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Blessing in Disguise

Recently my husband and I have been hit on every side with health issues and job issues. The old adage rang true: when it rains it pours. Timing has been terrible and even though we know God will provide, we have struggled to trust when the solution isn’t visible.

However, in everything, perspective is important, and our focus so often gets lost when the wind and waves start to come crashing in. Tonight I realized that even though this season has been difficult, it has been a huge blessing in disguise for us in many ways. We have been able to focus on our health, re-evaluate what had become our priorities and what our priorities really are, and have spent more time together than we had been able to previously in our marriage. As hard as it’s been, I know that I am thankful for this hard time.

I wonder how often we dismiss a blessing as a curse, or how quick we are to forget that God can turn any desperate situation into something good. Genesis tells the story of Joseph, a man sold into slavery and undeservingly thrown into prison. Just when he thought that he had been forgotten, God raised him up to the position of second in command in Egypt, and through him saved the people of the country and surrounding areas from death in the midst of a major drought. When his brothers who sold him into slavery came before him needing mercy and food from his hand, he said this: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20 ESV)

Might I suggest to you today that what man has meant for evil in your life, God means it for good? That situation you are facing: the rejection, the rumors, the injustice against you: God will redeem it.

Who knows what God will bring out of this season, but I know one thing for sure: our eyes are on Him. He has called us to save lives for His Kingdom, and today we are one step closer to doing that!

Commit your way to Him today and trust Him for the things you can’t control. It may be a short time in coming, or like in the case of Joseph, it may be years. Do not lose heart. The Lord is your defender. He is your strong fortress. Run to Him!

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I’m Over It

The big challenge that God has given me in this season is to take responsibility for my life. One of the big areas that He has called me to take responsibility is my health.

For 14 years I have struggled with chronic pain and digestive issues. It has been a ridiculous amount of pain and stress. I have had to leave multiple ministry assignments early, have been unable to participate fully in others, and even recently had to resign a job in large part because my health issues became a level of contention. I recently weighed in at 200 lbs: the heaviest that I have ever been. The brutal honest truth is this: I need to go on the offensive with my health. Something needs to change. I’m over it.

I’m tired of being held back because of my health. I’m tired of being a victim (and acting like a victim) of pain. I do not like the woman that I have become in the pain. I have surrendered for too long when God has called me to be a victor.

Two weeks ago we decided that things were going to change. We joined a wellness company that replaces the toxic chemicals in our home with cleaners and personal products that are not harmful. We started taking vitamins and exercising regularly. About a month before that we started eating vegetables with almost every meal and making sure we had enough protein in our diet. In a couple weeks I will be planting a small vegetable garden to begin eating some basic foods that are not filled with pesticides and hormones. We don’t do things perfectly, but we are on the right track.

For both my husband and I, taking care of our health has become a major priority, and I do not believe that this is in any way separated from our spiritual lives. God has given us our bodies and the ability at our fingertips to make better choices about what we consume. There are far too many things that God has called us to accomplish in our short time on earth to let things that we do have some control over be an obstacle to accomplishing His will.

So this is my statement – I’m over it. I’m over having health problems. I know that I cannot control everything related to my health or my husband’s health, but we can make better choices. And we choose to do so. Stay tuned for the progress.

Oh, and you should read this verse:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NASB

Blame Game

It was a great Sunday of music and encouraging preaching. The service was ending, and all of a sudden and seemingly out of nowhere came the Holy Spirit inspired word for the Church: “You alone decide how dynamic your relationship with God is. You cannot blame anyone else for your complacency.”

To those who were listening, it came like a bombshell, and it is perhaps the most important lesson that our generation needs to hear.

How many of us have it written in our DNA to blame others for who we are, the decisions we make, and where we are in our relationship with God? The underlying issue is our lack of taking responsibility for our lives.

How many times have we used phrases like, “He made me so mad!” and “He offended me!” without even thinking? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Couldn’t it easily be said as well, “No one can offend you without your consent”? The truth is that I CHOOSE to be mad and I CHOOSE to be offended. What would happen if I took responsibility for my emotions?

How many times have we blamed our upbringing for the ways that we fall short as adults? Maybe it is inability to cook, lack of tidiness in the house, or a struggle to connect with someone due to past trauma. Perhaps it is a fear that leaves us paralyzed and held in emotional bondage. Perhaps it is an inability to keep a budget. Maybe we struggle with submitting to authority. It is understandable for things to be more challenging for us based on past experiences, but the problem lies in choosing to stay that way for years and not grow. What if we took responsibility for our challenges and trauma? What if we reached out for counseling, mentoring, classes, or a friend to come alongside us as we grow? Maturity does not allow for excuses; maturity takes responsibility.

And what excuses do we give for our immature relationship with God? Perhaps we think we do not have the time to invest in reading Scripture or prayer. Perhaps we feel that we do not have the tools we need to dig deep into the meanings of passages. Perhaps we feel that we do not have a support system that pulls us in and encourages us to grow. The truth is, we all have the same 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. How we choose to spend that time is based on the priorities that we either actively or passively set for our lives. Why not be active in deciding how your limited time on earth will be spent? And here is an idea: YOU become the support system that encourages people to grow in Christ. YOU step up and challenge the community around you to KNOW Christ and grow in Him. YOU be the change!

I fully believe that when we take responsibility for our lives, we will not have time to feel sorry for ourselves or blame others. We will be too busy living productive and healthy lives that not only benefit us and our families, but bless those around us. Ask God to point out to you the ways that you have blamed others or your experiences for your lack of growth. Seek His forgiveness, and move forward in maturity!

Backstage Pass

*Ding*

I picked up my phone and there it was: a text from a friend that simply quoted Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The text message came out of the blue from a friend that I had not heard from in many months. He told me that he was praying for someone else, but the Holy Spirit told him that this verse was for me, and it could not have come at a better time.

“Do not be dismayed.”

With both my husband and I facing health challenges as well as career changes, we have had to choose many times a day to trust God, that He knows what He is doing and that He is working things out. Discouragement is a temptation, but we choose hope.

In the middle of this season, God has reminded me in a powerful way of His calling on my life to ministry and has sent many little reminders along the way that He is up to something; that He is planning something and that soon He will draw back the curtains and we will see that what He has been doing was beautiful and worth it.

Unfortunately, in the season, we don’t get a backstage pass. Steven Furtick says that we live life forward, but we only understand it in reverse. I believe that in heaven we will all have a big light bulb moment when we realize the depth of God’s activity throughout the journey. Until then, we trust. We trust His love for us, we trust His power, and we trust His timing.

Are you walking through a season right now that is hard to understand? Do you struggle to see how God will provide for you? Go back to His word, read Joshua 1:9. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be dismayed. Why? Because the Lord is with you. He never left, and He never will. That’s reason enough to choose to trust Him today!

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