Here at BraveGirl Community, we try to bring you encouragement regularly. So, we’ve got a schedule that’s flexible, but gives us a small bit of structure. My posts are supposed to come every other week, and we call them “Thirsty Thursdays with Tammy”.
A little alliteration there, but this week really does have to do with thirst.
Many of us are trying to “do it all”. We’re balancing our work lives with our personal lives and in the midst of all that we’re doing, we’re drained. There is a general sense of exhaustion that cannot be pinpointed, but it’s there in the background—if I stop long enough to notice it. Frequently I choose to then busy myself to drown it out.
If you study dehydration, the body mistakes the need for water with a hunger sensation—therefore not drinking enough water leads to weight gain. How many of us are spiritually dehydrated? We consume our social media, our music, our activities, anything we can find to try and fill that nagging, gnawing void.
Like a sponge, we don’t work as well when we’re dried out. And? A clean sponge, moistened with soapy water, will clean up a mess without absorbing too much of it. A dry sponge, on the other hand, will absorb every bit of that mess and it will be difficult to separate the mess from the sponge. It soaks up the dirt, the spill, and it becomes part of the sponge.
In Isaiah 55:1-3, God calls to us. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I have been so thirsty lately.I recognize a restlessness, a discontent, and it seems to be linked to the amount of time I’m spending on the computer or on my phone. I have a craving inside for something, but what? What is it that I’m really wanting?
(in verse 6-7, we get the answer) Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
And if we seek Him? Here is His promise—here is the power of His word: (starting in verse 10) “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.“
If you are feeling empty, restless, needy, discontent, unsatisfied, perhaps you too are needing the “word that goes out from my mouth”. I long to go out in joy and be led forth in peace! Oh how wonderful that sounds!
I’m subscribed to a few pages on my Facebook feed that consistently share Bible verses and I cannot count the times that it has helped me.
Below is a list of phone apps or Facebook pages or emails that have “fed” me and brought me strength. BibleGateway has a daily verse on their homepage. GoTandem is a free app for your phone that will give you up to four verses a day and they tailor it to your needs based on a short survey you fill out. They also take prayer requests. Proverbs31 Ministries has a daily devotional sent to your email (Monday-Friday). Christine Caine has a daily email. Unveiled Wife has a daily prayer for wives that can be sent to your email. YouVersion is a great app for Bible Verses.
There are many others out there, so please add your favorites under this post in the comments. My best encouragement to you is to find a short scripture that fills you up and write it out, hang it up where you’ll see it, and commit it to memory. (write it on your heart)
Here’s one that I found easy to remember. “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ~Psalm 90:14
Also be watchful of the entertainment you seek out. You will absorb whatever you see, hear, meditate on. If you aren’t feeling filled, maybe there is a worship song that will focus you and feed you.
Mine lately is “Oceans” by Hillsong.
Again, we always love to hear from you. Visit us on our facebook page, send us a tweet, or email us! Leave a comment with a scripture that’s been feeding you. It’s guaranteed not to return void!
Today I am so honored to share with you a story of a true BraveGirl. Her name is Jennifer Smith and she founded Unveiled Wife in 2011. We are giving away three copies of her new book, “The Unveiled Wife”, as well as sharing a new worship song at the end of the post.
You can also view the trailer for her book at the end of the post!
I met Jennifer in 2013 at a semi-local event. She was up in Central Oregon, visiting family and discussing her “Wife After God” devotional. After talking, she encouraged me to share my story on her website, believing it could bring healing to other wives who may have had similar experiences.
I’m in the “I LOVE My Husband” shirt in the center, she’s in the coral top with a lovely scarf! My friend Angel is rocking a dark shirt and jeans and wedges. I give her the credit for introducing me to the Unveiled Wife ministry.
This is consistent with the heart of both Jennifer and her husband, who chose to expose every piece of their love story in this new book. It is not glamorous, but it is genuine. It is in the imperfection of her life that she reveals the glory of her Creator. “He never stopped pursuing me and He never stopped loving me.” It would be difficult for anyone to admit their faults in marital disagreements, but to list all of your faults in a public forum, typed and printed, and then to place your smiling face on the cover to encourage that same transparency in others? As Annie F. Downs would say, “that is brave.”
The book is set up for discussion or introspection or both. Each small chapter has two to four questions afterward that you can meditate on and respond to. Personally, I couldn’t stop reading the book and devoured the first 27 chapters in one day! The next day, I took my time with the last three, as they were especially deep and thought-provoking for me.
I’ve only been married two years longer than she has, but in our deepest hearts, all women have the same needs and longings for intimacy. “You desire to be fully known and loved.”
I was privileged to attend a live event for her book release where she had a panel that shared the time with her about what it means to be unveiled. You can click on that YouTube video here.
Here are a few gems. “What I have learned is that being unveiled is about letting your walls down so that God and others can get to know the REAL you, imperfections and all. It is about offering yourself in love.” “What I discovered was freedom. Freedom from fear and freedom from pain.” “When we embrace true intimacy with God and others, it leads to reconciliation.”
I finished this book with a hunger and a longing in my heart for a deeper level of intimacy with God. The questions left me pondering areas in my life where I’m hiding, holding back, keeping secrets and ultimately locking myself in a lonely place. Outwardly, I find all sorts of ways to distract from that pain, but it’s only when it’s brought to the surface that the healing will happen.
The message of Unveiled Wife is based on 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)
If you have ever struggled with feelings of failure, unmet expectations, or feeling unloved, there is something in here for you. I would also encourage you to check out her youtube channel where she goes through her “Wife after God” devotional. She has one video for each chapter-meant to take a month to complete.
Here is one video, from Chapter 8. It deals with your worth.
I hope you will know how much God loves you and longs for you to be absolutely filled and to know Him in your deepest places. That you will trust Him and become brave enough to be unveiled with Him.
The topic of brokenness has been surfacing frequently around me. It is rare today to meet an adult that has not experienced brokenness directly. Whether in the form of broken relationships, promises, families, almost everybody is touched by brokenness.
Then the secondary effects of brokenness become evident. A broken person lashes out of their pain and breaks another. How many of us have had expectations that were unmet? Has that led to broken dreams? A broken heart?
Recently, my pastor spoke about trusting God enough to allow breaking. “There can be no breakthrough without a breaking first.” I immediately thought of broken bones.
If left untreated, a broken bone will set and heal improperly, leading to all sorts of pain and long-term suffering. A skilled doctor will purposefully break the broken bone, reset it properly, and when it has healed, it is stronger than before!
Our hearts can be reset by the Great Physician. Do we trust God to break our already broken hearts? That what has come from the brokenness is in need of replacement or repositioning?
Psalm 51 was written by King David after he’d been confronted for his sins with Bathsheba and then against her husband.
Verse 10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Where he really “gets it” is in verse 16: “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.“
Perhaps your heart is broken because you had a dream, a hope, an expectation, and you have given up. You read Psalm 37:4—Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.—And now you find yourself in despair and disbelief that God would ever give you that desire.
Can I encourage you? Perhaps you are ready to be broken. I hit bottom a year ago. Challenges with parenting one of my children caused me to hit the rockiest of bottoms and I cried out in despair for God to take me home at that moment. I admitted that I was a complete failure and had no ability to handle the situation. In that moment, He met me and lifted my head to see His eyes. There was no lecture or disappointment in them. He looked on me with pure love. “Tammy, I know you can’t. I have always known that without Me, you could not. I was waiting for you to give up the dream of perfection within yourself. You are now broken and ready to be healed.”
God met me at that dark moment and I allowed Him to “reposition” my heart until it was in alignment with His desires for my life.
The desires of my heart were to have children that loved Christ and loved to do what was right. Those are great desires, but it cannot come from me or my own strength. Instead, I must model loving Christ and doing what is right, that they would be drawn to Christ living within me. That even if I were to be taken from earth, they would still pursue Him.
A song that has been such a source of joy and life for me lately is “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong. I encourage you to listen to the song. The first verse speaks so much to my heart.
“All these pieces broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole. Empty-handed, but not forsaken, I’ve been set free, I’ve been set free.”
The chorus states: “I can see You now, I can see the love in Your eyes, laying Yourself down, raising up the broken to life.”
Christ is longing to heal every wounded piece of your heart, if you will just trust Him to do so.
What about you? Are you close to the bottom? Is your heart broken? Can we pray for you for healing? Please leave a comment and we’d be happy to pray for you!
Some statistics show that only around 8% of people that make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goal. That seems very discouraging to me and I wonder why that is sometimes. What I’m really pondering are the positive and negative consequences of reaching our goals. Fads versus lifestyle changes… One of my ideals would be to be able to just say no to sugar. But if you know me, you know how much I love ice cream and cookies. And that this goal seems nearly impossible – it would definitely be a fad.
I started to think about how people can often be so glorified for having some awe inspiring testimony, like overcoming cancer, losing a ton of weight, finally kicking the drug habit, or being a hardcore rock star then finding Jesus and becoming a worship leader. What about the guy who’s been a steady Eddy his whole life? Or the mom who has made many a sacrifice for her children and spends an hour a day in prayer? The person who lives upright and has been rock solid always. I don’t hear those stories as much.
This line of thinking makes me ponder on the story of the prodigal son; the lost son of whom Jesus shares about. The son I most often think of is the guy that squanders his inheritance, comes crawling back, and is welcomed by a feast rather than a shaming environment. And then there’s the son who has been there all along and experiences jealously and resentment when his dad starts throwing a big bash for the bratty brother. The dad still loves them both in the midst of the tainted history and temper tantrums. Can you relate to either brother, or maybe both? Whichever end of this spectrum you may be in, or if you’re somewhere in between, take heart and be glad. God loves us, each and everyone. He wants to bless us with parties and long-term, ongoing abundance, even through trials.
I can definitely relate to both brothers. When I came to accept that alcohol and drugs really had created damage in my life, I had to look at not only all the negative consequences that had occurred, but also at all the positive consequences that did NOT occur. It was very revealing to me to think of the things I might have done with my life if I hadn’t been so consumed with the party lifestyle.
So I bring this all the way back around to what’s going on with me today. I was researching natural ways to treat an under-active thyroid, and the results are very similar to natural treatments for many other sicknesses: cut out gluten, take the right vitamins, eliminate processed foods and sugars, eat healthy fat, exercise, practice relaxation techniques, etc. There are very few people I know that really practice ‘clean eating’. It’s a battle in our culture and society. But I think about them and the positive consequences they experience like satisfaction with their bodies, higher energy, less illness. And then I think about all the negative consequences they might NOT be experiencing, like hypothyroidism and having to take hormones – and the list could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at my issue at hand.
So I want to strive to be the steady Eddy this go around. The other brother that’s sticking around and intentionally hanging out with God, my Father (hopefully without too many temper tantrums). And making healthy choices all the way around that include nourishing my spirit through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation,
and nourishing the body through cleaner (I can’t imagine not eating ice cream) eating, relaxation, and exercise. The body, mind, spirit connection is far beyond what we’ll ever completely comprehend and I could write another blog just sharing my thoughts on that. But I’ll leave you with one last thought: may we glorify God through each decision we make today and enjoy the positive consequences and be grateful for not suffering through negative consequences that haven’t happened.
How about you? Do you feel like the older brother? The younger brother? Both?
2014 is over. And, for many of my friends, we are rather thankful that it’s over. It was a year with some wonderful things, some terrible things, and though this is true most years, the hard things seemed a little harder last year.
Have you ever wondered why you’re going through something? If you did something wrong to somehow “deserve this”?? Perhaps you didn’t do anything to “deserve” it. I know that it’s hard when we don’t have the answers, but sometimes, we go through things and find later that we are able to help others in the same situation. Or, maybe their situation has different details, but their emotional state is so similar that we can relate and offer great empathy and encouragement.
It’s not the difficult thing that we end up impacted by, but the way we handled it. 100 years from now, what is the result of this temporary situation? How did it change me? That is the useful reward. An author I am recently impacted by, Christine Caine, has a quote that really sums up what I’m talking about. “The devil on his best day did not take you out on your worst day. You are still here. You are still standing. The best is still to come!”
I have a friend going through something very hard right now. I’m so very thankful that I am one of her “people”. 🙂 We all need people when we’re going through difficult things, but our strength cannot rely on people. They are the secondary support system of a shared faith in a Mighty God. He needs to be our strength. There are things He can see that we’ll never see until the end of our time, and only when we’re trusting a power much greater than that of mere mortals are we strong. “I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8)
In the middle of friends going through difficult things, if you don’t know what to say, that’s okay. Sometimes trying to say something can end up being more harm than help. For example, encouraging someone about “God’s perfect timing”, however true, may be the very thing God is wrestling with them. In that case, stay out of the ring or you might get a blow thrown your way!
But, be encouraged. Just as the sun sets and the shadows grow long, the next morning is already coming and the light will come back. God’s light is not visible always, but He is always there. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Be encouraged, dear friend. Your tears are not wasted. Your struggle is not in vain. The Mighty One of all time has heard your cry and will be able to redeem EVERYTHING. Nothing has happened to you that He did not see. We do not know why people are spared or not spared, but that there is redemption in Him. Perhaps He will use you to bring healing to another that is in danger of breaking under the same burden.
As I sit tucked away in the corner of my favorite coffee shop, I’m in the midst of one of my guilty pleasures…people watching. Scanning the room I see the young college student in his jeans and t-shirt chillin’ by the window, sipping his cup of coffee, and zoned out with his earbuds while his books sit untouched. Then at the big table in the center of the room is the group of housewives dressed in the latest fashion chatting about the best restaurants in town. Over at the private corner table are the two older women who have met to talk about something deeper as one of them leans in toward the other to hold her hand and comforts her.
Then all of a sudden…time stops…SHE WALKS IN…the woman whose appearance is close to perfect. She’s wearing the latest designer heels, has seemingly perfect legs, a skirt that shapes her as if it was tailored only for her, every hair on her head is in the right place, her flawless skin and commercial smile cause everyone in the room to take notice for at least a second but for most, longer than a second. She acts like she doesn’t even notice or care that she grabbed the attention of close to everyone in the coffee shop. She scans the menu like it’s an average day and an average moment for her. I sit there in awe thinking, what would that be like?
It’s THAT type of woman that starts to mess with my head. Why? Because I know I’ll never be like that. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum from THAT woman. If I could, I would wear t-shirt and jeans, tennis shoes, and a ball cap every day for the rest of my life. And most days, I do! When I see women like that, I start to cut myself down, how I fall short of what our world tells us is beautiful. She oozes femininity and beauty….what a woman is supposed to be like, right? As if flipping a switch, I quickly fall into the trap of feeling “not enough.”
But then my spirit gently reminds me, there’s good news for women “like me”…God makes clear in His word about who I am! Believe it or not, today I’m grateful I’m not THAT woman in the coffee shop. Why?
1. BECAUSE HE KNOWS MY NAME– Let me state that again…
THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSEKNOWS MY NAME. He knows tomboy Christy from Arkansas. From the beginning of time to eternity, He knows ME. I can hardly wrap my head around that fact alone. God took time out of His busy schedule and thought about ME…down to every intricate detail of my being.
Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Vs16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
And in Matthew 10:30 – Jesus says, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
In Isaiah 43:1The Lord says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
2. I AM CHOSEN and I AM HIS CHILD– The mere facts that HE CHOSE ME and calls me HIS CHILD makes my stock go UP…and up FAST!
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
I am a child of the King – Romans 8:16 says“The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
To me, there’s nothing more valuable in this world than God calling me His child. He is declaring I am His and I get to be with Him for eternity. There is no greater gift or VALUE than that!
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”
3. GOD HAS GIVEN ME SPECIFIC GIFTS and TALENTS –I have a specific role designed by God to carry out for His purpose! That role was set up way before I ever came on the scene.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. NOW TO EACH ONE the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good.”
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God designed me with specific gifts for HIS PURPOSE. THAT woman in the coffee shop can’t fulfill what I’m supposed to fulfill. I’m designed to fulfill a completely different role for His Kingdom than she is, and she is designed to fulfill a role tailored specifically for her as well.
I’m grateful I’m not THAT woman. God knows my name, He has given me gifts and a role specifically tailored to ME, and He has chosen ME in ADVANCE to do those works, and above all, I AM HIS, a child of the one True King.
Bravegirl Jennifer says, “A woman’s armor comes in all designs.” Today, I like God’s design of me. I don’t want to dismiss, criticize, or compare His workmanship any longer. God’s word says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Thank you God for creating ME. Thank you God for creating the person reading this right now. I urge you, reader, to dwell on these scriptures so that you don’t forget how amazing you are. You’re amazing because God created YOU. You are here because He CHOSE YOU to be here for this particular time in history for this generation. You have a purpose that no one can fulfill but YOU! Now THAT is amazing!
Will you join me? Will you tell God thank you for creating you? Will you ask Him how you can fulfill His design for your life? Let God show you what He can do with YOU, His workmanship, which is always enough.
Do you have someone in your life that hurts you over and over again regardless of your actions and behaviors?
The knife pierces my heart and I feel the searing pain and the questions begin. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? How many times do I have to apologize for the same old grievances? How should I change my behavior so this doesn’t happen anymore? The journey over eggshells begins; and yet the knife pierces again.
I have been in recovery for 10 years and I still have a relationship in my life that continues to shred me, scar me and plants the seed of shame in my heart. But……it’s a blood relation…I have to keep it right? This is where I stumble…my tools tell me “To thine own self be true”, my God tells me, “you have been washed clean with the blood”. What do I do? What is the right answer?
2Cor 12:9- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
While I don’t have all of the answers, I do know that God doesn’t require me to be subject to abuse just because this person is family. Today- it is ok for me to walk away. Tomorrow, God may put something else on my heart about this relationship but tomorrow isn’t here yet so I will have to take today as it is.
2Cor 12:10- That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So, if this holiday season has you in close proximity to a painful relationship lean into the grace that is reserved just for you, for your heart specifically. Know that you are not alone. You are the beloved of God and no one can interfere in that truth.
What painful relationship do you struggle with? What have you done to break free?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2nd Corinthians 5:17
There is a stirring. God is doing something new. He is calling, and we are answering…as the caterpillar waits in the chrysalis to emerge at the perfect time.
She struggles as she stretches long to break free. One wing cuts through the outer shell, the blood flows to the tips of the wings, and she feels stronger. She gains strength, the other wing is released, and she is free. She is a completely new creature. Slowly she stretches her wings to fly. She is beautiful.
Once the butterfly leaves the chrysalis, does she long to go back to being a caterpillar?
Does she carry the past with her?
She is a new creation, why should she go backwards? Her one focus now is a passion for living.
We live in a fallen world. We face challenges, but by the death of One on the cross, we are set free.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
We live free from guilt and condemnation of the past.
We live free in the grace given to us as the result of one sacrifice. He died, so we may live.
We live free, so that we may show others the way.
Your passion comes from the struggle you went through – the deepest, darkest time of your life. Your struggle for freedom gave birth to a passion within you.
Your passion plus the power of the Holy Spirit is what sets you on mission to impact the world.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16
What if your past becomes the tools God uses to help shape the future?
When your passion turns into a calling, the cost becomes irrelevant. Jennie Allen, from Restless
When Jesus chose Peter and Andrew He said to them,
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
God chose 12 men not for what they did, but for who they were – ordinary, loyal, and devoted.
He knew the depths of their hearts. He even knew one would betray him. He chose the disciples, used their past to ignite a passion, and helped them see how they would shape the future.
As disciples (students & learners) they followed him. They learned how to see life from a fresh perspective. When He was gone, He gave them the power of the Holy Spirit, and He sent them out.
He took their passions; He taught them the Scriptures; He gave them the Holy Spirit, and THEN He sent them out to reach certain people groups.
Jesus found ordinary men to do extraordinary tasks.
God’s favorite instruments are nobodies, so that no man can boast before God. In other words, God chooses whom He chooses in order that He might receive the glory. John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men
God was doing something new, so that we could see it was from Him.
He chose 12 ordinary men to become apostles who impacted the world then, and their stories continue to change the world today.
God is doing something new. You are a part of it.
He needs you to move forward and not look back.
The power of the Holy Spirit combined with your passion creates the perfect combination needed to reach the people who need to hear about Him.
He has released you from your chrysalis, so that you may live with a passionate freedom.
Is something holding you back? Do you realize you are chosen and called? Spend time in His Word so that He may continue to equip you, and give you the confidence to go. You are ready.
Sweet butterfly, it’s time to fly and impact your world today.
My personal definition of freedom has changed to suit my purposes over the course of my life. When I was a teenager, freedom meant getting out of my parents’ house, where there were no rules – or at least where I thought there would be no rules. I would have the freedom to come and go as I please, when I please and with whom I please.
Not two years into college, after having experienced a bit of the freedom I had so longed for, that long sought freedom was taken away for a bit when to my surprise, my school and I did not share the same definition of freedom. I moved back home for a bit so that I could attend a community college and my parents were, of course, given the freedom to enjoy [or not to enjoy] my company once again.
In my mid-twenties and beginning of my career – freedom meant having a salary that afforded me the ability to share a hip apartment inside the city with a good friend, vacationing overseas, staying out late, sleeping in on the weekends and more handbags and shoes than one girl will ever need. This freedom was wonderful and liberating. That is, until one by one, each successive roommate left poor little me and got married. My definition of freedom once again changed to include the freedom to marry whoever I chose and not to wait on God’s Best and His timing. In case you are new to reading my posts in the Brave Girl Community – choosing this freedom did not work out – at all.
Free in a marriage that was never meant to be, I found myself alone a great deal of the time due to my husband’s work schedule. Soon after I got married, and for all the wrong reasons, I resigned from my wonderful job. This new freedom had its good moments – I was able to take classes – I learned to sew, crochet, scrapbook. But, it also left me alone to stew in growing bitterness and anger at myself and my husband. This freedom led me head first into a downward spiral…If drowning my sorrow and pain with a bottle helped me get through my day – why not? If taking a handful of pills melted away loneliness and got me to sleep at night – why not? My chosen freedom took me to a horrific place of addiction and self-hatred…and it nearly killed me.
Deep down, I knew I was headed down a dark and lonely tunnel. I became a Christian at young age, but never really caught on to the idea of finding Freedom in Christ. How could I be free and enjoy life, with all the rules and regulations He would surely give me. I witnessed friends and family living under God’s Grace and Freedomhappily, joyful even, but I wasn’t willing to take that step. Finally, my stubbornness to accept Christ’s Freedom left me nearly homeless, living in a halfway house in a terrible part of the city and so close to losing my children and my life, it breaks my heart whenever I think about it. Some say you have to hit rock bottom – I hit it hard and finally broke.
I was broken in so many ways. I felt so undeserving of His Love. Even so, Christ met me there in that hell hole I was digging. This year will be the five year anniversary of Him offering me His Freedom and my finally accepting it. His Loving Hand led me out of that dark path, and I began to see the light at the end of my tunnel.
Today I live happily and filled with joy under God’s Grace and in the Freedom I have found in Christ. Every morning when I wake up He gives me enough grace to make it through whatever may come my way and I live with His Freedom because He died so that I may have it.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2
And that fabulous job I quit…He brought it back to a few months ago through a series of coincidences I can clearly see His hand on. And although I may not have that cool place in the city to live in just yet, a home of my own will come in His perfect timing. However, I do have amazing roommates – my parents and the cutest little twins God ever created…and as an added bonus, a little freedom to buy shoes and handbags.
What is your definition of freedom? Is there another word you occasionally redefine to suit your needs? We would love to hear from you and pray for if you are struggling with anything today. And remember…
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
It’s that time again – the beginning of a New Year. A chance to start over, to look back at 2013 and see what was accomplished…and what wasn’t. Watch television or listen to the radio for more than ten minutes and you will see and hear the advertisements for products and services promising you a new and improved, better you in the New Year…and at a discount. They know us – we are making resolutions and they are more than happy to remind us where we need improvement.
Each year without fail, I have the same resolution – to get in shape and lose weight.
I will be 40 this year. In less than one month’s time I will be middle aged and that fact is not sitting so well with me yet. Back in about June (about the time I did the math and realized this fact), after having failed to do anything to accomplish my New Year’s resolution, I recommitted myself to my goal. I even went so far as to write it all out – an eating plan, workout schedule; I even had rewards set in place (in the form of new shoes) for reaching weight loss goals. And now, half a year later…
I have gained weight.
It’s not that I didn’t try – I made it all the way to Whole Foods on more than one occasion and I joined the gym in my office building. The funny thing about the wonderfully organic and delicious food from Whole Foods is that you need to eat it, not just let it sit and rot in the refrigerator while you eat the pot roast, mashed potatoes and squash casserole your mom made for the rest of your family. And the gym, well, you have to go and do more than change into those “getting started” reward shoes you bought yourself.
Discouraged and feeling like a failure, I turned where I’ve learned to go in times of despair, prayer and a dive into God’s word. A couple of the verses I found I’ve seen before, but this time I let them really sink in. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we are reminded:
…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Oh. That’s pretty powerful stuff when you look in the mirror and want to change what you see. What I always neglect when making resolutions is making a commitment to a change of heart. When I am honest with myself, I recognize that my head and my heart need the most work. God is showing me I need to shed the jealousy, anger and discontentment so He can replace it with compassion, gentleness and peace. When I think about it too much, it seems like an even harder goal to reach than losing 15 pounds. However, it is a journey that will bring me closer to my Heavenly Father and I have a feeling He will be more inclined to help me with this one than He has been in the past to help me get into those cute, overpriced jeans at Nordstrom.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s eyes. — 1 Peter 3:3-4
And finally, I am reminded that I need to tell my girls daily how beautiful, loved and precious they are to me and their Savior and that in His eyes, they are perfect. They are growing up so fast…it is time to impress upon them what a girl who knows who she is in Christ should look like…on the inside.
As an added bonus, we will get back to our tradition of sneaking Easy Cheese and Ritz Crackers into movie theaters instead of what I insisted we bring last time: kale chips (do people really eat those things and enjoy it?). The big 40 isn’t looking so bad anymore.
How will you be more honest with yourself this year?
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