Dependency = Influence

Those upon whom you are dependent, you give the right (or they have a right) to have a say in your life.

If you are dependent on the approval of man, you allow a lot of nonsense and negativity to be spoken into your life.

If you are dependent upon creditors, you give them permission to harass you day and night.

There are many things and people upon which we willingly choose to become dependent, and then we react when those things begin to exert their control. The warning to me is “To whom do I want to give that much influence in my life?”  There will always be people we need in our lives, but are they the same people that we want to also have so much influence?

If you allow your happiness to be dependent upon the weather, then your happiness is as unpredictable as the weather.

If your faith is dependent on what you can scientifically measure or prove, then your faith is only as good as your senses are and is reliant on the natural rather than the supernatural.

If your view of God is based on your current circumstances, then your god is your circumstances and can do nothing outside of those circumstances.

Be careful upon whom you become dependent because ultimately they will exert the greatest influence over you.

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Our Greatest Treasures

Chest 1

(FreeImages.com/Ove Tøpfer)

What are Our Greatest Treasures?

 

“When we value God, we value people… Honor is what love looks like.  That sense of value will result in stewardship… Many of us today have received gifts and blessings from above.  How we deal with them will determine how we will be entrusted with heavenly riches.” (From Called To Reign by Leif Hetland).

As I read the last part of that quote this morning, conviction entered my heart, and I began to weep for the truths God was revealing to me.

Intellectually, I have known for awhile that my kids are a blessing.  I have begun to believe this too.  (The rest of this story is in previous blogs from a few years ago: “Afraid of My Children — Part One” and also part two of that story.)  Yet, God revealed this morning that there are still parts where I have believed lies above the truth. Even though I have known intellectually that my kids are a blessing, I have not lived fully from that because my belief has subconsciously lived the lie.

Knowing something intellectually is completely different than what you live out sometimes, and what you live out is what you truly believe.

As I read the quote above, what I realized is that I have not valued my kids like I should.  I have not comprehended the value of my gift.  I have not stewarded my gift to my very best because I have not fully comprehended its value.

I don’t mean I have been a bad mother because that is not true.  I am actually a good mother, though it took awhile for me to believe that, and I still struggle with this truth at times.  The truth is you can be a good parent, a good spouse, a good grandparent and still not really treasure the gifts you have been given.

Here’s the powerful truth: If you understand the value of something, you won’t feel inconvenienced by it.  

I want to say that again.

If you understand the value of something, you won’t feel inconvenienced by it.  

If you and I were given a two million dollar inheritance, we would feel honored to steward it.  If a friend bequeathed their Jaguar to us, we would feel honored to “steward” it.  If God gave us a ministry that impacted hundreds, we would be honored to lead it.  If we received a job promotion, we would be honored to receive it.

Yet, the only thing of eternal value are people.  We can’t take our jobs, our possessions, our promotions, our degrees to Heaven with us, and I am not undervaluing them; I am just not over-valuing them.

We spend so much time valuing and serving things, but things are only to serve for the benefit of people.  People are not to serve as the promotion of the things.

God revealed that the stewardship of my earthly sons and daughter is the first step to an abundant inheritance of spiritual sons and daughters.  Do I steward with the understanding of the abundance of my inheritance and the resources of my inheritance that enable me to steward it?

Here is the final raw truth that is powerfully convicting:

What we feel honored to serve or what we feel inconvenienced by shows what we really value.

There are times that I have felt inconvenienced by my greatest treasures, and yes, my greatest treasures will always hold my greatest responsibilities too.

If I have my Heavenly Father’s heart, I will see the value in each person that I am called to serve and no longer will they be an inconvenience but an honor to steward/serve.

Lord, continue to change my heart to look more like your heart.  You, are my greatest treasure and so are the things that you treasure — no matter how much responsibility and effort on my part they take to serve.  Thank you, that with every responsibility, there is also an abundant supply of your resources to wisely and lovingly steward what you have entrusted to me.

Psalm 144:12

12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:

This means that our sons are being raised from their youth in the Word of God and the fertile soil of love.  Our daughters are also being raised from their youth on the foundation of the Word of God and become heart-connections to bring unity to the family.  There is much more that this verse means; I am just beginning to dig.  Feel free to join me in digging for more treasure.

Mutual Enjoyment

Romantic Dice 02 - Sweet Love

(FreeImages.com/MikeSwope)

This is a sticky topic for a lot of Christians, but let’s talk about sex in marriage.

Christian women have been coming to me and asking me if they should give their husbands the sex they demand, even when it’s painful.

As I said to one wife, “The answer is simple when you understand the purpose of sex and ultimately the purpose for your marriage.”

1. Marriage, first of all, is a union.

This means that both spouses give of themselves in order to become one.  You meld into something that is better and stronger.  It does not mean you are giving up your gifts.  It means you are bringing them to the marriage so that the union becomes stronger. 

It is not a relationship between a lord and his servant. It is a union.  A proper understanding of unity would resolve a lot of marital conflicts.

2. Marriage was created for the benefit of both and ultimately for the benefit of a much greater outreach.

This means that sex is for the benefit of both.  It is a false concept that sex is just to benefit the husband.  If a couple understands that sex is to be mutually beneficial, this may mean that at some times, one spouse must sacrifice his/her own personal desires for the benefit of the union.  If sex has become painful for one spouse, not only should a trained physician be consulted and even a counselor if needed, but the other spouse should lovingly understand that this is their time to selflessly love.

3. The seeds of love, selflessness, and sacrifice that you are planting consistently will reap a harvest of equal measure.

Don’t plant in order to gain, but understand that you give in order to give.  That’s the meaning of sacrificial love.  Sacrificial love doesn’t give to receive.  It gives from the abundance of love.

If you are sowing humility, meekness, love, patience, selflessness consistently, you will receive the fruit of this.  Your marriage will be much sweeter!

I have intentionally kept this short.  Much more can be said on this topic, but perhaps this is a start to bringing some clarity…

“Fixer-Upper” Promises…

It's a fixer-upper

(FreeImages.com/MarthaJaneCordell)

The marriage you feel was a mistake…

The parents that were too strict…

The church that you were a part of that was abusive or hurtful…

The job that seems like a bad choice…

Maybe, you did make some wrong or simply, unwise choices, but what if God is going to take your failures and use them for something much bigger than you?

What if those kids from your marriage union are going to be used powerfully by God?

What if God decides to take our messes and bring redemption because He likes “Fixer-Uppers”?

What if God sees mistakes, brokenness, sickness, shattered lives, and hideous evil, and He sees past what is seen to what He can do with the messes of life?

What if He sees the potential because He sees the promise… because He is the same God Who speaks, and life begins; He speaks, and the sea calms; He speaks, and the dead are raised to life; He speaks, and people trapped in gross sin are completely set free!

What if He is a God Who is doing something that you can’t fully see now or even imagine but something that will stare evil in its face and say, “You will never destroy what I have come to save?”  

What if God is not overcome by evil, but will overcome the evil by using what was robbed, lost, or destroyed to be replaced with something far greater?  What if the glorious things that arise from those ashes become the very things that overcome the evil?

What if He is a God of resurrection power — including “resurrection life” over the “dead things” in your life?

What if God is bigger than you, bigger than your mistakes, bigger than your circumstances, and bigger than the evil that was done against you?

What if He really is Who He says He is?

Matthew 16:13-19

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah,for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not [a]prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth [b]will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Dehydrated?

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(FreeImages.com/SriVatsa)

A few weeks ago, I visited an elderly lady and found her severely dehydrated.  Her eyes were sunken.  She was extremely weak and disoriented.

I called 911 and helped get her settled at the hospital.

The intense heat of the summer sun can easily lead to dehydration if we do not drink enough water.

The signs of dehydration are the following: a lack of tears, dry mouth, sunken eyes, weakness, headaches, dry skin, confusion, irritability, dizziness, and more. (See https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086.)

I like to say that the physical will often reveal truths about the spiritual.

Spiritual dehydration looks similar to physical dehydration.

Symptoms are some of the following: confusion, easily annoyed, lacking the “revelation” of the Word, spiritual instability, spiritual weakness, lack of spiritual sight, lack of emotional connection and expression with the Lord, painful thoughts, and much more.

The cause of spiritual dehydration is simple too.  If you are not receiving spiritual “water,” you will become spiritually dehydrated.  The Holy Spirit is often described as “water” in the Word.

John 7:37-39 — Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Isaiah 44:3 –‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants;

John 4:14 — but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 — For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

I found this link that describes all the various references to water in the Word: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/07/17/what-does-water-represent-in-the-bible-a-christian-study/.

To stay spiritually hydrated, we need to stay in the Word, be led by the Spirit, and know our position through Christ’s salvation.

It’s amazing how many times when I have truly encountered the Presence of God that tears stream down my face.  My husband once apologized to me for how emotional he was, following a powerful moment He had with God.

King David in the Bible was misunderstood for his uninhibited worship of God.  On one occasion, his wife mocked him for his joyful dance before the Lord.  God though never rebuked David for his enthusiastic worship/dance.

Emotion can be seen as weakness.  Many times, even other Christians mock worshiping Christians for their emotional displays. We don’t want to pursue emotional experiences for the sake of the experience, but God made our emotions, and true worship will involve a vulnerability of emotion. 

When you truly encounter God, there will be a physical response to a supernatural God.  Go ahead and cry, laugh, sing, dance, get prostrate (bow), clap, raise your hands, or simply get still.  The point is not what you do, but that you encounter God and respond to Him.

Stay in His Word and stay in His Presence, and you will stay hydrated this summer spiritually.

Don’t forget to also grab a glass of water.

A Beloved Bride…

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(FreeImages.com/SimonaBalint)

In Genesis, we read that God took a rib from Adam and formed Eve from that rib.

In the Gospels, the beginning of the Church, we find that a spear pierced or split the side of Jesus.  Jesus didn’t just give a rib; He gave His life.  His death and resurrection “formed” the Bride — the Church.

Every bride wants to know that her husband will love her completely, unconditionally, selflessly, and lavishly.

There is no greater love than that which lays down its life for another.

John 15:13

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 3:29

29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

Revelation 19:7-8

Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Genesis 2:21-23

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[a] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”[b]

John 19:34

34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Ephesians 5:25-27

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a]

Drowning?

Julia

(FreeImages.com/Irina Martynuk)

There are moments and even seasons in our lives when we feel like we are drowning — when life feels overwhelming.

I remember one of those moments a few months ago.  A situation had occurred that threatened to steal my peace and joy.

One morning, I awoke literally feeling as if waves were hitting me, and I was at risk of drowning.  The storm of my situation was overwhelming me.  I heard God speak very strongly to my heart: “Look at me!”  I still was too overwhelmed by “wave” after “wave” of emotional pain to look up.  Two more times, I heard God speak very firmly to my heart: “Look at me.”  The tone was more firm than I typically hear.  It was the tone of how a father might speak to a child that is terrified and losing control.  It was a tone of firm and loving authority.  His third call to me was finally the “lifeline” I needed to begin to look up.

I then asked God, “What do you want me to see?”  He immediately answered me with a picture of Him hanging on the cross.  I asked Him, “What more do I need to know about the cross?”

Circumstances in life can quickly descend upon us with an unanticipated fury, and depending on our position in relation to our view of those circumstances, we can quickly be swept “overboard” and drown in the “waves.”

A few months ago, God reminded me how the Israelites were brought to an impossible situation when escaping the Egyptians.  They were in a narrow valley, surrounded by steep mountain cliffs, trapped between the pursuing Egyptians on one side and the Red Sea on the other side.  Their obvious choices were to either die by the sword or die by drowning.

Exodus 14

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the seaon dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

God did the miraculous and parted the Red Sea!  What was impossible suddenly was possible!  Where there was no way, God made a way.  The Israelites didn’t have to choose the least horrible method of dying.  God gave them an entirely new solution!

I find it fascinating that so often what we see in the Old Testament, we see in a bigger and more incredible measure in the New Testament!

In the New Testament, we have the story of the disciples on a boat on the Galilee Sea when they see the figure of a man walking towards them on the water.  Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk towards Jesus… on the water!!!  The Biblical account then goes on to say that Peter began to see the wind and began to drown.  Jesus immediately comes to Peter, and Peter is able to safely return to the boat.

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What I found interesting is that before Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he was able to walk on water!!!  It was only after he began to focus on the wind and waves that he began to drown.  It wasn’t that Peter’s circumstances changed; it’s that his perspective changed.  His position then changed in relation to his perspective: he began to sink.  Instead of walking on water, which speaks of authority, he began to succumb to the water and drown.

What stood out to me was that in the Old Testament, God parted the waters so the Israelites could walk through the sea without it touching them.  In the NT, Peter had authority/position above the waters.  He walked on the waters.  His position was based on His “view” or relationship to Jesus.  

What so profoundly spoke to me is that in Jesus, we are “positioned” to walk above our circumstances, meaning to have authority over them.  I know this can be quickly misunderstood, but we have authority in Jesus as His sons and daughters to “walk” above our circumstances and to not be victim to them.  

How?

We keep our eyes on Jesus.  We understand our position in Him — that we are not victims, but we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”

At the cross, Jesus won for us all that He is and has.  We are no longer helpless and hopeless.  We are positioned in Jesus to be victorious!!!

 

My Almost-Free Trip To Maine

[Warning: This blog post is heavy on the picture end.  :-)]

Three weeks ago, my husband and I were able to take a five-day trip to York County, Maine.  The only expenses we had to actually pay for were our meals, gas for the rental car, economy parking at the airport, and the jet-ski we rented for an hour the one day.  Our flights, our rental vehicle, our two nights at the Nonantum Resort, and then two nights at The Cliff House were completely free!

I have always wanted to take a summer vacation to Maine at a place with direct views of the ocean.  Our trip to Maine was a fulfillment of that dream!

Our first two nights in Maine, we stayed at the Nonantum Resort. Our room had a walk-out patio with direct views to the harbor.  There were colorful ships anchored in the harbor, and there was a little lighthouse that we could see from our patio.

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We enjoyed walking down to Kennebunkport, eating seafood, and taking a jet-ski out for an hour ride.  We also enjoyed a beautiful sunset our first night at the Nonantum Resort.

Our first full day in Maine, we drove to see the Cape Nubble Lighthouse.  It was windy but beautiful!

Our second full day, we rented a jet-ski.  Here is what I wrote to some friends, regarding our jet-ski adventure: “So, I confess that I was scared, but I know it’s healthy to do things sometimes that scare you and that cause you to hang onto your husband and trust his skills. Yesterday, we did something on my bucket list: we went jet skiing. It was truly fun! I held on tight, and I watched his muscles flex as he steered us skillfully over the waves. A marriage of 16 years can still require growth and bring excitement. All good things…!”

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Without kids, we slept in, ate late, took naps, relaxed, and just went with the flow of the day.

Our last two nights in Maine, we spent at The Cliff House.  It was absolutely exquisite!  There were no end to the pleasantries, fine details, and gorgeous views!  When you drive up to the front entrance, you can see straight through the lobby to a stunning view of the ocean.  There are two infinity pools and two large hot tubs.  We enjoyed having one hot tub to ourselves the first night.

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At the Cliff House, there are outdoor couches and even a large fire-pit for s’mores.  We enjoyed roasting our own s’mores the second evening there.  Both evenings, we enjoyed sunsets that bathed the sky and water in soft hues of pastel pinks, lavender, blue, and peach.  (I saw the wine glasses left by guests and thought they made a lovely picture with the sunset in the background.)

Our final morning in Maine, we awoke early in order to watch a sunrise from our balcony.  It was stunning!

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As we took our time packing for our departure, we noticed that right outside our balcony/window, preparations were being made for a wedding.  We had heard talk the previous night about a wedding taking place that day, but we had no idea that they would pick the location right outside our balcony!

I knew that God had something to tell me on this vacation, and I wasn’t mistaken.

I knew that even the places where we stayed had significance.  We started at the harbor with gorgeous views and then moved to a place with a high, cliff view and the immense ocean spread out below.  God began to softly speak to my heart and tell me that the ocean was to represent the ocean of His love for me.  I saw it bathed in many hues of pinks and reds — all colors that represent love.  I knew the views I was seeing had a message for me because God was also speaking to my heart gently at the same time.

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When we first arrived at the Cliff House, I felt like an intruder, like I didn’t belong, and even like it was wrong for me to enjoy such a place because it might be materialistic to enjoy such a lovely place.  God immediately began to address those lies.  He not only told me that the place was a gift for me to enjoy because He loves me so much but also I am to receive His love.  He then revealed to me that I so often live the same way when it comes to the spiritual realm.  I so often feel like the best is for super-Christians and that it’s pride to even want a ministry.  He revealed to me that I hold back from receiving from Him because I keep acting like a servant instead of a daughter.  I keep acting like I have to earn and work to keep my position instead of receiving it as a beloved daughter.

God also showed me that the wedding outside our balcony was to represent that just as a marriage is two becoming one, God is inviting my husband and I to go deeper with Him and to become more “one” with Him.  I feel so humbled as I comprehend more of the depths of His love for me!

(Small wedding:)

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Maine was truly incredible, but the lessons I learned there are the memories that remain the longest and are the most precious!

(Last pictures are from our last morning in Maine:)

Life Will Always Reveal The “Security” Of Your Worth…

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I remember those days as a single woman, hoping some guy would like me and choose me.  I thought that if some guy, particularly a really nice guy, would choose me, it would mean that I was worth loving — that I had value as a woman.  Sadly, I thought that my worth could be determined by a guy.  Not only is that dangerous, but it’s false.  I thought that marriage and motherhood was where my purpose and value could be found.

Don’t get me wrong, there is great purpose in marriage and motherhood, but your value cannot be found in it.  In fact, it is unhealthy for you and your kids if you try to find your value and even life purpose in it.

I remember those days then as a young mother with two young babies.  I remember believing that I was a failure because I couldn’t keep my kids perfectly happy all the time, and as a result, they couldn’t keep me perfectly happy.  I thought that I could be the “perfect” mother, and my life would somehow be “perfect” as a result.

I remember those days of four and then five kids and one kid who had serious needs.  We were seeing a slew of medical professionals, trying to find the cause of his struggles.  It was daunting and terrifying.  I remember the hopeless and helpless feelings.  I remember the anger because I felt so out of control, so afraid, and carried boatloads of shame because I believed that if my kids were “perfect” and happy, then I was a good mother — I had worth.  I also believed that if my kids were unhappy and struggling than I was a bad mom and thus didn’t have worth.  I can only tell you those were dark and painful days for me.  To add to my pain, so many Christian circles didn’t seem to want to know about my pain.  To be honest and vulnerable was to admit weakness, and weakness was perceived as shameful and something to hide.  For all our talk of God’s grace, it seemed that we understood it so little.  It seemed that so many people’s false understanding of Christianity meant that you put on your Christian costume to hide the smell and dirt beneath.  It seemed that no one cared how much you hurt — only that you played nice and pretty.  The truth is that if we want to truly heal, we need to bring our pain and dirt to the light.  Light reveals, but it also heals.  This is hard stuff I am writing, but it is the raw truth.

Then, there comes the teen years.  There are teen hormones and attitudes, and yes, society has painted it to be worse than it is.  Let’s be honest though, it has its ups and downs.  Some kids sail through the teen years, and other kids deal with a lot of turbulence along the way.  In addition to all of that, we have way more challenges than the past.  Now, there is internet and YouTube.  There is no great way to completely unplug our kids.  Those of us who dare to forbid our kids from owning their own phones or tablets are deemed as too controlling.  Our kids like to inform us that we are the ONLY parents who don’t allow this, which is of course not true.  The point is, serious dangers are so readily only one click away from our kids.  As we found, we may do everything we can to protect our kids, but a neighbor may bring a tablet onto your property while the kids are playing outside and expose them to something you have worked so hard to block.  If your worth is based on having kids that are innocent of the world, you are facing a very disheartening battle.

I am not there yet, but I have met strong Christians who enter the health challenges of the elderly years.  Suddenly, these aging Christians can’t be as involved and often have to retire from ministries and positions of influence.  I have watched those Christians naturally become discouraged and depressed.  Why?  Because their worth is tied into their usefulness.  This lie is so ingrained within our culture.  Our society seems to give us a “shelf life,” and even Christians tend to look at the young and their vitality for usefulness.  Is it really true that God views us as valuable so long as we can contribute to His Kingdom?  Is our value based on our contributions or something/Someone else?

I have ridden the waves of shame that comes when my worth is tied to performance, influence, relationships, innocence, physical attraction, and abilities.  I will never be enough when I connect who I am and my value with what I do and how I appear.

I remember that day a little more than three years ago when God awoke me early in the morning and showed me a massive ugly boulder, blocking my view.  He spoke to my heart and asked me if I was ready to get rid of the boulder.  He told me it was my wrong identity.  I told Him that I was.  I then saw both of us put our hands on that massive boulder, and it rolled off the cliff like it was nothing more than a paper rock.  God then began to reveal the depth of His love and grace to me.  I began to glimpse the overwhelming nature of His love.

All the love that I had longed for from a man was what God Himself was only fully capable of giving.  My husband is a good and loving man, but he can’t love me like I crave and need.  My kids are precious and my greatest treasures on earth, but they can’t give me the joy, peace, and purpose that God can.  Ministries are wonderful, but they can also be exhausting, burdening, and trying without me understanding that I must live for an audience of One!

God has given me gifts and abilities, but thankfully, my worth isn’t connected with them.  In fact, they become more useful when I understand that my worth is inherently priceless and eternal.  My worth is wrapped up in His worth because my identity is wrapped up in His.

“I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine.” — Song of Solomon 6:3A