Tag Archives: growth

Flocked in His Grace

Flocked tree

We had our first big snow recently. Heavy, wet snow fell over the course of 2 days. 2 days that Dominic was out of town and my oldest away at college. Yes I cried and whined having to shovel twice in 2 days and still hurt from the after effects. (Old age stinks) 😉

In an effort to embrace this expected season change and colder weather I tried to focus on the positives….most of which included how beautiful the trees look after a heavy snow. The entire block was white and the once brown, dead looking trees, looked vibrant again.

Yesterday I was driving out of town and while some of the snow has melted, most of the trees were still covered. They glistened in the sun and it was a beautiful sight.

And for some reason I had a flash back to a memory long forgotten.

For years as a child, my parents would take us to get a real Christmas tree at a local nursery. Long before trees were available at every Sam’s Club, Home Depot and Costco, there was one special place we would go each year to get our tree.

The smell inside the nursery was heavenly. The front shop was filled with handmade wreaths and trees decorated with ornaments you could purchase…and then there was a special place in the back corner.

If we were lucky there would be a tree in the contained area that had just been flocked that we could see.

For those that don’t know what flocking is, they use a substance that is white and spray it all over the tree, it makes it look like it was snowed upon. Flocked trees were probably double the price of a regular tree.

I knew they weren’t in our budget, but I always thought they were interesting. It felt like those trees were reserved for the elite, the “special” and just knowing that made them desirable to me.

As I was driving yesterday I realized that the trees outside looked like they had been flocked. Covered full in white, so beautiful….and it was a reminder for me.

I have been walking through the past few months feeling like the brown, dead tree.

I know that I am a sinner, we all are I get it…but there are times that the weight of the person that I am is too much. I get stuck in old habits and patterns of behavior that have long been unacceptable, but I tidy up just enough so that I don’t have to deal with the underlying issue.

I place so much emphasis on how things look on the outside that I have ignored the inside, heart issues, for way too long.

Becoming aware, even slightly of the work that now needs to be done, feels overwhelming and I (as is my nature) want to give up.

Sometimes redemption seems impossible, and grace – real, life changing grace, feels out of reach.

And then I get a simple reminder in the picture of some flocked trees that I too am covered by God’s grace.

Isaiah 1:18 says Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Jesus paid for my sins. How quickly I forget that. I get wrapped up in my own emotions and feelings about my present state and forget that the Son of God bore the weight of MY sins when he hung on that cross.

He did it for me.

And as a result, in the eyes of God, I am white as snow.

Now this doesn’t give me free reign to go and continue to allow sin to wage a war inside of me. There are things I can and need to do with God to work towards freedom.

One of the first things is changing my perspective.

I have believed that I was like that dead tree and couldn’t ever see myself as the beautiful flocked tree.

I could only see the sinner, forgetting what grace looks like. I get stuck in the hopeless and don’t know how to move forward.

My eyes need to be fixated on that vision of grace. I need to embrace it for my own life and then be as generous with it for others as God has been with me.

It is a start, and for me at the end of this year….I guess it is the place that I need to be.

Maybe you have been struggling with something too, feeling like that ugly, dead tree for so long that you have forgotten grace is available for you. Friend I am grasping at these truths with all that I have and want you to know that you aren’t alone.

You are beautiful and loved and flocked by His grace.

Photo Credit: JusDaFax

For Those Who Persecute You

Prayer

I know that I don’t fully understand what real persecution is like. The kind that causes one to hide to worship God because they fear the repercussions if they are found out. The kind that has men on their knees facing imminent death. I don’t for a moment want to compare the struggles we have been through to the magnitude that those are….but  we have faced persecution.

I don’t want to give too many specific details because honestly it is in the past and it doesn’t matter anymore…but there was a time that Dominic and I were persecuted by another. False things were said, attacks were made and ultimately God walked us through that time and has blessed us, but it was a painful time. Feelings were hurt and it can be hard to let those go.

Recently we heard that this person has cancer. We know no other details…just that word.

And can I be honest that the immediate thought that came to my mind was “they are getting what they deserve.” (Please know I am NOT proud of this either)

Immediately following that thought, was the command that I needed to be in prayer for this person. (THIS is ALL God)

When bad things happen to people that have hurt us, it somehow feels like a little bit of justice is taking place. Now let me temper that by saying that I too have hurt people, so by my own definition, I deserve bad things as well.

So please hear me that I don’t think that anyone who gets cancer must have done something to “deserve it.” Quite the contrary. What I am admitting to is that my humanness, my sinful nature, makes me react in a way that is not Christ-like.

I know that I am a failure. I can’t and don’t love like Christ. It is the reason that I need Him in my life every moment of every day.

But Jesus specifically said in Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

It seems pretty clear doesn’t it?

It doesn’t mean that it is easy though….

So I looked at it a little deeper…if you read a little more in Matthew you see this. Matthew 5: 43-47: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others?”

If I am seeking to model my life like Christ, I need to be listening to His words on how to live.

I was sharing my thoughts with two of my closest friends this morning, because this IS hard. I can know it, and believe it, but the walking out of my faith can be a challenge.

One of these friends shared something that hit me in a new way this morning. When Jesus was hanging on the cross he was in between 2 criminals. Now I don’t know that we know for sure what their crimes were. We don’t know how old they were or if they had ever lived a “good” life…but we do know that their crimes were serious enough to warrant an execution of this manner.

One of the criminals taunted Jesus and told him to save himself and them. The other said this… Luke 23: 40-43:But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The 2nd criminal may have been a criminal all his life. But in that moment, with the recognition of his sins and the acknowledgement of the kingship of Jesus…he was forgiven – completely.

He may not have done a single thing “good” in his life up to that point, but when faced with the truth of Jesus he knew he wanted to have a chance at being remembered.

THAT is why Jesus came…if even only for that one criminal.

As I felt challenged to pray for this person who has cancer, I initially looked at it selfishly. It stinks to admit this, but I thought if I prayed and they found Jesus, maybe they would make restitution for the things they did…the things they said.

But God calls me to pray for those who persecute me…and I need to do that regardless if the offender attempts to make things right. I felt convicted today because I knew that I was putting conditions on my prayers. (<====Click to Tweet)

I will pray for them IF the end result serves me.

God’s love is unconditional. Regardless of how I respond, He loves me. If I am seeking to be more like Christ, I need to model my behavior after the example that was set for me.

So I will pray that this person will know Christ in a real, personal way. That God’s presence would be felt and that healing would occur.

This isn’t and won’t be easy, but it is necessary. As I make choices that are against my “human” nature and more align with a Christ-like nature….slowly I am being transformed in His image.

And these moments of transformation are pretty exciting!

“Change my heart Oh Lord, make it ever new. Change my heart Oh Lord…I want to be like you”

Photo Credit: Lel4nd

Backup Singer, Comedic Relief and Why Dying to Oneself is So Hard

Sheet Music

I have always loved to sing.

In the most difficult times of my life, singing praise and worship songs, belting them out in my car as my cry to God,  were my lifeline.

When I didn’t feel able to praise God in spite of my circumstances with my own words, the lyrics to my favorite praise songs did that for me.

I haven’t ever taken lessons, and in junior high I was always jealous of those girls that were a part of the jazz or swing groups. The would sing and perform on stage and had such confidence.

I tried out for concert choir in high school and while I felt like I botched the audition, I made the group and I loved that time learning and singing.

When we moved to Marshall almost 4 years ago we found a church that we loved right away. I remember seeing the worship team lead and wished I could be a part of it…half hoping that someone would hear me singing and tell someone that I needed to be up on stage.

It all happened a little differently than the magical way I had dreamed of, but about a year and 1/2 ago I started singing on our worship team.

It terrified me.

I am not kidding, like all out body shaking, voice quivering, terrified.

Don’t get my wrong, I equally loved it at the same time too, but it was all I could do to not run off the stage on the Sunday’s that I helped the team.

We have some really great, strong singers on our team and as we practiced my confidence grew a little. I started learning how to hear and sing harmony on some songs (which has completely wrecked my ability to NOT sing harmony on most songs I hear on the radio) 😉 But the one thing that terrified me more than anything was the possibility of leading.

As the person leading the song, you have to know when to start, when to come in, you need to sing strong and know all the notes…you are leading and the rest of the group depends on you.

So clearly my scardy-cat self was not prepared for a job like that.

You see I joke that I was hired for background vocals and comedic relief. Now of course we are all volunteers and don’t get paid…but if we did that is what I would be paid for. I would not be paid to lead. At least not in my mind.

And then this week I was asked to lead. Sometimes leading means everyone on the team sings with you, and as the lead your mic is just turned up a little louder than the rest. Other times when you lead it means that you sing a solo for a time before others join you.

The latter option is horrifying to me. Horrifying.

And so, of course, THAT was the option for me this week.

I didn’t feel confident and the song felt to high. Do I try and sing it strong with the risk of straining my voice, or do I revert to the falsetto high voice that I need to reach those notes that are waaaay up there?

Switching between the 2 wasn’t coming smoothly. I practiced throughout the week. I listened to the notes on CCLI, and I begged God that He would impress on the team that someone else was better equipped for the job.

Clearly I struggle with a few self-confidence issues.

And here is the deal. I KNOW that I sing because God gave me a voice, and I do it for Him. But the voice in my head tells me that if I don’t have it perfect, then I will be a distraction to those trying to worship.

If I can’t sound like Natalie Grant or Kari Jobe…then I shouldn’t be leading.

Dominic told me to sing loud and proud. But as we approached the song in practice yesterday morning I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I tried and it sounded awful, there may have been a few tears too…I was so mad that the whole thing was such a struggle for me.

It is embarrassing to feel that emotional about singing a verse and a chorus by myself. Our team is amazing, and they came in early and sang the chorus with me…and one of the WT leaders talked to me before the service started.

This too is like labor. A process we must go through, and in the end there is a reward. We get to honor God with our voices – even if they aren’t perfect.

Because it isn’t about me. And yes I KNOW that…but boy the physical reactions that I feel in that situation say otherwise.

And I am not there yet. She said that this too is a process of dying to oneself. Of getting to that place where we are leading in worship, unashamed. I can’t and won’t get it perfectly. I am not Natalie Grant or Kari Job, and the people at my church don’t expect me to be.

They all give me grace but I am unwilling and unable to give it to myself.

And she also said that my perception of the situation and the reality may just not be the same. (Who knew?! 😉 )Which is unfortunately the case in so many areas of my life. If I really sounded as terrible as I felt I did, they wouldn’t have me up there.

So this is a process that I am going to have to walk through. I will be honest it would be easier to just ask to never lead a song again, or to quit. Because it is my nature to flee from things that are difficult like this.

But God doesn’t want us to run from the difficult. He calls us to walk through those things, and promises that He is with us.

I don’t know when I will get over the fear. But I know that I want to honor God with the voice that He gave me…so regardless of how I feel on the inside, I will choose to keep trying, and will trust that He will refine this area in my life as well.

What do you struggle with that God is calling you to walk through? I would love to pray over you this week!

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary

2014 – A Review

Battle Lake Sunset 2Our family just spent a week up in a “cabin”…which in this case is code for very large home on a lake with its own theatre room which was ridiculous…except for a few of the bathrooms that only provided cold showers, we were surrounded in luxury. It was nice to get away from the “normal” and spend time with my extended family.

My dad commented that most years we get about 4 hours together at Christmas, and this year we had several days. It was a treat and a blessing that God provided for us. Yes, God has really provided for us this year. It hasn’t come without hard work, long hours and sacrifices…but He has been good.

I have been thinking a lot about the past year and what I thought 2014 was going to bring. In some ways I can’t believe that it is over and in others 2015 can’t come fast enough.

One of the biggest and continued blessings of 2014 has been the community of women that God has surrounded me with. Women that support and encourage me. Women that pray over me and love without judgement. These women in my tribe are the greatest gift I could have ever received this year. While community wasn’t what I was seeking when I started this God-sized Dream journey 2 years ago, it has been better than I could have hoped or imagined.

At the beginning of 2014, with wobbly and knocking knees, I shared my hopes to be called to the platform and speak. It terrifies me even still because even thinking about it makes me want to throw up a little, but still it is a calling that I feel. And while 2014 brought only 2 opportunities, one for my husband and I together at church and another at a local MOPS group early in December, both were an honor to be a part of.

I think starting the year, sharing that dream, I thought that maybe there would be something “bigger”…but I was reminded recently when listening to my 40 Day Prayer Challenge devotional by Mark Batterson, that I don’t have to influence thousands….maybe God calls me to be an influence to 1 who then goes on to influence thousands. Each is important. And so while my dream to speak didn’t end up looking like I had hoped, it was a blessing to be given an opportunity to share my story at all.

Because our stories matter, don’t they?! Our hurts and our hopes, they need to be shared. I have said before that I started blogging because of one woman who was brave enough to share the difficult…and her testimony and faith were what got me through a very dark time in my own life.

If you feel called to share your story, do it! We may not get a book deal, or a viral post….but our words may touch the heart of another who is hurting and THAT my friends is what makes it worth it!

At the beginning of the year I also felt challenged to find balance for my home, work and family. I felt like God wanted that for me and so I made it my word for 2014. And can I just say that challenge was a FAIL. Like a BIG TIME FAIL.

I think I walked away from 2014 with less balance than I started! 😉 So if you feel the same don’t feel discouraged! I am reminded once again that this road we are on is one of progress, not perfection. It is easy to look back at our year and feel like we have missed the mark. But I don’t want to end this year focusing on all the things that I didn’t get done, or I didn’t do well. Because intermixed in those failures are so so many blessings. And that is what I want to remember!

There has been growth in ways I hadn’t expected. Approximately 3 months ago I started my first 40 Day Prayer Challenge. I wasn’t sure what I expected, and with my track record of starting but not finishing so many other things….I didn’t hold high expectations for me on this. But yesterday I finished my 2nd 40 day challenge!

I have journaled through the process and while some of the prayers are yet to be answered, I have seen God moving and I can’t wait to keep going. I even got a new Prayer Circle Journal from my dear friend Delonna and it will be the perfect way to start praying through 2015!

Yes God has been moving.

So I leave 2014 filled with gratitude. No it didn’t always work out like I had hoped or imagined, but each step was a learning experience, an opportunity to grow, and for all of those things I am thankful.

And 2015? I thought I had a word to start the new year and now I feel like God has given me a different word. Because of course, and a little thank you to Christine who spoke life and truth to me this morning that helped in that revelation! I will share more about that tomorrow though.

Until then, can I just end this by saying thank you. Thank you for walking with me here, For encouraging me, believing in me. For each uplifting comment, and those who shared my writing. I know that many of us haven’t met in real life, but I count you all friends. You make this journey worth it! Happy New Year friends!

Today I am joining my friends over at God-sized Dreams linking up our dreaming stories from 2014!  And Kristin Hill Taylor’s Three Word Wednesday!

GSD Link Up Picture

 

TWW Button

Not What I Wanted For Today…But…

Choose Joy

I shouldn’t be surprised really, it seems it always happens this way. Life hits, harder at times, and it can feel like things are spinning out of control.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going in for a fairly simple, “routine” laproscopic procedure. It is same day, I should be home around the dinner hour…I am not worried at all. But there is a TON of things I wanted to do to prepare for a few days of me being tied to the couch as I recover.

And so, on a day when we have client deliveries and need witnesses, a day when Dominic won’t be able to answer the phone, or prepare for the things coming up while I’m out…our youngest boy is sick and I am at home.

It is moments like this that I can get so frustrated. Why does this have to be happening now?

But what good does that type of attitude do me?

Yes it is inconvenient, yes it is frustrating…but it isn’t the end of the world.

While my natural response may be one of anger and pity, I can choose to have a different response.

This morning I spent a few brief moments circling my family in prayer. Praying over our meetings for the day, for the health of our family, my upcoming surgery and the big choices that face Isaac in regards to college etc.

What an honor it is to pray for my family.

While I do bring my requests to God, I also bring my thanks even when life isn’t perfect.

I am thankful for each member of my family.

I am thankful for all of the blessings that God lavishes on us.

We don’t worry about food, or heat, or how we will get to and from where we need to go.

We are spoiled really, and while a day like I hadn’t intended isn’t my plan, I can still be grateful.

But gratitude is a choice.

Each and every day I must make the choice to choose joy, in ALL things. (<==== Click to Tweet)

Yes it may be work, it may go against the grain of what my natural response might be. But my hope is that when I make that choice over and over again, it might become the natural response I have to any kind of situation.

My prayer for you today friends is that regardless of what you are facing, that you might make the choice to choose joy. Choosing right along with you this morning!

Finding Beauty in the Abandoned Dream

Abandoned Home

In late July my family and I took a road trip out to the Black Hills of South Dakota. As we were driving I noticed several abandoned homes scattered throughout the landscape.

High on a hill the house stood, windows broken, door weathered. The once straight roof was wavy with time and wear. Gaps between the boards in the walls were visible. Clearly this place had been long since abandoned.

And I couldn’t help but wonder who had graced the spaces of that home?

A newly married husband and wife, seeking to start a new adventure on the plains? Did children run in the adjacent fields? Young men eager to farm the land and provide for their families?

Dreams start that way don’t they?

We feel the trill of a new start, we anticipate all of the positives and try not to focus on any of the negatives. We push forward in faith, maybe with a little fear, but filled with hope and the promise of what’s to come.

And if we are lucky all those hopes, those dreams and ideas are fulfilled. But it doesn’t always end that way does it?

I am sharing more over at the God-sized Dreams website – will you come and join me there?!

Shared by: Kristin Smith

Photo Credit: sub35089  (If using sunset pic it is Kadek Susanto)Ka

Saying Goodbye

Birch Tree 2

I have always said that I believe that God brought us to this house.

During the transition time that Dominic was living in MN and we were still back in SD, we made several trips to Marshall to look at homes. Our Realtor (and now neighbor) 🙂 was patient with us and showed us a bunch of homes.

We weren’t sure when we were going to be moving so it was hard. We would see and fall in love with a home and then it would be sold. This went on for 5 months. We finally came to a point that we knew we needed to take that leap of faith and put our SD home on the market and just see what would happen.

It sold in 4 days after 1 showing with a 45 day closing time.

Oh and I we had just had a new baby a few months before. It was a crazy time. And we needed to find a home fast.

I saw a house online that I loved and sent Dominic on a late night, last minute trip to see it. It already had an offer on it but there was a possibility to make a counter offer. While he was there Molly asked if she could show him 1 more house.

A home that had been on the market for a long time, and the sellers were motivated. So Dominic went to see it and I remember the call he made me that night on his way back to his rental. He just knew it was “the” one.

He was giddy and I was too, we made an appointment to go and see it as a family that following Saturday. My parents came along and we even looked at a couple other houses. But we knew that house was the house God put in our path.

I sometimes forget, but really we are all so grateful for the gift that house has been to our family. We don’t deserve it and yet we recognize the blessing it is for us.

One of the first things that I fell in love with when we drove down the drive was the beautiful birch tree in the front yard.

In the mornings when I would get up and have my quiet time I would sit in the front living room and the birch was my view. It has inspired a couple of different blog posts, most recently where I wrote about how God was peeling away some of those layers that had been holding me in bondage.

Birch 4

That tree and I have a history in just 3 short years. It has been a powerful and beautiful representation of God’s work in my life.

We had a tough and very cold winter last year. We started noticing that a large part of that old birch wasn’t healthy. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. But a few days ago our neighbor had a tree service company over and we stopped to talk to him.

Brian and his wife attend our church and we knew if anyone would be helping us with our tree issues, it would be them.

Birch Tree 6

He was over again today and confirmed that our tree was at least 2/3 dead. He could take down 2 of the 3 main trunks, but the reality was it wasn’t going to get better and we would likely just have to call him back out again next year.

So at lunch today we made the decision to have that tree removed.

I cried a little on the inside.

I know, I know it is just a tree, but it has been a part of our family the entire time we have been here. It is hard to make changes some times isn’t it?

I ran outside and took a bunch of pictures. I am just a little sad that it was so grey and dreary for her last photos, but I knew the front landscape of our home would drastically change and I wanted to document it.

Birch Tree 1

And so we went back to work and when I got Gabriel from school we came home to this….

Birch Tree 5

Amazing difference isn’t it?

I do like how you can see the entire home now, but I am going to miss my early morning views…

Birch Tree 4

Now all that remains is this stump. We decided not to remove it at this point (I didn’t want to deal with the large landscaping issue we would have with a hole there right now) so for now this will be our reminder.

Our views will constantly be changing. I am coming to appreciate the changes even when I don’t like it. I am hoping that I am able to see the view in a new light…different but not bad, and a new opportunity to see in a way I haven’t before.

I am grateful that an old, dying birch tree can continue to teach me so much about life. May I always be seeking to recognize the beauty that is around me.

The Layers and In Between

Layers

The take-off began in the haze that had settled over Houston. The higher we climbed the cloudier it got.

It was bumpy at the onset, so my eyes were closed for a few minutes, and as I opened them we were just rising above the cloud line. Land was visible below in small spaces between the fluffy white clouds. I had a strong sense of the emerging that had just occurred. The layer that just minutes before been hazy and difficult to see through, was now clear and beautiful.

I started taking pictures with my phone, it may or may not have been “legal” at that point, but I couldn’t stop taking in Gods beauty.

The tops of the clouds looked like cotton balls that had been stretched apart for the beard of a Kindergarten Santa project. Soft and inviting, comfortable even!

As the plane rose, the skyline changed once again. I am not a meteorologist (BIG shocker I know!!) so I don’t know the technical term, but the next layer of clouds was flat, like fog almost. But off in the distance were spots where clouds were shooting up into the sky above in billowy formations.

Layers 2

I wondered if storms were brewing below them.

Have you ever been in a place that right where you are is flat and calm but you were able to see the storms on the horizon? You are sure something is happening just below the surface but you aren’t positive what it is. Will it bring a difficulty? A time of testing? Maybe an opportunity to trust in God?

Would you join me over at God-sized Dreams to read the rest of the post?!

Layers Unfolding

Birch 4

I love the birch tree that is in our front yard. It has always been a thing of beauty to me. While I typically picture the birch as a tall straight trunk this one is different…unique in its own way.

In the mornings when I do my bible study I often just enjoy the view of this beautiful tree. A few days ago I was resting after lunch and noticed all of the different layers that were bending away from the main trunk.

A few spots were especially raw and the bark that was exposed underneath was a lighter color. The kids at one point this spring took to pulling on that bark and tearing it away when it wasn’t ready.

I find myself doing the same in my own life at times . Wanting so bad to find the new skin under the old, I tear away at the layers of who I am and find that it is too soon, too raw and I am not ready for the change.

Dominic and I will celebrate our 18 year anniversary in a little over a week. It just so happens that we have been asked by our pastor to share our testimony on that very Sunday in church. Sharing where we have been, what has changed, and where we still struggle today. Oh and all in the span of about 20 minutes. If you know my husband and I you know that we aren’t short on words so getting it all in will be just short of a miracle in itself! 😉

I have been thinking a lot about what best to share so that God gets the glory. There are so many miracles that have occurred in our relationship because of Gods intervention and yet, still so much change and growth that needs to occur inside of me.

I would like to say that I am not at all a reflection of the person I once was. Angry and bitter, resentful and vengeful and feeling oh so holy.

But the truth is that even though there have been so many changes, there are still areas of bondage that I struggle with.  Yes God has slowly peeled back layers to reveal a new creation because of His hand …. But I am not fully complete yet that is where I struggle the most.

Specifically, I am not good about taking responsibility for my poor behavior. I can point out the negatives in someone else real easy. Just ask Dominic he has had the unfortunate “opportunity” to experience it firsthand. I can justify my choices based on something that has no relevance to the situation. And make excuses for why it isn’t ever my “fault”.

It isn’t right and it is a repeating sin in my life that is becoming all too burdensome.

I want freedom.

I want to rip off the old layers and find the new underneath.

But am I ready for real change? Is my heart in the right place? Have I truly brought it to the alter, willing to do whatever it takes to find freedom once and for all?

I believe that God can deliver us from those things that keep us in bondage. Fears, addictions, anger and resentments. I have seen God work in amazing ways in the lives of people around me.

So why not me? Why after almost 18 are there still areas that haunt me?

I have to believe that I haven’t been fully ready to shed the old because it is comfortable. Sure my behavior gets me in trouble every once and awhile, but who is it hurting really and aren’t there so many worse things out there that I am not doing?

Is it really all that bad?

The answer is yes. Especially if it hurts the people closest to me that I love.

And you know what? I don’t have the easy answer on how to change. I know that with God all things are possible. So I am giving myself, my sins, my justifications, and my anger…giving it all to God.

I am praying that He will remove the layers that need to go in His time. I am asking that what is found underneath any bad be filled with the full knowledge of His grace. That I would be a reflection of Him through me so that I couldn’t take credit for the transformation.

Because I want you to see Him when you see me.

God is the reason I have the ability to pour into these pages here. He is the reason I find myself typing frantically on the notes page of my cell phone at 11:42pm because this message here is His not mine!

I believe that no matter what is holding you or I in bondage today can be loosed and set free by the power of the Almighty! We just need to be the least bit willing to let Him do the refining, no matter how long it takes.

I think we will find that what is underneath is strong and beautiful. And He does it all because of His great love for us.

Don’t be discouraged friend. Start praying over those areas you want freedom in and be ready to give Him the glory as the transformations occur!

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