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.

COMMUNITY

54730098_10218592822756772_3689364288650084352_o Awakened_arts 

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

I had started a very basic purple painted canvas on the first day of spring.
I asked my social media friends, to share what color they wanted on the picture, fully intending to see who matched what was on my mind for the painting. The interesting thing, everyone had a different idea for the secondary color than mine. As I stood and stared at the purple canvas, deciding which color I would pick, the name of the piece came to me, “Community”. 

This painting wasn’t about one or two solid ideas, but about combining the creativity of many into something of beauty. I took each color that my friends had suggested and I thought of them and prayed as I painted their color. I sought where the Lord would have them impact the piece and prayed for individual situations. A few friends had chosen teal, it didn’t matter, as I applied the color again, a new friend came to mind. Another, shared her idea for the technique to add dimension and direction. This was a wonderful example of community, each contributing, every individual uniqueness adding a new depth and detail as we collaborated. 

This piece alone reminded me of how important it is to be in community with one another. I could have said, ew I don’t like that color, it would never look right, but looking at this painting, it needed every single color whether at first, I thought it would belong or not. As I looked at the painting with each layer I was timid to place more colors, yet a sense of belonging came over me as I saw the work coming together. 

You would not know that two years ago, I had my self hidden away, shying away from the world, from being hurt, from being ignored and passed over. I had a horrible sense of my self. I had lost the knowledge of my worth somewhere on the journey of surviving grief and illness that had reared its ugly head like never before and the depression wanted to take over. In the past, I was swallowed by that depression. I cut everyone and everything off and literally wanted to die.

The amazing thing, this time, depression could not stay! While I started blocking people out of my life, there were the solid, the community that would not let me. There were the people who reminded me of who I am. There were the people that pointed out when I was being flat-out ridiculous and that I needed to stop identifying with what I was facing and start identifying on who God says I am. It was my community that picked me up and reminded me how much ground I have gained and even in this hiccup, it was safe to spread my wings and fly again. 

Community: A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Romans 12:5-
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Do I always agree with everything they do? No. Do I enjoy every single personality within my community at every moment? No.  Do I share every single belief and value? No. 

Do I drive people in my community crazy at times? Ah, YAH! 

However, when in the community, despite our human differences we can choose to stay united with a common goal. Intentional to build together, to hold one another up by carrying each other’s burdens and remind each other there is hope in a sea of unknowns.

When the going gets tough, we can be tempted to run from our communities, but all that brings is isolation and loneliness, which in turn becomes bitterness and anger. I think this is why the Lord mentions not forsaking the gathering of our brethren. He knew that we needed far more than to hear our own voice whisper silently to the wind. 

Hebrews 10: 24-25-
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

 

A different lens: Perception

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I recounted a story that changed my perception years ago, at Shaey Anthony on YouTube.
If you are interested, give it a view as it places this blog in a fuller context.

More

33248955_10216228639453667_8634740846178074624_nBy Writing for joy: Instagram @awakened_arts

 

I was at church Sunday and the word that kept rising in my heart for a young man was more.
“More God?” I asked, and he replied in my spirit, “yes, more, more, more.”
God kept nudging me to share and I had no idea this young man was in the process of being taught about coming to Jesus at the moment by another.

I walked up to him and said God wants you to know that you can ask for more. That He wants to give you more. Just as you look at your little baby and want everything for her, this is how the father looks at you. He doesn’t want you to miss out on anything.

I went home and the thought kept pondering in my mind. More, more, more.

Ephesians 3:19-20
And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.

Just like this father looking at his tiny baby, our heavenly father looks at us. He wants the best for us, He wants his gifts for us, He wants more for us than we in our human minds, don’t think to ask for. 

I want to walk in my kingdom identity as His daughter, with His inheritance as my stepping stool to launch me into His work for my life. I want to know His love in infinite ways. God holds nothing back from me as His child, seeking Him first, He holds everything to give to me at the right time.

If I walked up to a stranger and asked for the inheritance to his life’s work, he would look at me with disdain and say, “who are you to ask such a thing?” 
But my heavenly father says… “YOU ARE MINE. All you have need of, ask. All that you can imagine, ask.
This isn’t about seeking the savior for what you get..it is about receiving because you have sought Him first and He is yours and everything that that entails. 

So as I say “yes Lord, I will receive your more, more more.”
He answers me,
 Now you have revelation it is time, live your life today by Kingdom standards, not earthly limits! ”

“Yes, Lord!”

I once failed at love- Until I learned what it truly is

In my past, I had a world full of people around me, yet I felt so alone.
I had been hurt that others in my life were not listening or there for me in the ways that I thought they should be. I read recently that those that overshare on social media are often the loneliest people and that was me. I was so lonely. Yet, the lonelier I felt the more isolated I became. Shutting people out, to avoid the feelings of hurt.

I lived in a world where others were not being aware of MY needs. When these trials arose,  I would often pout, shout or shut down completely into a world of poor me.   I began to get bitter and turn people away.

I can see where this destructive pattern began. There was one that cut and hurt me so deeply, it shook my very worth.  I was done with living and I was done with people. So one by one, I deleted them from my life. I was not going to face that abandonment again. I would dispose of them before they disposed of me.

While my flesh was saying that this was the way to self-protect, God pointed out ever so gently in His amazing ways that I was on the road of self-destruction.

Where my immediate family is concerned, In the early days of wife and mother, I had completely ruined the atmosphere in my home with my grumbling and complaining.

I would blow up when my comfort levels were disrupted or when they were not meeting my need as I felt they should. If I called for the kids to stop arguing and talking back and they ignored me I would yell, react in the flesh and get bitter rather than giving the soft answer that the Bible calls for. If my husband wasn’t giving me the attention I wanted I would complain about every other little thing he would do, rather than discuss the issue. I would shut down and hide inside myself, making the problem worse, not better.

I was unhappy, depressed, to the point of suicidal. Nobody was there for me (my perception of the moment) and I didn’t know why. I was in the darkest place and when I asked the Lord why. His answer shook me.

The issue was not them, but me.

I was not loving!!! I did not LOVE myself, my family or others.

Love is not self-seeking.

Why is it that I find their actions concern me so much? Why was my comfort level controlled by their actions? Were my desires so much more important than theirs?

In order to understand the fullness of joy the Lord has for us, we MUST comprehend love.

When I am not seeing my needs be met by humans, I need to seek the Lord to meet those needs. I need to ask God how can you use me to help show your love to others?
God has made it very apparent to me what love was a while back. And for the most part, great joy has come in as I settle on the word and apply love like His in my life. I have become more patient, more kind, more peaceful overall.

I do fail and I do miss it, but thankfully I fail and miss it less and less as I learn more and more.

Love is an action. It is not a feeling. When I am irritated, self-seeking and impatient I am not acting in love. Criticism and judgment is not love. Manipulation and tantrum throwing is not love. Bitterness and impatience is not love.

The bible is very clear on the actions we are to take in love. Jesus was loving, he was giving, he was kind and I am to be Christ-like. I want my friends and family to see the kind of love that lives and dwells in me when I allow my self to get out of my own way.

Challenge this day my friend: Find areas that we can exhibit love that we never thought was an act of Love before. Look at the individuals you have cut off and ask yourself… was that an act of love? Sometimes God calls us to walk away for a healthier us, but sometimes, we are a healthier us by growing in the act of LOVE.

 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

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 in truth.

It always protects, always trusts always hopes, always perseveres

 

Will you return to your mess?

Proverbs 26:11
As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

A few weeks ago this scripture came to me so clearly at church.

Why is it that we can gain victory in an area of our lives, only to open up the door for the enemy all over again? Often times, it is harder to break away the second , third or eighth time, when that door has been opened.

For myself I find if I keep opening the door again and again, it is because the root of the sin has not been dealt with. I will stop sinning in my bitterness, anger, gluttony, worry or whatever it is for a season, but I have not completely rid myself of it. So it sits below the surface and fester, waiting for another onslaught to rear its ugly head. The temptation will rise and I will entertain it rather than cutting it off at the root.

It has been time to CUT off that sin. Walk away from it. Turn away and change. This is what repentance really means. To turn away from. I can’t keep picking the same old hurtful habits back up again and again and expect a different result.

I do not want to be as a dog returning to its nasty vomit. I do not want to be the fool returning to my folly that drags me down and steals my life and abundant joy.

My prayer today is the Lord makes every hidden thing abundantly clear to me so that I will not miss the areas that are lurking. That He will continue to give me strength to walk in HIM and not my own ways of self-destruction. I was created to be more than a fool.

Blessings

 

 

 

She listened and I learned

Today was a hard one. My father passed suddenly just a few weeks ago and this was my first Father’s Day without him. The last two years on Father’s Day I was lucky enough to travel the 2,000 miles to see him in Tennessee. I was planning a surprise trip this year and then he passed before  I could finalize details.

My heart just broke today. I would think this week that I was over the grieving and then it would hit fresh. While my inner joy will surface, the in the moment is rough.

At church today, singing some of the very songs that I had sung with my dad on my last visit. On that visit, I had the precious moment of holding him as we both cried because he was so sick and we were pleading with the Lord for his health. Our please and cries turned to praise and peace. Today the memory flooding me, it was all too much and I had to leave the building and get away from the songs.

Along came my sweet spirited sister in Jesus. Now normally I would have such an anxiety over showing myself so vulnerable, but she brought such a peace with her !

My friend sat with me and listened to me talk and cry. I shared so much I didn’t even think to share, simply because she listened. She had the sweetest spirit of comfort and assured me in the simplest of ways. She did not talk over me, as I likely would have done, but she waited and smiled. Oh her beautiful smile.

I learned so much from that exchange today. I learned by example to listen lovingly. I learned that a hug can bring the calm, instead of anxiety I often feel when crying. She just waited and I felt so connected to the here and now, and the grief just melted. We were laughing and sharing and I dusted my self off and we went back inside.

The message today….was on connecting with one another. A real connection. God had given me a perfect physical understanding before the message today and it was so sweet.

Thank you my friend, for stepping out, for teaching and loving. The fruit you share, will blossom and spread to others! You are a treasure!!!!