Who do you say He is?

Who do you say I am?

This is the question Jesus asked his disciples. He wasn’t interested in what they thought other people defined Him as. He wanted to know who they defined Him as. (Matthew 16:13-15)

Our pastor asked us to close our eyes during the sermon. We were to ask ourselves that question. In the quiet of the church, with my eyes closed, I dared to ask myself that question.

Rescuer.

Jesus is my Rescuer. As my Savior, He has rescued me from the depths of hell. He has rescued me from the storms of life. That’s not to say I haven’t endured the storms, but He has walked with me to the other side. And most often, He rescues me from myself.

How often are we slaves to the bondage we enslave ourselves to? The pain of our past. Bitterness. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Complacency. Unworthiness.

What is enslaving you?

As I sat by myself enjoying some much needed quiet time, I glanced down at my feet dangling in the water.

What did I focus on?

The chipped off paint from my nails. Life chips away from our feelings of completeness, worthiness, and beauty. Just as the chlorine stripped away the paint, we allow the irritations of life to strip and chip away at us.

So, yes, Jesus is my Rescuer. He rescues me those feelings of unworthiness, of failure, of fear…

When the world screams that I should just give up, throw the towel in, walk away, be knocked down, surrender to defeat…He whispers to me that He is right with me in the midst of every storm, every failure, every feeling of defeat and inadequacy that I feel. He knows those hopes and dreams deep in my heart. And, He knows the fears that surround them.

I am stronger from the struggle.

When I can analyze not internalize and self reflect for my growth and spend 1-1 time in prayer, yes, I know I will be okay. The struggle is real and the battles seldom cease, but Jesus is my Rescuer.

His promises are true. He sustains and carries me. He anchors me.

I challenge you to ask yourself…Who do you say He is?

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Opportunities

I needed to laugh.

Tonight, after a day of tears and self reflection, I told my son I needed a funny movie. As he scrolled through options on Netflix, I suggested Evan Almighty. J remembered watching it a few years ago at a family movie night at church shortly after he joined our family from the blessings of adoption.

Evan Almighty is a modern day tale of the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark in the book of Genesis.

Hearing my son cackle to the funny parts of the movie was enough alone to bring a smile to my face.

Then, it happened…that serious moment of wisdom you need to hear and hold onto. God can and will use anything and everything to grab our attention if we are open and attentive.

When Morgan Freeman speaks, there is something dignified about the deepness of his voice especially when he is playing the role of God.

Watch this short clip from the movie…Opportunities from God

When we pray for patience, God doesn’t give us patience, He gives us opportunities for patience. You can fill in the blank with another word…hope, peace, forgiveness…

I have been praying for my leadership to be Christlike. Being a leader can feel very, very lonely. In the midst of these challenging moments, I realize God has been providing opportunities for me to be a stronger leader.

Sigh…no one ever said striving to walk the Christian life would be easy.

What are you praying for today? Be open for the opportunities God provides as answers to your prayers. Opportunities create growth in our walk with Christ and build our Christian character.

I would love to hear about the opportunities God has provided you with to grow in your Christian walk.

Keep your eyes on the path ahead.

Hiding

I have had an emotionally challenging week. I didn’t realize that I would struggle so much this week. The impact of everything and my emotional response blindsided me.

Let me back up a bit and fill in a few details…I lost a high school classmate and friend very unexpectedly in a car accident. I had a difficult interaction with someone this week. My daughter went back to college after winter break and I already know she will not be home for the summer. Long days at work equal exhaustion.

I slept in today on this Saturday morning. I rarely sleep in. My husband brought me coffee to bed and I am lingering for a bit before starting my day which affords me time to reflect.

My week has made me really think about this…how often do we hide behind masks? We smile. We tell the world we are fine. We push on through the challenges of our jobs and lives.

This is all great. Having a spirit that can persevere through whatever life brings is great. I call myself a fighter, and I am, but sometimes we need to take off those masks and stop hiding behind them.

Sometimes, we need to be transparent and vulnerable. Not with everyone. It feels risky to take off those masks. Some people honestly won’t care what is behind them. We want to protect our vulnerable self.

Prayer is so powerful. I believe God wants us to be real, definitely with Him. I encourage you to read the Psalms. So much raw emotion is poured out to God in those Psalms. I also believe God cares about us and wants us to feel the freedom to be vulnerable and transparent. I believe He places safe people in our lives. I had some very powerful conversations this week with safe people in my life. God takes care of us through the love of others.

I also have been reflecting on the ways others around me hide behind their own masks. I have seen two situations this week where people have broken down, the weight of hiding behind the masks suddenly too much. 

I encourage us all to….

1. Regularly read the Psalms and share our own raw emotions with God.

2. Pray for those safe people in our lives.

3. Just be kind… everyone has a story and some hide more behind masks than others.

Last night I heard this song … If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli. Sometimes, we just need to be real. 

It’s a new year. Let’s come out of hiding and strive to be better versions of ourselves and to love more genuinely.

What helps you when you feel like hiding?

Slow Down…

My son and I pray together every night before bed. Our prayers are often unconventional in that our bedtime prayers occur in multiple locations.

Last night I was squeezing in my walk. My son came into our office area and asked that I pause the treadmill.

Sometimes, we need to get off the treadmill of life and take a moment to pray.”

I paused the treadmill and my mind for a moment…when had my teenage son become so wise? 


We prayed, standing on that treadmill, and then, he ran upstairs to bed. It’s that age… Fourteen…not an adult ready to navigate the world but becoming one’s own person forming beliefs about the world.
And this son of mine has enough wisdom to know that sometimes, we just need to get off the treadmill of life and pause in a moment with our Heavenly Father.

How did I ever get so lucky?

I smile, knowing in this quiet stillness of the morning, that there is no luck. God knew this child halfway around the world was to be my son and I was to be his mom.

So, here’s a little shout out during this National Adoption Awareness Month… adoption is an amazing blessing from God.

Sometimes, you just need to pause from the craziness of everything and be still with Your Father. He has an amazing plan for you. It may not be adoption, but He may be trying to whisper into the deep places of your soul to those unspoken hopes and dreams.

Slow down…listen…and step in faith.

Grace in His Timing

Sometimes, it takes someone else to help you realize that you need to take a step back. After my last two blog posts, my friend messaged me to see if I was okay.

I reassured her that I was. Then, I reflected on my recent thoughts.

Really, it’s been a matter of when things don’t go as planned. 

Perspective is everything, and my friend’s question was the prompting where I realized I needed to step back for a moment.

It can be very, very helpful to reflect on how God has worked in the past to remind us He is still working.

So what comes to mind…

  • The sadness in infertility only to realize my child was born halfway around the world and placed in my arms five and half years later through the joy and incredible blessing of adoption.
  • The joy in receiving a job offer and being excited at the thought of being able to get ahead only to find out a few weeks later, my husband was laid off. Guess what? All our bills were paid, we both learned a lot through the time, and my husband is back to work.
  • As part of the pastoral search committee, we extended an invitation for a pastor to come to our church. He declined. Our church needed some time to step back and unite in prayer. During this time, God spoke to our church and this pastor who felt God calling him to our church. We will welcome his family into our church very soon.

My thoughts in all this? Despite how “perfect” I think my plans may be, God’s timing is perfect. 

My gut wrench response is to want to be anxious, but I know just as in times past, I must trust God and His timing in my current situation. My plans may unfold a little differently than I originally had hoped, but He sees the entire picture. 

When have you experienced God’s grace in the timing of your plans?

Community

Some people have neatly put together living rooms. As I look around mine, it is a collection of mismatched furniture. I have an off-white love seat. I have a brown leather ottoman and chair. I have two recliners of slightly different tans-one a hand me down leather one, the other a soft microfiber design.

I think they come together okay, but I’m not one for interior design. I am more about what’s practical. If it still works, then why replace it?

Mismatched furniture. Slightly used. Heavily used. Each piece has a different story, a different origin yet it all comes together to create my safe place of home.

I am reflective this morning in my quiet living room filled with mismatched furniture. My thoughts are on people, the events of our world.

What about people? You and me? Do we accept people who are different from us? Those whose stories don’t match ours? 

I think of Jesus and how he reached out to those whom society called misfits and outcasts. He welcomed them, gave them hope and healing. It didn’t matter if they were mismatched from those whom society said were the acceptable group. Do we do that? Do our churches do this?

In times like this as our country braces for the uncertain impact of Hurricane Irma, there is one thing I am certain about. Tragedy brings us together. It won’t matter who is different or who is an “outcast” because Irma will not be selective. 

We need each other. Life is hard. 

I have been on my knees. I am burdened for Florida and others in the path of Irma and Jose who follows close behind. I have friends and family in Florida. Those in Texas are still recovering from the aftermath of Harvey. There are forest fires and earthquakes.

God never promised life would be easy but He has blessed us with the community of others to come together to support, encourage, and lift up one another despite our differences.

Maybe we’re not so different after all. We all have hopes and dreams. We all have fears. When mismatched people come together to lift each other up, He is there in the midst.

Let’s pray for others and lift one another up. Life is hard. We don’t have to do it alone. God never leaves our side. Reach out and love those who are hurting and need someone to be there. 

Bring some hope to a hurting world.

#prayerchangesthings

The Power of our Belief in Prayer

When we start believing what we pray…

When we pray seeking what God desires for our lives and stop trying to figure everything out on our own…

When we seek Him first in prayer instead of turning to worry as our immediate response…

When we pray with a surrendered spirit and a trust in God’s goodness…

Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:24

Prayer is our communication with God. He wants to hear from us. He desires that connection with us. Prayer takes practice. Not sure what to pray or how to pray? Ask God to reveal to you what you need to be praying about. He will. He honors a faithful heart.