Love Well, Love Deeply…

This is a lesson I have to study every single day and one I recently messed up big time:

Last week I spat off some hurtful and negative things at a dear friend.  You see, about a month ago something happened that stung my heart.  But instead of stopping in that moment and telling her it hurt me; I retreated, let it fester and became bitter and angry.   That is, until last week when I erupted.  And what’s worse is even after I did it and knew how wrong it was and spent a day crying about it, I still didn’t go to her to apologize.  My pride got in the way.  In that moment and over the last month, I did not love her well.

And then the Lord convicted me.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart”  1 Peter 1:22

Peter urges Christians—because they are purified through Christ—to love fellow Christians purely and fervently.  It is our duty to love one another deeply.  We must love one another sincerely, genuinely and with everything in us.  Whether our feelings are hurt, our opinions don’t align or our views are different, we must love well and we must love deeply.   We are commanded to.

We love well and love deeply when we:

  • Speak love and encouragement instead of evil and criticism.

“Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

  • Are kind, tenderhearted and understanding.

“Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.” Ephesians 4:32

  • Bring peace and not dissension.

“Therefore, let’s keep on pursuing those things that bring peace and that lead to building up one another.”  Romans 14:19

  • Speak truth in love.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”  Ephesians 4:15

We love well and love deeply through our actions and our words.  We love well and love deeply through being more like Christ.  We love well and love deeply when we lay our burdens, our pride, and our selfish motives at the Cross and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.

I messed this up and I will probably mess up again soon.  Probably tomorrow.  And that is why I’m thankful for grace.

But, in case you were wondering, I did indeed apologize and ask forgiveness from my precious friend…..and she chose to love me well and love me deeply in return.

*Father, help me to love well.  Help me to not let shameful, hurtful thoughts enter my mind or exit my mouth.  You love me in spite of my flaws, I should reflect the same in my love for others.*

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.~

 

Content over Envy

I often find myself envious of other women and their successful career; desperately wanting what they have.  I sometimes look at women around me and think “man, I wish I looked like that” or “gee, I wish my hair was as long and beautiful as hers.”  If only I would have done this, I could be as successful as her…  If only I ran 8 miles a day, I could look like her (not happening by the way…)   It leads me down a road of discouragement, self-loathing and sometimes resentment; sucking every ounce of joy out of me.  It’s a dangerous game we play in our minds and hearts and the enemy loves to play with us.  When we allow ourselves to dwell on what others have that we don’t, what others do that we can’t, our attention goes away from the One who uniquely created us for His good and onto the one who is waiting with baited breath to destroy us for his pleasure.  Oh how quickly we can dip into murky water here…and sink.

It is important in these moments that we recognize our wrong, recognize the lies we are telling ourselves, forfeit the game we are playing and turn to the truth of God’s Word.  The beauty in that is when we seek God’s Word and understand that his promises apply to uswhen we begin to truly, wholeheartedly, with everything in us believe that – it draws us nearer to Him and further away from the lies of the enemy.  It spurs us to seek Him more, becoming confident in how He created us and where He has us in this moment.   It causes us to be content.

Things I do to change my perspective, combat my envy and remain content:

  • I point my praise and adoration to the One True God. I replace truth where the lies of the enemy have tried to take me out.  I do this by knowing and believing who the Lord tells me I am in Him.
  • I pray specifically for the woman that I may find myself being envious of. I pray that the Lord would bless her tenfold.
  • I will write and send a note of encouragement to that woman. It is amazing how at the same time you are blessing someone else, you also will be encouraged.  I promise.

Daisy

Beauty from Ashes…

Short, sweet and to the point…….

A few months ago I was asked to share my testimony at the Angie Smith conference the SBCV just had. I initially was going to say no as I was honestly a bit ‘scared.’ It was a seemingly daunting thought to stand up in front of 800+ women and ‘speak’ this testimony of mine…..to speak it is much much different than simply writing it. However, I came to the decision that how dare I squash an opportunity to point to the hope and unfailing love of our Savior. So, I did it. And can I tell you that when you are obedient to the Lord and do something that solely honors and glorifies Him, He will indeed give you an unexplainable peace in the midst of what could be an overwhelming moment. He will give you an opportunity that seems so undeserved.
IMG_6424This was a moment where I completely stepped aside and allowed the Lord to use me and speak through me. #lifechanging My hearts prayer in this opportunity was no one would see me or hear my story but instead hear a love story of Jesus Christ.
I share this to say, if you are in the midst of something that seems unbearable…hold fast my friend. He is there. He is faithful.
A time will come in your journey that causes you to realize that when you wept uncontrollably, when it didn’t seem light was at the end of the tunnel, when all else seemed to fail: The One you know remained, He did indeed remain. Because He is faithful and He does redeem and He does in fact use you for His glory. Even when you think it’s impossible, hope peeks thru.
Don’t give up friend, no matter where you are in the storm; you are loved and thought of…even in that moment you don’t think you can breathe….He is there. He is there waiting to breathe new life into the place that looks like it is beyond repair.
He loves you. He will mend you. He will make you whole. He is a good God. He is a faithful God.
He is a Redeemer, a Rescuer, a Mighty Fortress.
He is our God.

If you’d like to hear my testimony here is the video:

2016…..you were a good teacher.

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The sun has set on 2016.  It has been a wonderful year beginning with moving into our beautiful new home.  Throughout the year many doors have opened, opportunities have been given and blessings have been felt.  And in the midst of it all, I have learned….A LOT.

I’ve learned a lot of about focus.  It’s very important to focus on the big picture.  The big picture being your relationship with the Lord and His will for you.  So often it’s easy to get tripped up on the little things or even the big messes.  These things we fixate on is where the enemy is waiting in the wings to grab hold of you.  When our focus sways, so does everything else.  Even when we are in the midst of trials, stress, messes or whatever it is –  God is there.  Our precious Lord is in the midst of that mess with you.  Don’t miss Him.  While in the midst of this trial you’re facing right now, it may be hard to even breathe sometimes yet we must not miss the fact the He merely wants us to turn to Him, focus on Him and cry out His name.   Focus on Him – never lose sight.  Seek Him with all your heart!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

-I’ve learned that there are a lot of hurting hearts out there and many times they are quietly suffering.  Oh how that makes my own heart hurt.   If you just bend your ear a little, you can hear the hurt and quite possibly be a voice of hope.  You see, when we live out grace and tender mercy our attitudes change and our understanding broadens.  It’s so easy to just give an answer of “I’m great” or “fine” when we are passing each other in the hallway or the grocery store aisle and so often that’s a lie.  And It’s even easier to keep walking and not truly dig in and say “no really, how are you?”   Why can’t we be more transparent?  Why do we feel like we have to act a certain way or pretend all is well?   In learning the magnitude of hurt out there, I’ve began to pray that the Lord will allow me to be a beacon of hope wherever He takes me.  I’ve began to pray that the Lord will stop me in my tracks of busyness if necessary to hear a heartache of a friend, a neighbor or whomever crosses my path so that I can come to the Throne of Grace with them and maybe just maybe they can experience that same peace, joy and freedom I do.  Let others see Jesus in you.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1

-I’ve learned a lot about friendship or rather I should say I have gained a renewed perspective.   Friendship is a sacred precious gift from the Lord that should be treasured.  It is something to invest in and something to not give up on. My circle of friends is a very small one but I am very okay with that.  It is about quality not quantity.  2016 was a year I spent praying specifically about and for friendship.  Can I share a sweet story about one of my dear friends and how the Lord used her to speak to me this year?   A few months ago I received a text from this precious friend that lives many many states away.   We don’t get to talk very much or see each other a lot but we often send text messages of prayer requests we have or just sweet notes of love and encouragement to each other.  Well this particular day she sent me a text that was totally out of the blue but totally perfect timing.  You see, for several days I’d been quietly hurting over a particular past friendship that I’d lost. I had been desperately praying for the Lord to help me see Him in this ugly mess that was made.  It was then that the Holy Spirit led my sweet friend to send this beautiful message that you may not quite understand all of but I just wanted you to understand that magnitude of it.

She sent me this text after a nudge from the Holy Spirit not knowing how I’d take it nor that I was struggling with this very subject at that very moment.  I sat in my car just weeping at the tenderness of it, the perfectness of it and the beauty of it.  She simply obeyed a nudging from the Holy Spirit to 1) pray for me and 2) send me a beautiful note of love and encouragement on the very subject that my heart was aching for.  In this very moment everything about friendship made sense to me.  When we allow the Lord to be the center of our friendships it is such a beautiful thing.  He used my precious friend to speak to me and send me a little love note that yes – He heard my cries and He is at work.  When we allow the Lord to be the center of our friendships it is such a valuable tool.  We can pray for each other, we can build each other up, we can sense the Holy Spirit telling us to reach out when our friends need and we can even pray over other broken friendships because we love each other.  ~~Friendship is incredible when we allow the Lord to be a part of it.~~

…….a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9

I’ve learned that the Lord’s not looking for extraordinary ultra-talented squeaky clean people.  But instead, simply lovers of Him who lay down their own broken selves in order to point others towards Him.  Simply those who will bring glory only to Him not taking it for themselves.

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.  1 Peter 4:11

More than anything I know that I will never be perfect, but Jesus is.  I will never be strong enough, but Jesus is.  I will never be enough, but He absolutely is.

Two and a half years ago I looked at myself in the mirror with disgust and said “How did I get here?”  Today, as I look back over 2016, looking forward to 2017; I can look in the mirror and say with freedom and JOY “How did I get here?”  The answer to the first question was selfish, awful, evil motives where my focus had turned from Jesus Christ to Dawn Spicer.  The answer now is hard work, obedience, and more than anything a fierce, relentless, redeeming love of a gracious, life-breathing God.  It’s like looking in the mirror at the transformation and realizing that nothing I’ve done or am doing is changing me but instead everything He is doing is changing me.

And with that, as the sun rises on 2017, I say hello with great anticipation.

 

Laced with Grace

Sarah Vanderford Photography

My second blog is now posted on the SBCV Women’s Leadership Blog!  This one was truly tough to navigate
through.  It is a subject that is heavy on my heart as I desire to see Godly women, myself included, be bold in their faith and live it out by stopping poisonous talk and instead encouraging and uplifting our sweet sisters in Christ. My hope is you can read it with an open mind and hear my heart and true intentions in it.  Read it here!