Feeling Downhearted? Worship First…

worship

Good Monday morning, Brave Ones!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but mostly because I’ve been struggling with some relationship stuff and didn’t have the mental strength to share. I had been talking to a guy the last few months who lives out of state, and although I’m aware that long distance relationships rarely make it, I made the decision to hope that this could stand up to the distance…

It’s proving not to be the case and the hardest thing about this is, this is the first guy I’ve liked in a long time who I could see myself fitting well into his life and him into mine. I liked/like him a LOT and so the loss of our diminishing communications has hit me hard.

So what are we to do with sadness and deferred hope?

Weirdly enough, God gave me an answer through different online teachings and my daily devotional (the same message from completely unrelated sources): worship Him first…

I’m like whaa? Not ask for stuff first…or demand answers first, but worship FIRST. I’ll admit, I’m not great at worship. Words can fall flat with how I feel about God, and sometimes I worry that the worship songs I sing are more about the music than about Him…But all that aside, it is REALLY hard to worship when you feel like God has let you down or when you’re in pain. But that’s the message He was sending so I made the attempt.

And the crazy thing is, it has helped to ease the pain and begin to put life in the right perspective again. I believe all the love, care and “worship” I was giving this man was making me sick in my spirit because I was simultaneously giving too much and having to hold back. Not to mention, worship never belongs to a man anyway…it belongs to God.

As Christians, when we invest in someone, I think that is one of our greatest strengths, giving our praise and admiration to the ones we love. But it only works when that devotion is rightly placed. In worshiping God, His arms are open wide to receive it. We are able and encouraged to worship Him vulnerably, passionately, and with an embarrassing amount of abandon. We never have to hold back our intense excitement to adore Him. He welcomes it!

So today, when a sad or grief laden thought enters your mind–turn to God and worship Him. A worshipful heart is a heart fertile to receive joy! My prayer is that, we would all have that today.

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. -Psalm 5:7

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Letting Ourselves Be Loved…

twohearts

Hello Brave Ones! I have a story to tell you…a tale about two cats…

So my neighbor and I both own cats. He has a big, sweet furry mountain of a cat named Sam, and I have a smaller, soft princess diva cat, named Sophia.

My neighbor and I stumbled upon this amazing idea that we could watch each other’s cats during our respective vacations. (AKA free cat sitting!) He’d check in on my kitty when I was out of town, and I would check on his while he was out of town.

Back in June I went to New York and he got the first go…I only got one text about my kitty when I was gone: “I don’t think your cat likes me. But you do have a really good guard kitty!” Yikes…not what a cat owner wants to hear. I think the world of Sophia, but as far as cats go, she is a little bit high maintenance. She is very picky about who she wants around and loving her has always taken extra work on my part. (It’s okay though because God has given me an endless amount of patience for her. )

Now this week, my neighbor left for his vacation to ride across Iowa on his bike. The first day I cautiously crept into his apartment and looked around for Sam. I had never interacted with Sam one-on-one and didn’t know if he’d be receptive to strangers. I found him hiding under the bathroom sink and reached my hand in to let him sniff me. He did so and then proceeded to rub his head against my fingers.

He’s been very affectionate so far and on this third day I decided to pull him out of the cupboard and settle him into my lap. He purred and purred and purred–so happy to have someone warm to hold him.

Besides me idly considering stealing my neighbor’s cat, this reminded me about something very important that I see with both men and women…Sometimes we are afraid to let someone love us.

My dear Sophia, who I care for very much, is a bit of a fraidy cat. No, it’s okay–I know this. She wouldn’t let my neighbor give her cuddles while I was gone so I know she ended up being extra lonely the five days I was out of town. Now Sam on the other hand, has let down his guard and even though I’m not his person, he’s trusted me to love him to the best of my ability.

How incredibly different would our lives be if we let others in and let them love us when we need them. How incredibly different would our lives be if we let God love us like He says He does? Have you ever struggled with allowing someone to love you? Or do you have someone in your life who has a hard time letting you love them?

Let us never be afraid to let ourselves be loved! 

When There Are No Guarantees

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Hello, Brave Ones!

So I have been putting off posting a truth God has given to me lately because honestly it’s not something that’s easy to process, but I am realizing how important it is to face it.

Growing up, I often felt like God owed me a happy ending. Like if I did all the right things and followed Him the best I could, than I would be given everything my heart desires.

But part of growing up is seeing that not everyone gets a happy ending on earth. No amount of good deeds, kind heart, or right decisions GUARANTEES that a person will get exactly what they wanted in this life. I have witnessed a lot of tragedy this year that has put this reality into perspective.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t witnessed goodness in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13), I absolutely have. But all the loss of dreams, loss of people and the hope for a perfect life, has grieved my heart.

So how do we best face the reality that we may not get the happy ending we want? I think our best course of action is to look to Jesus and His comfort, first and foremost. But more than that, look to His example. Jesus obeyed God in coming to a broken Earth to suffer and die for our sins. In the end, He received the ultimate glory in doing this and He got to redeem us so we could go live with Him! In other words, He obeyed…

So I have come to the conclusion that the best course of action I can take in the face of disappointment is to trust and obey. I may not understand why I do not have the thing I want, (even a seemingly good thing), or why I have had to confront certain kinds of hardship others have not, but my job at this point is to say, yes, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;…” Job 13:15.

And the best news is, as believers in Christ and His forgiveness, we are promised heaven with Him in all it’s eternal wonder and perfection. Not to say we should give up hoping or working for good things on the Earth, but we can continue to both accept reality for what it is and look forward to a bright, BRIGHT future with our Creator who loves us dearly!

I’m Not Josie Grossie Anymore!

josiegrossie

Do you ever feel like the past continues to haunt you? Maybe old fears or perceptions of yourself spring up and you feel powerless to stop them?

I love this scene from Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore, where she is wrestling with the demons of her past…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB7ECHRlO-w&t=5s

As Christians we don’t have to worry about being cool of course, but I think God does call us to believe He has been working all this time to refine us into the people He means us to be–and THAT is a pretty spectacular person.

So in your lower moments, remember, “you’re not Josie Grossie anymore!”

As the Holy Potter molds our lives and character, He is constructing a true masterpiece. He will not leave us as we were, and we certainly have come a long way.

Making Hope More than Hope

sunflowers2

Often I give the word HOPE, little credit. To me it comes across as a last resort type of word. “Well, hopefully so…” “Yeah, let’s hope…” But in Romans, the Bible presents us with a far more powerful definition of hope.

A friend sent this to me recently:

‘Reading in Romans this morning, there was a note in my study Bible on the Greek meaning of the word “hope”, found in Romans 15:13.

“Strongs #1680- the Greek term denotes “confident expectation” or anticipation” not “wishful thinking:” as in common parlance.”

That meaning makes reading this verse even more meaningful:

“Now may the God of hope (confident expectation/anticipation) fill you with joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope (confident expectation/anticipation) by the power of the Holy Spirit.”‘

What a cool way to view hope in light of God’s power! May all of us abound in confident expectation on this Monday morning!

Questions to Ask Before Starting Any Kind of Relationship

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I recently read a quote in a book that truly resonated with me. This is the standard I wish to hold all my relationships by:

Leo Buscaglia, who wrote Loving Each Other said this:

‘”Always start a relationship by asking: Do I have ulterior motives for wanting to relate to this person? Is my caring conditional? Am I trying to escape something? Am I planning to change the person? Do I need this person to help me make up for a deficiency in myself? If your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes,’ leave the person alone. He or she is better off without you.”‘

I love this because it truly takes ourselves out of the picture and puts the other person’s best interest before our own. May we all be brave enough not to take from others but only seek what’s best for them.

God bless you.

What to Do When We Fail to Be Brave

girlbeach

It would be ideal if all of us were brave all the time, and isn’t it so much easier telling other people to be brave instead of being brave ourselves?

Two nights ago, I failed at being emotionally brave. I gave in to fears which are still swimming around in my head today. My lack of courage stems from past hurt and disappointment. I expect that the painful things which have happened before WILL happen again. And because it’s easier to protect my heart by putting a high, impenetrable wall of cynicism around it–I chose to do that instead of trusting in a God who loves me and wants the best for me.

I’m still wrestling with what to do with that wall today, but thankfully God has brought a few stories to my mind. Honestly, it helps to remember that so many of His children in the Bible did not always practice bravery during difficult times:

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, chose to laugh instead of believe God would keep His promise and give her and Abraham a child in their old age.

When Jesus invited Peter out onto the water, Peter began to sink when he noticed the powerful wind and waves.

And Thomas wasn’t about to believe Jesus had come back to life until he saw Jesus’ hands with his own eyes.

But even after all this unbelief did God abandon His children?
Wonderfully, no.

In fact, He brought Abraham and Sarah the child He promised He would give to them.

He reached out and grabbed Peter’s hand instead of letting him sink to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee.

And for Thomas, I couldn’t express it better than the scripture itself…”Even though the doors were locked, Jesus stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Take your hand, and put it into my side. Stop doubting, and believe.” Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)

So today I am telling you, as much as I’m telling myself, God’s love and deep concern for us is not dependent on perfect belief. We can be assured that His grace is big enough to cover our inner turmoil and fears. I hope that encourages you today as we face trials of many kinds.

God is with us when we fly and when we fall. Praise His name forever for how He loves us.