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

52901658_10218410674563181_2225174297805062144_n 2 awakened_arts

 

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.

Who am I really? An opinion on Identity.

IMG_0410 Instagram: awakened_arts 

 

Years ago, I was in a bad head space. I constantly measured my identity based on how I felt others saw me: forgotten, sickly, snob, embarrassment, unwanted, boring and whiny to name a few. Now, these thoughts were seeded by the words and actions of a few. But I took those labels and let them take root as a truth that was how most people saw me.

Finally, one day I realized how much other’s thoughts of me were playing on my mind and actions. I was holding back out of fear of how others would label me. As I was praying, I felt the Lord start to work on my heart on the truth of my identity. This got me to thinking, how do people really see me? So, I asked my friends on Facebook to be completely honest, even brutally so, and that it was because I was working on a project.  Their response truly did surprise me. They saw me as Godly,  prophetic, gentle, kind, loving, strong, tender-hearted, caring, worshiper, youthful, bubbly and playful. I did not get one, negative thought pointed out at me. Now for some that did not surprise me, but others that I thought for sure had labeled me, had some of the most encouraging things to say. This lead to an evaluation of the lenses I viewed my identity through.

  • Situational
    What I do or own: Homeschooling mother, Preschool teacher, Worship team member, homeowner, etc.
    Abilities: Illness left me feeling unable to do much and what I did do was not amazing.
    Labels: This has shifted often over the years. But the ones that I was battling were the labels I put on myself. Worthless, weak, depressed, sick, etc.
  • Word of God-
    (was not walking in this as my identity at the time)

The problem with the measuring identity on circumstances is that they are ever-changing and contradicted what the word of God says about my identity.
I learned I was living in a situational identity. What happens when your identity is based on your situations and then things shift in a way that you absolutely hate? You no longer can identify with that part of you that you loved or took pride in. This is often the source of ‘midlife crisis”. Things shift and all of a sudden you have lost the identity you once knew because it was set on a situational foundation.

So imagine how my life felt like it was spinning out of control and I had nothing and was nothing when everything shifted. I was no longer a home school mother, my boys didn’t need me that way anymore, I could no longer be a preschool teacher and I had seasons of not being able to serve on a worship team. I couldn’t and still can’t drive more than a few miles at a time.

When my situation was that I was sick, walking in a season where my illness was everything in front of my eyes, so that is all I saw in my identity, how life-giving is that?
Basing my identity on what I had, imagine how it felt when I lost it all. We lost our home and were no longer homeowners. How does this thought process on identity measure up? What would those like myself now feel when they ‘own’ nothing? No business, no home, or like me if they are even more like me what they do own is debt?”

For many, if things are going well and they find their identity in what they do, they are looking to achieve more, and when they don’t see the progress they hope for they feel defeated.

If we find our identity in what we think about ourselves or what others think of us, we will aim to please people and not our heavenly father.

Thoughts and labels, like I said earlier, were the biggest battle I was walking in with my identity. When I was young, others always told me I was skinny and pretty, but when I got older my face sagged and wrinkles are arriving, hair became thin and straw like and you know it, I grew ‘fluffy’ over time. This hit hard, as I saw value in my younger self but not as an older woman. I took the label ugly.
Secondly, in the labels department, because I had a biological father that didn’t want me born (abortion), and an adoptive father that made statements I wasn’t really his after the divorce, I was always waiting for the next person to leave and constantly had a thought that I was not enough. If I was a boy like my adoptive father always wanted, maybe I could have liked the things he liked more and when he divorced my mom, I would have still had a connection. He would have at least called me to go hunting or fishing, or something, but he didn’t and I again took on the label unwanted. The constant thought ran through my mind, what if I had lost my husband, like the two fathers that thought I wasn’t enough.

Most of my identity being skewed was because of a lack of true understanding. Now, I knew the things that the word of God said that I had been taught over the years, but I knew them in my head, they were not a deeply seeded revelation that I was LIVING.

And the crazy thing is, I viewed others through the lenses of Jesus. I saw their identity of worth and value, but I could not see my own.
Over time, I learned how to go from head knowledge to heart knowledge.
In order for the word to become deep seeded in my life, I have found I need to read the word and pray for the revelation to become real to me. When I  am finding I still struggle, I need to spend time in prayer and fasting. This is preparing the soil for strong roots to take hold.

WHO GOD SAYS I AM: 

* Created: 
Ephesians 2:10- For we are Gods masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

God made me uniquely His. He gave me my very own fingerprints and DNA. He wanted me here on this earth and has a purpose set aside for me! My identity is created, this will not change!

* Chosen Child of God:
Ephesians 1:-5- Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

1 Peter 2:9- But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, Gods very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into the light.

John 1:11-12- He came to His own people and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.

Chosen, He will not leave me abandoned. He has filled the place in my heart crying out for adoption. He has made me His own with my belief and acceptance of Him! My identity is chosen and His, this will not change!

*Loved:
1 Thessalonians 1:4- We know dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and chose you to be His own people.

Understanding the Lord’s love for me has helped me to love myself. All that I am and all that I am not, I can love every part of me. My identity is loved, this will not change.


*Restored:

1 Corinthian 1:30-31- God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit, God made Him to be wisdom itself.
Christ made us right with God. He made us pure and Holy and freed us from sin. Therefore as the scripture says, if you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.

I am freed from sin! Through Jesus, I can walk in grace and strength. He has made me right before God and I don’t need to hide in shame and worthlessness. I was living in a lie. My identity is that I am restored, this will not change.

*New Creation:
2 Corinthians 5:16-17- So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ as merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone. A new life has begun!

1 Corinthians 6:11- And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. 

New! Let that sink in.
I have been made new! I do not have to live in the old lies that I am not enough. I do not need to live bound by the old lies. I have freedom. My identity is that I am a new creation, this will not change.

He has established all of His word in my heart. Everything, His word says about me, applies to me as His child. If you have excepted His truths in your heart and walk in His ways, Your identity to is secure and steadfast, never changing. All these truths I discovered apply to you as well.
Created, chosen child of God, loved, restored and a new creation. This is my identity and it will not change!
When we see ourselves as God sees us, we walk in confidence in Him, not our own abilities. We are able to pursue the things He has called us to, knowing that He has equipped us with all we need. We do not waiver in our authority because we know where it is firmly found.
He gives us the ability to change our circumstances when we are fighting battles, not for our circumstances to change who we are. We can be steadfast in Him.

Let His word settle into your heart and give a listen to this encouraging song:

You Say: By Lauren Daigle

View my LIVE on this topic at my Channel Shaey Anthony

Follow up scriptures to meditate on this week:
John 1:5
Jeremiah 2:21
Romans 6:6
Romans 8:14
Romans 12:2
2 Corinthians 12:9
1 John 4:17

Drama Drama Drama

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Galatians 5:15-16 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

I was recently watching a show where the main character finally found some peace among her peers, declared, “what is the fun in that?” and purposefully stirred up strife for her entertainment. It got me to thinking, how often do we use drama in our lives for entertainment?
Something is done to you so you fester and spread it to everyone else, DRAMA.
You are not liking the way another lives their life because yours is so together, so you talk bad about their choices, DRAMA.
You are uncomfortable in a room so you use the opportunity to point out another’s issue, DRAMA.

Drama Drama Drama a process that many live their lives in and I must admit there were seasons I was right along with them. Of course, I have moments now, but living in the constant drama is no longer a choice in my life. When someone lives in the constant upheaval that drama stirs up, you choose to partner with anxiety. There is no peace. There may be moments of quiet, but it doesn’t take long for the drama to raise its ugly head again. 

  Some sources of Drama:

  • Gossip
  • Judgment
  • Criticism
  • Negative Talk
  • Slander
  • Stirring up strife

 

When you take part in drama you are  in opposition to what the Lord wants to accomplish in your life and the lives of others.
Drama leads to walking in competition, controversy, rivalry, and dispute.

I am talking about stirring up drama for drama’s sake, simply for your entertainment or to be the center of attention. But if you are truly having an issue with a brother or sister in the church that has harmed you or sinned against you the word says to follow the steps in Matthew 18:15-18

How to avoid Drama Drama Drama in your life.

  • Pray about it: First and foremost, pray about the situation that is mulling over and over in your head, before you do anything else.
    You can start by praying for your own heart in the situation, taking your eyes off of your own opinion and seeking the Lord’s view on the situation. Then pray for the person you are feeling less than lovely about. 
    Avoid talking the ‘issue’ out with a friend or a peer and let the Lord who is the master fixer be the one to work on the situation.
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
  • Examine your heart: “Is this really my business?” 
    What is the motivation in your concerns for another person? Do you really desire to see a situation fixed or do you lean more towards being right? Is your judgment self-motivated? Are you seeing the situation the way the Lord would see it or with self-righteous eyes? Does sharing another’s shortcomings with everyone else help their situation improve? Does He need your help to fix them?
    There are times that we are to take things to our brethren to encourage their walk with the Lord. But we must not underestimate the work the Holy Spirit is doing in another’s heart. We all started somewhere. We all have faults and flaws. If we are constantly nagging and spreading gossip about another’s issue, your motivation is not in the right place. It is you trying to do the work in them, rather than letting the Holy Spirit.
    Lastly with this thought… while examining your own heart, don’t assume that you know theirs. Often there is a work going on in that life that you have no idea of.
    1 Thessalonians 4:11and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
    Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
  • Go to Leadership: If you have prayed and taken the matter directly to the person you are struggling with and still feeling like an issue needs to be dealt with. Take your heart in the matter to your pastor or leadership. 
    They may see things from a different perspective or have some insight on a peaceful resolution. Make sure though, that you truly want to work on the situation and are not just wanting to produce gossip.
    Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
  • Be a PeacemakerTo stir up drama, it only entertains for a moment but that drama has a lasting impact on the hearts of all involved. The definition of peace is freedom from disturbance. Quiet and tranquility.
    We are blessed to live a life of quiet and tranquility and bless others when we leave them in peace rather than drama mode.
    God calls the peacemaker blessed! I want my God to call me blessed, to call me his daughter.
    Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 
  • Guard your tongueWhen you are with a gathering of others, are you improving the atmosphere with your words, or are you shifting it to the uncomfortable world of DRAMA. You may be comfortable in a drama-filled situation, even entertained by it, but you leave the environment full of anxiety and head shaking rather than life-giving.  Resist sharing the short-comings and personal details of someone else’s life.  We grew up chanting to our peers when they were hurtful, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
    Are you building one another up in their absence? Are you speaking what you believe and hope for their life rather than the situation they are in?
    This statement still rings true, it is perfectly okay to grace people with a smile and silence if your words will become bitterness to an atmosphere.
    Science has proven that our thoughts, negative or positive impact on our health. If we speak out the negative won’t it impact those around us?
    What if we determined to only be LIFE GIVING? How would that affect others in our life?
    I myself have over shared with a cry of ” please, pray for this situation,” not with a motive for drama, but in reality drama or not, I was still wrong. I should have just taken that prayer straight to the Lord, not changed the atmosphere of others with my ‘concerns’, and certainly not live with the regret of oversharing.
    Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
    1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

    Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
        and those who love it will eat its fruits.

  • Walk in kindness and forgiveness– If you are walking around in anger at what another is doing in their lives, or judgment for their choices, you are not walking a life of forgiveness. If you are spreading all of their business around, you are not walking in kindness.
    God calls us to be kind and to forgive. It seems simple in theory but when we are seeking drama for our entertainment it is so easy to walk in self-righteous mode and not be walking out what He calls of us at all. To ‘vent’ our frustrations of another for nothing more than entertainment sake is hateful, not kind, hurtful, not life-giving and certainly not forgiveness. 
    When I am tempted to judge another, God often has to remind me of what He had brought me out of. How far He has led me from my past and how He alone restored my ways. 
    It is a process. I am still in process. So why should I expect anything more of them?
    Ephesians 4:32  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

    Matthew 18:21-22  Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
     
  • Walk away: If you are finding yourself tempted to gossip, stir up strife, slander, or any other forms of causing drama, pray for strength and walk away. If you are stuck in an atmosphere of another creating drama, excuse yourself and walk away. It is better to walk away and say nothing than to sin against your heavenly father by harming his church with your drama for entertainment.

    I know this is a heavy topic. I know that many walk daily in drama drama drama, not even realizing what they are left with a life of anxiety and strife and often don’t even know the root of it.
    So I leave you with this thought, I believe it sums the topic up nicely.   
    It is impossible to tear down and destroy when you are being a light and building up. 


    Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

Hope

44360648_10217396586811621_7015477418978705408_o Instagram:  awakened_arts

Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do I hope when I am surrounded on all sides? When the darkness comes in and clouds my mind. I am tempted to succumb to my weakness and lack rather than rising in His strength. How do I overcome? It is not by might, but by His spirit. It is connecting to Him in Spirit by praise and worship. It is in surrender, for in losing my old self, He clothes me with new life. And so…

When HOPE and EXPECTATION rise in my spirit fear, anger, hurt, insecurity and all forms of darkness are shaken out of my sites. Joy and peace become my covering.
Trusting in the Lord is the key to my hope.

I will sing of His wondrous love that saved me from my self.
I will rejoice in His overwhelming grace that covers all my shortcomings.
I praise Him in the morning, His mercies are new each day.
I take my eyes off of my moment and look to my helper, my comfort, my strength.
My moment will pass, but He is ever constant, faithful with every breath I take.
A keeper of promises.
A healer of disease.
Mighty fortress in times of trouble.
Provider for my needs.
The Hope will rise and overflow from my soul.
For the God of all Hope has said it will be so.

With Everything~ Worship song for my day

 

 

Fear you have been identified

43117188_554492298342921_9131809918288920576_n.jpg Art by: awakened_arts @instagram

Fear this year had gripped me and I had no idea how, why or when. I just knew that my physical body was in panic mode and this was brand new for me. Sensory overload has been paralyzing at times, to where I literally have to leave and lie down right then and there. Another form of this fear started almost a year ago. Overwhelming constant dizziness had me afraid to go anywhere or doing anything on my own.

I no longer drive (almost 10 months now with just a couple tries in that time) even on my good days because the bad ones terrified me so much and the movement will seem okay for a little while, I will be driving along and all of a sudden I can’t see straight. So much time has gone by and I have not even realized it.

Yesterday a new friend called me out on my walking in fear, by sharing her testimony and freedom. I was supposed to get together with her and had tummy issues that morning and canceled.  She called me and had an encouraging word and then shared about fear. As soon as she said the word “fear”,  a light bulb clicked in my brain, I truly had no idea that I was battling in such a capacity. Fear you have been identified!

Here I had written on fear and transformation and God had begun a work in me just a few days before, but I had no idea how deep that fear had a hold until I saw my situation through another’s eyes.

She was absolutely right, I had been fearing getting together with someone new, but did not know it in my head.
The flashes came to my mind on what I was fearing as soon as she mentioned the word, it is hard for me, exposing my heart to risk having it broken again. Rejection and abandonment had left me as a shut-in and hiding. I will get over it and the enemy is right there to remind me what was stolen from me and point that accusing finger that I am nothing. I will grasp my worth and value and one disapproving look or gossip can send me spiraling right back to my idea of worthlessness. Fear you have been identified! I will not go back.

It is easy to live in a state of hidden truths. I was not addressing fear, because it had not been revealed to me yet. There is great power addressing your battles by name and this is why the enemy tries to keep things hidden. As I have been on this journey to the fullness of joy and health, there have been many things the Lord has had to deal with in my heart.

There are hidden things coming to light every single day, and sometimes it takes a loving person to identify what you don’t see or want to look at. This person came to me in encouragement and love. This was not a place of judgment but a heart that wanted freedom for me.

As soon as an issue is identified to us, we have a choice, we either choose to tackle it for complete freedom, or stuff it away and don’t deal with it. You can’t have victory by rolling over and saying “I will deal with you another day.” Because another day comes and your darkness grows that much stronger. It has become your comfort and false safety.

My friend said it well, “one of the ways to battle fear is to do that which you are afraid of anyways. Walk it out in fear and all.”When I step out into the uncomfortable, I think on it for days, that I looked foolish, or all the ways others may mock me for being who I am. I fear what will I say, how will the conversation start. Now those that had known me in years past would wonder what in the world happened because this is NOT who I was. I have become someone mousey and hidden. I have for whatever reason, all of a sudden cared about what others think of me, far too much.

This shut-in mentality started slow. It was to get well with my illnesses at first and most recently it seems like anytime I am asked to come out of my little hole in my house, that I would start shutting down. I thought it was laziness or depression (this all started around the loss of my dad) and maybe that is a factor, but my friend was so right on when she identified that I was battling fear.

Asking the Lord, why His truths are not sticking, I feel the answer is because the seeds of healing have not been cast on good soil. A truth that is in my head but has not been established in my heart. Rather than my everyday reality that I am valuable, have a call, have worth and what I have to say has importance, I only have snippets of a moment. Even now typing the words that what I have to say has importance, I wanted to delete that sentence. I don’t truly believe it yet. So I ask the Lord today, help my unbelief. Help me see myself with the same eyes that I see others. Help me see myself as you see me. Fear you have been identified and I will not return to you!

It is time for me to walk in my value and worth every single day, all day, not just when the spirit of God hits in crazy good ways.

I am choosing to speak to that fear by name. I call it out for what it is!
In Jesus name, Fear you must go, you are a liar, you are false, you don’t hold my God’s truths!
I will no longer walk in panic mode but confident mode. He has given me every tool I need to do His work and He has promised me His protection and peace.  I am under the shadow of His wings and I can find comfort there.

One thing I have learned in all of this is how to rest in the Spirit of the Lord. At any moment I know my comforter is there. So it is up to me to go to the source rather than run in my blindness. It is up to me to take the gifts He gives rather than believe the lies of the accuser.

God is so good to care so much that He doesn’t leave me behind in my mess, but creates beauty out of it, so that I may walk in my testimony.

Isaiah 41:10- fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Intentional Connection

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John 14:26-

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. 

Let me start off with this thought… you can not theory your way into changing my heart of what I have experienced personally. You may not believe in the Holy Spirit in such a way, that is okay, but I have EXPERIENCED the Holy Spirit this way, and I will not be convinced otherwise.

The greatest gift is to be able to have an intentional connection with the Holy Spirit.

Where would my relationship be with my husband if I was walking through life, knowing he was there and hearing his voice from a closed door in another room but not have an intentional connection with him? I would be one with him, but not aware of him.
I can hear him trying to converse with me, but no clarity of what is being said. What kind of relationship would that be?

This is how we can walk through life with the Holy Spirit. When we are saved and baptized the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us. He is our friend, our comforter and hopefully leads us in our walk as we let him. But there is a difference between the Holy Spirit being there and having an intentional connection with Him. He is our face to face encounter with the Father. Our opportunity to hear the Father’s heart towards us.

Just like my relationship with my husband (or anyone for that matter) the Holy Spirit needs and deserves intentional connection. He delights to hear from us. He delights to spend time with us. He delights to speak into our hearts.

So I am intentional, shutting off the noise around me and asking the Holy Spirit, what do you want to share with me today?  He has blown my mind with His goodness and love for me. He reminds me that I am loved and not forgotten. He reminds me of my purpose and call. He is every bit as intentional with me, as I am with Him.

So very thankful for the intentional connection with the Holy Spirit. To be able to say, Holy Spirit, I welcome You.