When No One Knows You, You Are Still Known

Our family is unpacked in our new home in Nebraska. I have shared little on my blog space about the miracles we’ve watched God perform to get us here. Partly because I’ve had no time to write. I’ve shared snippets on Instagram or Facebook, but God deserves more glory than snippets. I’ve written in my prayer journal, and I hope to share soon a few of these stories online. I’ve been sharing the stories with anyone who will listen.

In the span of eight short weeks, we learned of our move, listed and sold our house in 3 days, bought a house over a whirlwind trip, I spoke at a women’s retreat, we set out on a goodbye tour, wrapped up loose ends, watched our house packed and moved cross country, now here we are two months later.

As I unpack boxes, I feel my soul unpacking. It’s been holding and storing quite a bit over the past two months.

When God moves you from a place you felt well planted to a place of unknown, you begin to notice hidden areas of insecurity. You begin to see idols you failed to notice in your well-planted home. You begin to see areas you thought your identity was firmly rooted in Christ but in reality it was actually trying to find roots in reputation, ministry, or being known.

When you live around people who know you, you have nothing to prove. You are known by the ones you do life with. If you mess up, they know you, they give you second chances. You can live with your guard down because they know your heart. They know your affections and priorities. They know Christ is your center.

Then God moves you away from the comfort of being known. He moves you away from that safety net that entangles your identity with things of this world. Suddenly, you find yourself with God alone. What a glorious place to be.

I find myself challenged. Do I believe what I’ve told myself? Is my identity solely rooted in Christ? In Christ alone? Am I living every day for the single purpose to glorify Him? If so, then it doesn’t matter where I live or who knows me or doesn’t know me. My eyes locked on Him, all else matters little.

I’m noticing that my eyes are on life around me more than I realized. I’m seeing that I’ve said I don’t care what people think about me because when my life is given for His glory that’s all that matters. But God has me in a place where no one knows me. There is a temptation to try to prove myself. To show that I am a good person, a trustworthy friend, a loyal confidante.

Quietly, He’s been whispering to me to simply abide in Him. There is nothing to prove. He wants me as a vessel for Him.

I pray this often- “Lord, use me however You want. In any way you see fit. Make me wholly yours. Bend me, shape me, use me for any purpose. Make me all of yours.”

We stood singing praises in church yesterday. I felt His Spirit. Tears filled my eyes for no reason other than I felt the Holy Spirit. I heard a voice in my head say, “Don’t quench my Spirit.” I began an internal dialogue with God because my heart felt it might explode with love and joy. It was unexplainable. Simply His Presence falling over me filled me to the point I felt I might burst. And I heard that voice tell me not to quench the Spirit.

So I laughed in my head. I responded in my heart, “God, if you want me to raise my hands right now, you will have to force me to do it.”

You know why? Because I’m unknown. I’m uncomfortable. I’m worrying more about being unknown and what people might think of me rather than sitting in my identity in Christ alone.

You know what He did? The pastor asked the band to play the end of the song again and said he wanted everyone to raise their hands as we sang the song.

Yes, you read that right. I told God He would have to make me. And He did.

I could do nothing but laugh as I raised my hands in praise. Praise to the God Who hears our cries. Praise to the God who desires we live proving nothing to the world around us because we are living sold out to Him so the world will see Him without the distraction of us.

Lord, You are beyond comprehension. Your ways are too glorious for me to understand. Make me all of yours. Remove the distraction of me so I can be all you have made me to be. Set before me the path You desire I walk, hold my hand along the way. Let me hear the intimate ways you speak to me. Let me not miss one of your whispers. Increase my sensitivity to Your voice. Let me treasure your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Make my heart love you and your word more than anything else in this entire world. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

 

About International Women’s Day – the Christian Response

When satan first revealed to us his plan to influence the world for his purposes, he started with a woman. The first International Women’s Day began in the Garden of Eden.

When the man and the woman had everything in complete perfection. They had everything they could ever desire, and more. They actually walked with God.

There was only one thing. One thing God told them was not theirs. Everything else was theirs but this one thing. The fruit from the tree in the middle.

Satan went to the woman first. Maybe he said something like this to himself before approaching the woman with his lies, “Let’s get to the woman first. She will believe our lies then she will influence the man. They will fall in my trap and become mine. Then I will be like God.”

Maybe satan began to say things like this, “God has given the woman everything she could ever desire. Let’s get in her head to make her solely focused on the one thing she can’t have. Let’s make her think that God is withholding good from her. Let’s create in her a desire for more.”

In my mind the first international women’s day happened in the garden. It was the day the woman decided she deserved more than she believed God had given her. Satan first went after the woman, and today he still goes after the woman.  Satan isn’t creative. He uses his same tricks. And we keep falling for them. What was in her heart she didn’t see? Discontentment, covetousness, greed, pride -a desire to be her own God?

One of satan’s oldest tricks is to get in our mind and begin his whispers. “Did God really say?” “God didn’t say that.” With a few crafty words, He takes what God says and twists it causing confusion in our mind, planting seeds of doubt, creating a sense of entitlement, sowing jealousy and envy, breeding anger and bitterness. Of course, we don’t see that. Until it’s too late usually. We’ve walked in his trap.

We don’t see the deception at the time. It’s in hindsight we see. After Eve fell for satan’s lie, God confronted Adam and Eve. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake. She said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)

He deceived her and she ate. Today, he deceives women and they eat.

International Women’s Day is a day crafted from the pit of hell, giving birth here, and now disguised as something good.

International Women’s Day website says this – “Women unite to transform the world. Join us to ignite a global sisterhood. International Peace · Global Coherence · Promoting World Peace”

International Women’s Day is a trap, a lie, and it’s meant to divide and destroy. Christian women, don’t fall for the lie satan is feeding to you.

There is only one way to peace. One way to global sisterhood. And God has already shown us the way. He rescued us, redeemed us, we are His. We don’t need to fight for what God has already said is ours!

During the election season, one of my boys asked me what rights women don’t have that men have. He asked with genuine concern in his voice.

“What do you mean?” I questioned back.

“I keep seeing all these commercials that say women need to fight for their rights. What rights don’t you have.”

Even kids see the messaging pumped into women of this age.

My husband and I flew to Omaha on a house-hunting trip. He sat in the seat next to me. Two women entered and had no seat to sit in. My husband stood and offered his seat. He insisted. He couldn’t sit while a woman stood. No other man budged to offer their seats.

The woman looked at me and whispered, “You have a good one. Men these days aren’t like they used to be.”

I smiled at her and responded, “It’s probably because women demand to be treated like a man and men are confused about how a woman wants to be treated.”

She agreed.

Culture has placed men and women in competition with each other. The Bible doesn’t. Biblically, men and women are created equal in God’s eyes, made in His image. Yet they are very different. They complement each other in beautiful, unique ways.

Our culture is interesting in how far we swing. How far to the opposite side we go to right was seems off balance. One extreme to the other.

I saw this on Facebook recently. A new boys’ t-shirt Target put out that says Strong Like Mom.

So what’s so wrong with being strong like mom? Well, nothing except that it fits in with the rest of the messaging against men. The messaging that tries to elevate women above men. To make our boys look to mom as a picture of strength rather than dad. The messaging which satan intends to use to divide, he disguises as a message of unification. He is pitting women against men.

It’s all an effort to tilt and twist what God created so we accept and esteem something out of order. It’s meant so that we believe that God is withholding something from us. It’s meant to create a sense of fight in us. Fight for our value. Fight for our rights. Fight to be heard. Fight to be equal.

Women. We are fighting the wrong battle. The battle isn’t against men. The battle is against the prince of this world, given a short time, to win as many to him as he can before he is thrown in the lake of fire for eternity. (Rev 20:10)

So what’s the right fight for christian women? What is the good fight? It begins with Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Women, we must renew our minds daily. Culture is not our guide. Culture is influenced by the devil. It is not truth. It may hold pieces of truth, enough to make us blind, but it isn’t truth.

Women, don’t conform. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world, the patterns that say we must fight for rights we already have, or fight to be heard because we’ve believed a lie that says no one sees us or hears us. Don’t conform to the patterns that tell us to make our boys in our images, strong like mom.

Instead, be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Women and men are strong from the strength of God. He is the giver of strength. I’m raising boys who I want to love and cherish women. I want them to not see a competition of who is stronger or better or smarter. I want them to see a man and a woman the way God sees them. All created in His image.

I want to raise glory-bearers. Boys that become men who will protect and shield their woman. Who will be tender and compassionate to her. To believe in her and encourage her to use her God-given gifts for the glory of the Father, whether in the workplace or in the home or both. I want my boys to be in partnership with their future wives, seeing her as the helpmate she was created to be.

While satan is using women in creating this movement, which is no new movement, he is influencing the minds of our youth.

Our roles as christian adults is to protect the minds of these kids to see the truth of God’s Word. The only way to know Truth is to know Him. And the only way to know the difference between a lie from satan and the truth from God’s Word is to read the Word for ourselves.

Christian women, here’s how we interact with International Women’s Day.

1- Pray. Pray for women everywhere who are believing the lies that they must fight the wrong fight. Pray for eyes to be opened to the truth. Pray against satan’s deception. Pray for our youth. Pray for our little girls and boys growing up in this culture bent to destroy them.

2- Read God’s Word – Know it. Let it transform you. Let it illuminate the darkness.

3- Don’t focus on the issues. Focus on Christ. When satan can’t get a christian to believe his lies, he will create in them an intense focus on the issues. He will get them to fight the wrong battle still. But when our eyes are on Christ, we are looking at the Victor, we are covered in peace, and we can love our brothers and sister well.

4- Love one another- Love others well. It’s not a feeling. It’s an action. Satan stirs up division and hate. God stirs up love. Fight the division and anger and hate with love. “A gentle answers turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Live and leave well

A friend once told me that when their family relocated they knew it was for a short 2 year assignment so they didn’t invest well in relationships. They thought it was pointless since they would leave so quickly. Her advice to me when we moved with our first relocation was to live like we would never leave. We took her advice.

I want to live with no regrets over how I spend my time.

Before we moved from Georgia to Virginia in 2008, I’d registered the boys for sports and we went to church the first week there. Each friendship we formed, we loved like we would have them forever. And some I know we will. Naturally, not all friendships last the distance, but many do.

We moved from Virginia to North Carolina after only 2 1/2 years. It felt longer. The friendships felt like we’d had them longer than a mere 2 years. To the point one of our dearest family friends has visited us every single summer since we left! Amazing.

I grieved after we moved to Charlotte in 2011. It took me weeks to get over having to start over again. But God. I have a lot of “but God” moments in my life.

God brought and multiplied friendships and relationships. He poured out blessings on them to the point of overflowing.

I have no regrets over how we spent our 6 years in North Carolina. Life has been full but not busy. The strange thing is that I feel different as we move into our 3rd relocation. I’m sad over what we are leaving behind, but I’m excited about what God will bring ahead. I know God better now than I did when we arrived. I trust Him more now than I did 6 years ago.

He desires that we abide in Him and live abundant life through Him. No matter where I am or who I’m with, I know my God is with me. I know He is faithful. I know He gives good gifts and delights for us to delight in Him. I know that when I pray for Him to surround us with godly friends, He will answer us in abundance.

When we found out we were moving to Omaha, I told Steve I wanted to leave well. I didn’t want to be so busy preparing to leave that we left no time for the people who made our lives here so full and rich. I’m normally one who will fill a calendar only so full being quite careful to leave plenty of margin. Busyness makes me crazy, and I’m not a good wife or mom when I run with little margin. As we make our exit, we are running with little margin in a good way. We are filling up the time with our people.

Each time we spend with friends in these final weeks, we can’t seem to let it be the last. So we end with a promise to try to squeeze in at least one more. With my girlfriends, we put on the calendar multiple dates. And in between those dates, we are squeezing in coffees, walks, lunches.

God is a relational God and has created us to be in relationship with Him and with others. Friends are a gift from God. Sometimes that gift must be left behind but parts of it will always stay with us. Friends grow and stretch us. They teach us and shape us. They comfort us and entertain us.

In our effort to make the most of the time we have left, we have decided to become hometown tourists while it’s still our home. Seeing the places we’ve not yet seen, visiting our favorites one last time. Soaking up all of it. Every last sip.

Our hearts are full of gratitude for the gifts of time and people. The best part is that the best of this world can’t even come close to comparing to what God has in store for His children in eternity. When I hug my dearest christian friends here in North Carolina, if I never see them again on this earth, I will see them again in eternity. And that is one reason it is worth it to live like you are staying forever. Because in a way, we are. Only better. In Heaven.

 

 

 

When God Leads You To A New Place

Someone asked me recently if I’d unfriended them because they haven’t received a post in their feed from me in so long. If you have wondered the same thing, let me assure you I haven’t removed you from my list. Our family has been in a bit of a whirlwind since the last post I wrote.

My husband’s job is taking us from North Carolina to Nebraska, and we are soon on the move again. This will be our third move since 2008. We are incredibly excited for this new adventure the Lord is taking us on.

Toward the end of January we knew we were moving. From the moment we received the green light, we’ve been in preparation and preparing mode. With supernatural speed, God has miraculously opened up doors only He could open in a span of time that has our heads spinning. We’ve known less than one month that we are leaving, and in that short span of time, we’ve prepared our house for the market, listed the house, sold the house, visited Omaha, placed a contract on a house, and here we are only weeks away from leaving.

In God’s kindness He prepared sweet gifts for me on the front and back end of this first phase whirlwind. A cruise before we came home to the storm of activity. And a retreat on the back end. One in which I spoke at and wondered initially what God was thinking having me speaking at a retreat in the process of preparing for a cross country move. Now I see His kindness in giving me time to rest in Him while experiencing the miracles He always performs at women’s retreats.

Weeks before we left on our cruise in January, I had a dream that we were on the cruise and found out Steve received a new job and we were moving. That was before I knew his new position was even open. As we approached vacation, and he began the process of interviewing for this new role, I knew he was getting the job because I knew God had shown me in my dream.

I believe God revealed that to me to give me the complete assurance and confidence that He was leading our family. When you know that God is opening doors, you can’t help but feel the excitement bubbling forth.

Within days of returning from our vacation, the flurry of activity began. Painting the house, purging, cleaning, rearranging, meeting with person after person. With each person along the process, God brought a gift of some sort. We began seeing God everywhere we turned.

In a span of two weeks, we had the house ready to list. The listing activated on a Friday. The same Friday Steve and I hopped on a plane to check out Omaha and search for our new home. Over the weekend, the house was shown 18 times. By the time I returned to North Carolina, we had multiple offers waiting. And we had found the house we wanted in Omaha. How like God.

On a Monday morning we signed contracts on the sell of our home and the purchase of another.

If I had planned for an entire year I couldn’t have put together the pieces the way God has. I couldn’t have worked out the timing with such perfection.

I’ve wondered if God has performed so many miracles to continue to give me peace in a transition of this magnitude. People have asked my husband how I feel about this move. His response is something along the lines, “Renee, would go to China if she knew God was leading us there.”

There is truth in that. When we see God’s faithfulness day in and day out, you begin to trust that no matter where He leads you, He won’t leave you. He is a good Father. He leads His people where He wants them and asks us to follow Him wherever that may be. No matter where I am, He is with me.

I pray constantly that God will lead my husband and trust that God leads me well through him. That He will give my husband wisdom and discernment. That He will use Him in mighty ways. And God is faithful. He does that. When God leads my husband, I desire to follow that leading.

Change can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Leaving the comfort and “safety” in what we know forces us to rely not on ourselves but on our Father. Our independence and self-sufficiency begin to decrease. Walking into unknown territory primes our hearts to hear from God in new ways. It sensitizes us to His voice if we allow our circumstances to soften us rather than harden us.

I will miss much about North Carolina. Our church, our friends, our ministries, the beach, the mountains. So much. But. I trust God. I trust in His goodness, His faithfulness, His kindness. He is doing a new thing in our family. It’s time to grow in new ways in Him. It’s time for new borders and territories. And I can’t wait to see what God will do.

One thing I’m most excited about is having more time to write when we move. I won’t have a social life or a women’s ministry to lead, so I’m guessing you will hear from me quite a bit more.

I would love your prayers for our family during this time. Our move is mid-March!

When God’s Blessing Looks Like Vomit

“I don’t feel like eating dinner.”

“You don’t have to eat, but you need to at least sit with us,” I responded to Andrew who all day had little to no appetite and seemed not quite himself. We were on Day 3 of a 7 day cruise where food surrounds you 24 hours a day.

Stepping one foot into Johnny Rocket’s, Andrew moaned, “Oh no, I can’t smell this food.”

“You are fine. Just sit with us.” We continued ignoring his moans believing he simply didn’t want to be there. Minutes after ordering dinner, Andrew continued complaining that he felt like he was going to be sick.

Steve ushered him out of the restaurant to sit outside with him in the fresh air, away from the smells of french fry grease and apple pie.

The rest of of our family, including Steve’s parents, waited on our order to arrive. While waiting, I decided to check on Andrew and Steve. I exited the restaurant and scanned the Boardwalk. Glancing to my left, my body froze. Andrew hunched over vomiting all over boardwalk. It was no dainty affair.

I bolted inside to tell the rest of the family the nightmare happening outside then rushed back to assist Steve in the embarrassing task of moving our vomiting child through a mass of people attempting to enjoy their own dinner.

It’s one of those moments where you feel time stops and everyone around you is frozen. I dared to dart my eyes to the tables near us and saw the shocked and horrified expressions on the couple who couldn’t take their eyes off of us. I can’t blame them. After the vomiting ended I tried to take a cup of water to wash the vomit off Andrew’s feet only to have Steve and I arguing about what is more acceptable – to walk through a cruise ship trailing vomit on your feet or to wash it right there at the scene of the crime which happens to be where people are eating.

As Andrew and I walked back to the room, he said, “Mom, God answered my prayer. I asked Him to please let me throw up and get this feeling out of me. I know He did that, and I know I won’t throw up again because there is no after burn and now I feel fine.”

Andrew was right in that he never threw up again on the trip. He wasn’t himself either, having little appetite for the majority of the trip.

The following morning we had booked an excursion in Jamaica that would require being away from the ship for 7 hours. We were hesitant to take Andrew when he was well simply because he is fearful of many things, but particularly heights or any risk-taking activity. This particular excursion was jumping from cliffs and waterfalls into natural pools. However, the minimum age was 6, and he said he wanted to do it. Having been sick, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to take him.

The excursion began with about an hour and 45 minute drive, which the description failed to include. Immediately we were grateful we didn’t have Andrew. But when we arrived at Blue Hole, I literally began thanking God for Andrew’s vomit episode. Andrew would have absolutely hated the excursion and quite possibly would have ruined it for everyone.

Fear tends to bring out the worst in him. And if I’m honest, it brings out the worst in me as well.

Our tendency can often pivot to looking at our situations and circumstances in a negative light. We tend to ask why something bad is happening to us. We often feel our particular situation is unfair. But when we know who God is, His unchanging character and always faithful love, we begin to view every situation in a different light.

Yes it is true that not everything we experience comes from God. We have a very real enemy prowling, lurking, attacking, and accusing without ceasing. However, God’s Word also tells us that He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

That means that even the vomiting episodes in front of a cruise ship audience, God can and will use for our good.

I wonder how many blessings from God I’ve failed to recognize simply because I saw only the vomit.

Dear Lord, thank you that You are for us and not against us. Thank you that you promise never to leave us. Thank you that you tell us that when we are afraid, we can trust in You. Thank you for blessings of many kinds. Give us eyes to see you in all of our life. The moments that smell like roses and the moments that don’t. Because you never leave us, we know that you are with us in all things.  Amen

 

Do You Want God’s Best This Year?

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I love a fresh slate. God’s Word tells us He is always creating something new in us. Therefore, we don’t really need a new year to know that each day is an opportunity to start afresh. But there is something about turning the calendar over to a brand new start that inspires us.

Many of us start a new year wanting to rid our lives of some choice, habit, pattern, or lifestyle that we know is for our harm not our good. The problem is that ridding our lives of bad habits isn’t easy. Sometimes we want a bad habit or pattern gone so we try hard initially. The results don’t come immediately so we become discouraged. We don’t recognize the results we hoped for, and we doubt it’s worth the fight and effort. Eventually, we quit trying. It’s easier to stay in patterns that are familiar. Even the ones we know deep down are not for our good.

To desire to stay in a habit or pattern that is comfortable is to allow fear to grow bolder. Fear wears many masks. One such mask is the mask of comfortable. Fear of change, the fear of leaving the known which has become so familiar for the unknown. Often we fail at changing a bad habit, lifestyle choice, or pattern because we fear the uncomfortable process that change will usher in. We fear the pain that is inevitable with the gain. We fear the unknown of the process as that pattern or choice is purged or refined out of us. We choose to stay in the known, the comfortable, because fear has convinced us it is the safer place.

Fear is from satan, never from God. When fear speaks, it is never God.

About 11 years ago, I was addicted to Coke. It is all I drank. Never more than mere sips of water through the day. My body ran on less than its best, but I knew no different. Eventually I reached the point of realizing a change must happen.

I reached for a friend because I knew with a habit like this, I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a cheerleader, a coach, an encourager, and mostly….someone to hold me accountable to do the hard work. My friend gave me a workable plan when I expressed how impossible this task seemed for me.

“When you wake up in the morning, chug 8 ounces of water. Don’t think about it, don’t sip on it. Just do it, and do it fast. Then at 10:00 am, chug another 8 oz glass of water. At noon, chug another 8 oz. You are not allowed to have a Coke until you have chugged a minimum of three 8 oz glasses of water, and you can’t have a coke before noon.”

It was a plan laid out for me. One that broke down an enormous lifestyle change into sip sizes. It took the impossible and sectioned out the small steps I would take. Little by little. Taking only one day at a time. I was not to look past the day I was in. Each day was a fresh start. Each day held victory if I did the hard work of taking the steps necessary for that day only.

Over the next 2 weeks, my cravings for Coke drastically decreased. In fact, I found that when lunch arrived, I felt so good from my water intake that I didn’t desire Coke. I knew that Coke would spike my blood sugar. I knew that I would spend the afternoon craving more sugar. I felt great in the morning, but when I turned to Coke, I began to feel bad again. However, I had become so accustomed to living on less than best that I had no idea how bad I actually felt. In fact, my “bad” actually felt normal. Until my body was cleansed, I didn’t know how incredible I could actually feel. How energized and alive.

Over the next several months, which turned into years, my Coke habit changed from 3-4 Cokes a day, to one a day, to one a week, to one a month. Until 2 years ago something happened I never would have believed.

Two years ago, I began a 40 day journey on The Daniel Plan. Fast forward 6 months, and one day it hit me, I hadn’t even tasted a sip of soda in 6 months. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t intentionally trying to never have a soda again, but I felt so great that I simply stopped desiring it and began actually craving food and drinks that my body was designed to live on. Once I realized how long I’d gone, I realized I never wanted to go back to sodas. It’s now been over two years since I’ve had a soda. I’ve tried to take a sip and gagged. It tastes like syrup through a straw to me now.

My kids can’t believe it because they saw how much I loved my Coke.

I’ve learned that I will crave what I feed myself. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. If I feed my body sugar, I crave more sugar. When my body was rid of sugar and taking in pure water, it craved pure water. In greater quantities. When I feed myself escapes through social media, this is what I crave. When I rid myself of my electronic addiction, and spend more time with God or family, this is what I begin to crave. If I feed myself pleasures, I crave greater pleasures. If I feed myself shopping excursions, I crave more new things. Our cravings grow from the appetites we feed.

Sometimes we listen to our cravings. We lean on these and believe the lie that we can’t live without them. Only when we purge ourselves of the things that are not for our good, will we begin to crave those things that bring us life.

I share this with you to encourage you in whatever that “thing” is in your life that you feel is impossible to change or get rid of. Whatever that “thing” is, God desires His best for you. Any change for good desires will be hard because you have an enemy that desires the worst for you.

This enemy will deceive you. He will tell you lies like you will never rid yourself of this habit. He will tell you change like this is for other people but not for you. He will feed you lies so you can justify your bad habits. He will actually tell you it’s not that bad. He will bring other people to mind so you can compare yourself to them and feel better about your choice.

There is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. It is the one thing that will make your impossible possible. Prayer. Prayer is the power to change. Prayer is the means by which we can come to God and humble ourselves, submit to His plan and His way. To confess and repent of our idolatry or addiction, which we have nicely called a habit. Prayer is where we come to Him and ask Him to give us the strength and the power to take the hard steps.

In our culture we are prone to leaning into the easy. Today, let’s lean into the hard. Lean into knocking down strongholds. Let’s tear down lies and fear and boldly seek God’s best for our life.

I don’t know what your “thing” is. Quite honestly, we all likely have many “things”. Rather than focus on changing everything at once, pick one thing. Celebrate small steps of victory. Watch God do a mighty work through your faithfulness to follow one small step at a time.

6 Practical Steps To Replacing Bad Habits:

1- Prayer

2-Reach for an accountability partner. Tell people what you are doing. Let them cheer you on.

3-Make a daily plan. Action steps you will follow.

4-Know the big picture, but focus on the steps you will take each day. Look only at the day you are on. Don’t look down the road.

5-Celebrate the small. Celebrate the first victory and let that embolden you.

6- Speak truth. It’s the only way to silence the fears and lies of the enemy. Write Bible verses on notecards and recite through the day.

 

 

How To Be Happy in 2017 – One Word

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I’m typically too wordy to select one word for the new year. I have a list of words, words that form phrases, phrases that transform into sentences. I think of one word and immediately 4 more pop in my head. Even in explaining my crazy brain to you right now, I’m using an abundance of words.

But this year I have my one word. It’s simple. It’s clear. My one word for 2017 is Praise.

Over my social media break, I’ve had more time to think and reflect. My quiet times have come alive again. God has drawn me back to the Psalms, and all I hear is this word. Praise.

I often say to my boys, “Praise God not only for what He does but for Who He is.” It’s not about getting God to do our will. It is that we get to know who He is. I fear we don’t know Him very well.

I periodically look back in my old prayer journals. This week I read through my 2015 journal and discovered the reason why a year and a half later Praise is my word. Simply because God answered my prayers.

2015 prayer journal-

June – “The key to hope is constant praise. The key to pulling out of the pit is to remember Him. When we struggle and don’t know why we struggle, we park our mind on Him. To encourage our faith, we remind ourselves of God’s work, we praise Him, we remember Him. We share with our kids and pass our faith onto them.”

Psalm 71:14-15 But I will hope continually and will praise You more and more. My mouth will tell about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up.

May 27, 2015 “……Lord, I want to pray more and praise more. Grow my faith. I love You. You are faithful and loving, true and just, compassionate and gracious. Grow my walk with You.”

June 9, 2015 “….Lord, you are worthy of all my praise. All day long make me a praising person. Give me eyes to see you in marvelous ways…..”

July 15, 2015 “….Lord, I want to live a life of constant praise. Today, give me fresh eyes to see you and all your glory and power. Let me be overwhelmed by who you are and fall more and more in love with you.”

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

August 2, 2015 “...Lord, God, You are worthy of never-ending praise. You, who are perfect, holy, just, kind, compassionate, gracious, and overflowing with goodness and love, deserve our wholehearted affection. Forgive me for failing to praise you. Today, place praise in my heart and let it overflow. I want to live overwhelmed by you…..”

Through my 2016 journal, a heart of praise continued to be a prayer request. So you see, that is why I have one word for 2017 when I normally have 20 words.

Turns out the secret to a truly happy life, not only a happy new year, is praise.

Psalm 84:4 How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually.

When my eyes are on the Lord, they are off of me. When my eyes are on the Lord, how can I not be happy?

Psalm 63:4 So I will praise you as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 63:7-8 because you are my helper; I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings. I will follow close to you; Your right hand holds on to me.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!