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Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life

Monday’s Truth

November 10, 2014

I’ve read it over ten times. Day five. This post in my devotional book is one I go back to. One that no matter how many times I’ve read it, it somehow always brings me to tears. It’s a message my soul needs repeated. It’s a message I feel you need to hear.

So I’m sharing it with you today. Day five. My breath of grace. My hope for today. I hope you are blessed.

 

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DAY 5: CURED AND CLEAN

Taken by: Comforts From the Cross (by: Elyse Fitzpatrick)

“His disciples said to him,
“You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say,
‘Who touched me?’”

MARK 5 : 3 1

“Excluded. Unclean. Defiled. For twelve desperate years she had struggled against her body. Blood poured from her, and that blood not only brought about personal distress but also made her a societal outcast. If she was a married woman, she would have been unable to have sexual relations with her husband. Even if she was precious to him, he could not take her into his arms. Married or single, she was excluded from participation in normal family life. If she had children, she was excluded from participation in normal family life. If she had children, she couldn’t lie in bed and play with them. Anyone who sat on a chair on which she had sat would be unclean and would have to wash ceremonially and then offer a sacrifice at the temple. When the family went to the temple on a holy day, she had to stay home.

To live in such isolation after childbirth was expected in those days, but the new mother was surrounded by a loving family, all waiting the day when the priest finally declared the mother clean.

But the isolation experienced by the bleeding woman wasn’t the usual week or two; it was twelve years. Twelve years without access to worship. Twelve years of gossip whispered behind her back. Mothers would have warned their daughters: “Don’t go near; she’s unclean.” Twelve years without a caress, a touch, an inviting smile. Twelve years of desperate exclusion, loneliness, and shame.

That she was desperate is clear. She “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had” (Mark 5:26). We can imagine that year after year she heard about women in other villages who were cured, so she rushed to uncover their secret, scraping up the necessary payments, yet she “was no better but rather grew worse.” Every penny she could get her hands on went to doctors who only exacerbated her condition.

I can’t imagine what terrible indignities she suffered at their hands. This wasn’t modern medicine with its tidy gynecological offices housing highly trained physicians who write prescriptions for hormonal therapies and perform sanitary procedures. No, ancient medicine consisted of the most base herbal preparations, poultices, and methods that not only failed to cure her but made her suffering worse. She was unclean and her uncleanness had bankrupted her. And still she bled. Days and months of disappointment followed by months and years of shame and isolation. She could touch no one; no one wanted her touch. And now, all hope was gone. She had no money left, so even if a cure could be found, she couldn’t afford it.

Then she heard reports about a holy man who loved unclean women and welcomed them as followers. Many had been ill like her. Some had been possessed by devils; others had been notoriously wicked, but he had healed and welcomed them all. Amazingly, hope began grow within her breast again. Perhaps she thought, I have no money to pay him. I can’t touch him because I’m unclean. But even so, she believed, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (v. 28). So she waited until his followers and the crowds were passing by, and she slipped into the press. Keeping her head down and her shawl up, she furtively pushed her way ever closer to the One. There he is. If I can just stretch out my hand past these others! I’m almost there; please don’t let me be discovered. There! With my fingertips I brushed his cloak. Immediately, she felt her body change. The blood stopped. She was healed. The crowd moved on, but she stood still—a whole, clean, honorable woman at last. She had finally received all that she hoped for, but she was soon to learn that her expectation had been far too small.

From the midst of her reverie she noticed the crowd halt. The Master was speaking, “Who touched my garments?” (v. 30). An icy shard of fear pierced her heart. What if this holy man finds out what I did and takes my healing from me? What if he is angry because I’ve made him unclean by my touch? Will this simply end in more shame, more separation? While his disciples pointed out the size of the crowd, the woman bravely made her way to him. In fear and trembling she “fell down before him and told him the whole truth” (v. 33).

How did he respond? He called her “Daughter.” This is the only time that Jesus actually called a woman by this name; it was a sweet acknowledgment of relationship and endearment. Instead of pushing her away, he drew her close. Daughter-Don’t be confused. Jesus wasn’t stumped about who had touched him. He knew this woman’s name (even though we don’t). It had been written on his heart for twelve times twelve million years—yes, forever. This woman would have been satisfied with physical healing, but her Savior would not. He forced her to come to him and be in relationship with him, to fall down before him, to come out of the shadows and into the full light of day. Our Savior loves to give us gifts, but the best gift of all is himself, and he won’t let us slink off, back into darkness and isolation. No, his love will pull us out of our shame, defilement, and fears, and then he’ll speak gently and lovingly to us. “Daughter, be at peace.”

Because Jesus is completely pure, he isn’t concerned about becoming defiled by touching us. He’s not afraid that our uncleanness will contaminate him. Instead he draws us near; he speaks to us in love. He sees our desperation, our bankruptcy, and our uncleanness, and he calls us “Daughter.” If you’re like me, it’s easy to find a measure of satisfaction and peace in knowing that our sins are forgiven and we’ve been cleansed. But our Savior wants more than that. He’s taken us for his bride, and he isn’t satisfied when we hide from him or try to use him for our own purposes. Yes, we want to be clean, and he wants that for us too; but clean strangers aren’t what he’s after. He means to have a wife. And so he continually brings us to points of desperation when we have to fall before him, broken and bankrupt, and then he speaks lovingly to our hearts and draws us up into his presence.

Don’t be afraid to go to him now. He isn’t fazed by your sin; he isn’t afraid that you will contaminate him. In fact, as you get close to him, his holiness will infect you. Go ahead, daughter; press in through the crowd of all that threatens to block access to him—your shame, pride, destitution, and uncleanness. Touch him out of your desperation and find him patiently loving and awaiting your arrival.”

Excerpt From: Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. “Comforts from the Cross.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/5Nkjx.l

Faith, Identity, Spiritual Life

So Long Summer

August 20, 2014

 

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The end of every summer always brought a mixed sense of sadness and joy for me. Sure, I was going to miss sleeping in, spending the day doing whatever I wanted and the general freedom of the season. Yet the end of summer also brought me something else…a chance to start over.

Even if I was going back to the same school, there was something special about a new school year. It was as though three months of summer hit some kind of reset button and everyone got to come back fresh and new without any of the crap from the previous year. I could be new, different..better, even.

As the beginning of my sophomore year of college was about to drop, I knew I needed to make some changes. I had spent the summer trying to recover from all the vices I picked up the previous year. I was dating a guy who had abused, ridiculed, cheated and then eventually dumped me. I had the beginnings of a serious eating disorder, and a total loss of who I was as a person. I was a hot mess. I needed the summer to purge all of this out of my life and start fresh. Make this next year nothing like the one before it.

Many of you are about to or are in that same boat. A new year, a new chance to be something better and different than last year. You’re plagued by the mistakes of your past, and in a way, feel doomed to be that girl from now on.

My first day of sophomore year was hell. I remember struggling to eat that bite of food, knowing I needed the nutrients more than my ability to feel in control. I struggled to not look at my ex as he walked around campus acting as though I was nothing and that all he had done to me that had destroyed my soul was no big deal. I was determined to change. I needed to change.

Our approach to change can either cripple us, or set us free. 

I spent my sophomore year unable to let go of the things I had vowed to rid myself of. I went back to the abusive boyfriend. I continued to restrict my eating so that I could feel like I had a hold on my life. I was outwardly happy, but in inwardly dying.

What things are you holding on to that you know God is wanting you to change? A relationship that’s become an idol? An unhealthy friendship? An obsession with your looks? Or maybe an attitude of bitterness, anger, or pride? Whatever it is, are you willing to make the change?

Not every “fresh start” feels great. Starting over can often feel like giving up everything for the unknown- for the possibility that things might be better. And who wants to give up everything for a “might?”

I let my fear of change and failure lead me back down a path I never wanted to return to. Another year of mistakes, hurts, and abuse. My need to control, to resist the pain of growth made me more burdened and scared than I ever was. The year that was meant to be my chance to be free, to be who God saw I could be, was instead one of possibly the most painful years of my life.

“I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed. And because I haven’t changed, you, the descendants of Jacob, haven’t been destroyed.” Malachi 3:6 (The Msg)

Thank God that He is unchangeable. Though our lives ebb and flow, peak and dip; He is constant. He is always faithful, always present, always loving, always forgiving, always believing in what we could be and not what we think we are. Our failure to embrace change, to take that step to freedom doesn’t alter His love for us one bit. He’s still our greatest champion, cheering us on; knowing that if we just turn our eyes to Him, nothing can shake us.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;” Psalm 37:23

“In the same way I will not cause pain
    without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:9

Listen ladies, we weren’t called to be the meek, mild mannered, silent observers of this world. We are warriors. Brave, fearless, strong, and bold. When we believe we are the less than, the unchangeable, the forever broken; we are robbing ourselves of the beauty of becoming the more.

Don’t let the mistakes of your past declare who you are going to be tomorrow. 

Summer is coming to an end. A new season is on it’s way. So let’s seize it while we can. Let’s hold on to Jesus and run fearlessly into a new beginning. Throwing off all the crud and baggage that keeps us from being anything less than the glorious perfection that He has proclaimed us to be.

I’m ready for a new beginning. I’m ready to be more because I am more. Because HE IS MORE. Are you?

So long summer. This girl’s moving on.

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Fear

July 30, 2014

Yesterday my oldest daughter almost got hit by a car.  We were out to eat with some friends which included 7 kids.  It’s always a bit chaotic when we get together because you have one eye on your child and the other eye is in the present conversation.  As Eisley was running ahead of me to leave the restaurant I called her back and very intently told her to stay close to the adults.  She listened for a moment but then I looked away for a brief second while a jeep slammed on his brakes and the driver practically shaking in his seat told me to watch my kid more carefully because he almost hit her and it scared the *#@* out of him.  I then see Eisley running towards me from the street and into my arms.  My eyes welled up with tears.  Did that just happen?  How did she even get in the street?  I was relieved and mad all at the same time.  ” Eisley- you know not to go in the street!!  Why did you do that?  You could have been hurt!”  And then she proceeded to say….” I know mommy.  I’m so sorry.  I won’t ever do that again.”  This fear began to well up inside of me of losing my daughter.  The thought of her getting seriously hurt or even killed brought me to my knees.  But then her words that followed blew me away….  “I was running and then Jesus came and helped me run the other way so I didn’t get hit by the car.”  I sat there for a moment wondering if I heard her correctly.  Jesus helped her!!??  I just held her tightly thanking God for protecting my baby girl in a moment when I had absolutely no control.

If you have followed our blog for a long time it will be no surprise to you my struggle with fear.  In all honesty it’s a battle I can’t say I have won.  I have good days and bad days.  I’ve had two miscarriages and difficult pregnancies which has led me to fear losing my children.  I have had past relationships with guys who gave me more attention if I was looking pretty which has led me to fear losing acceptance from people if I didn’t look up to their standards.  I fear messing up my daily routine and schedule for fear of being left with a messy house and moody children.  I long to be used by God yet fear being used by God.  I fear that one day my husband will get sick of me or will no longer be attracted to me even though he has never given me any reason to ever worry over that.  I fear God will bring some major tragedy into our lives in order to teach me a valuable lesson or build more character within me. Sometimes I even draw back from praying for certain things out of fear of the cost it will take in order to receive it.  I fear losing friendships, gaining friendships, being judged, sagging skin, dying, truly living, darkness, being alone, what people think about me, others being used more than me, change, making the wrong decision, disappointing God, disappointing my dad…the list goes on and on.

Like the apostle Peter, I love Jesus wildly and passionately, but when given the option of looking at the wind of my fears or looking at the face of Jesus, my fears often win.  It’s hard to step out of the boat when we are anchored to our fears.  I think that’s why I tend to be a little over controlling in some areas.  However, last night Jesus showed up to my little girl and controlled the very thing that I could not.  Even when my trust in HIm has been lacking and my faith has been sinking in the storm… He still showed up.  I can’t help but think all my self- preserving and self-protecting has kept me from truly seeing His hand at work in all the things I fear.  Am I missing it?  Am I missing the sight of goodness because my fear keeps my eyes so busy?  God calls us out of ourselves and into Himself so we might live and leave everything up to Him.  So we might be radiant and full of peace.

God is calling us out of our fears.

“When God calls us up, it’s easy and tempting to look down at everything we lack.  We feel the limitations of our humanity and we become acutely aware of our weaknesses and foibles.  When we focus on our fears ,the risk of stepping out feels greater than the potential reward of living by faith.  In Christ we’re called, appointed, and equipped to live lives bigger than we are.  We need to stop judging ourselves by what we lack.  We come alive, find courage, and gain ground to the extent that we keep our eyes on the One who says we lack no good thing apart from Him.” – Susie Larson  Do you trust HIm?  Do you see HIm?

“What a God we have!! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand- new life and have everything to live for! Including a future in heaven- and the future starts now.  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The day is coming when you’ll have it all- life healed and whole.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5 The Message

” I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to HIm are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”- Ps. 34:4-5

Those who look to Him are radiant- meaning They found light!  Their faces brightened up and became cheerful.  Their minds were made calm, for they felt assured that God would protect them.  In Hebrew it means “to flow together”.  When you look to Jesus, not only will your face shine and be lightened but you will flow as one with God.  Look to Him and be lightened.  Look up to God in prayer and by faith, when in distressed and uncomfortable circumstances, for help and deliverance.  Expect mercy.  Your face will not be covered in shame which means you will not be disappointed by your hope but you will find relief.

I am sure there are past experiences you have had that has created fear within you.  However, we need to be careful to not blame the past for our fears or even allow that to give us permission to fear… because Jesus commands us DO NOT FEAR!  We have no excuse.  His power resides within us and His death as overcome fear itself.  Its easier said than done.. I know.  I’m not one to sit here and say I have the answer because it is a daily struggle I face.  But I am aware of my lack in trusting God… are you?  Will you trust HIm today?  Will you lay down your fears, look to His face and shine?  Will you surrender your past to His loving hands and stop making excuses for your fear?

“Climb out of that drugged, dead comforting pit that is keeping you paralyzed and break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for, in the now of your life, while there is till time and hunger in your veins.”- Voskamp

Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Open My Eyes

July 23, 2014

The moment right before I wake is my favorite part of the day. No phone calls to make, emails to respond to. There are no little ones clamoring for my attention or breakfast to be made or bills to pay or laundry to fold.

The world is still at peace.

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As soon as I open my eyes, I am immediately flooded with all the things the previous days have left me with. A friend grieving over losing a parent way too soon. A brother and sister in law fighting to claim joy in the midst of a deep valley. Another friend aching to have a child fill her womb and the anxiousness of not knowing if it has happened yet.

Opening my eyes means opening myself up to the chaos this world can lend. 

Of course there are my own battles I wake up to as well. Will I fail as a mother today? How am I going to believe the lies that Satan tells me today? Am I going to like who I see in the mirror? Why did he have to molest me? Why am I so royally screwed up?

Jesus….get me through today. 

And yet, I also wake up to hope. Hope that my friend’s parent will be held in the arms of Jesus when they pass. That new mercies are given to my brother and sis in law every day and God has not abandoned them in their time of need. Hope that someday, a miracle will grow inside my friend and she will have a baby once again. Hope that despite all my shortcomings, wounds and failures, I am not a lost cause in the eyes of Christ.

Because opening my eyes also means opening myself up to all the joy this world has to offer.

“…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” -Ann Voskamp

The world is a hard and depressing place. It can cripple the soul and crush the heart. If I put my faith in this world, then every morning is a morning where I wake only to the horrors of life. And who wants to live like that?

No, I want to put my faith in LIFE, in JOY Himself.

For, “Whom have I in heaven but You?And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73: 25-26)

When I wake, I don’t want to see storm clouds, I want to see cleansing rain that chases away all the dirt. I don’t want to see the the wounds on my heart telling me I’m broken; I want to see the scars on His hands telling me I am wholly found in Him.

Open my eyes that I might see…..

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

The Water of Life

July 16, 2014

 

So I struggled with writing this post.  Not because I have something very important to say, but quite the opposite.  I don’t know what to say.  When you find yourself writing as much as we do you tend to find yourself falling into ruts.  I really think my rut happened because, in all honesty,  I’m just bored.  I feel like we write in circles.  I find myself writing on the same topics, the same struggles, reading from the same authors and going back again and again to the same verses.  We need reminders all the time…. but I’m bored.

As I sat on my front porch watching the storm roll in last night, I realized something.  Maybe I’m bored with my writing because I’m bored with God.  Did I just say that?  How embarrassing is that to admit?  Have you ever felt that way?  I think I’m bored with God because my time with Him, when I do spend time with HIm,  has become a thing to do and not out of necessity or hunger for His presence.  HIs words have become just mundane words to me.  I find myself in circles with Him- saying the same prayers, reading the same books and all around disinterested.  Of course I desire HIm, I want to know Him and be in His presence but I feel so dry.  I’m in this season of business and it has left me in the desert thirsty for new life and thirsty for God himself to supply water to my numb soul.

There’s this girl in the Bible my heart has always gone out to.  Her name is Hagar.  Poor Hagar.  Here she is minding her own business just serving her master, in this case Sarai, like the good little servant that she is.  And then boom!  Sarai comes to her with this crazy request.  She asks her to sleep with her husband in order to get pregnant and bare him a son because Sarai herself cannot do it.  Hagar does as she is told and has a baby boy.  But then Sarai becomes jealous and despises her!  She begins to mistreat her and look down on her and the only thing Hagar did in this situation was obey!  Later on Sarai has her own son Isaac and decides to send Hagar and her son away because she fears that they will have to share the inheritance.  Hagar is sent away with just a little food and little water.

” She went on her way and wandered in the desert… When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.  Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought- ‘ I cannot watch the boy die.’  And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.”- Gen 21

” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” Gen 21

Here is Hagar and her boy dying of thirst with a well less than a bowshot away!  What’s interesting is that God let her get to the point of almost death before He opened her eyes to the well.  He let her get to the point where she had absolutely nothing before reminding her that He is faithful and He Himself is life.

Even in the desert there is always a well of water nearby… we just have to open our eyes to it.  The very thing that will quench my thirsty soul is right in front of me… please God!

 ” What insanity compels me to shrivel up when there is joy’s water to be had here?”  Open my eyes to see your words afresh!  Open my heart to hear your whispers new and full of life!  I want to taste and see that You are good.  The reason why I’m so disenchanted with life in His presence is not because I’ve tasted and come to find there is nothing exciting about it.  But because I haven’t stopped myself in my crazy busy life to actually sit in His glorious presence.  His words are not mundane and boring.  His words are powerful and refreshing!  My eyes have just been focused on other things.  He is in this moment.  The well is always here- God is always here because He cares about me.  He cares about you.

Gen 16- ” Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her.  She said, ‘ You are the God who sees me.'”

Its amazing to know that even when I find myself in these ruts, these  so called deserts – God sees me.  And because He sees me He will never stop pursuing me.  He sees you friend.  He’s not looking at you with disgust and anger when you are not spending time with Him.  He looks at you with love and compassion and longs for you to experience the greatest joy you could possibly experience through HIm.   He sees your very heart, all of your secrets, all of the dry places and complacent feelings towards Him.. and He offers you water of life.  It is always available, always refreshing, always exciting and true.  He’s just asking us to come.  I pray that He opens your eyes to it.  I pray that His words come alive in your spirit.  I pray He do the same in me.

 

Faith, God, Identity, Redemption, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Hey There Lonely Girl

July 9, 2014

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Hey There Lonely Girl,

On some park bench in the middle of the day, there you sit. You see everything and everyone around you, and you wonder, do they see you back. These vacant benches and quiet spaces have become like an old comfy shirt to your weary and broken soul.

For to be seen, is to be known. 

Sitting in secluded corners sipping coffee, you look like you’re waiting for a friend to arrive, but you know that’s not the case. You seem confident in the loneliness, almost as though you prefer the solace. No one can see, however,  that silently your heart is screaming for someone, anyone to notice you. To come into your pain. To make you…not so lonely.
Coffee Shop Girl

Fear of your destiny to forever be abandoned, excluded, denied, rejected, and forgotten sweep over your already tired soul and you just cant imagine how this life could ever bring you joy again. You will forever be alone.

Darkness has a way of captivating our spirit. Consuming us thick and tricking us into believing that dawn will never come, only night. Only the emptiness.

But hear me when I say this, Lonely Girl- light HAS come. He has come. He has seen those spaces and places you keep hidden from the world. The things that trap you in your loneliness. He knows the thoughts and regrets that plague you in the night when you feel the most alone. He knows it all.

And the moments when your heart’s mouth cries out to be known, to be loved, to be seen, He is right there, looking right at you….and loving you.

The world will always lie to you. It will tell you that you were a mistake, too screwed up to ever be fixed; destined for solitude. But He who is named TRUTH says otherwise.

He has said that you are more precious than rubies. He has said that you are so worth loving, that life itself is not too great a sacrifice for you. He has said he would never leave you or abandon you. To Him your name is not Lonely. To Him, your name is

Holy, Righteous, & Redeemed

He is for you. I am for you. And a chord of three strands cannot be broken.

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So hold hands with me as we hold onto to Him and together we will see just how abundant this life can be.

“For Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

Dear Despair

July 2, 2014

 

Dear Despair

You used to be an old friend of mine.  We would sit for hours while you told me lie after lie and I would listen.  You saw into my heart and you knew the strings to pull bringing me closer to you and farther away from truth and peace.  You somehow shadowed my vision so that all I saw in front of me was the painful circumstances at hand.  It was as if your home was a deep pit and once I walked through the door I would fall onto your cement floor and stay for awhile.

You sat across from me and told me this life was too much for me.  You told me there would be no more money to provide for my needs.  You told me there would be no job coming to my door and my searching would go in vain.  You told me I would be alone forever and no one would ever want me.  You told me that I wasn’t worth much.  You told me death would win and I would be left only in sadness without hope.  You told me my burdens would continue to push me down and this struggle would get the best of me.  You told me there was only light if I could see it, feel it, and sense it.  You told me to put my hope only in my friends, family and others who I admired.  You taught me how to put people on pedestals and secretly worship them.  When I sat there crying you told me I had every right to be upset- I deserved to feel hopeless- I deserved to feel like the victim, to remain the victim.  In some twisted way that brought me comfort.  In some twisted way it gave me control.  You told me God was failing me and He didn’t really care at all.

For some reason I trusted and believed you.

But even in my doubts of a loving God and in my believing of your lies… truth broke through as it always ends up doing.  You were wrong.  You didn’t tell me- ” He knows what He is doing with me, and when He has tested me, I will come forth as pure gold!!” (Job 23:10)

You didn’t tell me that God may be calling me to live my life without something I never thought I could live without.  But if I have Him- I have the only wealth, health, love, honor, and security I really need and cannot lose.

You didn’t tell me that these present burdens are actually mercies from God.

You didn’t tell me when it feels like God is killing me He is actually saving me!!

 You didn’t tell me of the redemption that lies at the end of all this.  The Joy available to me in every moment.  The peace residing in me who is Jesus.

My trust has not been in God but has been in my circumstances, public opinion and my own competence!

I may not always understand… but I now see the truth.

God will provide for all of my needs.  (Matthew 6)

I don’t have to fear because God is always with me and I’m never alone.  (Isaiah 41:10)

I am worth more than sparrows.  (Matthew 10:31)  The sparrows were worth nothing… and yet God was concerned with them!  He cared for them and not one of them fell to the ground without God knowing.  If God is concerned with these birds… how much more He must be concerned with me?

Death may come and sickness may sneak in, but even death cannot overcome me or my God.  (1 Cor. 15)  There can somehow be peace present in the pain.  Unimaginable peace.  Unexplainable hope!

There is light.  When I don’t see it, feel it, or sense it…. it is there.  (2 Sam.22:29, Ps. 27:1, Psalm 4:6, Ps. 119:105, 119:130, John 8:12, 2 Cor. 4:6, 1 Peter 2:9)

God will not fail me.  (Jos. 1:5)  At times I feel as though He has dropped me from His hands.  But in those times I now see my faith is found in God, not my feelings.  He is Gracious and Holy.  Merciful and Loving.

You’re very good at persuading me to look at what God may not be doing.  But you forget that it’s all about who God is.

Dear Despair

You won’t win.  You cannot have my heart, my thoughts and my body.  I have believed your lies too often and now I see the truth.  For even when I am discouraged I will look to Him and rejoice in what He did for me, I will have the joy and hope necessary- and the freedom to follow the call of God when times seem at their darkest and most difficult.  I choose to not remain a victim.  I will stand up and shadow my eyes from the darkness so that all I can see is Him standing there with me- lifting my heavy shoulders, teaching me how to walk again up the mountain, and bringing me out of this shining as pure gold.

“We’ve all felt it- the uncertainty, pain or fear that leaves us on the brink of despair.  Perhaps you are feeling it today as you rise to meet what greets you.  We close our eyes and drink in the truth like water: He is our hope.”- Anonymous

 

Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, The Friday Overflow

The Friday Overflow: Ministry Spotlight- Epic Beauty

June 27, 2014

10380129_741059635932254_4318560271331148500_oHere at AGLM we have the blessing of getting to meet a lot of amazing ministries that are serving a need for women unlike any other. One such ministry is Epic Beauty. Operating out of West Palm Beach, Fl they seek to be a ministry to women in crisis. Whether it’s women in the sex/adult entertainment industry or victims of domestic violence, they strive to be a place of hope and refuge for these women. They do this by doing street outreaches and even visiting adult clubs to share the grace of Jesus to the women who work there. They even started a flower shop called Epic Arrangements as a place for these women to find healthy employment and a means of income to support the ministry.

Kim Gomez, one of the founders (and future mother-in-law to our very own Tenth Aver Brendon) shared this amazing story of how God is using Epic Beauty within their community. She writes:

For the past 18 months Epic Beauty has been visiting an establishment in West Palm Beach.  I hesitate to call it a “Club” honestly I’m not sure what it was but every time we entered through the door, it felt like the pit of hell.  The women that worked there were worn, beyond middle aged, outcasts, and many had numbers tattooed somewhere on their body.  Those numbers identified who owned them.  Hitleresqe style…  We never saw anybody dance.  We never even saw many customers.  The oddest thing about it was that we were always welcomed in, the Lord went before us and made a way.  Over time, we got to know the manager, the security guy and some of the ladies.  They were working people with families, stories and dreams.  Just like us.  The first night we visited, the manager set up a small table with 2 chairs in a back room.  As Melissa and I unpacked our gourmet cupcakes, baskets of books and Bibles, and our hot pink Epic Beauty cards, the manager sent in, one by one, the ladies.  They filed in and stood before us, trying to smile and act like this was normal.  They were in all states of undress, wearing barely more than tattered underwear, trying to cover themselves with their hands or cellphones.   They were mostly older women, dark and unhealthy looking.  Many of them were missing teeth and smoking cigarettes, their eyes constantly looking at the curtain that hung in the doorway, they were anxious to get away from us, wondering how long the manager would make them stand there, exposed.  

There are so many stories being silently told in strip clubs, the tattoos are the storytellers. The tattoos quietly cry out details about the girls belief in and need for God, their regrets, their treasures, their dreams, their loves, all these messages written on their bodies, waiting for someone to notice. The one tattoo that has pierced my mind and heart and spirit, was a dark and muddy number written across a woman’s neck, she was my age (50ish) and I wondered about the grace and mercy that left me on one side of the table and left her on the other side.  Someone had tattooed that number into her flesh, so that she and the world would never forget to whom she belonged, which gang owned her. That night, when I got home, I was at a loss and cried out to the Lord, “God, how do I pray for them?  What do I pray for in that place?  How has our city let them stay in business for so long?  It’s a brothel!  One must only walk in to see that!  Are these women too far gone?  Has the degradation erased any hope?  What can we do???”   I needed to hear from my Father. I felt too small, not tough enough for the task, I felt a little scared because we had been warned by so many people to stay out of this dangerous place.  Should we stay away Lord?  One of the women in our ministry had a dream about this place, a dream where we had walked into the front door and they locked it behind us.  We considered not going any more but I knew that was not the Lord’s direction;  Mark 16:15 says to go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone, everywhere.  If we didn’t go, who would?  So I turned to the Word of God and in my weakness I became strong.  His word is my sword and the source of all knowledge and wisdom.  He led me to a scripture in Ezekiel 26 where God himself sent a message to the town of Tyre. Tyre was a city in Babylon that was extremely offensive to the Lord and God sent this  prophesy.  Ezekiel 26: 3-6  “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline.  They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers.  I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock.

The island of Tyre will become uninhabited

So Epic Beauty started praying this scripture over that club, this place was so dark, so sad, and so offensive.  And the Lord does Reign.  For the past 6 weeks I haven’t been able to reach the club by phone to schedule a visit, when we would stop by at night during an outreach, nobody was there.  And yesterday, praise God, we pulled up to the door and found this sign on it…  

PERMANENTLY CLOSED.  The Mermaid is uninhabited!  It’s permanently closed!  Yes, He Reigns and I will never stop praying as long as I have breath.  And the message here is this;

He calls us to call on Him for help.

If you’d like more information on Epic Beauty or would like to get involved or even start your own branch of the ministry, please visit their facebook and websites for more info.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/epicbeauty

Website: epicbeauty.org