Let. It. Go.

“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past.”

Isaiah 43:18 NLV

Anyone who has a preteen or early teenaged daughter, preschool aged niece or school-aged granddaughter knows about the movie Frozen.  If you’ve walked through the toy department at Walmart, you know about Frozen.  But for those who’ve been off the grid or living in an alternate universe the past few years I’ll give a quick rundown of the movie.

Frozen depicts two sisters, Elsa and Anna, one (Elsa) of which is cursed with a spell that t turns everything she touches to ice.  During one of their playtimes, Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her ice hands and the girls are separated for the remainder of their childhood.  To make the story more dramatic, their parents are killed and Elsa is made queen.  It’s at her coronation ball that the town discovers her curse and she flees fearing her curse has made her an outcast.  At this moment of the movie she builds an elaborate ice castle and belts out the award-winning musical number, Let It Go.

My daughter was in 6th grade when Frozen came out.  And she rode the Frozen fan wagon for a good year. No one could say the phrase “let it go” without her busting out the lyrics to the song.  In the beginning it was cute and we would all burst into song.  But like all things that start out “cute” and get overdone, it became incredibly annoying.  Still to this day, even though she’s now going through her “emo” phase, it’s not unusual for her or my son to burst out in song when those three little words are spoken (and quite frankly I’m guilty of it too.)

In Frozen, Elsa had to let go of her fears and the idea that she was an outcast.  She was actually created for royalty and the curse that was meant to destroy her, became her greatest super power.  How many times have we faced obstacles or setbacks, even felt cursed at times with situations that were created to destroy us.  The enemy will tell us were nothing but a lost cause, or trick us into believing the situation is hopeless.  He’ll do whatever he can to throw us into a pit of despair and keep us there.  But like Queen Esther, God may be saying, “Perhaps you were born for a time a like this?”  (Esther 4:14) Or like Joseph (who was literally thrown into a pit) tells his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”  (Genesis 50:20)

How do we break free from that pit?  We have to let it go.  We have to let go of everything that was created to destroy us. Let go of our past hurts, mistakes, losses.  Let go of our insecurities and doubts.  Let go of the negative self-talk.  Let go of the abusers in our life even.  We have to let it go.  And then, like the saying goes, we have to let go, and let God (take over.)  Trust me, I know all too well that this is easier said than done. But I also know the amazing freedom you will walk in when you finally do let go.

Letting go is a process.  When Elsa belted out that song, she wasn’t free.  In fact, right after her musical breakdown,  she created frozen giants to ward off her sister and others who were trying to save her.  She had to go through the process herself before she could walk in freedom.  That process consists of speaking God’s truth about who we are in Him, aloud over ourselves and our circumstances.  It means we rebuke the enemy’s lies and we call him out for the liar he is.  It means receiving compliments and real love from others.  It also means living a surrendered life to Abba God, stepping out in faith and trusting His lead.

Letting go is similar to jumping off a diving board into unchartered waters near the edge of a dam.  I know, because I did that exact thing two summers ago.  After spending a Sunday afternoon kayaking with dear friends of mine, we gathered near the dam for the men and kids to jump off the diving board.  As I watched I noticed none of the women were jumping in.  We were all just chatting and watching everyone else have a blast being dare devils in the water.  Being somewhat of a dare devil (although at my age it’s much less than what I was as a kid-just as my mom) I decided I needed to step up and be the only woman to take on that diving board.  And I did.  Mind you, there was a grown man in the water ready to catch me if I started to drown.  Nonetheless, when I got to the edge of that diving board and saw how far away from the water I was, I nearly chickened out.  The only thing that pushed me to face my fear was a greater fear of looking like a coward.  I closed my eyes, plugged my nose, thought to myself, “You only live once!” and jumped!  And..I survived.

Although I didn’t start a female diving board club that day-in fact no other women even jumped on that band wagon-I experienced a freedom in letting go of fear.  This is the same freedom we experience when we let go of a toxic relationship, bad eating habits, a habitual sin and negative self-talk.  When we step out on the diving board of life and look down, Jesus is the man in the water, ready to catch us and He will never let us drown.

Whatever situation you’re in today that seeks to destroy the future God has designed for you, I challenge you to step out on the diving board, close your eyes, plug your nose and jump-trusting the Lord to catch you.  If you’re a literal person, stand on your couch or bed and jump picturing Jesus holding out his arms to catch.  Just don’t do anything that will cause an injury or death PLEASE! There’s so much freedom in letting it go.  And since I just wrote those three empowering words, let me help you with the lyrics as you mentally or verbally now break into song:

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight

Not a footprint to be seen.

A kingdom of isolation,

and it looks like I’m the Queen

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside

Couldn’t keep it in;

Heaven knows I’ve tried

Don’t let them in,

don’t let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be

Conceal, don’t feel,

don’t let them know

Well now they know

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care

what they’re going to say

Let the storm rage on.

The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance

Makes everything seem small

And the fears that once controlled me

Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me,

I’m free!

Let it go, let it go

I am one with the wind and sky

Let it go, let it go

You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand

And here I’ll stay

Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground

My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around

And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand

In the light of day

Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!”

One last challenge before I close-that last line, “The cold never bothered me anyway!”- replace the word “cold” with the lies the enemy has been feeding you.  It’s a great start in rebuking the lie and reminding the enemy Who’s really in control.  It’s also a great way to start standing on God’s truth!

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Eye Spy

People tell me I have beautiful eyes.   I don’t say that with arrogance or as bragging rights.  Honestly, I don’t always believe it.  When I look in the mirror all I see is puffiness, wrinkles and dark circles.  But when others look at them, they see a sparkling blue that sometimes captivates them I guess.  Seriously-just last month, while shopping for sunglasses a female store clerk stopped and said, “I don’t want to sound weird but you have really pretty eyes.  I mean they really just pop.”  I laughed, thanked her and may have said it was ok if she meant it weird I’d still take it as a compliment.  I’ve had many male suitors drop the “you have gorgeous eyes” line on me a handful of times also.  In my younger naïve years I would fall for it but since hearing it so much I tend to just respond with “thank you” or “I’ve heard that before.”  But when asked what I think my best feature is, I will say my eyes simply because it’s what I get complimented on the most.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.  I think I’d have to agree with that.  I’ve seen people with dark souls and their eyes tend to be shifty and beady.  I’ve seen mothers look at their children and watched joy dance through their eyes.  I’ve also seen mothers look at those same children and watched terror or sheer embarrassment displayed through their eyes depending on how their children are behaving.  I’ve seen tired eyes, tearful eyes, eyes that show deep despair.  And unfortunately, I’ve seen eyes glassed over from drugs and alcohol-those eyes can have a complete blankness to them implying the emptiness the person must be feeling inside.

Yesterday I noticed a set of eyes that spoke something else.  I’ve seen these eyes before.  In fact I’ve seen them many times for more than half my life time.  But yesterday I really noticed them.  These eyes displayed a genuine kindness and a humble heart. There was no judgment behind those eyes.  In fact, the person’s mouth didn’t just smile, they smiled with their eyes.  Have you have ever had the fortune of seeing that?  I’m sure I have in the past but those smiling eyes yesterday really got my attention.  There’s was an acceptance I’ve never noticed before but looking back, in all the years I’ve known this person, they have always looked at me with that same acceptance.

God really drew my attention to those eyes yesterday.  I believe He was showing me how He looks at us-with kindness, humility, unconditionally and without judgement.  And no matter what our pasts look like, how much we screw up the present or what the future holds, He always looks at us with acceptance.  Romans 8:38 tells us nothing can separate us from His love.  Jeremiah 31:3 tells us God loves us with an everlasting love-with unfailing love He draws Himself to each of us.  Even though in Revelation 1 it describes Christ’s eyes like flames of fire (vs 14) I believe those flames show the power, passion and unabandoned love He has for each of us.  When God looks upon each of us I believe He doesn’t just smile, His eyes dance with joy and smile too.

If the eyes really are the window to your soul, and my eyes are viewed as “beautiful”, I hope and pray that people see beauty in my soul as well.  But most importantly, I pray they see Christ’s love radiating from my soul through my eyes and that light penetrates their soul as well.

Practice Makes Patience

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”

Romans 8:25 NLT

Patience is not a virtue I was born with.  I’ve said that many times and unfortunately there’s a great truth behind it.  I used to pray for added measures of patience but learned a better way to pray is for opportunities to practice patience.  Yes, you read that correctly-I ask God to give me opportunities to practice patience.  Some of you reading this might be thinking: “Are you crazy?  That’s asking for trouble!”  I’d say “You’re right”-I am asking for trouble because the best way to grow patience is in circumstances that test said patience.  The more opportunities God graces me with, the more my patience will increase.  After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Here’s the area I lack the most patience in-waiting!  It’s the worst for me.  I’m not talking about waiting in line or stuck in a traffic jam (although depending on my day and if I’m in a hurry or not I can lose my patience in those situations also.)  What I’m referring to is waiting in life-on a dream, on an answer to prayer, on a change.  Waiting for the open doors God has for me.  And this “season” of waiting feels like longer than Abraham waited for Isaac or the Israelites waited for their promised land.

What am I waiting for?  God knows what the specifics are but in a nutshell-I’m seeking favor and increase in two specific areas of my life.  And I’ve been waiting for both to come to pass for what seems like an eternity. I have prayed, fasted, attempted to manufacture my own miracles, given up, cried, fell into depression, climbed out the pit and clung to hope again.  I’ve even pulled a Gideon and laid out prayer fleeces asking for specific signs that God heard my prayer and would answer accordingly.

Know what I don’t do-trust God.  Every time I pray I verbally lay my request at the foot of the cross but as soon as I say “Amen” I pick it back up mentally.  I worry, stress, overthink and plan for worst case scenario.  The result-I get in God’s way and end up closing the door myself.  This pattern has took place too much in my life and it’s a terrible habit to break.  In fact just today I woke up sick to my stomach worrying about these requests but unable to find peace, even after praying.  When I ask for a spoken word from Him, He sends me Proverbs 3:5; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  Not exactly what I was looking for.  When I ask God to specifically show me what’s going to happen and His answer is simply, “Stop overthinking and trust Me”-honestly I get quite frustrated.

There are days I loathe reading Proverbs 3:5.  I want life to be like a book. When the story gets too complicated and I’m too impatient to read on, I simply skip to the end to find out what’s going to happen.  But in real life-we don’t get to skip to the end.  There are seasons that we have to just wait it out.  During that season it will seem like everyone around you is getting your “happily ever after” and you’re sentenced to a lifetime of pit dwelling.  I’ve spent many years thinking the same thing.  But that’s simply not true.  We can either believe the lies the enemy feeds us about our future or we can do what Proverbs 3:5 tells us-simply trust God and stop overthinking.  We can also choose to be content right where God has us. (Philippians 4:11) There’s a reason He makes us wait or takes us on a journey that seems to be opposite of where we want to God. Walking with Jesus doesn’t always makes sense (even His disciples had trouble understanding Him at times) but it always leads to His best for us.  And the secret to peace while we wait-praise.  Praying doesn’t always bring peace.  Especially if you pray like me-obsessively at times just begging God to show me the answer or to make this dream happen or bring this desire to pass etc.  But if I just pray my requests, leave them at the cross and then praise God-I find that peace that surpasses all understanding.  It’s exactly what Paul did when he was in prison (and when he wrote the scripture on choosing to be content in all circumstances.)

If you’re like me and feeling like a modern day Abraham waiting nearly 25 years for your Isaac (that desire of your heart to come to fruition) do what the great waiters in the Bible did-trust Him, worship Him, praise Him and serve Him.  I believe one of two things will happen, God will bring your dreams (and mine) to pass, or He will align our hearts with the desires He has for us.  He promises to keep us in perfect peace when we stay (keep) our minds on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

I want to end today’s post with a prayer of confession as I continue to struggle with this season of waiting.  If you’re reading this and struggling too, please say this prayer with me:

Abba God-I confess to You that I am SO over waiting.  I confess my impatience Lord but what I confess most is my lack of trust in You.  Forgive me for getting caught up in what I don’t have, obsessing over dreams that haven’t come to fruition yet and taking my mind and eyes of who You are.  Forgive me for disobeying Proverbs 3:5.  I give the enemy my joy every time I choose to worry instead of just trusting in You.  Father keep me in Your perfect peace and continue to draw my mind and eyes back to You.  I lay my requests, the desires of my heart, down at the cross and this time Daddy, I’m leaving them there. If it’s Your will Father-I trust You to bring them back to me Your way and in Your time.  If it’s not Your will, I trust You to remove what I should not desire and plant your dreams into my heart.  You are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and I am Your daughter.  I am learning that this season of waiting is making me into a modern day Esther and the time will come that I was born for.  I praise You for refining me.  Lord-surprise me because today I place my trust back in You.  In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

O How He Loves Me (& You)

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalms 91:4 NIV

Yesterday I came home to a package in my mailbox from a darling friend I met almost 20 years ago when I lived in another state.  She was actually one of the first friends I made in that state and one of the few I’ve been able to keep even after I moved back home.  Throughout the years God used her to be a tool of encouragement for me, to be His voice when I needed accountability and to know just how much He truly loves me.

This friend’s love language is definitely the gift of giving.  At least 2-3 times a year I receive a surprise in the mail from her; a Power of the Praying Woman bible, a handful of devotional books,  a bracelet with a crown on it reminding me that I am royalty because I am a daughter of the King, even a mouse pad with a picture of my children when they were just a toddler and infant (of which I still use everyday at work.)  She’s definitely a giver, and she never expects anything in return.  The best gift I can give her is quality time by means of a scheduled phone call (because our lives are so busy if we didn’t make phone “dates” we’d never stay in touch) that entails me mostly talking about myself (because she just enjoys listening and encouraging and sincerely wants to know how she can pray for me.)  She’s even taught her son, whom I’ve never been able to meet face-to-face, but is the same age as my son, to pray for me and my children.  It’s endearing to know there’s a child out there praying for us simply because his mom loves us and treasures the friendship she and I share.  Other than my time and my friendship, this amazing woman wants nothing else from me but to see me be the woman God made me to be.

She’s the epitome of Christ-He too, is a friend who’s love language is giving.  He loved us so much He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16.)  He sacrificed His Beloved for our salvation.  Matthew 7:11 tells us;  “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (NLT).”  He gifts us with the beauty of His creation, with breath everyday we open our eyes, and with an unconditional love that is almost incomprehensible.  He shows His love through unexpected blessings and the gift of godly friendships.

What does He want in return-our commitment to spend quality time with Him.  Just like a friend who lives in another state or even another country, in order to keep a strong relationship with Christ, we need to schedule daily time with Him, time in His Word, time in conversational prayer with Him and time to be still, listening for His guiding voice.  God wants to be up close and personal with you and me each every day.  He desires that we give Him the first moments of our day.  But He waits for us to come to Him.  He longs to hear us talk to Him like we talk to the humans we love dearly.  We can tell Him about our day even though He knew about it before it occurred.  We can express our fears, our worries, our deepest angst to Him and He will listen.  In fact, He will do more than listen. If we surrender to Him, He promises to deliver us from everything that holds us back from His best for our lives.  Did you catch that last sentence?  God is our Best Friend, because He longs to give us His best and His best is better than anything we could gain on our own.

If you’re reading this, I hope this encourages you to make Christ your best friend.  Schedule time everyday to be with Him.  Become so familiar with talking to Him, that like me, you have a conversation with Him aloud in your morning commute to work not worrying about what you look like when a passerby sees you and thinks you’re talking to yourself.

God showed His love for me yesterday through my friend’s gift.  It was a necklace with a feather charm (pictured above) and Psalm 91:4 written on a card.  He knew I would open the package in my car at the exact time Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father was playing on the radio.  Tears flowed into sobs as I read the words of Psalms 91:4, the words my darling friend wrote in a note card and listened to these lyrics while also staring in awe at the gorgeous necklace laying in my hands;

“You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

“Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

“As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

“You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

He is perfect in all of His ways and He loves us-undeniably.

Wreck-Less

“The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.”  Proverbs 14:16 NLT

On a road trip, how many road signs does one follow to ensure they reach their arrival safely?  Some road signs caution people of icy bridges.  Others warn them to “stop”, “yield”, “merge”, “pass with care” and set speed limits according to the type of road one is traveling on.  There are very obvious road signs like “Do Not Enter”,  “Road Closed” or even “Detour” that when followed definitely ensure our safety.

What happens when we don’t obey these road signs?  What happens when we fail to stop, yield, merge, pass with care or obey the speed limits?  What happens if we go the wrong way or travel down a road that’s under construction?  What happens when we drive recklessly?  We get into a wreck injuring/killing ourselves and possibly others.  We damage our vehicles and inanimate objects all because we chose to ignore the signs that would ensure our safety and the safety of others.

There are road signs in life too.  They’re not as obvious or apparent though.  There are no neon blink signs navigating our decision making process but just like on a road trip, if we obey the warning signs, we make wise decisions and reach our life destination unscathed.  If we ignore them, we become reckless like the fool in Proverbs 14.

If life’s road signs aren’t visible, how do we know what they are?  We need to crack open God’s word and study it.  It’s filled with wisdom and warning signs that are created to protect us from all harm.   Those warning signs include protecting our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), protecting our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), and protecting our minds (2 Corinthians 10:5).  We can also seek out godly advice from spiritual leaders and to always pray for God’s direction and discernment.

But what if we choose to ignore God’s warning signs?  Our lives end up in a wreck.  Some reckless choices to our bodies include being overweight and having serious life threatening health issues.  They can also include unwanted pregnancies, STD’s and soul ties from premarital sex.  Addictions arise from failure to make wise choices and protect our bodies. Reckless damage to our hearts can include brokenness and a hardening because we pursued an abusive or dead-end relationship that God would never have chosen for us or from being unequally yoked to a unbeliever.  Failure to protect our minds can result in wrong thinking, believing the enemy’s lies, and creating fantasies of how life and relationships should be.  Whatever the reckless choice is, you can be sure you will experience a reckless consequence.

Thank God we have a Savior who can turn our recklessness into a life that is “wreck-less” IF we heed to His word.  God promises us time and again that we are to fear nothing because He is with us and He goes before us.  He also promises that if we need wisdom we should ask and He will give it.  (James 1:5) He used many examples through the lives of the Israelites that if they obeyed His “road signs” they would inherit an abundant life and dwell in the promise land.  He repeatedly gives examples in His word of how He redeemed some of the Bible Greats from recklessness and made them wreck-less instead.

When Adam and Eve made a reckless choice in paradise, one their consequences was banishment from the Garden of Eden.  But God didn’t destroy them.  He even made clothing for them since eating the fruit of knowledge revealed to them they were naked.  When Cain killed Abel, God punished Cain but protected him from being destroyed by anyone else.  When David wrecked his life with an affair and murder, God redeemed him and still made him King.   The Old Testament is filled with stories of recklessness, severe consequences, repentance and redemption.  Repentance and obedience are the keys to being redeemed and living a wreck-less life.

What decision are you facing today that with God’s wisdom you can avoid being reckless and severe consequences?  Are you facing a dating relationship and ignoring the nudges of the Holy Spirit telling you they’re the wrong one?  Are you facing peer pressure to try a drug or give up your virginity?  Are you married and being tempted to cheat on your spouse?  Do you struggle financially and dealing with overspending?  Are you diabetic and craving a sugary donut?  Whatever you’re facing-know this, the devil leads us into recklessness through temptation!

The devil is very subtle and crafty with his schemes (Genesis 3:1) and he uses temptation to turn us away from the warning signs God has given us.  He can even distort God’s word to fool us (like Adam and Eve) into wrecking our lives.  God warns us to not be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7.)  The Bible also tells us to stay alert for the devil prowls around like a hungry lion (1 Peter 5:8).  When we are steady in God’s word and seek His wisdom and discernment we can readily detect the devil’s schemes and avoid his traps before we end up in a wreck.  But we also have to resist temptation.   Jesus, Himself, on the night he was arrested, told His disciples to stay awake and be alert so they would not give into temptation (Luke 22). And Jesus knew temptation.  The enemy tempted Him three times in the wilderness.  Each time, Jesus resisted the devil and the devil finally fled from Jesus (Luke 4). That’s what God calls us to do-resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7.)  We must also be aware of how he tempts us.  We must recognize the desires of the flesh in order to resist him.  And if we fall, we get back up, repent and become more dependent on Christ to keep us from falling again. We must also STOP falling into his same traps and expecting God to redeem us from a pit we keep jumping in.

“Resisting temptation is so hard” you say?  Tell me about it!  You’re preaching to the choir!  I suffer from retail therapy and overeating.  When I’m stressed out I want to go shopping and buy something that will make me feel better.  I want to overload on chocolate and junk food because it tastes so good while I’m eating it.  But I suffer grave consequences from both choices.  I struggle with both debt and weight issues.  I even struggled with serious health issues until I disciplined myself to cut out foods (including chocolate and caffeine) that I knew were making me sick.

I also know because I’m a single parent-I chased after the wrong relationship.  I failed to listen to the Holy Spirit nudging me to wait, nudging me I was unequally yoked and I suffered severe consequences because of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my children for anything-they are the best thing that came from the relationship.  But I suffered tremendous heartache and emotional injury because I did not listen to the warning signs.  And my children suffered from my reckless choice also.

I know recklessness with my body, heart and mind all too well and if my mistake can prevent someone from wrecking his/her life, it’s worth sharing. I also know His redemption and want you to know it too.

The point of today’s blog is this:  If you don’t want to end up in a wreck, obey God’s word, heed His warnings and don’t live recklessly.   But if you, like me, have already wrecked your life, don’t count your life as over.  We have a God who can and will redeem you and turn your reckless choices into a wreck-less testimony.  I know because He has done it for me every day I surrender my ways to His ways and allow Him to transform my body, heart and mind back into what he made them all to be.  He started redeeming me the day I repented.  He’s calling you to repent too.   Repent and forgive and allow Him to redeem you and make you wreck-less too!