refuse the love of others, that love given becomes seed that lands on hard ground and is never planted. Healing and wholeness is an intentional choice that involves refuting the enemies lies, letting go of past mistakes, exposing old wounds and allowing others to come in administer a spiritual first aid that is bound in love, affirmation and redemption.

Think about this-When you or I sustain a physical wound that is beyond the capabilities of peroxide and a band-aid, we seek out medical treatment that may involve stitches or other more intensive care. The same is true for emotional and spiritual wounds. These wounds are way to hard to fix on our own. We have to seek out comfort and godly companionship so these wounds can be permanently closed and we can walk in wholeness again. God wants to use your spouse or future spouse, your family, and your best friends in Christ to bind up your broken heart. Stop fighting with those who seek to destroy you. Instead, turn your attention and spend your energy on those who seek to restore you. Allow them to pray with you and over you. Allow them to cry with you and hold you. Most of all, allow them to love you as Christ designed them to.

James 5:16 is the perfect ending for today’s post: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Find the ones God is has sent to bind up your broken heart. Open your arms up to them, break down the walls you’ve been hiding behind, be transparent and let them pour out His love into you.

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Premeditated Forgiveness

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NLT‬

Forgive as God has forgiven you. This concept is definitely easier said than done, am I right? It’s especially difficult when we dwell on the wrongs or when the offender is unrepentant and continues to wrong us. We may even find ourselves asking the age old question, “How do I forgive someone who isn’t even sorry?” The answer, as I discovered today, is this: We forgive the same way Jesus forgave Judas, Simon Peter and us-we choose forgiveness before the offense even happens. Say what now?

Forgiveness and not judging others has been a repeated lesson for me in my daily devotionals over the last few weeks. Both are something I greatly struggle with. Especially with those who make zero effort to change their ways or blame all the conflict on me. I also have to admit that I am a dweller. Too often, I get stuck on the offenses done to the point that I only expect negativity from my offenders. Instead of tunnel vision that only sees the good, I can only see the bad in these people. That’s NOT a very christian perspective is it? It’s one I do confess and seek God’s help in forgiving but honestly-I’ve allowed hatred to grow in my heart. The scripture in Ezekiel 36:26 hits the nail on the head about having a stubborn stony heart. I do ask God to remove and give me a heart of flesh yet my spirit keeps holding on to this hatred. The only willingness I have to forgive is the confession that I am not willing and need supernatural help to pluck out this root of hatred so my heart can soften to God’s command regarding forgiveness.

Stone is an incredibly hard substance. It takes a brute force to crack it and a repeated brute force to break through it. I need Jesus to use a jackhammer on my stubbornness in order to surrender to His will. When it comes to stubbornness, there’s “strong-willed” and then there’s me. I’m as feisty as Jacob was when he wrestled God and achieved a broken hip. 😂Thankfully, God skips the construction worker method and uses a softer approach like an invitation from a friend to do a You Version reading plan specifically on the topic of forgiveness. Today’s reading definitely chipped through the stone.

If you’re familiar with Jesus’ ministry, you know He hand picked twelve men to be His disciples. These men were taught and led by Jesus. They ate with Him and camped with Him. Everywhere He went, these men went with Him. They served with Him and they were served by Him. They prayed with Him daily. These men shared a spiritual and emotional intimacy with Jesus. Yet they failed Him and two that we know of, even betrayed Him. The kicker to all of this-Jesus KNEW how they would misunderstand and doubt Him, He knew how they would betray Him before He ever picked them. Yet-He. still. chose. them. to be His disciples. He used His betrayers to be His messengers for His ministry. If that’s not a “Say WHAT?” moment for y’all I don’t know what would be. Ha! Ha!

In all seriousness, this is where forgiveness resonates with me. If someone hurts me badly enough I cut them out of my life as a form of protection and boundary setting. I feel empowered to say “I deserve better and because you have mistreated me you no longer get to share in my life.” I wish them no ill will but simply do not care to have a relationship with them anymore. This practice has included family members, friends, acquaintances, and ex-boyfriends. There are some I have reconciled with but others I doubt reconciliation will ever be a possibility . Why? For one-because I don’t have the desire to reconcile. For two-I haven’t fully forgiven them. For three-I don’t think it’s beneficial for me or for them to reconcile.

Although Jesus reconciled with Peter, He told Judas to go do what he was planning to do and I haven’t found a scripture that shows He reconciled with Judas. That’s the balance of understanding the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. God calls us to forgive everyone of everything. Although reconciliation is scripturally recommended, I do not believe it’s a command for every person and every situation. Let me give you some examples:

If a family member commits incest, God calls to forgive but it would be dangerous to reconcile with a predator. The same holds true for a spouse or former spouse who’s abusive or a person who holds a leadership role and uses that power to create a hostile environment. Judas’ betrayal was the catalyst for Jesus’ murder. That’s not a person to reconcile with! To reconcile, there has to be an opportunity to regain trust. You cannot trust an abusive, controlling or predatory person.

If a friend betrays you (like Peter denying he knew Jesus) or a family member hurts your feelings, if a fellow believer especially offends you, God calls us to forgive and to reconcile. The enemy brings division. God brings unity. Reconciliation is a must to keep God’s army united and to avoid giving the enemy a foothold in our lives. Jesus’ reconciliation with Peter is a prime example for us to follow (read John 21.) Reconciliation doesn’t mean we overlook the offense-it means we acknowledge the offense and we and the offender (or if we are the offender) talk it out in an effort to ensure the offense doesn’t happen again. Will the offense happen again? Possibly. Otherwise Jesus wouldn’t tell us to forgive 70 times 7.

Reading John chapter 13 today showed me two things about forgiveness: One-I need to choose to forgive every offense even before it’s done to me. Why? Because Jesus died for me before I ever committed any offense. Two-I need to choose to walk alongside my enemies, even work and serve with them because Jesus served in ministry with men He knew would betray Him. This is all possible when I (and you) do the one thing Jesus did-keep our focus on God the Father, to know Whose authority we have and to Whom we belong. “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.” John‬ ‭13:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

You and I are children of God. No harmful act or hateful word can ever change that. If Jesus, the greatest man to ever walk this earth, was hated and betrayed by His so-called friends-it’s naive to think that we would not experience the same. When Jesus was beaten, spat upon and mocked, not one time did He say, “Do you know who I am? How dare you treat me this way!” In fact what He did say was “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Who am I to act so high and mighty when people offend me? This is a very humbling question and to be honest-I’m eating crow as I write this post (metaphorically speaking!) 🙂

Caution: Icy Roads Ahead

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.””‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬I’m reading a devotional on You Version called “21 Ways to Thrive by 45.” Today’s reading was about facing fear by putting our focus on Jesus and trusting Him. The scripture for today was Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and Psalms 56:3-4 . I’ve heard Deuteronomy 31:6 multiple times in my life. At one point I had it written on an index card taped to my desk as a daily reminder. But I’m not sure the passage from Psalms 56 has ever resonated with me before. I had to read it twice this morning before I felt God nudge me about these two verses. It’s summer time where I live. In a month or two the leaves will start changing color, the temperature will turn cooler and the evenings will get darker earlier. Although this is a beautiful time of year with backdrops full of bright yellow, orange and red, this is also a warning sign that winter is right around the corner. For some, this brings the excitement of winter activities such as snowmobiling or skiing. For me, because this also means poor road conditions, it brings fear.Today’s verses reminded me of a time that I found myself caught in an ice storm. My children had had doctor appointments in late afternoon. Although it was the middle of winter, driving to their appointments, the roads were quite clear. However in a short period of time, freezing rain came down and turned the roads into an ice skating rink. I had a 20+ mile drive home. I proceeded with great caution.What should’ve been less than a 30 minute commute was taking well over an hour as I creeped and crawled in my vehicle to ensure I wouldn’t lose control. Vehicles in my area tend to be equipped with four wheel drive but that doesn’t help on ice. Four wheel drive on ice just means you have four wheels spinning out of control instead of two. The closer we got to our home, the worse the road conditions get. The hills also seem to increase frequency and depth.Two miles before home I stopped at the top of a very steep hill. It was dark with freezing rain still falling from the sky. The ice covered road before me had a bright sheen when my headlights hit it. I thought about the best approach for this hill and then I proceeded. My slow decent took a turn for the worst as my vehicle did a complete 180 and I found myself stuck in a ditch, in the wrong lane facing on-coming traffic. With no success, I tried getting out of the ditch and back up the hill. I realized I was going to have to proceed down the hill backward. As I slowly let my foot off the brake to begin backing down the hill, the ice took over and my car slid backward, landing at the bottom of the hill completely parallel to the crossroad that was ahead of me. I was now taking up both lanes. This was a narrow road with large drop offs on either side. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to get my vehicle turned straight into the proper lane and moving forward again. I prayed. I panicked. I constantly reassured my kids that we were going to be ok. But I was shaking with fear. I feared rolling my vehicle. I didn’t fear for my safety-but I feared greatly for the safety of my children. I’m a momma bear by nature and will risk life and limb to protect my children.I also knew that I couldn’t stay where I was at because any traffic coming from either direction could’ve hit us. My daughter was riding in the front seat, my son in the back. All of us had seatbelts on. I grabbed my daughter’s hand. I told my kids I had to get us out of there and proceeded to straighten out my car. Each attempt pulled me closer to the drop off on the right side of the road. In my mind I had already accepted that rolling the vehicle was inevitable. But I spoke out to my children saying “It’s ok. We’re going to be ok. God is going to protect us.” Just as my vehicle pulled farther to the right and I knew we were going into that drop off, my vehicle straightened and I was facing the right direction again. I drove a few feet away from the drop off, pulled to the side of the road then called for help. Tears of fear and relief flowed as I sobbed on the phone to the person I called. God protected us in a mighty way that night. Do you know every winter I still get anxiety over driving on bad roads? Do you know I still wrestle with fear, struggling to sleep some times? I also avoid chasing my dreams and rarely putting myself out there because of fearing rejection. The verses from Psalms 56 were a great reminder to take my focus off fear and remember Who is really in control. It’s also a great reminder that He promises to protect us whether it be bad roads, bad relationships, poor health, toxic situations, etc. When we focus on the what-ifs we give fear and anxiety all the control. We may even become paralyzed and unable to move forward because we’re listening to fear (or get ourselves stuck in a ditch because we tried to handle the circumstance in our own wisdom.) But when we stand on the promises of Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and Psalms 56:3-4 peace overthrows fear because we know that God is watching over us. Fear is a choice. Trust is too. Do not fear. Choose instead to trust in the One who promises to protect us always.

A Downpour or a Sprinkle?

“He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I believe everyone goes through storms in life. Some storms come in the form of financial despair, loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a rebellious child or maybe dealing with some sort of addiction. A stressful situation of any kind, especially the kind that seem to last for years or as if they’re endless, can feel like you’re walking against the wind of a full blown hurricane with no shelter in place to escape. But sometimes, what we imagine or expect to be a storm turns out to only be a little sprinkle. Let me give you two examples of what I’m talking about.

This past Independence Day, the morning started out very hot. My family and I “puddled” as we endured the humid temps watching a parade that celebrated our nation’s birthday. By afternoon we were lethargic and becoming stagnant because no one wanted to move in the heat. Normally we would’ve gone to the beach but this year we had different plans that turned into a day of “playing it by ear.”

Me, being a creature of habit and feeling overheated, felt a strong need to get to a lake. So my niece and I headed to the local lake that has a beautiful walkway trimmed around it. As we were driving the sky started to rumble and large drops of rain sporadically hit the windshield of my vehicle. The clouds didn’t look too stormy and judging by the rain droplets, I assumed whatever was brewing was going to blow over quickly.

For a moment, I was right. By the time we parked and headed on our walk by the lake, there were no raindrops. However, in a few short minutes that changed dramatically. The rain formed a steady sprinkle and by the time we were halfway into our walk we were caught in a massive down pour. When it started raining sideways we decided it was best to turn around and head back to the car.

Did I mention there was limited shelter in the area and lightning was striking over the lakeshore periodically? My niece and I could’ve panicked. But for some reason we just laughed as the rain flooded our heads, faces and clothing. In fact at one point the rain was coming down so hard I could barely keep my eyes open to see where we were going. Once we reached shelter we paused enough to get the water off our eyes and then head back out in order to reach my vehicle and drive home. Once in the vehicle, I had to wring out my shirt and my seats became drenched from soaked clothing. Nonetheless, this was one of the best moments of my life. The rain cooled us off and it was a rare memory that created much laughter with my niece also.

This morning the skies got loud again. The rumbling sound drew me outside to see what was happening. Dark gray clouds were heading my direction and getting noisier the closer they came. The wind was picking up as well. All signs showed one doozy of a storm about to hit. I returned inside and waited for more. Guess what-aside from a five second down pour, this morning’s display was “all talk” with very little action.

Circumstances in life are very much the same way. Sometimes we are hit by situations that nearly blow us over. Sometimes what we expect to be a major uproar turns out to be just a bunch of noise and nothing more. Sometimes, like my niece and I did by the lake, we heed the warning signs and find ourselves up to our eyeballs in a storm that could’ve been avoided. Sure my niece and I made it out and we shared one heck of a laugh as we went through the process but in stormy life circumstances most people aren’t laughing nor do they even know how to get themselves out.

No matter if you’re in a downpour or experiencing a sprinkle, Jesus is the master of the storms. Whether He chooses to calm the storm (like He did for the disciples) or allow you to experience a typhoon like Paul did as a prisoner on a ship, Jesus controls the storm. Even self created storms (brought on by our own sinful choices) can be calmed when we surrender to Jesus and seek His redemption. Jesus may use the storm to break you, but never to destroy you. Also, if you’re being broken by Him, He’s only breaking off what doesn’t honor Him in order for you to grow deeper in and closer to Him.

What situation are you facing today that feels like a major storm? Examine how you got there, confess anything that was self-made (including any lack of trust or disbelief you may be experiencing) and stand on His promise that He will calm your storm and still the waves. Also-ask God for discernment to heed the warning signs and also to know the difference between circumstances that are downpours and ones that are really just light sprinkles or sporadic raindrops.