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    Redeeming Love: Celebrating Our 10 Year Wedding Anniversary

    This is a story of the old made new—a personal love story of God’s inconceivable tenderness and continual pursuit of me and my husband, Ellis. This is a story about revival, deep transformation of hearts, love, the power of forgiveness and of witnessing our God’s ability to perform the impossible healing we have been graced with. It is a truly miraculous love story that has little to do with Ellis and I and everything to do with who God is and how He came in when we needed Him most. He fearlessly stepped into our mess in the midst of our brokenness, grief and great loss and lavished on us an undeserving tale of restoration, renewal and unending mercies and faithfulness. Our prayer is that while we peel back the layers and let you peer inside our personal lives, God would use our past pain and current vulnerability to draw you closer to our Lord.

    This past week, in honor of our 10-year wedding anniversary and in celebration of all the Lord has done in our marriage, Ellis and I renewed our vows. This day was more meaningful and more emotional than the day we married, because it carried a weightiness and joy having come out of a very stormy season. In a private, backyard ceremony, alongside our children and in front of our family, we recommitted ourselves to one another and celebrated God’s victory over the enemy, His rescue of our marriage, His redemption of our household and His renewal of our hearts. We stood together weeping at the altar in gratitude—crying for all the past struggles, failures, pains and regrets, and shedding tears of thanksgiving to our God who didn’t give up on us.  Together we thanked Jesus, the only One who kept the covenant, for being the never-ceasing faithful One in our lives.

    Our story is one of failures and heartaches, but is ultimately one of victories, healing and triumph! On my pathetic search for significance and love, I found myself in the depths of the valley of despair—a place of tormenting dependences and soul-fragmenting strongholds. I was a deeply wounded and broken person; a type of brokenness that cannot be seen on an x-ray or from the outside based on how it all appears. I made great efforts to look like everyone else. I appeared happy and kept up with the status quo, yet I was completely empty and pain-filled on the inside. I couldn’t let anyone know what was going on in the depths of my heart—the shame was too great, and I felt as if I was the only person who ever struggled. I felt defective, purposeless, ashamed, a fraud, and worst of all, an unloved failure. I chased after a futile, performance-gospel and a haughty self-savior mentality. I was partaking in life destroying, addicting, self-sabotaging, codependent, self-loathing behaviors—savagely feeding a broken side of my wounded heart with everything but Jesus, which inevitably broke my spirit and mutilated my soul in the process. This stronghold was born and suddenly something else became the author of my self-esteem and self-worth. 

    I had hit rock bottom. I was in a state of palpable hopelessness. Thankfully my story (our story) doesn’t end there. The soil of rock bottom is one of the richest and most fruitful places you can find. Everything is stripped away, there are no more delusions of strength, striving ceases, and you have nothing to offer but everything to receive. When all you bring to the table is your own sin, when you have nothing to bring but your failures, that’s when Jesus get to show up and do what we could never do for ourselves. The God of “immeasurably more than you could ask, think or imagine” is able to rescue you from yourself. When the real you finally shows up to the real God, you get real change. Freedom is unleashed.

    Jesus is the friend who sits with you and does not judge you while you are in the pit. He is also the very one who has the power to save you, to break you free from your man-made prison and to deliver you into everything you’ve been looking for. He is in the business of restoring souls, transforming hearts and deliverance. Trust me when I say this is not a pain-free process, but who better to trust with your pain when you are at your lowest point than Jesus, the Refiner? He is the Ultimate Heart Surgeon who is equipped to repair the root and underlying problem. Humbly recognize that this is why Jesus came: Jesus came for the pretenders, screw ups, Pharisees, frauds, hypocrites, sinners, scoffers, the ones hiding, the ashamed, the broken, the hurting, the lost, so that we would know, learn, experience and let His loving truth wash over us.

    Matthew 18:11-14 tells me, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly I say to you, HE REJOICES MORE OVER THAT SHEEP THAN OVER THE NINETY-NINE THAT DID NOT GO ASTRAY.” 

    “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a NEW THING; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

    I have been the recipient of immeasurable grace. I have been given the privilege to have a true, heartfelt understanding of grace and just exactly what it is and what it has the power to do in a human heart. Grace is an action packed word that is often devalued and misunderstood these days. Grace does not make wrong a right and it does not permit wrong. It also doesn’t blow past a wrong or cover it up. Grace says that wrong is a wrong and that is exactly why it is needed. Grace is a choice way of dealing with wrong; not turning your back on or enabling wrong. Grace had to come because the ‘law’ (rules of right and wrong) alone didn’t hold the power to rescue, heal, transform, forgive or save—it only has the power to call a wrong a wrong. The law could never do what grace could. That law has no power to liberate, alter or redeem. But grace does.

    “If a human could change another human, Jesus (or Grace) would have never needed to come!” Paul David Tripp

    Grace is what transforms, grace is what exposes wrongs, but it never asks you to pay for them. God’s grace will expose what you want to hide, not to shame you, but to forgive you and deliver you. Grace shatters our darkness. Grace illuminates those dark, hollow and hidden places. Yes, there will be the pain-filled light of exposure, but the blood of our Savior has already covered what will be exposed! It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, and it is His tender mercies and unfailing compassions that cause the scales to fall and enlighten the eyes of our hearts! It is love, gentleness and mercy that brings breakthrough to people and it’s what brought breakthrough to me. I am thankful today for God’s patience and unrelenting commitment to process.

    “Theology that isn’t zealous to promote forgiving and transforming grace, the kind of grace that changes your life, is simply bad theology.” Paul David Tripp

    “You will not send me 
from Your presence.
 You will not drive me
 from Your grace. 
You will not separate me 
from Your glory.
 You will not eliminate me 
from Your promises.
 You will never
 ever
 ever
 send me away. Because Your anger 
was borne by Another. Because my separation
 was carried by Him.
 Because He was
 sent away, 
I will never be. So, in weakness,
 failure, 
foolishness, 
and sin, 
I stand before You once more
 with courage,
 hope,
 comfort,
 and joy,
 because I know
 that in all the
 dark things that 
may be whispered to me 
in this dark and fallen world 
there are two words I will never hear from you: ‘Go away.’ And so with gratitude and joy
 I get up to face the day
 but as I do, I do it
 without fear.” Paul David Tripp 

    Since our marriage had been torn down to the studs, Ellis and I felt we had two choices: we could either build a moment to the past or draw a line in the sand, place an Ebenezer Stone (1 Sam. 7:12) there and choose to walk forward in to this 'new thing' the Lord had promised us! Because we serve a God whose mercies are new every morning and whose loving kindness never fails, who is constant, unchanging and eternally steadfast, we chose to trust Him with our pain, our healing and our restoration. If the offender and the offended alike take their pain to the Lord, what comes next will astound you—you will partake in a joy so grand, a restoration so rich, a wholeness so majestic, a hope so stunning!

    God didn’t deliver Ellis and I from this horrific pain, but He delivered us through! He was faithful just as He promised! During our renewal ceremony, Ellis gave me two new diamond eternity bands, to serve as Ebenezer Stones—as stones of remembrance for what is past and hope for the future. They are a reminder that the Lord has delivered us through our heartache, pain and great loss and that the Lord was with us then and that thus far the Lord has helped us, yes, [and will help us now and always. For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20]

    “Let these bones you have crushed, rejoice!” Psalm 51:8

    Praise God He cares about us enough to not let us stay like this! Less-than, lacking, or hurting. "God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, accepts us as we are, but by His grace, He doesn't leave us as we are!" Tim Keller

    "He who promised is FAITHFUL!" Hebrews 10:23

    "After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you!” 1 Peter 5:10

    "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds!" Hosea 6:1. 

    "He will turn darkness into light and He will make rough places smooth!" Isaiah 42:16

    God promises us in Jeremiah 42:10 that He WILL "rebuild you and not demolish you, I will plant you and not uproot you!" His grace abounds and as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my sins from me (Psalm 103:12)!  

    He’s given us redemption money cannot buy, a rescue no friend could provide, a restoration only The Carpenter could rebuild, a treasure that cannot be taken. 

    "He was sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. He will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; He will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." (Isaiah 61:1-4) 

    If you are in a tremendously painful season, know that the safest place to be is kneeling at the foot of the cross. This is the only way that leads to full redemption – fullness of peace, lasting joy, wholeness of your soul, life abundant! “Put your hope in the Lord, for WITH HIM is unfailing love and WITH HIM is full redemption!” (Psalm 130:7) Trust Him with your terror, pain, fear and heartache.

    He longs to bless you, rescue you and heal you! He is for you! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.

    Jeremiah 29:11 promises that His plans for you are “to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future!”

    “Mightier than the waves of the sea is His love for YOU!” Psalm 93:4

    “What can make us whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

    In Romans 15:5, Paul calls the Lord the “God of endurance”. He is the unending Pursuer of any of His "lost sheep". When we cannot endure or completely lose heart, HE will not! For He cannot deny Himself; it's who He is. I love how it's said in 2 Timothy 2:13 - “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful - for He cannot deny Himself.” His faithfulness rests on who He is, not on who I am or on what I’m doing. It's actually not about me at all, it's about Him. It’s about who He is. And “His faithfulness never comes to an end” (Lamentations 3:22-23) . Do you really know Him? Know who He really is? I met Jesus long ago, but I didn’t really know Him until recently! 

    God’s covenant faithfulness, grace-centered love and never-ceasing commitment to process of healing, refining and redeeming our once ugly hearts is the reason Ellis and I are here together today! He longs to do the same for you and your’s!

    He is here to be the lover of your soul, the healer of all your wounds, the one who never leaves you or forsakes you in your weaknesses. He came for situations just like ours. He is the only answer, the only way. He has come to rebuild and renew, so that we might have life and have it abundantly!

    And today, we walk hand in hand, coming out of this devastating season in our life. We choose Him and one another. Every day. Ours is a redeeming love story, one that could only be written by the Giver of all good things, the Giver of all we need, the only one who satisfies our souls. We are thankful our three kids were able to be apart of our ceremony so they could witness how much their parents need Jesus and grace, just like them. So they do not feel alone. Our deepest desire is for our kids to know early and often that their parents are far from perfect and what a BIG God they serve!

    “Not to us, not to us, oh Lord, but to Your Name be the glory because of your love and [unending, never ceasing] faithfulness." Psalm 115:1 

    The scars of this will never leave. They will always be visible for anyone to see and for anyone to ask, “What happened to you?” Thankful for the scars of grace and this testimony of who God is and what He has done! What joy!

    “He saved them for His Name’s sake, that He might make known His mighty power.”  Psalm 106:8

    Take comfort that you can never go too far to ultimately return to the Lord! Personal heart and life change is always a process. But He is in the “process” business! He transforms those who seek Him and makes all things NEW to those who call upon His name! In Him we lack no good thing, He is our Helper, our Deliverer! 

    “Blessed is he whose transgressions are FORGIVEN, whose sins are covered!” Psalm 32:1

    The blessed person isn’t the perfect person; the blessed person is the forgiven person (as it says above in Psalm 32). The one who humbly comes before a worthy Father, recognizing their need for help and allowing Him to come in a make all things new! The one who unashamedly throws themselves on the mercy of the courts and desperately partakes in His covering love!

    Only our God could turn heartache into glory from Himself, ashes into beauty, mourning into praise, addictions into refinement, wounds into wonders, trash to treasure, shame into joy, bringing us closer to one another and to our God in the process. That is redemption. My God is faithful - even unto death - and every word He says is true, every promise He makes He will fulfill; come call upon His Name for that relief and rescue!

    “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

    “But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be WHOLE. He was whipped so we could be HEALED. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray. We have left God’ paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6 

    “We will song of the Lords loyal love forever and will proclaim His faithfulness from one generations to the next!” Psalm 89:1

    “Praise the Lord, my soul,
who forgives all your sins
and who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
 or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
 so great is his love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:2-12

    10 years ago today we said I do. We didn’t know on our wedding day just what we were saying yes to! By going through the depths of despairs and the immense joys of life together, there is real power in the fact that we choose each other again today. Not because we have to, or because it was what’s right for the kids, but because of the Lord and because of our God-centered, renewed love for one another. Tested and refined through fire; now strengthened.  Reinforced. By the grace of God and against all hope, we stand stronger today! Better together, better than we were, in a place I could have never imagined possible! Thank you Jesus for coming into our mess and making our healing and restoration possible! Thank you for making us more like you through our season of suffering! Thank you for never leaving us to our own devices! We owe you everything and you are truly worthy of it all! Praying we are believers that have been changed by you – we’ve brought You all our baggage and messy conditions of our hears, and pray now that our lives would reflect the same grace we’ve been shown. Lives full of compassion for people, forgiveness and grace-centered love for others! To point them to You!

    Praying you are encouraged and rejoice alongside Ellis and I in the victory the Lord has won in our hearts, our marriage and our family. I am praying that the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the only Name that saves, falls heavy on you today and you run to (not from) this Helper, Healer and Blessed Redeemer. 

     

     

     

    “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a NEW song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-4 

    The Wonders of His Love

    Christmas! A season so profound, so life changing, so rich, so joyful, so full of hope and grace—it is here! JOY to the World!

    “Thanks be to God for His indiscernible GIFT!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

    As we started decorating our home this year, we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a family! I don’t think I’ve watched that movie since I was a child. But as many times as I’ve seen it in my life, I was struck so profoundly by the scene when the Whos in Whoville woke up Christmas morning to find all their presents stolen right from underneath them by the Grinch. Can we all agree that that would be a complete and utter nightmare? They seemingly had nothing to be thankful for and they had every right to be mad, enraged and disappointed. But what occurs next on the screen is what brought tears to my eyes: instead of freaking out, they join together hand-in-hand, to happily sing joyous and heart-delighted Christmas songs. Christmas wasn’t ruined for them as the Grinch had originally intended. As he peered down from Mount Crumpit, he was aghast at what he saw and heard. Moments later, though, a light bulb goes off in his head (as it should for all of us) and he utters the famous lines that are so true and stunningly beautiful:

    “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” - Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    What a simple, yet powerful reminder from a children’s movie, of all things, that our hope and joy and satisfactions does not ever come from a gift, from a store, from a box, etc. Isn’t that the lie of the enemy? He whispers, “if only you had that piece of jewelry, that iPhone, that car, that raise at work, that group of friends, that trip, that money, that home, that status, you would be happy and fulfilled.” When does it ever end? *Spoiler alert* it doesn’t! If we can’t fundamentally grasp that none of these things will ever satisfy the desires of our heart except for ONE THING, we will miss THE greatest gift of all time and will live ceaselessly searching to feed the desperate condition of our hearts! That One thing is what we celebrate at Christmas! Christ our King! He is WHO and WHAT we were designed/created for. As cheesy as it sounds, we all were created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts—a gaping hole! We all feel and experience it—this something that’s missing, something that’s lacking. A longing. Just like a cookie cutter, our heart wasn’t meant to have other “things” or “items” shoved in there. They won’t fit. (I’m a super over-the-top visual person, so sorry for that likely horrid example, but the creative visual helps me understand things better!) As I heard recently, we are all “wanting machines,” but satisfaction won’t come from the next toy, or as you get older, it won’t come from the next home, trip, status, etc. As we teach our kids this truth, I’m finding Ellis and I’s talks with them are more for us than anything else J Recognizing that our hearts were fashioned and intended for our Lord, our Savior alone to fill it (to rest on the throne of our hearts) is truly one of the secrets of finding true and lasting peace, joy and hope in this life. 

    What overwhelmingly abundant lives we would lead if we all found our joy, identity, pride and confidence in the One that will never let us down, will endlessly satisfy us and will provide everything we need! We only need to look up and cry out, “Invade my life, Lord! Fill those empty, hurting and longing places - that were created for You alone. In you, I find everything I’ve always been looking for.” This isn’t something you or I will ever master, but it’s key to grasp and humbly recognize this daily battle and vital to extend ourselves a little extra grace in the process. There is importance in abiding (John 15) and anchoring yourself to the Lord (Hebrews 6:19) daily! We aren’t ever “grace graduates”…it’s only “manna for the day”, “daily bread” – not a one stop shop! Which I love! Because that makes the daily relationship with our God that much more intimate, personal and truly real!

    As we celebrate coming of the Christ child, I’d love to take a look at why He came! I’d love to put a fresh spin and give you a renewed perspective on Christmas!

    On Christmas morning, light exploded into the darkness -- into this dark, lost, broken and desperate world. Doing what we couldn’t do for ourselves! That’s why we have Christmas trees, right? To symbolize how the Light of the World hung on a tree, how He came to die in our place and rise again defeating sin and death – what we could have never defeated on our own.

    Jesus’ love for us is fearless - it isn’t guarded or limited; it’s vulnerable and raw - He knows He will get hurt, ignored, betrayed, lied to, misunderstood, written off, mocked, sinned against and yet He doesn’t distance himself from us. No, He jumps in anyway. (“He knows the depths of my heart and He loves me the same!") HE doesn’t make His final response to us one of judgment. He chooses grace. He comes to us. Moves towards us. He meets us right where we are with arms wide open full of redemption, compassion, and forgiveness! His love is fearless! He dove head first off His throne into this mess of a broken world. To heal it, to save it, to bring it a hope and a future, to die for it, to die for His accusers, His mockers, His unbelievers. His love for us is so grand that He died in our place with hope we would come to Him and give Him our hearts. And all the while, graces us with freedom, life-abundant, healing and wholeness. Freely. It’s the most beautiful love story of all time. A King who physically left His throne to come here to save and rescue you! Not to live in a palace. Not to be served, but to serve! The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! For YOU! He became the lowest to show us glory in the highest.

    One of my favorite songs is “Glorious Day” by Passion Worship Band – it’s not a Christmas song but the words always weigh heavily on me, because they describe my life, but also the reasons why He came for us this Christmas season—why He came to earth as a baby!

    I was buried beneath my shame
    Who could carry that kind of weight
    It was my tomb
    Till I met You

    I was breathing, but not alive
    All my failures I tried to hide
    It was my tomb

    Till I met You

    Now Your mercy has saved my soul
    Now Your freedom is all I know
    The old made new
    Jesus, when I met You 

    I needed rescue
    My sin was heavy
    But chains break at the weight of Your glory

    I needed shelter
    I was an orphan
    But You call me a citizen of Heaven

    When I was broken
    You were my Healer
    Your love is the air that I'm breathing

    I have a future
    My eyes are open
    You called my name
    And I ran out of that grave!

    Until you recognize that intense need for a recue, for something greater than yourself, for something you cannot provide yourself, you don’t get it! I didn’t get it my entire life!! In a season of deep sadness and despair, this song brought me tremendous hope!! I met Jesus long ago, but I didn’t know Him until recently! I’m sure you’ve met Him too— I think we all pretty much have—but do you KNOW Him? Know who He is, know what He is offering you, know and believe His truths? The haughty, prideful and self-righteous don’t get it. I was full of the delusions of my own strength and reliant on my strong-willed feisty personality to be able to muscle my way out of tough things. It takes real courage to admit your need for help, real valor to admit you are wrong, real bravery to humble yourself. Being ok with that desperate need for rescue. Understanding your brokenness. Understanding the need for a Savior. Humbly admitting the need for a power greater than yourself! 

    “We assess we are more righteous than we actually are, and because we do, we don’t seek the help that we desperately need.” The enemy loves to keep our world small, private and limited. “God knew that our condition was so desperately grave that He was willing to go to this extent to reach and rescue us…. simply because we had no power whatsoever to help ourselves out of our desperate state….we would never be able to conquer it on our own. The reason the birth of Jesus is such glorious wonderful news is that in his birth God offers you and me the only solution to the fundamental brokenness of sin that is core tragedy of every one of our lives. So confessing our brokenness is the only way we will ever fully understand and celebrate the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. … Good news is only ever good news to people who need good news. Ten dollars is extremely good news to a poor man, but would not even get noticed by a rich man. The promise of healing is wonderfully good news to a very sick woman, but wouldn’t even get the attention of a woman who was in good health. Jesus’ birth is both the worst and best news ever, and understanding of both will change you life forever.” - Paul David Tripp

    He didn’t come because of what was in us, no, He came because of what was in Him. Praise the Lord we don’t reap what we’ve sown, we reap what Jesus has sown AND get to blessedly partake in forgiveness, righteousness, abundant life now and forevermore because of who HE is. 

    We’ve all read and heard the most well known verse John 3:16, but have you heard, understood, believed, grasped, and received the next verse 17?

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did NOT send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17 

    “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

    “At Christmas we celebrate a God who is glorious in His abundant love and patient mercy. He chose to give grace to those who could never deserve His favor. He chose to rescue those who could not help themselves. He chose to forgive those who had rebelled again and again. He chose to not leave us in our blindness, but to open our eyes. He chose to empower the unable. And because He chose all these things, He chose to send His Son. The glory of the birth of Jesus becomes even more glorious when it is seen through the humbling lens of the desperate condition that was the reason for His coming. Accept the very bad news of Christmas today, so that you can celebrate even more joyfully its wonderfully good news!” - Paul David Tripp

     “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 

    If you haven’t read it or are unfamiliar with the Christmas story, I’d love to encourage you to read the entire story in Luke 2! It’s a beautiful place to start!

    Come as you are today, don’t wait another day. Come and lay down your illusions of strength, surrender and find everything you’ve always been looking for in Christ Jesus. You will find a willing and able Savior, Healer, Helper, Rescuer, and Redeemer! His law is grace and His gospel is peace!

    Today, we celebrate and stand in awe of the WONDERS of His love! His mercies are new every morning, His promises always hold true, and He is faithful even when we are not.

    Jesus came here to meet us where we are, to make us whole, to replace shame with a double portion, to bring hope to the hopeless, to bind up the broken-hearted, to give us a spirit of rejoicing instead of mourning — to heal, rebuild, redeem and restore us. We hope you know Him, find Him, cling to Him, experience Him, call upon Him and the realness of His unending love and powerful life-transforming grace! Praying love abounds and you find true and lasting peace, joy, mercy, freedom, and refuge in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Glory to God in the highest! 

    We rejoice together as a family in our Prince of Peace, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Blessed Hope - the only one who satisfies our souls!  

    “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!” Psalm 126:3

    Oh, come let us adore Him!

    Merry Christmas,

    A Season of Hope, Peace and New Mercies Every Day

    The final chapter of our Honeycomb Collection is here! Can you believe it? It’s a bittersweet cross over the finish line as these past couple of months has been a journey of reflection and studying the deeper meanings of this collection’s 13 words. The Lord was ever so clear in His direction for this line when He originally put it on my heart, and your response to it has surpassed what I could have ever dared to ask or dream of. God has done a miraculous, healing work in my life over the past year and I am so thankful you have allowed me to be genuine in my faults and shown me grace in my vulnerability of what the Lord has been faithful to carry me through. So, that being said, thank you.

    Knowing that hard and fiery times are just a chapter, not the whole book, of your life brings great encouragement and confidence as we look to the future. As a family, we are now entering a long hard-fought-for season of peace, hope and daily new mercies. God truly does turn tragedy to triumph and sadness to praise. Only the Lord Himself could turn ashes into beauty and our hopeless situation into a testimony of praise and glory to Himself!

    “This I call to mind and therefore have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

    Sweet friends, family and mentors have made this verse the banner over my life these last few years—its been prayed over our home, family, life, marriage and children. It promises hope, life, revival, mercy, compassion, grace upon grace, forgiveness, unfailing love and faithfulness of a God who never walks away when the going gets tough. Come and taste the sweetness of His forgiveness, His healing, the delight of experiencing amazing grace and how light it feels to walk in freedom by obeying His Word! Anxiety ceases, peace overtakes, joy abounds!

    It’s not just the shining star moments that make us who we are, rather it is the most difficult and trying times that refine and create in us true beauty, depth, character, fruitful lives, healed joyous hearts and perseverance worth more than gold. Some of the most gorgeous parts of our hearts and soul come from the challenging times. I’m a firm believer that we haven’t really believed God until we’ve attempted something that can’t be done in the power of our own flesh. God has more in store for you than you can ever imagine— dream big, pray big and believe big. We do not serve a small God. 

    Cursed is the man who trusts in man

        and makes flesh his strength,

        whose heart turns away from the Lord.

    He is like a shrub in the desert,

        and shall not see any good come.

    He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,

        in an uninhabited salt land.

    But blessed is the man who hopes in the Lord,

        whose trust is in the Lord.

    He is like a tree planted by water,

        that sends out its roots by the stream,

    and does not fear when heat comes,

        for its leaves remain green,

    and is not anxious in the year of drought,

        for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

    -- Jeremiah 17:5-8

    These two trees have the same drought-filled circumstances yet have drastically different results. So the question that really matters is not how do you avoid suffering or hard times, but where do you go for your source of “water”? We cannot get water, hydration or nourishment from ourselves. This parable encourages me so much, because we can choose to bear green leaves even in a season of severe drought/hardships. Praise the Lord we have a hope outside of ourselves— available to us new every single morning! I am so thankful the Lord is there to bear our burdens, carry our anxieties and give us “peace that passes all understanding” in all times  (Philippians 4:7). I pray you experience Him in all seasons! There’s so much hope waiting for you! Rest in theses truths spoken over you by the Name above All Names!

    “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a HOPE and a future!” (Jeremiah 29:11)

    “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith - into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).

    In Mark 6, Jesus is described in a powerful story of a horrific storm that had overtaken the disciples’ boat. From shore, Jesus sees His men in trouble—fearful and being tossed by the crashing waves and ceaseless wind. It is a frightening scene to imagine, but you see that Jesus doesn’t stay on shore and say a prayer for them from there in safety. No, He dives into the chaos and walks out on to the water to meet them where they are. That is defiant hope and a stunning picture of what the Lord God Almighty does for each of us! He not only goes before us, He stands beside us, and He comes behind us! He is for us! We may not have seen the glory if there hadn't been the storm. He doesn't just watch over you; He is with you, next to you, in the boat, and in the storm with you while the winds are fierce and the squalls are still crashing. You are not alone. Only true peace ever comes from His presence, not from ease of our circumstances. 

    When you are far beyond your strength and ability, He shows up, His power is made perfect in our admitted weakness and humility. Forgive us Lord when the eyes of our heart are fixed on the wind and the waves rather than on You.  

    “Whenever you feel an overriding sense of unrest inside or overwhelming distress in your relationships, the enemy is somewhere in the middle, stirring it up. Anywhere peace is lacking, you can be sure he’s at work. A life without peace is simply unprotected, crippled, unable to move forward, hindered from maturing and developing in a healthy fashion. A backdrop of commotion is the best place for the peace of God to be put on display – our God can and will anchor your soul, tethering it to the security of His gospel, and the good news of His beloved Son. Our salvation, however, is not just about going to heaven and escaping hell. Those are certainly the most extraordinary benefits of our relationship with Jesus, but if our concept of salvation ends there; we’re selling it short. Peace with God establishes our relationship with Him, and as a result, we can experience the peace of God.” (Priscilla Shirer, The Armor of God)

    He is faithful to never leave the work of His hands. God not only meets our deepest need to be saved by the blood of Jesus, but He commits Himself to the long-term process of our heart change and life transformation! He isn't just satisfied that we have been restored to Him through our salvation; His work in the here and now is about redemption—working in us through our circumstances so that we may become more like Him!

    “Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion!" Philippians 1:6

    “Hope is not a thing, not a location, not a situation, not an experience. Hope is a person. Hope that will never, ever disappoint us can only be found in one place. It is not to be found in certain things. It is in fact a person, Jesus. Whether you’ve realized it or not, He is what your hoping heart is searching for, because what you’ve really been searching for is life, real heart-changing, heart satisfying life –- life to the fullest, life abundant. People can love and respect you, but they can’t give you life. Situations can make your life easier, but they can’t give you life. Locations can bring some change to your life, but they can’t give you life. Achievements can be temporarily satisfying, but they can’t give you life. True lasting hope is never found horizontally. It’s only ever found vertically, at the feet of the Messiah, the One who IS hope!” (Paul David Tripp)

    Some challenging questions for you:

    • Do you put your hope in the Lord only in the good times?
    • Where do you run in hard times? Man or the Lord?
    • Where do you get your “water” from?
    • What does the fruit of your life contain?
    • What does your heart demonstrate to others?
    • If others are watching, what will they see?
    • Is the fruit of your life full of anger, resentment, unforgiveness, entitlement, pride and judgement?
    • OR is it full of love, joy, peace, wholeness, healing, forgiveness and compassion?
    • Do the words that come out of your moth provoke quarrels and squabbles? Or do they soothe and heal?

     

    I ask these not to discourage, but rather to get us thinking and to do some honest soul-searching. There is great hope that awaits us.

    “I told you these things so that you have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave, I have overcome the world!” John 16:33

    “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

    “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” Psalm 46:1-3

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 

    “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4

    “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint!” Isaiah 40:31

    “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

    “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The rules of the Lord are true and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold; they are sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:7-10

    You can bet that the God who put the stars in the sky can pull you out of your detour, pain and difficulties. If He hasn't yet, you're there for a reason - press in and don't miss it - He will takes you places you didn't want to go so He can accomplish in you what you couldn't achieve on your own! You are on a path that leads to peace, healing, forgiveness, hope, restoration, nourished relationships, abundant and whole ways of living. Stop limiting yourself and the fullness of what God has for you by making what you have done or what others have done to you the focus of your life. God has more planned for you than you can even imagine! 

    “Now glory be to God, by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even DREAM of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20

    For God to be able to deliver on all His promises He makes us, He has to be completely sovereign and have total rule over all things, places, relationships and circumstances. We can't acknowledge one truth with out acknowledging the other. They are completely connected. Regardless of what life does to you or what you do to your own life! Without this foundational concept, the Bible is a book of interesting stories and helpful principles, but it is devoid of any power to fix what sin has broken. 

    "Sometimes when we finally give up trying to discover all the answers to the whys in our lives and decide to trust a sovereign God, unexpected peace washes over us like a summer rain," she says. "We sometimes lack peace in far less strenuous circumstances because we are not as desperate or as likely to turn them over to God." (Beth Moore)

    He wants our entire lives to be surrendered to him—no compartments, no set asides, no hidden closets. He loves us too much to let us get away with that. He is worthy of it all! He comes for us - sometimes through refining, painful and insufferable seasons. God is vested in you.

    “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love oh Lord endures forever." He never leaves the work of His hands. Psalm 138:8

    Our prayer is that you continue to give the Honeycomb Collection as gifts to yourself, sisters, mothers, friends in your life who are in need of love, hope and encouragement! These are powerful words we can pray and speak over our sister’s life and over her circumstances. As we engrave your pieces, we pray this truth washes over you as well: “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16)!

    Let us choose to be women of Godly encouragement, the building up of and not tearing down of one another, prayer and peace warriors, pouring into each other, ministering to, discipling, mentoring, loving on, being a light in a dark place like a City on a Hill. I’m not sure there’s a louder testimony than to live like this—to rejoice in one another’s seasons of celebrations and suffer alongside those who are in the depths of the valley of despair. The Bible tells us very clearly how to do both! It’s beautiful when the Body of Christ works as it was designed–full of unity, peace and compassion.

    As we enter in to this holiday season, here’s to knowing who you are in Christ Jesus, what you have available to you in His Mighty Name, when you need Him you know where to find Him, where He is at all times is right next to you and why He has come back for you over and over is because of His endless and all-consuming love for you…His Beloved! 

    Come as you are to a beautiful and plentiful season of true and lasting hope, peace and new mercies,

     

     

     

    The Power of Forgiveness

    "Grace allows you to face your sin, to own it and not shift blame. Grace forces you to feel the pain of your regrets, but never asks you to pay for them, because the price has already been paid by Jesus." - Paul David Tripp

    I’ve spent the last couple of weeks praying and preparing for this week’s blog—to be faithful to the Lord’s direction and to obediently allow the words on this page to reflect the redemption story He has written over my life. The next four words up to bat: Saved by Grace, Freedom, Redeemed, and Fearless

    The things I have to say about these words are so deep and personal, so profound and overwhelmingly constant, I’m not even sure how to make this a reasonable length. It’s an honor to share the Truths that lifted me out of the pits of hell in a season of self-destructing addiction and hopeless bondage and how the Lord has turned it into a beautiful redemptive story.

    Scripture says in Hebrews 3:7, 12-13—“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hears as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness…Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.’” We are warned that in times of testing and dispute, it is easy for our hearts to give in to sin’s deceit. We are more susceptible to worldly fulfillment and self-seeking desires than the promises from Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

    Thank God we have a hope outside of ourselves. Our own human strength is not enough to rescue us from the messes we’re capable of conjuring up. God meets us where we are—His love draws near and He pursues us even when we wander. He empowers us when we are weak and restores us when we are unfaithful. When we deny Him, He presses in and does not deny us. 

    I can testify to His graciousness because I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living and He has changed my life (and my family’s life) forever! He’s given us a story, a story of His mighty mercies and fierce love, a story to share, a real story, a story about finding beauty in the ashes, beauty in the broken way. I was a broken shell of a person for so many years. Wounded and hurting. Lost, scared and spiritually destitute. I know what it feels like to almost completely destroy your own life from addictive behaviors, bondage, strongholds, living in chains and filling your life with things that are purely destructive and counterfeit. I had made a mess of my life, let me tell you! BUT…..learning first hand that the Lord IS actually bigger than the mess I’ve created and that He can and WILL redeem and heal THE most disgusting, despairing and devastating of situations if you ask Him to is a heart-stunning, life-altering occurrence. I know first hand just what it means to be set free from something I never thought possible AND miraculously experience His massive redemptive capabilities in my life and family too! I stand here today begging you to believe Him for the impossible.

    He comes back for you over and over (sometimes through pain, grief or suffering) to destroy all other idols you worship—to show you that He will alone supply your every need. When you are a prodigal son returning home, as I was, your perspective on everything shifts. Your heart is softened and willing to receive the graciousness of the Lord’s promises. My heart rejoices—I once was lost but now I'm found! Through His limitless and unrelenting love for me, He has taken the blinders off my hurting heart, not only to the grievances of my sin, but more so to the power and weight of what God has done for me. 

    “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.” - Matthew 18:11-14

    I desperately need my Savior, Helper and Healer! Despite my mess, He came for me and for you, as a propitiation to deliver us from sin, and to destroy the enemy, so that we might have hope. How could someone trade a perfect life for one like mine?! He knows the depths of my heart, my sin, my failures and still chose to stand in my place at Calvary?

    Fully grasping “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” for me is shocking (Ephesians 3:18). I couldn’t grasp it before simply because my wounds were blocking an understanding of how this type of love could even be real or possible. Our feet follow our faith every time. We will act out of our belief system of who we think God is and, if it is flawed, then eventually it’s going to show up in how we live and how we ultimately search for love and joy. 

    When you suddenly experience Him as the lover of your soul, the healer of all your wounds, your Rescuer, the one who never leaves you or forsakes you in your weaknesses, it changes and transforms your heart and beliefs to their very core. It clicks. This IS exactly what He is there for! He came for situations just like mine, just like yours. Wow, I am this wicked that He went to the cross for me AND I am this loved that he went to the cross for me!  

    Jesus came here to save us and went readily unloved so that we would know constant love. He deserved to be loved, but was rejected, so that me who deserves to be rejected would be eternally loved. He endured the separation so that nothing could ever separate us from the Father's love. He suffered in every way so that He could be a Savior to us in our suffering.” - Paul David Tripp. 

    Note: Christianity is not a behavior modification program. Christ did not come to make bad people good. He came to bring dead people to life, to bring hope to the hopeless, to bring sight to the blight and to bring freedom for the captives. He came to meet us right where we are, to deal with and heal the infected condition of our hearts and to show us love and compassion when we deserve it the least and to lead us into life abundant, whole, healed and free ways of living! Jesus cares far more about what’s going on in your heart than just about fixing your behavior. If you let Him heal your broken and hurting heart, your behavior will take care of itself. We don’t need behavior modifications; we need heart transformations. Healing comes from the inside out. Not from the outside in. (works/deeds/actions/behaviors don’t lead to healed and whole hearts) The Lord must transform your heart FIRST! And then, from a healed and whole heart, righteous choices will flow. Grace not perfection, for Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13).

    Going back to Hebrews 3:13, the author challenged us to exhort, or encourage, one another daily, so that we are not deceived by sin. How easy is it for us to look at others as “too far gone” when they are staring testing or difficult circumstances straight in the face? How often do we notice the log in someone else’s eye before we pay attention to the one in our own? Faithfulness is communal—we are challenged to plead with one another so that no one would be hardened by sin’s deception.

    “We tend to be hyper aware of the weaknesses of those living near us while we appear to be functionally blind to our own. For this reason we begin to forget that we are more like them than unlike them, that there are few things that we can see in the lives of others that are not present in our own lives in some way. Blindness to your own sin is a denial of the presence of a personal spiritual need. Such denial always leads to devaluing of and a resistance to God’s grace. Denying your need for grace and underestimating the power of what grace can do never, ever leads to anything good. We’re all very good at looking at our sin and naming it less that sin, and we all tend to degrade the glory of what grace has done, is doing and will do. People who deny sin tend to not progressively conquer it, and people who devalue grace then not to run to it for help.” - Paul David Tripp. 

    “Hurt people hurt people, but helped people help people. Broken people shatter people, but whole people restore people. Damaged people break people, but rebuilt people build people. Shattered people damage people, but loved people love people. Wounded people wound people, but healed people bind up wounds. Bound people bind people, but freed people lead others to freedom!” - Christine Caine

    The Lord’s tender mercies and unfailing compassions are what cause the scales to fall and enlighten the eyes of our hearts! It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance. It’s love, grace and mercy that brings breakthrough to people. 

    Coming through a heart-healed season, you begin to see the scriptures anew. Things I’ve read a thousand times are now leaping off the page in a clear and unhindered view. For example, the love and heart of Jesus in stories like John 8 where He gets in the dirt with the adulterous woman, down on His knees to meet her where she is, to protect her and defend her from being stoned to death because of her atrocious sin, to love her in the middle of the mess. Jesus gently lifts her head and says, “now go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He too has pulled my heart out of the grave, so I resonate with how this woman in John 8 must have felt. He rescued me and “redeemed my life from the pit and crowned me with love and compassion”  at the moment when I warranted it the least (Psalm 103:4). 

    Having experienced this level of powerful love and undeserved forgiveness of grievous sins, sets your heart on fire to chase after the Lord all the days of your life and to deeply love others who are still blinded, broken, lost and deceived. I have been there and have tremendous grace and mercy for that spot! 

    Those who have been forgiven much love much! But those who have been forgiven little love little. - Luke 7:47 

    In Matthew 5, Jesus says to “bless those who curse you,” forgive, love and pray for those – to show the same grace you have been shown. I once was * fill in the blank according to your story * but because of God’s great love, there isn’t anything you could put in that blank that doesn’t end with this through Christ Jesus: recreated, transformed, redeemed, healed, freed, delivered, forgiven, unconditionally loved, fully known, and made whole. I've been forgiven much, why would I withhold that from another?

    Unforgiveness holds you back from your purposes more than you might ever realize. Forgive as Christ forgave you, so that you can walk freely into the fullness of what He has for you! Stop justifying that bitterness, resentment, pride, self-righteousness, judgment, addiction, greed, or envy. Stop buying in to the lie that you are due forgiveness and grace, but others are not! Let it go! There is an antidote waiting for you on the other side to help and to heal those hurting places.   

    The parable in Luke 7 shows that “the woman’s deep love did not flow from deep sin. It flowed from deep forgiveness. The level of intimacy her repentance required plummeted her to a depth of love. The proud and the depraved alike must kneel at the same feet for mercy. For those willing, God turns sin’s empty cistern into a deep wellspring overflowing with love” (Beth Moore).

    I pray we are all Luke 7:47 women! A woman like this can make what Jesus did for her greater than what was done to her! He came to defeat what defeats us. I pray you don’t get stuck in the one offense or one failure and allow it to define every other moment of your entire life. Forgive, surrender, humble yourself, seek out wise counsel in His Word and in your Godly community and healing will come! The more anger you hold towards the past, the less you are able to love in the present. 

    “God’s mercy does not make sin tolerable; it makes sin forgivable.” (Beth Moore)

    “The blood of Jesus doesn’t give you amnesia, but it does give you a life beyond your past! What Jesus did for you is greater than anything that was done to you or spoken over you…greater than your past, your choices, your failures.” – Christine Caine

     “I think we misunderstand both true freedom and debilitating bondage. Freedom that fills and satisfies your heart is never found in setting yourself up as your own authority. True freedom is not found in doing whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. True freedom is never found in writing your own moral code. True freedom is not the result of getting your own way. Since God created this entire world, thus means that as His creatures, we were created to live in willing submission to His will for us. Hence, freedom is not found in spinning free of His authority. Self-rule never leads anywhere good. When you attempt to do these things, you never enjoy freedom; you only end up in another form of bondage.” - Paul David Tripp

    John 10:10 says - - “The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly!” The enemy doesn’t come to break your bones; he comes to break your spirit. He is “the destroyer” – it’s who he is, it’s his nature – John 8:44 says, “he was a murder from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is NO truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” He has come to destroy all things in your life, break your heart/spirit, ruin your family, destroy your relationships, plant fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and exploit your every weaknesses to the nth degree! (unfortunately I know this fact first hand) The enemy knows his time on the earth is short (as it says in Revelation 12:12) and he will be working effortlessly here to get his work done until Jesus returns– ask yourself, are you being used by the enemy to accomplish his purposes? If you are, as I was, know we have a God who is waiting for you to cry out to Him for help! I urge you to go read Psalm 18 and pray this over yourself and your situation! David, the Psalmist, knows first hand about strongholds, hopelessness and living in “emotional captivity”! We have HOPE in Christ Jesus to break those “chains” of bondage and put on the Armor of God to battle against the enemies tactics (Ephesians 6)! So suit up, sister!

    When we are clothed with strength and dignity and are abundantly filled by the Holy Spirit, we can’t help but laugh in the face of our anxieties, worries or doubts (Proverbs 31:25). We are promised that hope will fill your tomorrow, so go on and laugh with joy of what’s to come “for God did not give us a spirit of fear but one of power and love and sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Stand tall with confidence that the Lord will carry you throughout your redemption story.

    The Lord cries out, “BEHOLD, 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 43:19

    So much of us don’t perceive it. The Lord is saying – no matter what has happened, no matter who you are or what you’ve done, when you call upon His name for help, He will not only “wash you white as snow,” but heal you, transform you, make you a new creation through Christ Jesus! HE IS BIGGER THAN IT ALL! He is doing a “NEW thing” and it is going to ECLIPSE the “old thing”! Your greatest days are ahead of you (not behind) when you are walking with the Lord!  You don’t have to keep looking back! Don’t hang around those people who build monuments to the past and dwell on it. You make what Jesus did for you greater than anything that was done to you, said about you, etc. It will transform your life and you will begin to walk in complete freedom, operate in total wholeness and healing, and change the course of your life forever. The truth of God’s Word says that your destiny is greater than your history!

    So, who are you listening to? The Father of Truth or the father of lies? You’ll know who you’re listening to and believing when you look at the fruit of your life? Is the fruit of your life one of fear, anger, anxiety, unforgiveness, unrest or is it one of joy, peace, love, hope, forgiveness and grace?

    Some of us have allowed one moment or one season to define us and outline the rest our lives. The enemy has already robbed that season of your past. Time to dig in to what God’s Word says about life’s most difficult circumstances – how to have hope, how to love others, how to forgive, how to live in Godly community, and how to walk in the fullness of His grace!

    What was meant for evil, God meant for good! – Genesis 50:20

    “What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart.” – Ann Voskamp

    “God allows what He hates, to accomplish what He loves!”  - Joni Eareckson

    Jesus, come in and do what only YOU can do!

    We are SAVED BY GRACE –

    “For it is BY GRACE you have been SAVED, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

    “So that being justified BY His GRACE we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7

    We have FREEDOM through Christ Jesus

    “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the FORGIVENESS of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set FREE from sin.” Acts 13:38-39

    “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; His grace abounds as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him!” Psalm 103:10-13, 16-17

    “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM!” 2 Corinthians 3:17

    “Blessed is he whose transgressions are FORGIVEN, whose sins are covered!” Psalm 32:1

    "Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING each other, just as in Christ God FORGAVE you" Ephesians 4:32

     "In him we have redemption through his blood, the FORGIVENESS of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" Ephesians 1:7

     “Those who have been FORGIVEN much, love much. But those who have been forgiven little, love little.” Luke 7:47

    “Bear with each other and FORGIVE one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. FORGIVE as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

    “For freedom Christ has set us FREE; strong firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

    "The Lord our God is merciful and FORGIVING, even though we have rebelled against Him." Daniel 9:9 

    “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim FRREEDOM to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set FREE those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18

     “And you, who were dead in your trespasses, God made alive together with Him, having FORGIVEN us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.” Colossians 2:13-15

    “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
    and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-4

     We have been REDEEMED –

    “Do not be afraid, for I have REDEEMED you, I have called you by name, your are mine. You are precious in my eyes because you are honored and I love you. The mountains may depart and the hills may be removed, but my love for you will never depart and my covenant of peace with you will never be removed.” Isaiah 43:1, 4 & 54:10

    “Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full REDEMPTION.” Psalm 130:7

    “Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all my sins and heals all my disease, He REDEEMED my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion!” Psalm 103:4

    “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were REDEEMED from the empty way of life, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

    “Though we were slaves, our God did not forsake us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection.” Ezra 9:9

    “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the REDEEMED of the Lord tell their story!" Psalm 107:1-2

    “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

    “Therefore lift your dropping hands and strengthen your weak knees, for He makes straight the paths of your feet, so that what was lame may not be put out of joint, but rather BE HEALED!” Hebrews 12:12-13

    “But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be WHOLE. He was whipped so we could be HEALED. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray. We have left God’ paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6 

    We are FEARLESS –

    “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs WITHOUT FEAR at the future.” Proverbs 31:25

    “The LORD is on my side; I will NOT FEAR!” Psalm 118:6

    “For He did NOT given us a spirit of FEAR; but of power, of love and of sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

    “Lord Jesus, You have NOT given me a spirit of FEAR, but of power, love, and a strong mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

    “God is our refuge and strength. An ever present help in trouble; therefore I will NOT FEAR!” Psalm 46:1

    “I am strong and of good courage, I do NOT FEAR nor am I afraid, for You, O Lord, are the one who goes with me. You will not leave me nor forsake me.” Deuteronomy 31:6

    “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

    “I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” Psalm 34:4-7

    NEW Identity through Jesus, through His redemption, His freedom, His grace, His forgiveness:

    “But YOU are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light! Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

     We are no longer orphans, but daughters – brethren of Christ -“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:12-17 

    “The law of the Lord is perfect, REVIVING the soul. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving JOY to the heart. The commands of the Lord are RADIANT, giving light to the eyes. The rules of the Lord are true and altogether righteous. They are more precious than GOLD; they are sweeter than honey and drippings of the HONEYCOMB.” Psalm 19:7-10

    John 8:36 has been a beautiful testament to the freedom I have received from living deep within the depravity from my addictions and strongholds. "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!" I once was lost and broken, but now I'm found, whole, and set free! Praise God we don’t reap what we have sowed; we reap what Jesus has sown!

    But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have LIFE in HIS name” (John 20:31). Real abundant life-- Do you have this? Are you looking for it? Where are you looking for it? I am praying you go and find it only ever at the foot of the cross! Come as you are-- He’s waiting there to give these things to you freely: freedom, abundance, security, rest, peace, love, intimacy, lasting, value, worth, real relationships, radiance and satisfaction! God’s deepest desire is to give you a grand story of redemption-- life beyond your past and healing from your broken and wounded heart! He is bigger than it all!

    Bring your sorrows and trade them for JOY – and from the ashes, a NEW life is born!

    “Blessed is he whose transgressions are FORGIVEN, whose sins are covered!” Psalm 32:1

    “But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be WHOLE. He was whipped so we could be HEALED. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray. We have left God’ paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6

    “Theology that isn’t zealous to promote forgiving and transforming grace, the kind of grace that changes your life, is simply bad theology.” – Paul David Tripp

    Praying you choose His ways and know that “nothing but the blood of Jesus” is able to set you free or make you whole again,

    Identity Words

    These words mean so much to me—I cannot tell you how full it has made my heart to be able to write about them. I hope you allow me to be genuine and raw in how these words have spoken life over me and I pray you draw hope out of this blog.

    The four words/phrases we are discussing this week have everything to do with our identity: Choose Joy, Wonderfully Made, Loved, Delighted In.

    Recap from the last blog:

    Speaking words of grace and peace comes from truly knowing where your true identity lies. When we accept that we are daughters of the King, adopted and bought with a price, we will live a transformed, healed and whole life. With deep roots in this identity, we are free to be the hands, feet and mouth of Christ to others in our lives—a beautiful and undeserved responsibility.
    “This frees me from seeking my identity horizontally because I am given an eternal identity in Christ. It also frees me from being worried about being known or exposed because I know that nothing could ever be exposed about me that hasn't already been covered by the precious blood of Jesus. I can go to bed in peace knowing that the one person who counts knows me thoroughly, but He will never turn His back on me in light of His complete knowledge of my sin, weaknesses and failures.” – Paul David Tripp

    I know just how far the enemy will go to exploit your doubts, to undermine the truth of what God says and to whisper lies of where you might find the love, confidence and joy you’ve been searching for outside of God. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow—His love for you never changes and neither does His character, priorities or purposes. The enemy wants you to believe otherwise. Suit up, sisters! Put on the full armor of God so you can stand against the tactics of the enemy (Ephesians 6). Our feet follow our faith every. single. time. If our belief system is flawed, we’ll inherently live a counterfeit way of life. If we think inaccurately about God or about how God thinks of us, the choices we make will directly reflect. You will act out of your belief system and if it's flawed (as mine was), then eventually it’s going to show up in how you live and how you ultimately search for love and joy. I’ve seen the depths, disastrous and despairing places this takes you when you do not fully believe the truths named here, where your true identity lies and what the Lord says about YOU. We must believe our God at His EVERY word. As you read these truths from Scripture below, I pray these wash over you anew and revive something deep in your spirit to adjust how you think of our God and, more importantly, how He think and feels about you. (No matter who you are or what you’ve done. His grace, mercy and blood covers it all!)
    He delights over me and rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)
    Before He formed me in the womb, He knew me (Isaiah 44:24, Psalm 71:6, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13)
    Before I was born, He set me apart (Galatians 1:15)
    He created me for a great and mighty purpose (Romans 9:17, Ephesians 2:10, Exodus 9:16, Job 42:2, Proverbs 20:5, Romans 8:28)
    His plans for me are to prosper me, to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)
    I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
    I am a daughter of the King (Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:1a)
    His thoughts for me outnumber the sands (Psalm 139:17-18)
    His banner over me is LOVE! (Song of Solomon 2:4)
    I am a jewel in His crown (Zechariah 9:16, Isaiah 62:3)
    My worth is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10)-I am clothed in strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25)
    Through Him, I open my mouth with wisdom and on my lips is the law of kindness (Proverbs 13:26)
    I am engraved on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16)
    The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
    The Holy Spirit lives within me and directs my steps (Psalm 37:23, Psalm 32:8)
    He goes before me, making the crooked places straight, the rough places smooth and opens doors that no man can shut (Isaiah 45:2 and 16, Luke 3:5, Isaiah 22:22)
    I walk worthy of God, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Him (Colossians 1:10)
    The mind that is in me is also the mind that is in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)
    I will never be without the favor of God (Romans 11:29, Psalm 84:11)
    I was created in His image (Genesis 1:27)
    Through His love I am transformed (Romans 12:2)
    He alone holds the power to redeem and restore me (Deuteronomy 30:3-13, Colossians 1:13-14
    He bestows on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes and trades my pain for a spirit of rejoicing (Isaiah 61:3)
    If I ask, He removes my sin from me as far as the east is from the west. Though my sins are like scarlet, He has made me white as snow (Isaiah 1:18, Psalm 103:12)
    His love protects, His love hopes, His love heals, His love perseveres, His love endures forever and it never fails me (1 Corinthians 13:6-8, Psalm 117:2)
    Mightier than the waves of the sea is His love for me (Psalm 93:4)
    Jesus came, so that I might have life and have I abundantly (John 10:10)
    I am like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and my leaves do not wither, in all I do, I prosper (Psalm 1:1-6)
    He did not give me a spirit of fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, unrest or timidity, but one of power, love and sound-mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
    The Lord delights in me (Isaiah 62:4)
    He calls me by name, for He has redeemed me, I am His (Isaiah 43:1)
    As it turned out, the Lord has been at work behind the scenes for me this whole time. He is never missing, He is never late (Ruth 2)
    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases for me (Lamentations 3:21-23)
    Fear not, for He has overcome the world (John 13:63)
    Though I sow in tears, He promises me that not one tear will be in vain and that I will reap with shouts of joy and harvests of righteousness (Psalm 126:5-6)
    My weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5)
    He lavishes His goodness on me who comes to Him for protection (Psalm 31:19-21, 24)
    He makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
    He has dealt wondrously with me (Joel 2:23-27)


    I hope you proclaim and claim these promises, truths and providences over your life and walk wholeheartedly in them.



    I’ve learned a lot about what love is and what love isn’t over the past few years. Love doesn’t turn its back on you because you are wrong. It doesn’t turn the tables and work to make you hurt in the same way you’ve hurt them. Love moves towards you because you are wrong and need to be rescued from you. (Galatians 6) Love is sacrificial, selfless and endures hardships so that you may be made right again and be reconciled and restored to God and to others. I’ve been so fortunate to have this kind of love shown to me through family and friends. We’ve all been given a love that is undeserved but given freely. One that is agenda free and courageous. It always protects, it always hopes, it always perseveres, it never fails. When you experience this love in abounding ways, it bring you to a place where you can understand and appreciate how you’ve been forgiven and pardoned and in return are able to show that same grace and forgiveness to others (1 Corinthians 13:4-13). This we know with all our heart, His wounds have paid our ransom.

    “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story” (Psalm 107:1-2).

    It’s hard to grasp His individual love for you when we constantly hear, “He died for us all.” He died for you. For Jennifer, Maddie, Rachel, ______. He died for individuals. He hung on a cross with your name on His heart and in His mind. That’s personal, deep, immense love for you! He took your place, paid your debt, stands by your side, never leaves you, created you, adopted you, and delights in you! He knows the depths of your heart and loves you – not just that, but He longs to know you more. He desires and has a deep longing to spend time with you!

    God’s thoughts for you “outnumber the sands” (Psalm 139:17-18). Think about the things you think about the most (family, friends, work, what you’re going to eat next, etct) during the days. It’s hard to imagine that He thinks about each of us with as much reverence and intent as He does. “How vast the sum of them,” the Psalms say! He is the Friend of Sinners—we are accepted, loved, delighted in, adored, longed for even though we are unworthy.

    Through pain and suffering He pursues us — to let us experience His unshakeable love for us! He allows people to fail us to show us that, in the end, there is only one who will never leave, never forsake, never turn His back on us. There is nothing you could ever ever do to lose His great and mighty love for you! He longs for you to see that He is the only one our hope and trust is safe and secure in. He is the only one who is “ancient of days,” “unchanging," the “same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” He’s offered us “sonship”, adoption, forgiveness, mercies that never cease and that are offered to us new every morning. I don't deserve forgiveness, much less a hope and a future! And yet, somehow He’s given me all three! He celebrated my return to Him! He celebrated me, the prodigal, coming home at last, because His love for me (and for you) is SO grand, so passionate, so persistent, so fierce. 



    He comes back for you over and over to obliterate all other idols you worship or people, places and things in which you've attached your hope – to show you when you deserve it the least, that HE IS THE ONLY ONE STILL THERE, waiting with arms wide open! Longing for your return to Him, deeply desiring your awakening to just how loved you are by Him and what He freely offers to you through Christ Jesus. Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy and from the ashes a new life is born!

    With Jesus, you don’t have to pretend, hide or be someone other than you are in order to be loved. With Him, you are fully known, loved, accepted, secured AND delighted in! He sees the depths of my heart and He loves me the same! People only see about 10% of our hearts and they judge, criticize, measure, love conditionally, so why would my hope and identity be found in people and not in the God of the Universe? Take the keys back from those whom you’ve given your identity and your hope over to. He alone is the one where our true identity and hope should only lie ever.

    From the beginning, Genesis 2:25 reminds us that we were created to feel no shame. The world constantly heaps “shame on you” via magazines, social media and television. How dare we not have perfectly coiffed hair, or perfect Pinterest homes! It tells us we are not enough, unworthy or failing. Shame causes you to develop patterns of corrosive conduct and choices, image management and approval addictions based on others’ views of you. Well, our identity should never come from a place outside of yourself or outside of the truth of what God says about you! How sweet and simple is it that He delights in exactly who He created you to be—without overcomplicating it, plain and simple, we are set apart and designed in the image of God (Jeremiah 1:5). He delights in you, messiness and cleanliness alike. The world is ever-changing. You are chasing your own tail if you want the world’s approval. One day you are at the pinnacle, the next cast aside and on to the next. But learning and studying scripture to see what God says about you-- the only one who is never changing – His opinion and love for you never cease and neither does His promises, His truths, His provisions!



    Choose Joy

    “May the God of hope fill you with ALL JOY and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” Romans 15:13

    “The JOY of the Lord is my strength!" Nehemiah 8:10

    “In your presence there is fullness of JOY;
 at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

    "Be JOYFUL in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

    “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY!” Psalm 126:3


    You are Wonderfully Made

    “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. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are your thoughts about me, how vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Psalm 139:13-18

    “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you! Before you were born, I set you apart!” Jeremiah 1:5


    You are Loved

    “God shows his LOVE for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

    “Mightier than the waves of the sea is His LOVE for you!” Psalm 93:4

    “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His LOVE for those who fear Him! As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. From everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s LOVE is with those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:11, 16-17

    “In ALL things we are more than conquerors through Him who LOVED us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the LOVE of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

    “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast LOVE and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

    You are Delighted In

    “The Lord DELIGHTS over you!” Isaiah 62:4

    "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great DELIGHT IN YOU; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing!" Zephaniah 3:17


    A very wise friend of ours says “don’t fill your gas tank with milk.” Gas tanks are only ever meant to have gas in them, not milk! A car wouldn’t run if something other than gas was put in the tank. Take this same truth and apply it to your life – only put the “truth”, the Word and promises of God, into your heart and your life will be able to run and function as it was designed to! Otherwise, it will run improperly, break down and not be fully utilized as it was made to be.

    I pray you found hope and truth in here today to bless you, encourage you and motivate you this next week! I love getting to share my heart and my personal testimony and relationship with the Lord with you all! What a gift!





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