Gratitude Challenge Day 1: Jesus Wept

jesus wept

“Jesus wept.” ~John 11:35

3 things I’m grateful for –Day 1:

1. God cares.
2. God’s tears.
3. God’s here.
Charles Spurgeon said, “A Jesus who never wept could never wipe my tears.” I get it. God’s been where I’ve been and won where I’ll win. The bible tells us God cares about the grass, how much more will He care about us? He’s moved with compassion for us, and He’s promised to be with us always. God (the Son), shed tears, cares about your tears, and is right here with you, through it all. I don’t usually post such short blurbs, but felt impressed to share this gratitude challenge on here. I challenge each of you to do the same and feel free to tag me (I was challenged a while ago to post 3 things per day for 7 days).

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God Restores: Video Testimony

restore to you the years

I will restore the years… ~Joel 2:25

Today I’m sharing a videoed testimony of God’s all-encompassing grace throughout my life (begins after a 3-minute intro). When I didn’t care to live, God was determined to save. In my hatred and rejection, He pursued, and in my open rebellion, He forgave. He continues to prove to me, over and over, that He is able to bring such beauty from such pain and bring such glory to His name. God is still redeeming, still delivering, still restoring. Even in the ugliest circumstances of your life and even with the worst choices you can make, know that God Restores!

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God Restores!

Related BLOG POST: Gone In 60 Seconds

Convicted to Confront

Reblogging post on confrontation with a 3-minute video on setting boundaries. Rabbits don’t like when you put up a fence to keep them out of your garden, but producing fruit requires setting boundaries. “I’m a fan of mercy, and I’m a fan of grace, but that does not nullify the boundaries of God.” Love shows restraint; it doesn’t just do whatever it wants whenever it wants. Love both sets and keeps boundaries.

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I’ve been hit left and right these last few days with the reality that I need to engage in some loving confrontation to move forward in a healthy way. I was relatively clear on this notion on Monday, but by Wednesday (yesterday), I’d talked myself down from fully walking out in faith. I’d told myself, “Well, maybe I just need to be strong enough to address this issue should it come up again.” But, the reality is, God doesn’t want us to take a passive stance on confrontation. I thank Pastor Roger Hernandez for his obedience to blog about this. His Spirit-led tweets talked me out of the corner of fearing confrontations that need to be had.

In Matthew 18:15-20, the Word tells us to go to those who’ve harmed us, not to wait, but to be proactive and go to them. The whole purpose is to “gain…

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Life Soundtrack

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Many of our most powerful life experiences are inextricably tied to healing melodies that have both stirred our souls and lifted our spirits, music that will forever have an emotional impact on us and be indelibly etched into the fabric of our lives. Here’s a compilation of what was shared with me along with my own #lifesoundtrack. I thank each of you for sharing and blessing my life!

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when I wanted to give up on any hopes of healing…but God…TUH #butGod

“When [my sister] Lystra died. “I’m going to be ready” by Yolanda Adams was on Serious REPEAT!”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for much of my senior year of high school when the pain of my past threatened to eclipse God’s plan for my life.”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“I sang this song outside the office of the professor that took my full scholarship away because I couldn’t sign up for a class she wanted me to take. I was sitting in a desk in the hallway outside her office, singing, when SWAT showed up. She called them because I “intimidated” her. Well, maybe but, I got my scholarship back. #goodtimes

“After my abortion. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”

“When I was pregnant and terribly anxious because of my heart condition I would listen to “He Has His Hands On You”. I also continually return to Keeping My Mind, Promise Keeper, Draw Nigh, and Breathe Into Me O Lord, from the Spirit of David album.”

 

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for a number of days my freshman year in college. Some days I couldn’t even muster a prayer. What. a. GOD!”

“Speechless by Israel. Mannnnn”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when my water broke after just 25 weeks of pregnancy with the twins and the neonatologist came by to tell me what I can expect for them (bleeding on the brain, seizures, death, nothing good!) [they’re 4, now, btw, alive and completely healthy].”

“When I was tied up and gang raped, not supported, feeling worthless.”

“When reflecting on the miscarriage of my first child…”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for the four days between my doctor finding a lump and the negative mammogram results.”

“…this was on repeat when my life was completely broken…spiritually, mentally and emotionally and I just couldn’t turn anywhere else.” [1/3]

“But…AFTER THIS….” [2/3]

“And my favorite Andrae Crouch” [3/3]

This I’ve been meditating on for the last month. It’s completely repetitive (lol) but it was exactly what I needed.” [below is the version sent to me and a shorter version; both are great!]

“When I started to fight back against depression on a spiritual&practical aspect when the enemy tried to convince me it was too dark to pray Already Getting Better by William Murphy got me through those rough counseling sessions”

“When God gave me the strength to let go of the guilt of my past Daryl Coley “He’s Preparing Me” helped me understand that the assignment never changed ! God was preparing me the entire time”

“When I thought that because of my depression God finally gave up on me and stop speaking to me Marvin Sapp’s Speak to my heart and his rendition of “I Come to the Garden Alone” became my daily prayers”

“Reflecting on my last suicide attempt, i look back and remember the pain that had brought me to that point. now diminished greatly on most days, that pain almost rendered me unavailable, incapable, feeling unworthy to worship my creator. i truly could see no other way, no hope, no love, rejection , scorn, contempt, guilt……..i just simply could not have morning come one more day. And as my body fell to the ground, i looked into my husband’s eyes. he was afraid. i’ve never seen that look on his face again and i pray i never will. the vomiting, the ambulance ride, the hospital band that read my name but reminded me that i failed yet again. the anger for having to pick myself up and try to live one more time. i didn’t have a song then. didn’t have much of anything come to think of it. But i did have God’s love. Today, i am still amazed by just how much he loves ME.”

“‘Withholding nothing Melody’ more recently has been blessing me EARLY in the morning”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“The day before I was to share a very personal testimony, I had the thought, ‘I feel that urge to withhold some things,’ and within a few seconds, I saw a friend tweet, ‘Withholding Nothing.’ I felt God’s peace as I honored Him by speaking truth.”

“Can this be on the life soundtrack list? It’s just… so…relevant. to like, everything.”

I was truly, truly honored to share this day reflecting and worshiping with those who shared. I heard familiar echoes of overwhelming Love telling of a God who reaches into impossibly bleak situations and makes all things new. I hope you’re blessed by this playlist! All of the songs are compiled into a single Youtube playlist HERE.

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Skin Deep

be.You.tifulRe-blogging this with a short video update at the bottom. I absolutely adore this woman’s snippet on finding and celebrating her own beauty.

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be.You.tiful

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Beauty is only skin deep,” and I have to say I both agree and disagree. On Friday night one week ago, I attended a women’s worship service where a picture framed the question, “What makes you beautiful?” Those four words leapt from the picture frame in the candlelit room. Among the 10 questions posed that night, I only managed to completely answer this one. I’ll share my response as I originally penned it, below (with all the weird capitalizations, boldings, and underlines):

“What makes you beautiful? This question put such a smile on my face. God, you’ve restored me and loved me back to life. Like, WOW! Your love, your grace, I see beauty where I didn’t use to – that makes me beautiful. To join with You in acknowledging the beauty in every single thing You’ve created, to recognize beauty where others, and even I…

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Gone in 60 Seconds

Girl Face Woman Carved Fig Madonna Pretty Wood

I turned 33 this month. I began experiencing life’s brokenness at 3 years old, and ever since then, I’d always felt exactly that. Broken. About three weeks ago, I reread the story of the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:20-22. I remember reading that “instantly” she was healed, and I paused my reading to say, “Lord, Jesus! I want that! I want to be instantly healed! I want this pain to be gone! I know You CAN do it. Why don’t You?” I kind of forgot about that prayer and continued along with life (Update: I found the YouVersion note I wrote about it: Immediate Healing). The next week, I went to worship in the quiet sanctuary of my childhood church. As I left, a beautiful sister in Christ who was cleaning the church stopped me and said God told her to tell me that whatever it is, He’s bringing me out of it, to just keep doing what I’m doing, keep worshiping, keep praising, and know that He’s bringing me out.

The very next day, I had a moment of absolute protest. I was so emotionally drained and didn’t want anything else to do with this healing journey God had me on. I adamantly told my husband, “I quit. I’ll heal more, later.” I couldn’t even look him in the eye because I knew that I hadn’t consulted God, and further, I didn’t want to. I was done, and that was that. Thankfully, we had friends over that evening, so there was no room for my pity party. By the time I reflected on that afternoon, I recalled the life-giving words God spoke through His servant the preceding day: “He’s bringing you out; whatever it is, He’s bringing you out of it!”

Fast forward to two weeks later, last Thursday night, when I again found myself reading about the woman with the issue of blood, but this time, from the gospel of Mark. That detailed account indicated the woman had sought many physicians “and was no better but rather grew worse.” I exclaimed, “No, Jesus! She went to all the doctors and got WORSE? No thank you, Lord! Don’t let that be my story!” The very next day, Friday, God realized His promise to bring me out of that lingering emotional pain. God answered the prayers I’d forgotten I prayed, prayers to be instantly healed.

I wish I could more clearly articulate what happened last Friday. But I simply felt myself changing. The hollow feeling in my chest began to fill and just didn’t feel so heavy, the vibration inside of me became calm without me having to take deep, soothing breaths. Fear was gone; sorrow was gone; pain was gone. By the time I could even second-guess this new feeling of peace, the sting was completely gone. Just as Jesus knew that power had gone out from Him, I knew, without a doubt, that God’s power had come into me and made me whole.

You have to understand that at 33 years of age, I had never been able to utter the words, “I am whole.” I didn’t even have a framework for what experiencing wholeness would be like, and yet, as I type this, I assure you I am whole! Think about the lame man in Acts 3. He was lame from birth, so he had no neural networks for what experiencing walking actually felt like, yet, he left jumping and leaping with praise. I immediately began walking in wholeness exactly two weeks after I was ready to give up! I’m convinced the enemy senses the finish line long before we do. I believe he sees the angels coming alongside us to bear us up in their arms, and THAT is when he increases attacks to discourage our faith. When you feel like giving up, know that the words God has spoken over your life will NOT return to Him void. See the warfare for what it is! Never give up, never despair; though the vision may seem slow in coming, it will not be delayed. The brokenness is gone, and I am whole. If Jesus would do this wondrous thing for the woman with the issue of blood, if He’d do it for me, if He’s risen with ALL power in His hand, won’t He do it for you? He WILL do it; just persevere!

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“God is more powerful than anybody’s past, no matter how wretched. He can make us forget – not by erasing the memory but by taking the sting and paralyzing effect out of it”
~Jim Cymbala

“The nature of the enemy’s warfare in your life is to cause you to become discouraged and to cast away your confidence. Not that you would necessarily discard your salvation, but you could give up your hope of God’s deliverance. The enemy wants to numb you into a coping kind of Christianity that has given up hope of seeing God’s resurrection power.”
~Bob Sorge, Glory: When Heaven Invades Earth

Video Testimony Blog ((click))

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I’d Rather Die

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I was reading I Kings 19, where Elijah feared Jezebel’s threats, and, in fatigue, told God He’d had enough and wanted to die. Elijah then lay down and fell asleep. This passage jumped off of the page, because I’ve been there. I clearly remember many days and nights of my youth, laying down and praying God would just take my life. I was never actively suicidal, but I always attributed that to not having the guts to do something, anything about my situation. Instead, I just lay down, weary, and wishing God would end my journey as I slept.

For both Elijah and myself, instead of sending death, God sent His angels to provide sustenance. The angel even warns Elijah, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” This convinces me that when we feel like giving up, we have one thing right: the journey IS too much for us! But let’s get the rest of it straight, too: Our God supplies ALL our needs according to His riches in glory; He gives His angels charge over us to keep us in ALL of our ways; His strength is made perfect in our weakness! Oh how the enemy wants us to only recognize part of these precious truths. He wants us to give up after seeing the journey is too much; he wants us to hear half of the truth, that in this world we WILL have tribulation, but not but not the rest of that promise: we should be of good cheer, because Jesus has overcome the world!

But Elijah wasn’t the only great prophet to despair and ask the Lord to take his life. Moses, too, when his calling became burdensome, essentially said, “I’d rather die,” (Numbers 11:11-15). Likewise, Jeremiah and Job both cursed the days they were born (Jeremiah 20:14-18Job 3:1-16), and Job explicitly wished for God to kill him (Job 6:8-13). And who can forget the drama king prophet, Jonah, who wished to die twice, both for selfish reasons (Jonah 4)? But I found someone else who said, “I’d rather die.” In I Corinthians 9:15-23, Paul contends he would rather die than delay the progress of the gospel; he’d rather die than people not realize he’d preach this great gospel free of charge, just because of the wondrous work of Jesus Christ; he’d rather die than be denied the opportunity to preach the gospel to a dying world!

So instead of just finding a reason to live, God’s given me a better reason to say, “I’d rather die.” Instead of saying I’d rather die than experience pain, I’d rather die than others not experience Christ. I’d rather die than have someone who’s crossed my path leave my presence without ever knowing of the God I love and serve. I’d rather die than sinners live alongside me and go to a Christless grave when I could have told them I heard a joyful noise: Jesus saves, Jesus saves! I could try to contain it, but like Jeremiah also said in the same chapter above, it’s like fire, shut up in my bones, and I’d rather die (Jeremiah 20:9)!

I’d Rather Die

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