Deflated…

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

I do not always understand my heart. At times it bleeds for others only a second later to be puffed up with pride and selfish ambition. I don’t always know why I do what I do, but I know what I want to be motivated by. I want to be purely motivated by The Lord.

But the heart is deceitful. And at times the valve opens and we become inflated beyond our desire to serve. We forget what once motivated us to serve out of brokeness and instead become inspired by numbers or followers. It’s not fair to a heart that just wants to love. But that’s what happens when pride bends and twists its way under a heart that’s been set free. It’s a sneaky e tacked onto the end of a word. A silent letter e, but never silent to those who read between the lines.

A heart bloated with expectations that may never be met – or filled with understanding that cannot go beyond the common – is a heart easily deflated when poked and prodded by circumstances. If not rooted in the firm foundation of Christ, we are easily shriveled up, deflated, and left for the wind.

But when a heart daily begins by rooting itself in the Word of God, no expectations for greatness, just humility and grace, the water of His unending love begins to make it grow. Oaks do not grow as quickly as a heart swelled with pride. Meek beginnings lead to substantial and sustainable endings. Hearts such as these are the ones with rewards that will last. No longer tossed about by the wind, but rather bent and swayed in the way Christ would have them grow.

And although pride would have us follow its beckoning illusions of happiness, we can know better, and choose a root over a bloat. Our God over our desires. And our calling over the flesh. True joy is found in setting the deceitful ways aside and serving out of the desire to offer His grace as a remedy for the broken.

Scavengers…

My face meets the chill of fall air. Toasted comfort and vanilla follow me as I climb out of my car. Coffee in hand. Lunch packed in my purse. I step past the garbage with a tall dark mass bent over. Looking for food that someone decided to throw away. Hoping the crumbs might make themselves tasty and satisfying as they work their way to his stomach.

From the garbage we eat, and in the garbage we stay when we stand in ways of pestilence and grave. Ways of the flesh disregarded as perfection. And then when grace beckons welcome, we turn back to our trash can to find the familiar crumble of food that might make sense to our hearts. The hurtful words, misguided slurs, the generational patterns of bondage find themselves a home in our emotional graveyard. We don’t care and we eat them anyways. We consume them until our hearts and minds become infected with words that do not speak the truth.

But how to do we stop consuming depressive thoughts and tendencies and trade them for something that did not exist in a garbage can? How do we find fresh fruit from the tree of life when availability offers nonsense?

What does it look like to find that tree? And who will we get rid of the garbage that hides behind it?

Why must we search for joy and happiness? Shouldn’t they be at home in our hearts despite the trash?

Just like the man digging, I wonder how much longer I will scavenge to find my emotional meals. I want joy readily available.

And I see the sweet smile of an old woman out of the corner of my eye. She looks through me. My heart says, “you know it’s not that bad.”

I smile back. I know nothing about her life. But to this hollow shell of a woman, she dares to offer hope.

And so I turn to the Lord. My reassurance found in God. Trash cans exist, but I find my peace in God. It seems best. It seems better than a dumpster or trash can. And I try daily to let these things go. To walk past without thinking about them. To leave the trash where it is. But at times I pick it up anyways. When I do, I thank the Lord that I no longer have to feed from the wreckage, but that I can feed from His grace.

Where hope hits the pavement…

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:147

Hope is a breath of confidence whispered into a breaking heart. It is the resounding sense that maybe things can be different amidst torrential emotional tirades. Hope brings about the possibility that love could reign in our hearts once again. Hope is the truth that confident expectation is indeed worth having when placed in the power of the cross.

I love hoping in things. I love hoping in people. I want the best for all opportunities that arise and every person I meet. But the only place my hopes are safe is in His Word.

At times, I wish everything we hoped for was to be. That once we dreamed something, it would immediately pop up on our wish list as granted. If God was a magic wand God…

But He rarely operates in such hasty fashion. And I am grateful.

Many times the things I have wished for have been replaced with reality that far surpasses my wish.

I wished for healing…He brought redemption. I wished for a sip of water…He gave me the well. I wished for relief…He gave me opportunities to serve.

He takes my paltry wishes, often self-centered striving, and turns them into greatness for His Kingdom.

He makes my simplistic wish into something worth having, and my heart is renewed in the process. When I hope in Him it hits the pavement in ways beyond my imagination. He takes the desires of my heart, my mind, and makes them obedient to His will so that they may become a manifestation of His glory.

We all want things. At times we wonder why? Or why not? And we want a hasty magic wand Jesus to answer in an instant. But we have to trust the Master…

We can’t see the big picture. He can.

Instead of anxious frustration, could we allow our hopes to be shaped by the Master? The One who sees the canvas?

We are limited to such a small snippet of the painting. How can we know what we really need?

But God sees everything. Please Lord, bring our hearts desire in line with Your presence . Let us find ourselves dancing under a love that’s everlasting, hope brimming from buckets of trust, hoping in the Only Hope worth having.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JsyIdWFnLA]

A message for my Unglued OBS sisters…

20121018-090739.jpg

We went shopping this weekend at Target. I love Target. My wallet doesn’t love Target as much. I can walk in for a pair of socks and walk out with a cart full of items to redecorate my bedroom. Target just has a way of sucking money right out of my wallet. So we went to Target, and my daughter Lauren, much like her mother was looking to spend her $12.00 of allowance money on a toy. If you have shopped for toys lately, you know $12.00 won’t get you much. As we entered the checkout line, the tears began to flow. She was leaving empty handed. Her eyes were red, nose was running, and she was embarrassed. Being that she is right at the height of my purse, a rather large purse, she stuck her head in so that no one would see her red eyes.

I have often wondered why the cover of “Unglued” is a picture of Lysa’s head buried in a purse. Today, I got it. At least what it means for me.

Sometimes we stick our head in a purse because we want to keep from screaming. Sometimes we hide away in a purse because we are embarrassed. I tend to do the second…scream…and then hide in embarrassment.

The midway point in a Bible Study is never easy. Half way through we begin to asses if we are where we thought we would be. Does life look any different? Are we still coming Unglued? And if the answer is yes…well bring on the truck load of shame.

I wonder if any of you beautiful women are still struggling with Unglued tendencies? In fact, I don’t just wonder, I am all too aware that you are. Learning the truths that Lysa shares with us by no means assures that we won’t still be provoked. But we now have the choice and the tools to react differently.

But sometimes we don’t. We fall into the same old habits. It’s called temptation. And it is easy to give in to. But the giving in is just the first half of the story…the second half has far greater implications. What do we do after we come Unglued?

My tendency is to stick my head in my purse. To bury myself in a mound of shame and negative self-talk, eventually leading to belief that things will never change. I tell myself that I am too far gone to be helped by God, and that I am doomed to a life of Unglued reactions. Then I see that vision of God, the false one, with Him pointing His finger and saying, “I told you that you would never be good enough.”

Can we say lies, lies and more lies?

Satan loves to attack, and sometimes we give in. We come Unglued. But what He loves even more is to shame us over our reactions, rendering us ineffective, so that we will stop even trying.

Dear sister, if you are struggling, that is a GOOD thing! It means that you are still trying. That you are making an effort to change. Change is difficult. We can hide our head in our purse every time we mess up, or we can ask for forgiveness, dry our tears, maybe even use our tears to help someone else, and move forward! Now is not the time to let up, now is the time to press on. What a gift Lysa has given us. The chance to move forward in our lives. The chance to grow closer to our Creator King. Today, as Lysa teaches us in Chapter 7 – let’s remember who we are, redirect our focus to Jesus, recognize God’s job isn’t our job, praise God, and realize our reactions determine our reach! And although they may determine our reach, that do not determine who we are in Christ. No more shame sweet Princess of the King…we are moving forward.

Spaghetti Rainbows

Whats a spaghetti rainbow you ask? Pick up a noodle. Let it drape on both ends and there you have it. A wobbly spaghetti rainbow. You can make just about any shape from a spaghetti noodle. That’s the beauty of pliability.

I am fascinated by this idea of spaghetti rainbows. Starchy strips of wonderment able to inspire my hope. Yes I can see hope anywhere. Even in noodles shaped like God’s promise from a rainbow.

Spaghetti rainbows may not offer much hope to you. In fact you likely could care less about making shapes with your pasta. Maybe you are struggling just to keep food on the table. And I don’t blame you. Who wants to think about noodles when there are bills to pay and more important things going on, like elections. So many things to worry about.

So why do I take your time today rambling on about spaghetti? I really don’t know other than I felt the Lords prompting to write about it.

Maybe you need to take time today to relax and play in some spaghetti noodles with your family. Maybe you need to go outside and see how many things you can find in the shape of rainbow. Maybe it’s time to dive into His Word and read about God’s promise to Noah. Maybe God wants you to know today that His promise never to flood the earth again applies to the emotional flooding in your heart. He won’t drown the earth, nor will he allow you to drown in your circumstances. Maybe a spaghetti rainbow, or something similar, is your message of hope from The Lord.

Spaghetti rainbows don’t last. But God’s promises do. If we pay attention to our surroundings we can see reminders of His love everywhere, every day. Even in silly things like pasta. What’s your spaghetti rainbow, your personal love note from The Lord, today?

Between the G and the d…

I do it all the time. Tapping out a message on my phone, I misspell God.

Gid…Gad…Ged…Gud

When I read other people’s messages, I notice they do the same thing. But it doesn’t matter – any letter between a Capital G and a lowercase d I know is supposed to be o. I know they are referring to God. My brain automatically corrects the error. I see it as “God”.

And I began to think, what if I saw the rest of my world that way. No matter what is going on in my life, I know I’m in between the G and the d, and that means I’m safe. I’m in the middle of God who rescues me.

In battle, I can trust Him. 1 Chronicles 5:20 says, “They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.”

When I cry out to Him in the middle of the battle I can trust that I’m safe in between the G and d. If I call to Him, He will deliver me. There are no doubts. Even when battle rages thick in my mind and tells me I am alone, I do not have to give in because I know my very life exists in the midst if His glorious presence.

And so today we go out into the battle field. Facing our usual enemies, and maybe even some new ones. At times we doubt our strength for the fight today. Will today be the day they finally take us down and under? Oh no it will not sweet sister. The battle is the Lords. We exist between the G and the d, and nestled within Him, we are always safe.

An apology is not necessary to forgive…

What if I owed Jesus for my restoration, healing, and forgiveness? How would I pay Him? As soon as I made progress and lowered my debt ratio, I would make a huge mistake and my balance would once again soar through the roof. There’s no way. But when I look at others, I expect there to be a way. Surely they owe God something, or at least they owe me, for what they did…right?

And maybe if they apologized enough I would be refilled. Or if they filled my love bank back up, I could move forward. But they don’t. And even if they did, would it ever be enough?

When someone hurts us it’s easy to harbor unforgiveness because our love bank is waiting to be repayed. They took something from us – joy, peace, innocence – and we want it back. So we refuse to let go of the bitterness. As if somehow this root of bitterness will eventually stranglehold them into an apology. But often, it doesn’t, and even if it did, an apology only heals when we follow it up with forgiveness.

If you are waiting on an apology to move forward with your life, maybe it’s time to let go. An apology is not permission to forgive. It’s nice to have for sure, but you don’t need it to be set free. In fact, the debts not even owed to you. The debt for sin committed is owed to your Master, Lord Jesus, and with Christians, He’s already cleared the debt. So maybe we should too.

There’s no way to repay some debts. That’s why God offers forgiveness in the first place. Some people will never be able to make up for the hurt they vaulted upon you. But they don’t have to, because Jesus did. Let Him be your Lord, Master, Adonai. He’s in charge of your love debt to income ratio and He’s got enough love to rebuild your emotional finances. In Him, we have all the strength to forgive and move forward in love that we could ever need.

Lengthy long haired grace that grows…

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

My hair is growing longer and it feels graceful. That may sound strange, but the last time my hair was long I was in high school. It was around the time I was raped. Although I have not intentionally kept my hair short, the hiding emotional layers underneath kept me from letting it grow. And so yes my hair is longer, and each and every strand I see as a manifestation of God’s ever growing grace.

Grace seems like it might not be enough. Especially when the worst has become reality for you. Unforgiveness, anger, hate, distress, and bitterness fill your heart and mind and you wonder how you will ever be able to move past. Grace seems as if a mild remedy for a tough situation.

If only grace were mild…

But grace is tough. It straps up our sin and sends it away. It tangles up our heart and wraps it like a fleshy wound binding band aide. The acceptance of grace is radical. It seeps into the broken places and pushes out the flesh. It challenges us to do the things we don’t want to do. To go places we don’t want to go. But only to the boundaries of what must be done so grace can manifest as peace and remedy.

Radical acceptance of His grace may seem strange or, well, a bit radical. Trusting His grace to cover all of our hurt changes the victim to survivor. It means deciding His wounds on the cross were payment enough for the hurts life has vaulted onto our path. A tough decision when your bank account was robbed by unfair, unthinkable circumstances. But His grace is enough…it has to be.

And so we have a choice to let grace grow and manifest in the place where bitterness and anger once thrived. We can choose to water either plant, but only one will sprout peace, strength, and dignity. Maybe the grace plant in you could use a little water. Will you think about letting it grow…

Book winner announcement, cute picture of my awesome Jesus sisters, and yes…I think I do speak :)…

First of all, let me announce the winner of Friday’s giveaway! It is Becky who commented on October 5th at 8:56pm! Becky, please message me at stephkevinryan@hotmail.com and let me know which book you would like to have (Made to Crave or Stressed Less Living) and your address! And thank you ALL so much for the amazing comments you left! They remind me that I am not alone, and that we are all in this battle together…

I would like to pray for us all right now…

Dear Lord, Thank you for each and every woman who is struggling with food issues, internal vows, or any type of bondage right now. Lord, we know that you are the bondage breaker. That you came to bind up the brokenhearted and set the captives free. God, we claim our freedom in you right now, at this very moment. Lord, empower us with your mighty and powerful strength to break free from these ties and move forward as displays of your splendor, oaks of righteousness. We love you Lord and thank you for each and every blessing. Thank you for your son and your beautiful love sacrifice so that we may call on you in our times of need and know that you always listen and answer. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

 

And just for fun, here is a picture from this weekend! I had the amazing opportunity to speak at the BeLoved Conference for the FaithInBetween ministry. This is an amazing ministry for 20 somethings. Their leaders, Brittany Williamson and Holly Ragsdale, are beyond amazing. It was an absolute gift to be able to do ministry with them. If you are a 20 something woman, or 20 something at heart, please stop by their page! They do phenomenal work and Brittany has an awesome blog!!!

 

And because this speaking thing is something I think I might like…I have expanded my speaking page and am actively welcoming invitations to speak! I would love for you to visit my updated speaker information page here!!!

Love ya’ll girls way big!!! Hope you have an awesome Monday!!!! Love Jesus like you mean it!!!!!

Welcome Proverbs 31 Devo readers!!!!

If you are visiting from Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today, let me say welcome! I would love for you to take a look around, leave a comment, and let me know what internal vows you may be struggling with so that I can pray with you!

In fact, if you leave a comment you will be entered to win either a copy of Tracey Miles’ new book Stressed Less Living or Lysa TerKeurst’s New York Times Best Selling book Made to Crave! Both are AWESOME! You have until 5:00 pm CST on Sunday October 7th to leave a comment and be entered to win! I will announce the winner here on my blog on October 8th!

 

 

 

I shared in my devotion that I have a continued struggle with over-eating, especially sweets. Four weeks ago I began the couch to 5K exercise plan. I am getting healthier, but I haven’t lost any weight. I pretend the lack of weight loss is due to muscle gain, but in reality it is probably due to the cookie I eat right before bedtime or the sugary coffee creamers I use in the morning. I know there are healthy alternatives to these things, but you have to make the choice to use them. That is a choice I continue to struggle with. It’s hard to pass by all the delicious treats this time of year, especially when you love pumpkin!

Romans 8:5 describes the battle perfectly for me, Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

My flesh wants candy corn, cake, and pumpkin spice lattes! I have my mind set on these things! But it is a choice. I can choose to set my mind on things of the flesh or things of the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17 tells me, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

There is freedom from my addictions, my sin patterns, my guilt, my shame…freedom from all forms of bondage…with the Spirit of the Lord.

How do I access that freedom? I choose to walk in the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Bible says that against these things there is NO LAW!

The list looks intimidating at first…and I wonder how I can be all of these things! For me the key is to focus on one at a time. Over the next week I need to focus on self-control. I need to pray about it, read about it, study it, and most importantly ask for empowerment from the Holy Spirit to live it out.

I hope you will choose one fruit of the Spirit to dig deeper in today. Ask the Lord for His strength and power so that you may grow in the Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is…there is freedom…it’s TRUE! What will you start to break free from today?