Freedom To Be Bold

freedom to be bold

Acts 28:30-31 — “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

I use to struggle with being bold. I was always so worried about what people thought of me and I hated standing out in a crowd. But, as I have grown and matured in my relationship with Jesus, I have become much more comfortable in my own skin, and also much more emboldened to share what God has done in my life.

There is something about being thankful, that overwhelms my heart and I can’t keep it in. When I see God show up, I want to shout it from the roof tops! I want people to experience this relationship that I have with God for themselves! It has given me stability, grounding, purpose and peace. It has transformed a broken life into something so meaningful and beautiful. I do not deserve this life I’ve been given and therefore I refuse to waste it.

God did not die on that cross for me so that I could live the American dream and be “happy”.  You see the world’s standard for happiness is death wrapped up in a pretty bow. It’s shallow and temporary. Having that dream house won’t make you truly happy. Having that one job or the “perfect family” won’t bring true happiness either. On the contrary, God’s standards for happiness are wrapped up in His son Jesus Christ. I am no longer defined by achievements, appearances or if people like me. I am free!

StockSnap_B92BL5SZKWThe freedom I have in Christ emboldens me to want to love like Christ loves me. His perfect love drives out fear and lights a fire inside that consumes and refines. I want people to see Jesus through this broken vessel. I want to be used by Him. I want to make a difference. Sometimes, the smallest acts of obedience can be used by God to move mountains! I never saw myself as the kind of gal who was brave enough to walk into a room of strangers and actually make friends. I never saw myself becoming a foster parent, home school mom or a Sunday school teacher.  I never saw myself having this life at all, until I met Jesus and I have never been as busy or as happy as I am today!

 

 

 

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Reflections Before Fostering

Fostering

In less than a week my family and I will be a licensed foster care home. It feels as if my heart has been on an emotional roller coaster. There are all sorts of feelings. There are feelings of excitement, feelings of dread, feelings of peace, feelings of fear, feelings of purpose and feelings of uncertainty. To be honest, this is one of the most scariest places I have ever been. I keep wondering about what little face will break my heart in two. I keep doubting if I am capable of doing this and yet I am so thankful to be here.

There is something about knowing your smack dab in the middle of God’s heart that makes jumping blind folded off a cliff of uncertainty a good idea. It’s gospel living. It’s loving when love hurts and costs too much. It’s being willing to go to the end of yourself and then allow God to take you a bit further. It’s absolutely trusting, that He will come through because He says so. It feels crazy and yet it is not. It won’t be easy but real love rarely is. When I think about what Christ did for me, it’s hard not to be moved and want to share that. I am so thankful He has given me this opportunity to share His love in such a real way.

StockSnap_HZW0GXOTWWSo as we start this beautiful, broken journey I will cling to the promises that fill God’s Word. Promises like: “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37), “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20), and “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9).

I want to be just like David, staring into the face of my “Goliath” with confidence knowing my God will deliver!

Not Accidental

 

Notvitamin seaHave you ever looked around you and thought it was some divine accident that you are where you are? Life is some game of chance and like a roll of dice we get what we get. Our workplaces, neighborhoods, birthdays, and zip codes all as random and inconsequential as what pair of socks we are wearing today. Many people think this way but scripture says the opposite! _From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places they should live. God did this so that

The Bible says that God himself determined when you would be born and where you would live!  And where you live determines where you work and who you know.  All of this was planned by a loving God for the sole purpose that you and I would look for Him, reach out for Him, and find Him! What a humbling thought to realize that God himself put me in my exact town and in my exact circumstances to reveal Himself to me!

If at the moment your struggling with the circumstances of your life, whether it be a difficult work place, a challenging relationship, or an uncertain future- seek God.  He is not far from you. If at the moment your life is going alright- seek God.   He loves you intimately and wants you near.  There is no such thing as divine accidents.  Our all-knowing and sovereign God, is very much involved in every aspect of those whom He loves!

Soggy Dumpling Blessing

Soggy Dumpling

It is truly a blessing to open up one’s home to others. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have just praised God for the opportunities we’ve been given to have intimate fellowship with friends and feed them around my kitchen table! It is an act of service I wish I would have stumbled upon years ago! It makes all the difference when it comes to turning acquaintances into family!

Last week however, we had the opportunity for “table fellowship” a little bit last minute. I looked around at my not so clean house and my big crock pot full of an “experimental” recipe and my mind went into manic over drive! I even remember stopping and asking God to calm me down. “God I know you don’t care about the dog hair, the mediocre chicken dumplings, or the sofa full of laundry that seems like such a big deal to me right now. Help me to relax and see this moment as a blessing!” And then the thought occurred to me, my name is Mary but I act much more like a Martha!

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!

“Martha, Martha.” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

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It was in that moment that I realized how ridiculous my panic was. I was being given an opportunity to love on people and bless them. I was being given an opportunity to shine for Christ! It did not matter if the salad had croutons or not. It did not matter if there were dog hair bunnies under the furniture. I was letting things distract me from what really mattered. And ironically our evening spent over soggy dumplings was one of the most enjoyable evenings of the entire week! We talked about our lives and all the Lord had done. We shared our struggles and we laughed! When they left, I just couldn’t help but smile. God had whispered to my Martha like heart and said, “Mary, Mary sit at my feet. Remember what is important.” Oh how thankful I am for that reminder!

Apple Juice Miracles

From the time that I was four-years-old, God was very real to me. My Mom likes to tell a story of me around that age. I had left a cup of apple juice in my playhouse. A few days went by before I discovered my juice again. I was thirsty, so like any reasonable preschooler, I took a drink. My Mom was inside the house when all of a sudden, I ran up to her with eyes wide and full of excitement and exclaimed, “Mommy, Jesus has been in my playhouse! He turned my apple juice into wine!”

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It is a cute story, and it makes me smile but in my little heart, I truly did believe that Jesus had sat at my plastic Fisher Price table and performed a miracle! It was that childlike faith that was foundational in my life. God opened my little heart to His whispers and I learned as I grew, that He was trustworthy and faithful. Even when my small world around me shattered, I always knew I was not navigating it alone. He was there and would fix what was broken in His time and in His ways. I was told that He was a God who could move mountains, raise the dead and multiply fishes. When my playhouse miracle happened, my young mind was convinced that God knew me. After all, He had taken the time to visit! And His visit changed my life.

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Twenty-eight years later, the miracles in my life have grown form “apple juice wine”. The enthusiasm I shared knowing Jesus had walked into my pink and white playhouse was just a taste of the awe I feel now as I look at the fingerprints of God on my broken and yet healed life. Maybe Jesus Christ didn’t literally walk into my playhouse that spring morning, but He did do a miraculous work in my heart. Through the faithful teaching of godly people and a softened little heart, God set the stage for a radically transformed life.

As I stood in church last Sunday morning, singing and worshiping God, I couldn’t help but ponder how God has truly poured out his loving-kindness and grace upon me. I marveled that I had the privilege to be there and to be a part of God’s story in the lives of others. As I shared the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man with the Sunday school class, inside my heart I prayed that these little one’s hearts would be softened like mine was so many years ago, and that they too would have apple juice miracles!

 

Self Defeat, Christ Renews!

Self Defeat,Spiritually, as of late, I have felt very defeated. I have felt discouraged, frustrated, and undeserving. I am so human y’all! I am weak and constantly being reminded how much I need God’s grace! It is hard seeing yourself as a mess in the mirror against the holiness of God. We are told to live holy and blameless lives, and yet this calling is something that brings me to my knees over and over again. It feels difficult some days and down right impossible on others. But where I fail, grace covers me.

I have been a christian for a long time, but I am still working on the mature part. I was just telling a friend today, how frustrated I get that I am 32 and I still feel like I do not have it figured out. But deep down I know that God is sanctifying me through and through. There is fruit that is growing. It’s just in God’s timing and not mine. I must trust Him and what He has done for me! I must trust that He sees me in light of eternity and not just my todays.cactus-2721269_1920

We should not give our lives to Jesus and then expect everything to be easy. It’s now on the opposite side of that decision that all the work and sanctification begins. When Jesus renamed Simon to Peter, He looked into his eyes and saw not the many sins of his lifetime, but saw the finished work of Peter. He saw Peter’s rock hard faith that God would use to grow His church. He already knew Peter would mess up from time to time. But our mess ups aren’t surprises to a God who knows all of eternity. They are not deal breakers, but rather opportunities for us to experience God’s grace and strength in our moments of weakness. They are opportunities for us to humble ourselves and praise our God for His unfailing love!

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16

I am so thankful for His unlimited patience! God has done much in my heart and mind ever since I recommitted my life to him as a new mother so many years ago. And I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).StockSnap_WTUQONBPFT

When God feels like a bad friend

A photo exhibit byAria Owens

Sometimes God feels a million miles away. More often than not it’s myself that has created the distance. I am over scheduled and over tired. I do not take the time I should to be in His presence. I forget to pray or spend time in His Word like I should.

Other times, I can be doing all of the “right” things and I can still feel like my prayers bounce off the ceiling, and feel like He is hiding His face. In these moments, I cannot fathom what God is doing or if He even really cares.

Jesus tells a parable about a man who seemed like a very unkind friend. He was a friend who could not be bothered with his friend’s needs.

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend and he goes to him at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.”

Then the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything. ” Luke 11:5-7

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Yet as you continue to read Jesus says: because of the friend’s boldness, he will get as much as is needed!

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. Luke 11:8

If you read a bit further to Luke 18:1, Jesus explains why He was sharing these parables with His disciples. He was teaching them that they should always pray and never give up!

It seems that there is a lesson in the times when God seems indifferent or just quiet. Sometimes, God can feel like this unkind friend. But we must remember in confidence who He is and what He has done. We must remember His character, His love, and His sacrifices made for us to be able to approach Him as Abba Father. He says to ask, to seek and to knock and we will receive and find. He says to persist! Do not give up! Be like the widow in Luke 18. God wants us to approach His throne with boldness over and over again.

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While we cry out to our Father, it is also helpful to remember that we can only see such a small part of what God is doing. If He is silent we can still trust that our sovereign God is very much here and using it all, even the silence, for His glory and our good. So keep bouncing those prayers sisters! God sees you and hears those prayers! And He will answer them in His perfect time!