She is clothed in Strength and Dignity

Writing4Joy
“Strength and Dignity”

Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
She makes me laugh. She gives hope when I feel discouraged. She reminds me that my mind needs to have redirection when I am thinking of the things that are not life-giving. She is a woman of Grace.  She understands my struggles, either because she has lived them or because she is walking close to the one that knows my every moment and breath.
She is my friend. She is my warrior in battle. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. A woman fully clothed in strength and dignity.

Who is she? She is many. She is the many women that the Lord has put in my life to edify, encourage, build up, and strengthen me in this thing we call life.
In the presence of these mighty women, I can’t help be changed and transformed to be the woman that God had created me to be.

Just as the scripture says bad company corrupts good character (I Cor. 15:33), so can a strong woman influence the ladies within her circle.

Because she spent the time to cultivate my walk, I am able to say that I too am a woman of strength and dignity. I too can laugh at my future without fear.

I have been blessed to have women in my life give of themselves and take the time to instruct and teach the truth. They have spoken into my nows, for the development of my next.

Who the Lord chooses to place in my life has taken turns over the years. But each one that has imparted has made a lasting impact. I remember the women, that taught a young girl, how to raise my hands in worship. I remember the women that taught me how to go to the scriptures in all of my trials, longing, and joys. I remember the women that taught me how to be a wife that saught God’s plans for my family. I remember the woman that spoke to me as a young mother and reminded me that the seasons would go fast and to enjoy each moment. I remember the woman that taught me how to retrain my thoughts. I remember the woman that told me I was assuming another’s heart was ill-intentioned and that I  needed to trust in God for other’s motives and love without restriction. I remember the woman that spoke into my life, teaching me about my identity in Christ.

These many women changed my life from the victim to the victorious. From the mundane to the extraordinary. To a life full of expectation rather than a focus on what was lost or left behind.

Because she was willing to invest, I too can boldly say that I  am a woman clothed in strength and dignity and I can laugh without fear of the future. Because of the Holy Spirit within her pouring out, I was changed.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.
She can walk in this truth as she listens to the instruction of the Lord. She dwells with the Holy Spirit. Letting His power be at work within.

She may not even know the impact she has made. For her efforts may have seemed so small in the grand scheme of things. But to the one that had her life changed, it meant everything.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.

A Time to Bloom

87296431_10221670393374114_5608707198101225472_n Awakened Arts

Luke 12:27 
“Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all of his splendor was dressed like one of these.” 
 

As spring is approaching, I can not get the word “bloom” out of my mind.
I feel a tugging in my spirit that the long-awaited time will one day be over and the beauty of what God has planted within me will come into fruition.
I do not know what that will look like. But I am reminded that it will be in HIS season. Just as each flower has the perfect time to display her glory, so will I have a perfect time to share what is unique only to me. It will be my time to bloom as assuredly as the sun will rise.

Bloom: 1. a flower, especially one cultivated for its beauty.

A flower can be wild and free. But still needs to be planted on the right soil to flourish. She will still need to take root. She will need to be nourished. She will be cultivated (refined) in her process.

I find that I have had many seasons in my life, where my blooming process has seemed to be delayed. Sometimes this is the hand of the Lord, refining me, cultivating me and preparing me. Sometimes it has been a harder year and I am reminded of a late frost delaying spring, as life circumstances swirl around me.
Lastly, there is also the factor of the soil I have been planted on. In order to bloom, we need proper nourishment. If I am not growing in the areas the Lord needs for me to grow in, I will not find my time to bloom.

I am one that will need a bit of coaxing to step into the unknown and unfamiliar. I do not like change, or trying things that I feel less than qualified for, and honestly, I feel less than qualified in every area.
I have dealt with the lies of the enemy that nobody wants what I have to offer. I have viewed myself as the weed instead of the bloom to be.
I have sulked and hidden away when I am called to weather the nitty-gritty and to grow a nice strong stem. For without that strong stem, it is impossible to hold the bloom up high.

There have been times I am called to step out and ‘transplant’ to the proper ground for the cultivation needed to bloom at the ideal moment.
I am so thankful for the seasons, for the gardener that knows what I need, even before I do.
The Lord is the master gardener. In His care, I do not have to toil and spin.  He cultivates and uses the tools to give me the strength to become what He is calling me to.
He brings those beside me, that helps nourish the soil that builds strong roots.
It is true that in the process of growing there were times I wasn’t sure what I needed.
But the gardener was.  He will bring along all the right influences, encouragements and opportunity to bloom when it is my time.

The very meaning of bloom is to peak at an ideal moment.

I won’t rush. I will wait for the gardener. I will not labor and spin. I will rest in the knowledge that He already sees the day of fruition.
Just as it is supposed to, a time to bloom will arrive.

Even If…

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These last few months the words resonating in my heart are, “Even If.”

We have had many changes in our life recently and I hate change. My body reacts even when I tell myself everything is fine and all the changes have been for a great purpose and plan.

One of those changes involved us leaving a church of the last five years and follow the Lord in His leading to our next. We knew that we were called but not the why, to our calling.
I told the Lord, even if I don’t have the answers, I will listen to your voice. So in faith, we stepped forward in the plan for our life.

Even though leaving the team of people we had grown to love hurt my heart, I had to obey what I knew to be true and serve my God and husband first. Even if it meant uncomfortable change and new people, a new place and a new level of finding my self in the midst of ministry, I had to say yes.
Even if it means admitting that I took on roles at our previous church that were not my own to take on, in order to try to fill up the restlessness within me.
Even if it meant stepping into a new realm of vulnerability. Even if.

I know there are many purposes for following the Lord in the Even If seasons of our life.
I know that God has done many amazing things in the last 4 months and He has not even touched the surface. But in this process, He has stirred a call I had felt at 15 years old in youth group. Life happened and the leading faded but was never gone. I had begun a collection of paintings in the last few months and titled them “Women of the World.” Little did I know I was painting the very call within my heart…
The call to serve with mission teams.

Here the thoughts would rise up as the stirring would come, but then so would the excuses. Most of which was linked to how I am doing in this season physically. But the thought would not leave that I was called to go and serve.
The stirring rose afresh as I sat with the new church congregation and heard about the heart of serving in Baja Mexico at the Door of Faith Orphanage.
I had every excuse, but the tugging kept coming.
We had no money in savings and the trip was coming fast. I have been in an unbelievable flare physically. We just received additional fees to add to a huge bill from hospital tests and then a few days before DHS sent a bill for overpayment when we were foster parents. This doesn’t account for all the other life needs on hold at the moment.
But mostly my heart I didn’t want to hurt over leaving the orphans and I felt as if I had nothing to offer.
I felt that with my physical limits Dan would have to go and he has absolutely told me over the years this was NOT his area of calling. All these thoughts and excuses rushing my head and I still felt my heart-tugging… EVEN IF. Even if there is no way, God can make the way. Even if there seemed to be too many obstacles, God is able to move those obstacles. Even if I have my doubts…HE is faithful despite them.

So I prayed. I said, God if you truly want me to move in faith as your word says, faith without works is dead, then I am going to be as Gideon and request that you show me without a doubt that it is you that I am hearing and not just my over compassionate mama heart.

These were my conditions as I spoke to the Lord:
I need Dan to go with me. I will not ask.
I need the leader to come to me directly who I have not yet met and tell me that He feels I am to join the team.
I need the provision.

Service was over and Dan leans to me and says, ” I feel like I may be called to go on the mission trip.” I kid you not my mouth about fell to the floor. I may even have laughed out loud. You have to know this is absolutely a tugging from God. He would have not been opened to the idea otherwise.
I was stopped by a friend and visiting after church. I looked over at Dan and He was talking to the leader. Dan called me over and as I was introduced, the team leader said, “God highlighted you to me, I feel you are called to go on this trip.” (paraphrasing as I can’t remember exact words). At this point, I knew and I just nodded my head and said as much.
Now we are waiting on provision and believing for the plan to unfold as we walk out the little hiccups of life in the planning process. The trip is coming fast!
With my lack of knowing where the funds would come from and a time crunch, we had started a go fund me even though I felt so foolish in doing so, I said again…Even If.
The fees for the passport came in first at the Go Fund Me site as well as the cost of plane tickets that were mailed to us. I saw how it was exactly what we needed when we needed it.
We are over halfway to our goal and I know the rest is already accounted for. We are praying for the paperwork we need to move forward will come quickly as Dan had to order his birth certificate before getting a passport. We are on a time crunch. But of course, God already knows this.

I am excited. I know there are many purposes for following the Lord’s leading. But I am still reminded to hold fast to those words… Even If… because often His call does not match my human understanding. Even If I don’t see it, I can rest assured that HE knows it. Even… If.

Jeremiah 29:11 – 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 hope and a future.

 

Love them… Lead them…Let them

67093324_2790312467710925_1143867284050149376_n By: Awakened_Arts 

The first and greatest commandment is to love. So often we hear that Christians are despised because they are judgemental and do not show kindness. Christians often confuse their role of loving someone as they think that because of the love they want to show them the way so much that they do in fact become judgemental.

Looking at the definition of LOVE according to Corinthians…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This is THE standard of love. So first and foremost we are to love others as God loves His children. We are to be kind and patient and not dishonor.

With that being said, when we have someone we love we are called to lead when we see a pattern of living in destructive choices. Whether they are a Christian or not, we can lead them. Lead by example, lead by action and lead by sharing wisdom. Sharing is not judging. Sharing is not shaming. Sharing is being honest in love with the hope that abundant life will be the result.
I lovingly shared how I saw all the destruction addiction was having on my loved one.
I lovingly shared that there was a better life. There was a life of goodness waiting. I shared how valuable and loved they were.
Same with my loved ones living an unhealthy lifestyle. I also shared how much I mess up my own walk of healthy choices. Being exposed, real and vulnerable.
The snag here is, often when you lead by sharing a better life, those that are not interested or not wanting a change can get defensive. But I ask you, have they become defensive because you mentioned something that concerns you in love with someone you have an established relationship, or are they defensive because you are pushing an issue that they have given you no place to speak into? Also, are you pushing the issue every time you see them?  There are times you must speak out, no matter the response because you are looking at a 911 situation. But, I admit that I have over spoken when it has not been my place (shocker I know ). I have been so excited for another to receive freedom, that I neglected to see the heart. I neglected the loving them first and foremost. Instead of loving as the father I rushed into the fixing and that is not my place.

We all have choices in this life. We all have the right to live how we choose. There comes a point that when you share what you feel may be healthier and produce abundant life, that if someone chooses not to follow your lead, that you let go.
Love them…lead them…let them.
By insisting someone makes the choices you make and then if they don’t you condemn them, you are giving the very opposite of true love.
This brings to mind, however,  that there are times you have loved, lead and then people living in their choices are in fact destroying you. They may destroy your peace, they may destroy your safety, they may just break you personally because your heart is so attached to them. Again… let them. Let them be in their choices and move on.
Jesus himself said (Matthew 10:14) if they do not receive the message you bring to dust your feet and move on. Invest where the investment is welcomed.

The painting above is titled “Goodbye”. The darkness represents all the hurts and blows from those that have rejected her, shamed her, left her, and not received what she had to offer. But the beautiful colors represent what is ahead as She has loved… She has led…. and now She must Let. It is not her place to carry the weight of an other’s unhealthy choices. It is her place to settle in the JOY of knowing that she did as she was called.
May she never forget that first she was called to LOVE.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.