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Category Archives: One Word 2014

One Word: Hope

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“This just doesn’t seem fair. Now our insurance may go up because she decided to lie?”

“Sorry, hun. Now it’s a matter of principle. This time I filed a claim purely for justice sake. I am not paying for the damage she caused. I am not paying for her to lie and get away with it. That is what is not fair. For someone to get away with being dishonest.”

This was the conversation between my husband and I. In our kitchen. The day after Christmas. What were we talking about? An insurance claim that I had to file for a tiny scrape to our vehicle. Because the other party caused the damage. Had more to lose.

And decided to side step the truth.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

I always started off a new year by picking one word that would define it. Well, by allowing God to pick it. Guide me in picking it. However, I did not pick one last year. I tried. I thought for a while it may have been “light,” because for a time I felt His light was being pushed back, drowned out by darkness so others could not see it.

As my journey sent me through one battle after another, I was also sent on many a mission to fight.

And without mine ever even knowing it, I was sent on many a mission to fight for truth.

So it seemed fitting that in the last few days of 2018, I would be standing in my kitchen fighting for it again. Fighting for truth to win, and for dishonesty to fail. For honest folks to be celebrated, and liars to be defeated.

Fighting for truth that continues to remain unspoken for fear of retaliation. Fear that speaking it will mean one is not believed. Thought to be crazy. Irrational. I know all three of those. I know how big that fear can get. I even know what it is like to not be believed. To stand up before a lie and be called crazy. Irrational.

But…I also know something bigger than those fears.

A just and fair Savior.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” Isaiah 43:18-19, MSG

Who can speak truth into the dark places.

Even as I sit here writing these words. Looking outside at a dreary day. One that seems to  set the tone for the end of the year that was filled with many dark, dreary days. Wondering if this year will bring more of the same.

“I am doing something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43:19, MSG

Truth in dark places.

Hope in dark places.

Hope that the truth will be brought into light. That more will seek it, speak it. Turn from the lies of the world, and seek the promises found in His Word. A hope that pierces the gloom. The darkest night. Promises to keep shining into those dark places.

Hope that keeps you moving forward, even when you want to give up, because you know and trust God to provide a breakthrough.

Even when you can’t see it in front of you, it is there.

If we don’t have hope that truth wins. That good will prevail. That light will be exposed. That God’s will be done. Then…what’s the point?

Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. -Shawshank Redemption. 

I think Andy was onto something. Hope. It’s a good thing.

On the hardest of days when I’m fighting for truth to win, I still have my hope. It’s the one thing I can count on when truth fails. Hope never does.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2019 in One Word 2014

 

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one word: acceptance

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. 

Surrender. My word for 2016. A word that challenged me to let go. And while I did drop off some baggage in the form of thoughts, practices, and even people; there is something telling me that I still have a ways to go on this journey.

As I reflected on the past year. The chaos. The times I felt attacked. Uncertain. The many days I walked around dazed, all because I was carrying too many of my own burdens, and attempting to lug the baggage of others around, I realized an important truth.

With surrender must come acceptance. Once I let go, I have to be willing to accept that I laid down that burden. Never to be picked up again.

Acceptance of the ups and downs. Knowing that each blessing. Each trial is the divine work of God.

Acceptance of my flaws. Understanding that I am not perfect, but “made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Accepting that others are not perfect either. Realizing these flaws are what makes us vulnerable. What makes us crave the power of a savior.

Accepting that not everyone will get me. Support me. Even like me. Knowing that it doesn’t matter. Since God always loves me. Knows all the traits others don’t “get,” and accepts me as I am-depsite what may bug others.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. John 15:7

Acceptance of differences. Being willing to explore a different opinion. Engage in a conversation with someone who may not have the same views. Realizing our differences, and our ability to see past them is what makes human relationship so sacred. So beautiful.

In doing this, I will also accept that some may not value my differences. May judge my choices. My parenting style. My words. My actions. Learning to shake it off, and instead walk in empathy with others, when others may not show it to me.

I will take defeat. Embrace failure. Accept it as an opportunity to grow, to become humble in my weakness. Relinquish the pride that comes with being successful and right all the time.

Accept the situations I cannot change. The people I can’t change. Recognizing God’s will is more important than my desire to “fix” all that I see is wrong. Relinquishing control to the only one who can change circumstances. Hearts. Minds.

Accepting that life is messy. Ministry is messy. Parenting is messy. And, people….yes, they are, too. Accepting that it’s not my job to “clean-up” this mess. Instead, taking in all its glory. Recognizing the beauty in all that is not neat and tidy.

And, accepting that my home may be a mess. Void of neat and tidy. Knowing that as long as those that inhabit it are happy. Loving each other. Enjoying each other. That it doesn’t matter if the bookcases are dusty. The counters are crumby. Or the carpets are dirty.

Accepting me. All that makes me who I am. My personality. My body. My pet peeves. My past. My wants. Desires. Dreams. Even if others can’t handle it. I will accept the woman He has called me to be.

This year I will accept the mundane. The chaos. The beautiful. The ugly. Those that are different. Those that love me, and those that don’t. The messy, and the neat.

Whatever He throws my way. Whatever His will.

Acceptance.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in One Word 2014, You Make All Things New

 

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Out of the Valley of Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1

Fear. It is the one word I said I was going to overcome this year. That one word I chose to ditch at the beginning of 2014. That one word I just can’t get over. That one word that keeps me from living the life God has planned for me. My purpose. My assignment.

Fear and courage. Two completely separate armies, and in between the two lies one deep valley. And, if I am going to get to the promised land. Live out the life God has planned for me. My purpose. My assignment. Well, then I have to be willing to get out of the valley. The Valley of Rejection. The Valley of Enough. The Valley of Failure. The Valley of the Unknown.

But, fear is the army I can’t seem to leave, simply because I am scared of most EVERYTHING. I have mentioned the typical fears like snakes, sharks, roller coasters, and spiders. Most of those I am happy to admit. I am not so happy to admit that the brave face I put on to hide my fears, really isn’t hiding a fear of sea and land monsters, but rather all those other monsters that have me reenlisting in the Army of Fear.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. Psalm 27:10

I’m terrified of people. I don’t have a social phobia or anything, rather, I am terrified of being rejected by people. Which means I am terrified of their feelings. Hurting them if I speak up. Hurting mine in the process. Afraid of what will happen when the words do come, and even afraid when they don’t. Terrified I will say the wrong thing. Write something too convicting. Speak the truth a little too harshly. Embarrass my teen. Expose myself too soon. And then watch people walk away. Bruised. Hurt. Confused. Ashamed.

I’m afraid of the “enoughs.” The good enoughs. The smart enoughs. The pretty enoughs. The fast enough. The enough of a mother, wife, friend. The Christian enough. The strong enough. And, even when God tells me otherwise-that I AM good enough, I still have this paralyzing fear that somehow, someday, and someone will find out that I just don’t measure up to be “enough.”

Failure? Oh yes, I frequent the Valley of Failure. It is this place in the valley where I beat myself up every time I get less than a perfect score on a test or paper. The valley I stay in when I pull an all-nighter because I can’t stand the thought of failing to turn something in on time. It is also the fear of failure that keeps me from facing my Goliath’s like David faced down his. That keeps me from taking risks. Taking chances. Making mistakes. Making a change. Because, what if I fail? Miserably? What if I have to admit, “Man, I really messed that one up?”

And, oh…the “what-ifs!” The fears of all of those unknowns. Those dark places in the valley that we just can’t see.

“God has a stunning vision for your life, but if He showed it to you all at once, it would be too much to handle. In His grace He gives small glimpses at a time, and His unimaginable vision for your life can only unfold as you have the courage, like David, to move into the unknown.” -Derwin L. Gray, Limitless Life

Small glimpses at a time. Glimpses I can’t see in the Valley of the Unknown. The Valley of What-If. The Valley of the Why. The Valley of the When, Where, and How.

Small glimpses of the army on the other side. The one I can only see if I get out of the Valley of the Sheep named Rejection, Good Enough, Failure, and Unknown.

A glimpse of my purpose. My assignment. What I was born to do. To be fearless. To step out of my comfort zone. Speak up. To have faith even if I cannot see the result.

To move from the Army of Fear to the Army of Courage.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in One Word 2014, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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I Have Run the Race

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 2 Timothy 4:7

At the beginning of the year I embarked on a mission to not come up with any resolutions I would not keep, but to instead let one word shape the next year of my life. My word-fearless. I also mentioned at the start if this journey some of the things I feared-things like snakes, sharks, and being vulnerable. But the fear that is my greatest personal obstacle, and the one that keeps me from ultimately allowing God to use all of me is the fear of failure.

The same fear of failure that had me convinced I would not run that 5k I had added to my bucket list for 2014.

The same fear of failure that had me making excuses to keep from running: I don’t have time to train. I have too many problems with my back. I’m just not a distance runner.

However, God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.                       2 Timothy 1:7

As the year has so quickly moved along, I have seen just how many times fear has threatened to keep me from doing God’s work, from persevering, and pressing forward.

The fear of rejection that could have kept me from traveling outside my comfort zone. The fear of judgement that could have kept me from connecting to others. The fear of facing a less than perfect past.

It was through time spent away in my slice of heaven known as the beach, that brought some clarity to my fear of almost everything! Clarity that revealed I could either let the devil tell me I was too chicken to accomplish anything, or let God provide me with the strength to conquer all my fears…even the one that involved putting on sneakers and running with countless other folks, without any training, and in public! GASP!

So finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish.                        2 Corinthians 8:11

And, this is where I found my endurance. In the call to finish what I had started.

To stop saying I will start running again when this happens or that happens.

To stop making excuses.

To stop the crippling fear that I will fail before I even start.

To start having faith that God will help me finish this race in the same way he has helped me finish all the races in my life. That he would give me the dedication, perseverance, and physical strength to carry on.

And that I wouldn’t just finish, but would once again accomplish more than I ever could have imagined on my own.

You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious. 1 Corinthians 9:24

It is a victory that is not found in winning, or in getting the best time, but in completing the race. Not giving up. Not quitting. Not letting fear take over.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in One Word 2014

 

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He Goes Before Me

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” Hebrews 13:5

Remember that past I mentioned I had to face on my journey to become a licensed pastor in my district? That past the devil used for weeks to taunt me? Well, today was the actual day I had to travel to meet with our credentialing board to give my testimony. Even though I had come to terms with my past mistakes, given them to God, and embraced them as part of my journey, it was without surprise that I still spent most of the day at war with a devil who wanted me to believe that my history could never be a testimony of God’s grace.

He used one little annoyance after another in an attempt to convince me that I had made a mistake, that I wasn’t “called,” that I wasn’t worthy. First, I woke up to a cloudy day, soaked with rain. For those of you who know me, rain is not my favorite thing. It makes me want to find a deep dark cave to crawl into, or back in bed, at least. My meeting with the credentialing board was not scheduled until 8pm, which meant an hour and a half drive in the rainy, foggy night. I did drive in the rain and fog, only to find that I had driven to the wrong place. When I did get to the right place after several wrong turns, I sat waiting with a sinking feeling of dread that the pothole I hit while I got lost, would result in a flat tire as I went to make my way back home.

I knew that God had already come before me, yet, I could not keep the devil from crippling me with fear and doubt.

His taunting continued as I learned my transcript had not been received as I had previously thought, as I waited for over an hour to actually give my testimony, and as I clawed around in my purse for a pen to write these very words in this post (Thank God for that Notes app!)

The devil certainly did not want me to give my testimony. He wanted nothing more than for me to believe that God’s grace is not evident in my life. He didn’t want me to be able to write about how I may have defeated him today, any more than he wanted me to be able to tell a room of men and women how God had defeated Him in the past. He didn’t want me to feel like an overcomer. Instead, he wanted me to feel like a complete failure. Like I wasn’t good enough. Like I wasn’t worthy of God’s mercy, or to call myself “pastor.”

So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

And I knew God had gone before me. What could the devil do to harm me?

I sat in the waiting room, and as I opened Facebook, the following post from Joyce Meyer was waiting on the page just for me: Your history doesn’t have to be your destiny.

No, it is my testimony.

A testimony that shows the power of salvation. A testimony that shows the depth of His love. A testimony that proves I do not have to live with the doubts I allowed God to overcome. A testimony that shows how God can overcome our past sins and mistakes, make us new, cleanse us, and wash us with his grace.

A testimony that the devil was not going to convince me not to share.

And, as I walked into the room-a room filled with people who had gone through the same process, who wrestled with their own doubts, and fears, and who had all been forgiven for mistakes they themselves had made, I knew that God had once again come before me. It was finished. The decision had already been made. The battle had already been fought on my behalf, and He had already won.

He had once again gone before me, and I had nothing to fear.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in One Word 2014, Uncategorized

 

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Me, Of Such Little Faith

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have such little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:31

In a few weeks I will head back to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend a week long class. Alone, just like the last time. I have spent many of the past few weeks once again dreading the thought of leaving the cocoon of my home to sit in class with such a large group of strangers.

An introvert’s worst nightmare. And the source of dread and doubt that has plagued me, is one I even convinced my husband to let go off in terms of our finances!

I know. I know. I am not only an introvert, but also not so great at this practicing what you preach stuff.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions. James 2:14

So, I here I sit. A woman who says she has enormous faith in God. Who commands her numbers-crunching husband to have a little faith as well, yet, I don’t have enough faith to believe he will not leave me lonely while I am away from home.

See, I mentioned I am introvert, right? I am not one who seeks out people. I would rather sit in the back of the room with a cup of coffee and a book, people watching, without ever having to engage with anyone. It seems a little irrational, but in reality, I simply fear rejection. I fear not making a connection with people, saying something completely idiotic, or finding out that someone really just doesn’t want to talk to me, or even like me.

Why? Because the devil tells me I have nothing to offer. Because the devil tells me I have nothing important to say, nothing of significance to contribute. Because the devil wants me to believe that no one wants to talk to me. That I am not good enough, and that no one likes me.

And even though I know that I will be surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ; people all working towards the same goal, the devil wants me to believe that I will be all alone.

Even when I know better….even when I know he says he will NEVER leave me lonely.

Just as my doubt begins to take over, and I cannot get over my fear and insecurities about venturing on this journey again:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Philippians 4:6-7

That’s right. Even in our doubt, he can still answer prayers. Even seemingly silly and irrational ones like mine.

Because just as I was praying about my loneliness and dread, someone else was praying about their own journey to Lynchburg that same week! And, what do you know? It just so happened to be the same week I would be traveling too.

I doubted God’s plan last semester, and he placed people in my path to be with me along the journey. I doubted him again, and yet he has provided my need this time as well, putting that same person in just the right place at just the right time.

Oh, me, of such little faith. Worrying about tomorrow. Afraid of the unknown. Not giving my doubts and worries to God and trusting His plan.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

He hasn’t failed me. He has never let me fall. Whether in my finances, my relationships, or a week long trip away from home.

So, it’s time to get rid of all my doubts, all my fears. To lay all my worries, burdens, and cares at His feet, and then to walk away knowing that no matter the task, no matter the worry-God has it all handled!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in One Word 2014

 

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Forward, Not Back

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14

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You can’t move forward if you are constantly looking backward. These have been the words I have repeated to myself and that have been running around and around in my mind since I chose my one word for 2014.

Let’s face it. We have a hard time moving forward. We like to live in our pasts. It’s comfortable there sometimes. The places and people are all familiar. We have been there and done that. So we know what to expect.

Looking forward. Taking those steps into new territory. It’s scary. We are afraid to be in new places. None of the faces look like the ones we know so well, and it certainly isn’t comfortable.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. For I am doing a new thing!”          Isaiah 43:18-19

To truly live out God’s will, to live a life that is wholly surrendered to his plan, we must look forward. Sure, it’s alright to look back, to remember the mistakes we have made. But we also must learn from them, move on. We must be fearless. We can’t live and dwell in our pasts.

We can’t constantly look backward, and expect to take a step forward.

So, I am going to strive to move forward. New challenges. New faces. New territories. They are certainly scary, but with God walking beside me and guiding my fearful steps towards His purpose, I do not have to afraid of the road that lies ahead.

I know he will fearlessly move me forward in the right direction.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in One Word 2014

 

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