Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Perfect Fit

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." (Jeremiah 1:5)

Have you ever tried to be someone you're not? In my adolescence years, trying to discover "who" I was meant many awkward attempts at trying to be someone I wasn't, and wearing shoes that just didn't fit. Many times in the past I tried to change and/or modify myself into what others wanted me to be, or to live up to other people's expectations and standards. In the growing corporate culture that I have been influenced by, the word "prospective" is a common noun. It has taken me many years and continued spiritual growth to realize that not being true to me is not a perfect fit, and that it limits my potential to express the creative and unique individual that God created me to be. God chose each one of us to be a unique expression of Himself, and He expresses Himself differently in each of our individual lives.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14)

I believe that God has a plan for me, and that He wants to use me just as I am. God's workmanship is perfect, and He has laid out and woven together every moment in my life. I may not always "like" me or my circumstances, but He has something far better in mind than anything I can come up with. Even when I feel unimportant and inferior, I need to stop and remember that God's character goes into the creation of every person, and that I must have as much respect for myself as He has for me. This is key to living the abundant life that He desires for me; seeing my self through His eyes.

"The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb He called me by name...He has hidden me in the shadow of His hand." (Isaiah 49:1)

God created in us all a unique individual as it pleased Him, and to not love, respect, and honor ourselves is to not trust and believe in His will. God considers us His masterpiece; and has always thought of us as valuable. Are you a perfect fit?

"When we must choose between pleasing others or pleasing ourselves, it is right to please others. But when the choice is between pleasing others and pleasing God, pleasing others is wrong." (Unknown)

Linking up with Tracy today on Winsome Wednesday :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Release and Recieve

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

I watched a video called "The Land Between", a message presented by Jeff Manion. It was such a powerful and thought provoking message, however there was one phrase he used that impacted me the most and made me so aware of how essential it is in our Christian lives. The catchphrase was "Release and Receive."

When we give all we have to God, we can receive all  He has to give! As I experience a day with abounding disappointment, annoyance, anxiety, heartbreak...or just distraction (!), I need to open my hands and leave them open to receive! God wants me to experience all that so that I will trust Him; trust Him enough to listen to Him and go His way. He is so much bigger than all of my anxieties put together. Why is it so natural for me to cling to worries and distractions rather than pausing and waiting for God to take charge and lead and direct me?

"Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." (Psalm 55:22)

Sometimes there are twists and turns in the path we travel down, and we need the light of God to walk down that path with faith and assurance. Often the truth is that for many Christians, even though we belong to God through faith in Christ, we still seem to experience doubt and confusion when releasing our cares and concerns to Him and receiving His outstretched hand. But it's really not hard at all, because He is able and willing to take them all! It happens to me all the time; I get caught up in worrying about someone or something and try to figure out a reason or solution before I open His word and my heart to prayer. But once I have entered the end of my path and release it all to God, I experience a feeling of peace and acceptance that completely washes over me and lights my way. What joy! What relief! What took me so long?

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." (Psalm 37:4-6)

I know that God wants me to release everything to Him and trust in Him to provide. I need to pause and wait for His response and let Him take charge of my concerns. It's all in His hands. :)

Linking up with “The Beauty in His Grip” today and “Sharing His Beauty”

Beauty in His Grip Button

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful in Advance

“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV)

I have been making a special effort to say “thanks” to God for every special blessing He has in store for me…before I see or realize the blessing. I read a phrase not too long ago that stuck in my mind and has given me so much inspiration…..”Before we ask you for anything we want to thank you for everything.” Not only should I give Him thanks after an answered prayer or blessing, it nourishes my faith to thank Him beforehand, because my faith sees God for who He is before He has to prove it or show me! I’ve always been very thankful to God for what He has done in my life, and prayed for His guidance and direction for what He will do, but to be thankful in advance for how He is going to work all things together for my good gives me the assurance that I need every day that He wants to give me what is best; His good and perfect will.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling truly thankful and announcing it out loud?  It is contagious, and creates an atmosphere that is more positive for not only me, but those around me. It makes me a more likable and uplifting person to be around! But many times we wake up thinking about everything we have to get done that day, or worried about something or someone and feeling overwhelmed.  This can create a negative mindset from the very start of our day and be contagious to those around us. So what if we started to be thankful for just one thing every time we wake up in the morning? When our hearts and minds are open to receive, our actions and outlook begin to change, and we open ourselves up to appreciate and accept every blessing with grace and sincere appreciation. So now when I wake up in the morning, not only am I making an effort to be thankful for that which has already been given to me, but in addition, thanking God for what He has in store for me! The Bible says that, “it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV) Let's offer thanksgiving to God in advance for what He is going to do and for the prayers yet to be answered. :)

“When you thank God in advance for that which you choose to experience in your reality, you, in effect, acknowledge that it is there. Thankfulness is thus the most powerful statement to God; an affirmation that even before you ask, He has answered. Therefore, never supplicate. Appreciate.” (Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations With God, Book I)

Linking up with Tracy from "My Daily Walk In His Grace" on Winsome Wednesday! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friends That Stick Together

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Our special close friends and relationships are one of the most precious and delightful gifts that God has blessed us with here on earth, and I think that He often speaks through a friend to offer us guidance, laughter, and joy to help us grow. One of the most important things a friend can do is….listen and be supportive, offering encouragement and positive reinforcement when we going through a challenging situation, or when we are sharing a moment of happiness. Looking back at my thankful journal this week I realize just how many times I thanked God for a time spent or a conversation with a special friend. I feel like they have all been carefully selected for me, and that God has placed each and every one into my life for a special reason. I can’t imagine a day going by without heartfelt fellowship and interaction with the friends that He has placed in my life. The ties of friendship are strengthened by both adversity and joy, and we must nurture, enjoy, and protect them.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in the community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care-then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

I believe that God has given us the freedom and privilege to share and give, and to take advantage of the energy that flows through our life and relationships by participating and interacting with others. When we give the gift of friendship or when we share with someone who is lonely or unhappy we can feel the presence of God flow through us with love and compassion. When I do a good deed for someone it puts love in action! When I give myself away, I can just feel a passage opening up and allowing an abundance of happiness and grace in my heart that no one can ever steal from me. :) Too many times circumstances or the business of my life distracts me from giving and sharing myself with others, but when I do give it results in an experience of love, joy, peace, and caring. We should always be accessible and prepared to be available for our friends, even if we are far away and can only communicate by phone, email, or written correspondence. There are many people who need our friendship, and we should ask God to reveal them to us and seek to become one.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

When we work together, caring for each other, we are an example of Christ putting other’s first, and we experience unity. After all, we are not here on earth only to serve ourselves, but to serve God and others! When we reach outside ourselves for the benefit of another, the satisfaction we experience is so indwelling, and the result can be self-healing; a reflection of hope for ourselves!

Linking up with Heart And Soul Pursuits~A Collection of Proverbs

destined, devoted, daring
The Beauty In His Grip~Sharing His Beauty 

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Guard Your Tongue

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13)

Do you ever find yourself speaking unkind words about someone? It's so easy (and sometimes contagious!) to get caught up in idle chatter and criticize or point out others flaws. Gossip is human nature and avoiding it can be so hard when you are in a group or confronted head on with it. But is it really healthy to gossip about other people in order to socially engage ourselves with our peers? Why is it so entertaining for people to sit around examining the hardships, difficulties, or differences of others? Sadly, some people thrive on this and just look for opportunities to destroy others. I find myself in these situations often, and my negative thoughts and hurtful words leave me feeling ashamed and remorseful. In 2 Timothy, we are reminded to avoid foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness, and are useless and harmful. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage, and we can't stop the results once it has spoken or reverse the damage it can do.

"Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Gossip can enter a conversation with no fair warning, so when I catch myself or others speaking unkind words about someone, I know I need to turn the conversation around and make a positive remark about that person instead. :) If I am exposed or engaged in an uncomfortable situation that involves rumors and slander, I'm pretty sure I can choose to remove myself! The choice is mine, and it's not always easy to guard our tongues and refrain from the sinful act of gossip, but if we surrender our natural desires to the Lord, He will help us to remain righteous. I constantly need to examine myself for symptoms of critical and hurtful talk, and pray to God for guidance that He will purify my heart and give me self-control so that I speak words that are pleasing to Him.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

Linking up with Heart and Soul Pursuits in a Collection of Proverbs!

capture, celebrate, cherish

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving All Year

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17)

What impression do people have of Christ dwelling in me when they see and talk to me? Am I thankful and cheerful, or am I critical and ungrateful? If the spirit of God abides in me then there should be this difference, one that reflects in my entire character. I should act and react differently, letting God's love guide my life. God wants us to be in a continually thankful state of mind! I need a gentle push from Him in every circumstance throughout my day to remind me of all my blessings, and to be thankful. With God on my side I can be thankful in all circumstances! When I begin to count my blessings the list is endless, and it is my responsibility to demonstrate my gratitude by representing Christ wherever I go and whatever I say.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as your Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2"6-7)

The month of November is always the time to reflect on everything we have to be thankful for, and my objective is to praise God every day for something I am deeply grateful for. And it is so easy to do, because I have so much to appreciate! And I find that I am much more optimistic after I've spent a few minutes reflecting about my many blessings and feeling grateful for them. I can welcome more abundance into my life when I say, "Hey, thanks God for all I have!" Not only does it make my spirits soar, but it creates a light on my face and a joyful attitude and behavior. This is what brings honor to Christ and gives me the ability to live differently and faithfully, and it's what will make a difference that people will recognize and hopefully non-believers will desire. Every single second in my life I have something to be thankful for, and I want the feeling of "Thanksgiving" in my heart throughout the year; it doesn't only come in November. :)

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. In turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melodie Beattie
Thankful to be linking up with Tracy at Winsome Wednesday!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Than Enough

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT)

Do you find yourself always grasping and desiring more?

·         More money or fame?

·         A new job or new boss?

·         More gifts and talents?

·         A different church and better fellowship?

·         More friends?

Ephesians 3:20-21 says, "Our God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or even think, according to the power that works in us." This power is our faith. Our faith in God!”  If He promises to give us the desires of our hearts, don't you think He will go over and beyond our basic needs? Always wishing for more takes away our thankfulness and gratitude for everything we have been blessed with and steels our energy away from being fully alive and positive. It borders on greed, which is an overwhelming desire for always wanting more. The price of greed has destroyed families, friendships, jobs, and wealth. Just as Proverbs 28:25 says; “The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.”

Realizing that God is enough changes our perspective; our attitudes can change from a desire to wanting everything to accepting His provisions and power to live for Him. Wanting God more means leaving behind our cravings and indulgences and gratefully accepting what He gives. It means trusting Him! In every situation that we face we should trust Him to provide for us, because it is His very nature…..He is a provider! We can be rich in this moment, right now, where we are, with all that we have, when we start believing and trusting that God will always meet our needs. We don’t have to wait or hope for greener grass on the other side, because when we fully accept and celebrate in this moment and everything we have, it’s more than enough!

The only thing we need more of is FAITH! We should…..

  1. Start believing we always have enough. “God who takes care of me will supply all of my needs” (Phil 4:19)
  2. Remind ourselves several times a day, "I always have enough. “I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have the room to take it in!” ( Mal 3:10)
  3. Think/meditate on God's faithfulness. “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” (Matthew 6:32)

God is our source, and will provide us with enough money, time, energy, opportunities, or whatever is lacking. Your thoughts?

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Woman Of Grace

Proverbs 31 defines many characteristics and is my role model of a graceful woman. "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her task. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy, She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
I just love the word "gracious"; it represents the definition of the kind of woman I desire to be. The dictionary defines grace as "pleasantly kind, characterized by good taste, merciful or compassionate, benevolent, and courteous." And for us Ladies, grace should spring from a love of God and His word, because He validates our worth and reminds us that we deserve to experience all that our heart desires and as a result, benefit all those around us. Being a gentlewoman of gratitude means that we are thankful for all that we have and express it with a genuine gracious heart. I like to picture and challenge myself to be a woman of strong character, who has wisdom, many skills, and exhibits empathy and tenderness towards others. I think that when women are gracious to not only others but also to themselves, they have an inner power and foresight that can move mountains! We must also remember another important characteristic of grace; forgiveness. Graciousness allows us to forgive ourselves and others for past mistakes which connects us in love. Rick Warren says, "And you know, when you've experienced grace and you feel like you've been forgiven, you're a lot more forgiving of other people. You're a lot more gracious to others."
A woman's strength and dignity do not come only from her amazing achievements; they are a result of her devotion and loyalty for God. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character. A Virtuous woman is a woman of worth and beauty; she has the inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She uses her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in her life and the lives of her loved ones. She serves her husband, her family, her friends, and her neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit, always looking out for the comfort of others.

Who is a virtuous woman today? The model woman described in Proverbs is a portrait of ideal womanhood who realizes that regardless of her natural talents or acquired skills, or all her accomplishments, her strength comes from God. A woman of grace should encourage all women everywhere with her God-inspired character. What a noble character to live up to! I would love to be an example of the ideal virtuous woman, and can learn from His word and all the lovely gracious ladies that surround me! :)