Have courage and be kind.

“I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life has to offer: have courage and be kind.”

I saw this movie trailer today and it brought me unexpected encouragement. For those of you who keep up with my happenings on this blog you know that I was approached about a potential new job. I was filled with a combination of curiosity and guilt. Curiosity because it is a fantastic company with lots of potential to figure out what I really want to do with my career and guilty because I feel very loyal to my current employer and genuinely love all the people I work with.

Well all of this resolved yesterday when I received a call from the potential new employer and they offered me a substantial raise. I had prayed to God, God I only want this job if it is from you. You brought me to my current job and I love it here, but if my time is up–albeit sooner than I ever thought–make it clear to me. I want them to either choose someone else or offer me a significant raise. And much to my surprise they offered me the latter.

I still have to break the news to my boss during our weekly meetings together tomorrow and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t very nervous to disappoint him but ultimately I believe this opportunity is too good to pass up and more importantly I believe it is from God. I didn’t look for it. It came to me. In the same way that this current job came to me. God’s ways are not mine, and part of being a Christian is learning to go when He says go, and being okay with being uncomfortable.

I actually found another WordPress Blogger who feels the same way:

“Those times when you feel so led and so scared at the same time….THOSE are the opportunities God wants you to pursue and not because you can handle them alone, but because you can handle them with Him.  And when you choose to obey God and go down those scary, unknown paths….it is then that He knows how much you truly trust Him” – http://michelletraudt.wordpress.com/tag/getting-uncomfortable/

In other words some people love singing the song “Oceans” by Hillsong but not all of them are comfortable in the deep end. I definitely don’t like it..figuratively and literally. But Jesus calls us out on the water into uncomfortable terrain:

Matthew 14 (MSG):

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

When He calls us out we can take courage in knowing it is Him calling out to us, and therefore we don’t need to be anxious in where we walk out to. If He called us we can go.

I also like Isaiah 51 (MSG) which begins:

1-3 “Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living
    and committed to seeking God.
Ponder the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were dug.
Yes, ponder Abraham, your father,
    and Sarah, who bore you.
Think of it! One solitary man when I called him,
    but once I blessed him, he multiplied.
Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion,
    comfort all her mounds of ruins.
I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden,
    her moonscape into the garden of God,
A place filled with exuberance and laughter,
    thankful voices and melodic songs.

in other words I am one solitary woman. But God is calling me and blessing me and multiplying me. I used to loathe going to work before this current job. I have spent many days over the past five months here being transformed. I was in some ways beaten down and discouraged because of the verbal abuse and stress from my last job that in comparison this place was a cakewalk. It restored me to better health. And honestly, I would have been content to stay here for a long time, I was happy to no longer have to look for another job. To rest. But God is never done. He’s not content to leave us in any one condition for too long. My God, the God of the Universe and everything and everyone, He wants to transform everything including me. He wants to make what I see as dead into an Eden..into a paradise. He wants every place to be filled with “exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs”. 

While Disney gets it right to an extent by turning what is “dead” or poor or unnoticeable in Cinderella is what God already authored in my life and has been writing into every human heart since the beginning of time. Through taunts and tears and discouragement in my past my Father finally brought me to a green pasture. And being who he is, He’s not content to leave me there. He wants to bring me to the “castle” not because I need Him to, not because I asked Him to, but because He has the power and desire to.

Friday Inspiration 10.24.14

Part of life is growing. We don’t always like where we started out or the darkness from which we came, but you need to begin somewhere in order to grow. I remember as a child..I would write all sorts of silly feelings in my Lion King diary. I remember I was such a weird child because I actually made symbols for each letter of the alphabet and coded my diary so no one would be able to read what I wrote. As I got older I realized that took too much time and with my next diary I wrote it out in plain English. At some point I hated all of my diaries and ripped them into little pieces and threw them out. I think it was because my mom read parts of one.

The point is..even as a child writing in a diary I didn’t want to be remembered or defined by things I grew out of. Things I once thought. Mistakes I once made. As a CHILD I knew this. So how much more so do we feel this way as adults?

I think this image is beautiful because it’s simple in its truth. “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be”. It suggests transformation. You don’t have to remain defined by the things you did..or the things that were done to you. You are endlessly learning who you are and more excitingly who you are being sculpted into; who you were created to be. It’s okay to look back and say “I no longer know the person I once was”.

The comforting thing is God knows who we truly are and is willing to walk with us through our transformational journey. In an excerpt from Isaiah 42 MSG it says:

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
    who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
    directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
    make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
    sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”

In essence, even though you might know who no longer, you still may not know who you really are now. But God does. He will direct us by hand through this unknown landscape. We’re not expected to do this alone. We also see this in the Bible when Jesus simply tells people to follow Him. They don’t get a map or an itinerary. They leave behind who they were, what they were once doing, for the promise that He knows which roads to take.

In Isaiah 40 MSG one part says:

Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
    gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
    leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

God is tender with us. Therefore we need to be tender with ourselves..patient with ourselves. This is a process.

In the beginning of Isaiah 57 MSG it says:

A Message from the high and towering God,
    who lives in Eternity,
    whose name is Holy:
I live in the high and holy places,
    but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed,
And what I do is put new spirit in them,
    get them up and on their feet again.

So take to heart what His promises are today knowing that you are on your way. You are not held to who you once were.

Photo Credit: Pinterest (no image source defined).

Thursday Inspiration 10.9.14

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Today was far too busy to start with a positive thought but I can end with one before bed. The Lord is with me and His words are everlasting in hope, truth and love.

Matthew 24:35-44 (MSG)

32-35 “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

Thursday Inspiration 10.2.14

1383655933525084Don’t believe God is good? Listen to this. My one co-worker is definitely a thorn in my side. We get along but we also collide. He can’t handle stress at all. He often is harsh with how he phrases things or acts i.e. if you make a mistake he’ll often laugh at you directly in your face and loud, or make a harsh comment that anyone would perceive as rude. Today I found out after the fact that I made a mistake with something and it was the kind of thing that I could have easily felt shame over. I’m a perfectionist so it’s often easy to feel guilty or bad about things that are just human error. I didn’t this time. I knew it was an honest mistake and said..next time is there a way for someone to check so no one can ever make this mistake again including myself? He said no because it’s something we should know better than to do. I stood my ground and said yeah maybe you guys all know better but I’m still new at this one aspect where I made the mistake and it’s not a habit for me yet. He cooled down I guess and walked out for a few minutes.

I wasn’t expecting this next part but he actually came back and apologized. Imagine that. Full eye contact and everything. Like got down on one knee next to my desk–no joke–and said it really wasn’t a big deal and that we’ve all done it.

I for one was SHOCKED out how out of character this was. All I can say is God is good.

I texted my mom about it right after it happened because she knows all about this guy from other instances at work and her response was perfect: “See how God makes people treat His Daughter”.

I know 100% His reaction was not only out of character but somehow it was a God thing. He could have been a jerk and never said anything apologetic or realized that although I made an error his reaction was wrong. He should know better. He should be soft. He should realize that I’m not the only one who has done this. Others have. It’s not the end of the world.

All in all–I felt God’s absolute favor. It was like in that moment Heaven stood between me and my co-worker and shielded me. I felt no shame. I knew in that moment who I was. I didn’t slack off and make a mistake. I was human and made that mistake. And even more than that..I was and am and will always be a daughter of God. And God will always make sure to stand up for me. He takes pride in me. And I felt safe that He saw fit on such a small occasion to make sure that I was treated respectfully.

God will ALWAYS protect His children.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Monday Inspiration 9.29.14

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Today I feel sick. Just run down. I’m actually going to bed and it’s not even 9 pm. I like this simple thought that I can find refuge in His wings. My body may be weak but He is strong. He will watch over me as I rest. It is a comfort to remind yourself of such simple truths.

Photo credit: etsy.com

Tuesday Inspiration 9.23.14

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The cool thing about being a Christian is that you are no longer bound to the mistakes you made in the past. You don’t need to rehash them or beat yourself up for them. Jesus didn’t die to cover you in His grace so that you would continue to be weighed down by shame. You are a new creation and your experiences, even bad ones, will help set others free.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 MSG

“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”

Ezekiel 16:63 MSG

“You’ll remember your past life and face the shame of it, but when I make atonement for you, make everything right after all you’ve done, it will leave you speechless.’” Decree of God, the Master.”

Isaiah 61 MSG

 “The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me

    because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
    planted by God to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
    raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
    take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
    and foreigners to work your fields,
But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,”
    honored as ministers of our God.
You’ll feast on the bounty of nations,
    you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble
    and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
    and your joy go on forever.”

Isaiah 50:7 MSG

And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me,

    so I’m not disgraced.”

Photo Credit: becauseofgrace.wordpress.com

Monday Inspiration 9.15.14

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I had a hard time sleeping last night. My dad ended up throwing a fit last night and was throwing all of our bathroom towels out last night in a dumpster. For those of you who don’t know–he’s crazy like that regularly. And needless to say it made me restless and I didn’t sleep well. I’ve struggled today wondering once again why I have to live at home, why I couldn’t have a job making more money to move out, why I can’t be married and not living at home, why why why. Tonight as I’m writing this I just want to be covered in and reminded of God’s grace. Not my struggles. Not my frustrations.

I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer. So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who Are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you.

I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse! Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom. Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle-wonders. My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your Word. Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;God, don’t let me down! I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how.

Photo Credit: beyondblessedblog.com

Tuesday Inspiration 9.9.14

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I saw this picture randomly online and really loved it because of the truth it contains. I never thought about it like this but it is so spot on. Let it be a great reminder about where our thoughts can lead us and how to keep focused on the present.

It’s a simple reminder.

1. Looking at the past will only make you depressed

Isaiah 43 (MSG)

18-19 “Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”

 

2. Looking into the future will only make you anxious

Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

 

3. Looking at the present will keep you at peace

Psalm 118 (NIV)

24 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”

 

 

Photo Credit: thewellnesswarrior.com.au

Monday Inspiration 9.8.14

Today I feel kind of heavy.

It’s not how I’ve been feeling lately and I was literally just reflecting and wondering why. I think it actually started Saturday night when a random stranger exposed his “family business” to me while passing by in his car. Like normally I can laugh. How ridiculous and stupid and move on. But it was merely the fact that it was done at all that was bothering me–and the feeling of “gross why does weird stuff like this always happen to me?”

That same night out of the blue a friend of mine asked “So when are you getting married?” across the dinner table. No rhyme no reason. And then out of the blue last night I was hit with some memories from my past right before falling asleep and was swept over for a few moments in heavy emotions. 

So today I remind myself that I am a child, a princess of the King of the Universe. He has brought me near to Him. Therefore I do not need to turn around to the past, or focus on what people do to me or say to me that I didn’t ask for. All that movement does is loosen the “crown” from your head. God regards me and all of those who have accepted Him as seated with Christ in glory. If I continually set my eyes on things above–I will never risk my “crown” falling. 

God is absolutely faithful. He longs to spend time with me and remind me who I am. His feelings for me transcend what happens to me in this life and what people may think or say about me. His feelings also are more true than anything I might believe about myself. I will continue to renew my mind with His word and seek verses that remind me of his unconditional love. So often quiet time can create space for the Enemy to whisper lies but luckily we are equipped with the Truth of God’s word and are always able to call out to Him in our times of need. 

I am extremely happy that I’e been consistent in my blogging and connection with God but there is always room for improvement. I hope to be able to create even more meditation and prayer time to refresh my mind and heart with my Father’s sweet promises for my daily life and my future. 

“Father, fill my spare moments with thoughts of you and your love for me. I want to ponder your Word and your glory in my heart all day long” – Vicki P. Graham.

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Thursday Inspiration 9.4.14

I like this quote because so often I think we strive to be perfect and we’re not. We’re human. The only perfect one is God and He has no match. But one day we will reach our full potential and sin no more and will be fit for our new bodies in Heaven:

1 Corinthians 15 MSG

35-38 Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

39-41 You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!

42-44 This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

45-49 We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.

50 I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

58 With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

In the meantime we need to be real. Not prideful of our salvation, not in denial of our sinful struggles, real humans trying to become more like Christ:

Ephesians 2 MSG

He Tore Down the Wall

1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.

14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belonghere, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

 

In other words we are called to be real. To be authentic. To point people to God. And we can’t do that by striving to be perfect or above all of the people who haven’t found Jesus yet. 

Put down the mask. Don’t consider yourself more high than you ought. And help show someone that it’s all about Him and His perfection–not anything we did to earn it.

Photo Credit: http://www.fox.com/red-band-society/