The 700 Club

Several months ago Jeremy and I were asked to share our story in a very public way on a show called “The 700 Club.” Through much prayer and discussion we decided to do it. I wanted to be fully confident that Jeremy felt called to do this as well as myself. It was a scary thing to say ‘yes’ to however once again-we are choosing to follow the Lords leading to use our story to encourage others, to comfort others and to reveal the overflowing love and grace from our incredible God.
Please know our one and only desire in this was to point solely to the Lord and bring glory to Him.
We will never cease in sharing the hope of Jesus Christ through our story because HIS story never gets old.

 

 

http://cbn.com/tv/embedplayer.aspx?bcid=5729210927001” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Video Link

Yes Lord, I Trust You

img_6649-1Last month our boys went to youth camp for the first time.  This is the first time they have gone somewhere States away, without us, for a long period of time.  I about died.  It was pitiful.  As the van drove away, I almost lost it right there in the parking lot.  I held it together…….until I got home. I then cried all day, worried sick, wondering if they were ok and so on.  It was so silly of me.   Jeremy pretty much said, “Dawn, you need to get it together” and I definitely needed to.

So, I began to pray and talk to the Lord asking Him to give me peace in my heart and take away my worry.  Then it hit me – Do I trust Him?  Do I trust the Lord with my children?  Because right then, my actions were not reflecting that.  In that moment, I asked the Lord for forgiveness for my ridiculousness and lack of trust and I began to truly dwell on trusting in Him. One of the very first verses I ever memorized was Proverbs 3:5:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding
.”

Do we trust Him with all of our heart? Do we look past our own understanding and rely on His?  What this scripture is saying is we must have “absolute obedience and surrender in every realm of life” (Fritsch, IBC, 4:799).  Oh how difficult that is when things aren’t quite in our control.  I know my example of worrying as my children went off to camp is such a silly example but it spurred an even greater thought process and challenge in my own heart.  Can I rest and rely on Him with absolute obedience and surrender?  It should be an immediate resounding “YES” as I am commanded to do so and I have seen His faithfulness over and over.  But, do my actions support that answer?

As I sit here at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning having been up for hours already once again wrestling with this question, I come to these conclusions:  I must trust Him.  I have to trust Him.  When things seem awry in my own heart at this moment, when I see the devastation so many are dealing with in Texas, when I see the unsettledness of our country and world, I must trust Him. Today I say Yes Lord, I believe you.  Yes Lord, You are in control.  Yes Lord, You are faithful.  Yes Lord, You love us with a “love that surpasses knowledge”(Ephesians 3:18) and therefore, I trust You.

Friend, I don’t know where you are today, what you wrestle or struggle with; maybe it is sickness, maybe it is marriage struggles, financial struggles, job struggles – whatever it is choose today to trust Him with absolute obedience and surrender over your entire life.  The peace that meets total surrender and complete trust in Him is astounding. 

~Father help me today to trust You completely, even though I am so unsure, You are not.  You are so faithful and Your ways are perfect.   What I see in front of me pales in comparison to what You have ahead of me.~

 

Walking through Restoration

View More: http://sarahvanderfordphotography.pass.us/ds

Sarah Vanderford Photography

This is for the ones who are in the pit and aren’t quite sure they’ll make it out.  Maybe you had an affair, maybe you had an abortion, whatever bad choice it is….just know, hope is not lost.   Rest assured that this sin you have struggled with, its already been overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ.  There is forgiveness and freedom offered through His redeeming love.

Last Wednesday, for the first time in over two years, I began teaching a bible study again.  It was a brand new feeling for me and a joyous one at that.  Friends, this is part of my story of restoration lived out.  This is part of the story that I share to give hope to those feeling defeated or completely broken right now.  You may be in the darkest moments, questioning if the Lord will ever use you again.  He can and He will.  However, this requires hard work and obedience from you.  This is no easy process but one filled with victory when you pursue it.  This is a process that requires true repentance, surrender, hard work and obedience.

Repentance – This is not only confessing sin with your mouth but also with your heart.  We can all say “God forgive me for what I’ve done,” but until you have confessed it in your heart and become completely broken over the depravity and awfulness of your sin, you cannot move forward.  I had to come to a point where I saw Jesus hanging on the cross for my sin and it finally wrecked me.  I wanted nothing of it and fell to my knees.

Surrender – I surrendered every single piece of me to the Lord.  I gave Him the ability to do whatever He needed to do with me to heal me.  He removed me from everything I was involved in.  I knew that in order for healing to take place in every aspect of my life, it was imperative to retreat and focus solely on restoration.

Hard Work and Obedience – Heed wise counsel.  The Lord blessed me with an incredible Christian counselor whom I saw weekly (sometimes more!) for over a year.  {Just a little “soapbox” moment here:  when you are seeing a counselor – get your money’s worth.  What I mean is:  if you are going to spend the money and time to get counseling – actually go in there and be honest with them and yourself.  Otherwise, it’s a waste of your time and your money!}   In seeing her, she spoke Truth to me, redirected my thinking when that was appropriate and gave me biblically based tools to equip me.  In addition to seeing a ‘professional’ counselor, I surrounded myself with wise counsel through friendships.  I kept a small circle of woman close that not only encouraged me but they too would speak Truth to me and corrected me when necessary.  This is all under “hard work and obedience” because when you are given wise counsel, sometimes the pill is hard to swallow in what you are instructed to do.  But, you have to be obedient and do it.  These people are who the Lord has given you to walk this part of your journey out.  Listen and Do.  It is hard.  Some of is it really hard.   It’s got to be because at least for me, I was coming out  something awful.  Really really awful. So, I needed the hard, the really really hard.

Through this entire process, the key is staying in God’s Word, filling your heart and mind with God’s Word and living out God’s Word.  Truth – always Truth.  Through this process, my heart was gutted.  I know, that sounds so terrible but it’s the only way to describe it.  There was so much yuck and filth in there, it needed to be gutted.  The Word of God has been the foundation in which my heart was restored.  It is now filled full of His Promises and His Truth.  Psalm 51 was one I read many many days.  It has beautiful truths and promises throughout.  I want to share a few verses from it:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. Psalm 51:12-15

  1. I prayed daily for the Lord to give me a pure heart.(v12)  He did.
  2. I asked Him to restore me.(v12) He has and now I am excited to “teach His ways!”(v13)
  3. I asked Him to forgive me.(v14) He has and now I joyfully sing of His righteousness!(v14)

My lips are open now and declaring His love and faithfulness!  He graciously accepts us and forgives us when we come to Him humble, honest and willing.  He loves you friend and He will use you.

I wanted to share the hard part of this because I never want to fill this blog with ‘fluff.’  I don’t ever want to mislead anyone into thinking this journey is easy.  It’s hard work but so very worth it.  And don’t think for a second that the enemy will take a break on you.  He is waiting for you to give up.  He is waiting for you to become defeated.  Don’t sweet friend.  Our Lord has so much more for you.  And just like me, as He renews and restores you, He will give you opportunities to use the gifts He created you with.

As I stood in the classroom last week before the study began, the enemy was steadily trying to get in my head and my heart as he had many times over the last several weeks.  “No one is coming Dawn.”  “They know you are teaching and people don’t want to hear from you Dawn.”  “People think you’re a liar Dawn.”  “You are a scam Dawn.”  And in that moment I said, “you are a liar Satan” and I once again prayed for the Lord to calm my heart and use me for His glory.  He did.  Woman after woman came in that classroom until we couldn’t put anyone else in there.  And in that moment, the Lord spoke to me and said, “here it is Dawn, now let me use you.”

I now have the privilege of teaching His Word again to several beautiful women.  And I now understand what a privilege it is to be part of ministry.  One that I will never again take for granted.  (Yes, I said never!)  I understand that it is not me that’s great, it is Him that works in and through me that is.  Pride has no part in the Lord’s work.  Humility does.

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

I don’t know how He will use you and your story sweet friend but He will.   Stay with it, even in the tough stuff because victory is on the other side.

Freedom in Forgiveness

This is something I have been praying for, for a long time.  I asked Jeremy to consider writing a blog because I thought people could be encouraged hearing from him.  His first response was, “I can’t write.  I’m not good at that stuff.”  I told him that I just wanted him to share his part of the story and to please pray over it.  I left it at that.  Well, today I opened my email and here it was asking for help with wording and grammar.  He decided to share his heart with you.  While this was tough for me to read, I know it came straight from his heart and it is my honor to share it with you.  And so here it is, Jeremy’s first blog post:

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Forgiveness is something I have always felt I’ve been able to do pretty easy. It was the way I was raised and then coming to know the Lord I knew that I needed to forgive people because I was forgiven through Jesus Christ. Over these past 2 years it’s something that I truly had to rely on to make it through the day sometimes.  The pain and hurt that I went through is something I don’t wish on my worst enemy. I remember the day my world came crashing down in front of me. I came home thinking everything was fine.  Then, I remember my mother-in-law coming over and Dawn talking with her in the kitchen.  She then said to the boys “lets go for a ride and go see what Grandad is doing at the house” and they quickly left.  I didn’t know she was coming over, it caught me by surprise and when I looked at Dawns face I could tell something was wrong. She asked me to come into the living room and sit down because she had to talk with me about something. I could feel my stomach start to drop and cramp up. I was probably the most scared in that moment that I have ever been. I knew something wasn’t right but couldn’t fathom what it was.  In my mind, I was trying to think back on that day and even a couple of days back trying to figure out what I could have done to make her so upset that the boys needed to go away for us to talk. I remember the expression on her face when she said those words, “I had an affair.” I couldn’t believe it because I didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I am a very loyal person and probably to a fault so it was hard to believe that someone I loved and would die for could betray me in such a way and with a friend of mine at that. I just remember over the next couple of days just lying on the floor crying uncontrollably and the pain that was going through my body I can’t even explain what that was like.  The emotions I went through is something I will never forget.  But, the freedom and blessing I have received by God for forgiving both her and the other person is more powerful than words can express. Even more, the freedom in forgiving someone, even though an apology was never given, I can’t even explain.  Unfortunately, I have never received an apology from the man.  I point that out because you need to understand that even when you don’t get what you ‘think’ you need or deserve, you still have to be obedient and do what Scripture calls us to do.  That is to forgive. Christ didn’t deserve to die, nor did we deserve His forgiveness.  But He still did and we still got it.  It’s only through Jesus Christ I am able to do it. Being able to forgive a person and or persons that betrayed my trust and love for them was something that took me awhile to truly and wholly do even for me. For something that normally comes easy for me, it didn’t this time.  Yet, I did it through the strength of my God because it is what I am commanded to do in Scripture.

It is very important to forgive so you can move forward with your life and not let anger and sadness and bitterness take control.  It would be very easy to give in to those feelings of hurt and anger, use them as an excuse or as leverage but that would mean keeping myself in chains and not living in the freedom of the Cross.  I choose not to live like that.  I know forgiveness doesn’t come easy for many, so I pray that if it’s not easy for you to forgive, that God would give you a peace about it and the power to do it.  Know that Jesus died on the cross for you and forgave your sins so in return we have to forgive others no matter what the situation.  My situation was just about as bad as it could get.  Yet, I chose forgiveness.   And because I chose that, Dawn and I are mended.  I love her with my whole heart.  I trust her completely.  I know that the Lord is using us for Him.  This is a result of obedience and living out the Gospel.

“This, then, is how you should pray:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”   Matthew 6:9-15

Tender Hearts

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I am not a morning person at all…..and so when my eyes pop open at 5:45 a.m. and I am wide awake, I choose to believe it’s the Lord.  So, as I laid there this morning, I began to just pray.   As I prayed, my heart began to stir.  When Jeremy got up he said, “what are you doing up so early?”  I said, “I’ve got to write a blog!”  And here I am, in my favorite spot on our back porch sharing with you.  I am going to step into a little bit of very personal things to Jeremy and I’s heart.  I believe that is what the Lord has asked me to do today and so because of that, I believe someone out here needed to hear this.  So, walk with me into a glimpse of our hearts…..

Occasionally Jeremy and I find ourselves in a conversation about our stuff. {Stuff meaning the part of our journey we’ve been on these last two years} Yesterday was one of those days.  These conversations have evolved over time where at first they were filled with overwhelming heartbreak, sometimes anger, and a lot of hurt to tenderness, joy and much much hope.  We were sitting at lunch and I was sharing with Jeremy a conversation I had at church yesterday morning.  Someone had come up and asked me a question pertaining to our stuff.  So, as I was sharing this with Jeremy it spurred us into an even deeper conversation on the topic.  {This is where I am going to share with you something that we don’t share very often.}  Part of going through something so devastating is the ripple effects.  Ripple effects are almost like the aftershock so to speak.  One of those ripple effects is changes in relationships, specifically friendships.  I have shared before that we lost friendships through this.  Several in fact.  But, let me be very transparent here and tell you that Jeremy and I both still struggle here. I have one friend in particular that I lost that still leaves me brokenhearted at times.  Jeremy has one friend in particular that he lost that still leaves him brokenhearted at times.  Why do I tell you this?  For a few reasons, but most important to let you know how important it is to remain tenderhearted when it’s easy to allow your heart to harden.  Remember me sharing that ‘hope’ thing with you?  This is one of those things we still hope for after two years.  We don’t share this often because most times people say, “give up.”  OR “They weren’t your real friend anyway” OR  “Just move on” and so on.  And I get it.  Yet, deep in our hearts we can’t do that.  We love these people, we pray for these people and we hope for these people.  Maybe we are crazy, I don’t know?  But, what I do know is that what I have seen resolved, redeemed and restored in the last two years is nothing short of an incredible God’s work and so I will not give up hope on things still broken.  I believe in what Psalm 27:13-14 says that “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  I will continue to “wait for the Lord, being strong and taking heart.  Waiting for the Lord.”

So, I share with you this short story today to tell you that this little tender heart secret Jeremy and I keep tucked away with hope remaining is because of the confidence we have in a big God and not in ourselves.  Friend, the Lord restored Jeremy and I to a place in our lives I couldn’t have dreamed of being.  Because of that, we believe fully that our Lord knows no bounds and can redeem and resolve anything.  So, sweet friend hold onto hope and keep your heart clear of hardness.  It is so important for our hearts to remain tender to the Lord as He works in His perfect timing, not our desired timing.

More than anyone in the situation we were in, Jeremy could have hardened his heart immediately.  Yet, from day one, even through heart shattering hurt, his heart remained tender to what the Lord was going to do.  As we sat yesterday ending our conversation, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “more than anything that breaks our hearts Dawn,  while I  wouldn’t wish the hurt I felt at the beginning of all this on my worst enemy, I wouldn’t take it back because of where we are today.

Oh, I love this man and his tender heart.  Remain tender and don’t give up hope today friend.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27: 13-14

Dealing with Disappointment…While Keeping Perspective.

Sea WorldThis picture was taken last week at Sea World while we were on vacation in Florida. This picture is full of smiles and fun because this in fact was one of the coolest experiences we have ever done.  In the words of my son Kaden, “I love dolphins now!”  But what you don’t see in this picture is the heartache I was feeling from getting a call just an hour before this excursion saying my Grandmother had a stroke and had passed away.  Also, in this picture behind the smiles is the excruciating pain Jeremy was in that landed us in the hospital that afternoon.  It was such a bizarre day that I even sat through the Shamu show crying under my sunglasses! What in the world?  I kept telling Jeremy we could go because I knew how much pain he was in;  he insisted on staying because he didn’t want to ruin this for the boys.  Yet, by late afternoon the boys could sense their Daddy’s pain and told us that “it was okay if we needed to go, they knew Dad was not feeling well.” Can I say I am so thankful these sweet boys are like their Daddy?  Such tender hearts!   So, Jeremy ended up getting admitted into the hospital in Orlando for a night.  After getting him settled in the hospital, I went back to our resort to get myself and the boys settled for the night and to start trying to get flights changed to come home early for my Grandmother’s funeral.  Then realized that I couldn’t do that yet because I didn’t know when Jeremy was getting out of the hospital.  So, I then laid in the bed by myself quietly weeping over the chaos of the day; the heartbreak of losing my grandmother and Jeremy having to be admitted to the hospital and thinking “Geez, this was supposed to be vacation?!?!”  And then I hit reset on my thinking.

I stepped back and gained perspective.  My “old normal” would have been to get in a tizzy and selfishly pitch my own little fit about all of this wrecking our plans.  Yet, in that moment, I just said thank you Lord for giving us a great 3 days together as a family.  We had a wonderful beginning of the week.  Yes, I was heartbroken that my grandmother had passed away, but she was 91 years old, was ready for the Lord to take her home and I knew she was in a better place where her body was completely healed and she could once again walk.  Yes, I was sad Jeremy was in the hospital on vacation, but I knew it was temporary, he would be given medication and would be okay.  But, I was not going to complain or be upset about vacation getting interrupted.  What a privilege it is to even have a vacation when I have met many that don’t even know what a vacation is because all they are worried about is where their next meal is going to come from.  I also thought about those in Louisiana that are losing their homes, their livelihood, basically everything through record flooding and there is nothing they can do about it but watch.  I then looked at the picture of that precious 5-year-old boy in the ambulance in Syria covered in blood and ash, living in a country under relentless attack.  He’s not worried about the first day of school and I’m sure has never been on a vacation, he is just wondering if he is going to survive!

So, as I laid sad and stressed over my circumstances I asked the Lord to give me peace in my heart and wisdom in my mind to ‘deal’ with what I had to deal with.  Yet, I asked Him to help me remain in a place where I kept perspective on what a privileged life I lead and how even when my heart hurts or things are tough, I am still privileged.  I am meant for so much more than being upset over vacation being interrupted.

Our perspective has to reset often, or at least mine does.  We have to pan out of what is right in front of us and take an overview of life around us.  No, it’s not a comparison thing, it’s a perspective thing.  I remained thankful for the time we had as a family for vacation, even though it was cut short, because I realized this wasn’t the end of the world!

–Please don’t misunderstand me:  Many of you sweet friends are dealing with much heavier things than I could possibly fathom.  You are in major crisis from losing a child or a spouse, battling a disease that may not be cured on this earth, maybe dealing with abuse or many other things I cannot imagine.  These are circumstances that go beyond what I am addressing here.  And because of that precious friend, I am praying for you right now.  I am praying the King of all Kings wraps His mighty arms around you and carries you through.-

My purpose in this blog is for those of us dealing with more trivial things, things that are not major crisis’. Things like our feelings getting hurt by someone, stress at work or like me, vacation getting interrupted.  In these moments, we must keep perspective.    We must remember we are meant for so much more.  That more, is sharing the love of Christ.  Whether it be through missions in a foreign country, traveling to Louisiana to help victims of a flood, maybe serving at your local homeless shelter or simply helping out your neighbor–we are meant for more than flipping out over small things.  Remember that even if “so and so” hurt your feelings, 5 year old Omran Daqneesh of Syria just found himself in the middle of an airstrike instead of a kindergarten classroom.

Perspective is so important.

I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.  Psalm 34:1

 

Grateful

View More: http://sarahvanderfordphotography.pass.us/dsI was recently asked to write a series of blogs for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia(SBCV) Women’s Ministry Leadership Blog.   I was asked to write with the focus on Helping Hurting Women.  I am excited to say that my first blog is posted!  This is truly an honor for me.  I am humbled and beyond grateful for this privilege.  Grateful that the Lord is taking something the enemy meant for destruction and using it for HIS GLORY!  Please check it out by clicking here.

Just wait……

Hello from Mexico!

One might wonder why I am writing while on an amazing vacation……well when something comes to me, it just won’t go away until I write it down.  I told Jeremy yesterday, “I’m fighting the urge to pull out the computer and type up this blog.”  His response: “Why are you fighting it?  You love doing it, so do it!  It’s not like it’s work.”  And so with that said, I am spending this beautiful morning sitting on our patio sharing with you all.

We left home early early EARLY Monday morning to come here(it felt more like the middle of the night!)  This is a vacation sponsored by Jeremy’s work.

**He earned this trip through all of his hard work last year and may I just add, he was the TOP Sales for his division in the ENTIRE COUNTRY!  I am so proud of him and how hard he works!**  

Back to the trip, we were at the resort by 11:00 in the morning.  Being that we were part of this big group, we were hoping our room would be ready even though check-in wasn’t really until 3:00.  Everyone around us was checking in and peoples rooms were actually ready so I was hopeful.  Now it’s our turn…..and I knew from the look on her face, “I’m sorry, your room isn’t ready yet.  You can check back with us before but it may not be until 3:00.”   I was bummed but we just decided to go get some lunch and hoped it would be ready after that.  You just don’t feel settled somewhere until you can get your room and just collect yourself for a minute.  We ate lunch, checked back.  Nope, no room yet.  Again, we saw many others saying they had their rooms and we just didn’t understand.  We ventured down to the pool and just relaxed there for a bit, then went and checked again. It was 2:00 so surely it would be ready, right?  “Nope, no room yet, please wait until 3:00.”  At this point I was tired and frustrated.  I just wanted my room and I just couldn’t understand why everyone was getting rooms and we weren’t.  Ask my husband, my children, well basically anyone that knows me; patience does NOT come easy to me.  It truly is a daily battle.  Something I truly have to pray for every day.   Well, my patience was running thin.  However, I just kept reminding myself, “you are on a free vacation – so shut up..…don’t you dare complain.”  So, I shut up, didn’t complain and waited.  Sure enough, right at 3:00 our room was ready.  We were taken to our room and walked in and our jaws dropped.  How on earth did we score this incredible room?  We have a corner room, central to everything, and our patio literally steps right into the pool.  Guys, it’s seriously amazing.  Some of Jeremy’s co-workers came by to visit and were just in awe of our room.  They couldn’t believe it!  We honestly aren’t quite sure why Jeremy was given this particular room,  our only conclusion is being top earnings may have given us this privilege.  We are just enjoying it!   This is our room’s patio:MexicoNow you’re probably wondering: Why did I tell you this story?  I promise I wasn’t bragging…..  As we sat at lunch yesterday I shared with Jeremy:  waiting on our room just reminded me about when we have to wait on the Lord sometimes.  God’s timing is perfect.  So often I just want to hurry it up!  I want to know something now, I want Him to make something happen now and many times, He says WAIT!  When we wait on His timing, it is SO MUCH BETTER!  We had to wait on our room all day, yet when we got it, it was perfect.  It was beyond what we imagined!  Guys, I have had a rough few months.  I have been down, I’ve been in a funk.  The Lord opened some doors for me for some AMAZING opportunities over the last few months.  (I will share those things with you at a later time as they are still in the works!) Yet, some things that I have wanted to happen, just haven’t happened yet and I was getting really discouraged.  I was going through this phase of feeling like a failure, feeling not good enough, wondering why the Lord wasn’t allowing some things to happen and so on.  Basically having my own pity party.  And some things that happened over the last several weeks didn’t help it either.  I sometimes wonder, “Why Lord, why did you let that happen?  Why didn’t you allow this to happen?  When is this going to happen” BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!  Why do I ask these questions?  It’s not like I don’t know His timing is perfect!  It’s not like I don’t understand that what I see in front of me or what I want to happen right now may not be the best.

I had been praying that the Lord would use this time away on vacation to refresh me and renew me.  He has.  Through a silly story about checking into our room He has.  Just as the hotel told us, 3:00 you can check-in – I wanted to rush it.  3:00 was the hotels perfect time, I wanted to rush it.  If I would have thrown a fit, demanded a room immediately, I probably would have got a room, even a nice one.  But it sure wouldn’t have been this beautiful room we waited for.  When I throw a fit, step out of God’s will and do my own thing…it ain’t beautiful.  And most times will end badly……     Yet, when we wait on Him, when we allow Him to guide our steps, He is honored and we are blessed.  Their may be struggle in the midst of waiting, their may be heartache, yet when we trust in Him we can have peace knowing He is in control!  I was reminded of how long some had to wait in the Bible.  David waited at least 15 years from the time he was anointed to when He actually became King.  Those 15 years were not all that pleasant.  I believe it took Samuel some 15 years to become king of Judah and another 7 to become king of Israel.  So goodness, He started teaching us early on in scripture that often we have to WAIT!  I just have a hard time getting that through this thick skull of mine.  So, if you seem to have that problem too, rest assured you aren’t alone.  He has something beautiful for you on the horizon.

Adios from Mexico.  I’m off to the beach…….

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.  Proverbs 16:9

We are ALL IN!

Remember back last summer when I said we were building a house?  Well, it’s done!  And we are moved in!  It is beautiful, I love it, I feel absolutely blessed beyond my wildest dreams.  Here are a few of my favorite places so far:

My shoe shelf in my closet:   My shoes..  See those heels in the top left corner?  The teal ones?  Yeah those are my faves….however, my new yellow ones are now running a close second in the favorite department. I guess it’s obvious I have a slight obsession with shoes….  My closet is a dream.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love all things fashion. (My husband knows because of his shrinking wallet…ha!)  So, when my sweet hubby had this closet built for me, I was in heaven.  🙌🏻 Glory!!!!! 🙌🏻  Enough about my closet, the rest of the house is coming together and I just again have to brag on that amazing husband of mine – do you see the table in the dining room?  Yeah, he built that!  I have to tell you when he said he wanted to build this table, I kind of maybe said “yeah right, you don’t build things.”  And I really didn’t have high hopes.  I know that sounds terrible but really, he didn’t have high hopes either so I’m not being mean, I promise!  He isn’t necessarily a handy man…well I guess I have to say he wasn’t.  He seriously built this table y’all and it is AMAZING!  Anyone that has walked into our house, that is the first thing they notice and compliment!  He is so proud of it and I am too!  That is something we will treasure always.  Truly we will.  It is a place where we will enjoy family dinners and have friends gather.  It is a place we will make new sweet special memories.  I look at that table and think of years to come as our boys grow, our family grows and maybe one day long long(VERY LONG) from now, my grandchildren will even sit at that table and we can say “your grandfather built this.”  You know what though?  I have realized something.  All of this is ‘stuff.’  Simply ‘stuff.’  If we aren’t careful it can become our idol, or a mask or a bandaid.  Their was a time I can say that clothes, shoes and really ‘outer beauty’ was my idol.  I was consumed with new clothes, new hair and definitely new shoes!  Guys, I helped lead worship on a regular basis at our church and I was more worried about having a new outfit every Sunday than I was about the condition of my heart. -Frightening-  That friends is where we start to fall and fail.  I was complimented all the time about how beautiful I looked or how someone loved my new top or my sparkly heels and I began to feel really good about the outside.  Yet inside, was getting more and more dark.  Big head, ugly heart.  Eww……  I saw this quote the other day:  “How pretty your face is matters so little in comparison to how pretty your heart is.”  Oh….shoot.  TRUTH.  I recently had lunch with a precious woman whom I’d had a slight miscommunication with and over the last several years we just seemed to not really connect well.  So, she asked me to lunch.  And I went.  Nervous as all get out thinking this woman is going to tell me that she doesn’t’ like me, she thinks I’m shady, she doesn’t’ trust me and on and on and on my mind went.  *—yeah that anxious thing I’ve mentioned before, I still battle it from time to time.  Darn that enemy for creepin’ in, in our weaknesses!—*  Well, at our lunch she confessed to me that the awkward tension between us was because I intimidated her.  She shared with me that my outer beauty, how dynamic I am with people and my smile really intimidated her.  Umm, I was baffled.  Especially, ESPECIALLY because she witnessed what I went through.  She knows ‘the story.’  How could she possibly be intimidated by me!?!?!  -Remember, I failed BIG TIME!!!!-  Y’all I looked at her and said: “You do understand that all that stuff is on the outside and for a long time my inside was really ugly.  So their isn’t anything to be intimidated by.  At all.”   Praise the Lord, my heart is transformed now and I can say that the Lord is helping me ‘pretty it up.’   It is so amazing to me that he can create beauty from ashes.  — 🎤🎤“Grace, grace, God’s grace..”🎤🎤—

I tell you that story to say:  you can put on a good show but a show it is.  And do you know what shows do?  They end.  It may take 8 months, 8 years or 20 years, I don’t know – but your show will end.  You will fail.  You can have a pretty lil’ house, pretty clothes, a pretty face but until you bring it all to the throne of the Almighty it means nothing.  Until you surrender your ALL, every. single. stinkin’ piece of you, you will suffer.  And the sad thing is, people won’t know.  But you do and He(Our Great King) does – and darned if that isn’t THE WORST most sickening feeling ever to have ALL. THE. TIME.  On the outside you may smile, you may look pretty, you may seem like a beautiful happy family/person, but if you haven’t allowed the Lord to come in, turn the light on all your ugly and transform you, man life stinks.  It took a few years and a giant mess for me to come to that realization.  Yet, when you can walk in freedom and not in negativity or secrets – gracious it feels amazing.  I love my beautiful new house, but it isn’t my identity, I love all things fashion, clothes and shoes alike, but none of it truly makes me beautiful.  We must clothe ourselves in Him, consume ourselves in His Word and surrender our everything at His feet.  Then we gain a beautiful perspective on life and what it is supposed to be.  We have to gain understanding of the Bible in it’s entirety.  Until we are digging in scripture every single day and understanding His Word for all that it is, other ‘things’ are our idols, our focus, our lives.  I’m reading this book right now, “A Theology for the Church,” and I believe it sums this up beautifully.  It says, “When the doctrine(God’s Word) is understood in the context of its dramatic narrative, we find ourselves dumbfounded by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, surrendering to praise.  Far from masters, we are mastered; instead of seizing the truth, we are seized by it, captivated by God’s gift, to which we can only say, ‘Amen!’ and ‘Praise the Lord.’”

When we immerse ourselves in scripture, when we consume ourselves with Him, we fall more in love with our Savior and His words and in turn our hearts are transformed from ugly to pretty and we can’t help but worship Him with all that we have and all that we are.   We have to be ALL IN!

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thorougly equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

More later…….

 

Source:  Daniel Akin, Bruce Riley Ashford, and Kenneth Keathley, A Theology for the Church (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2014)