Motherhood and squashing expectations

Motherhood and squashing expectations

This accidental country girl planted her very first garden this year.  Two days ago in fact!  My Dad was going to teach me, but God saw fit to have him in the hospital for a stem cell transplant instead, and God has been so faithful yet it has been another season of hard questions and God’s faithfulness.  I had no idea what I was doing and as I planted the seeds of corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, squash, and pumpkin my heart filled with anticipation for the weeks I’d see the first sign of new life.  Then this morning my Mother in-love who lives next door shared with me that she had seen birds snatching some seeds from a few of the rows.  Immediately I asked myself, “is this even worth it?  What if my garden doesn’t bear fruit (or vegetables haha) and all of my effort was for nothing?

I then started to think about Motherhood and how it can be much like gardening.  We tend to sow and weed with the expectation and anticipation for the day we will see real fruit and evidence in their life.  But what if we don’t?  What if the results we desire never come when we think they should?  We truly aren’t promised good parenting in = good kids out, so why in the world are we doing what we are doing?

I was thinking about the verse in Matthew 10:37b anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Do we love our children more than we fear God?  How does that look in our parenting?  Do we make choices and parent based on the desired outcome, to be the favorite, out of laziness, or true conviction from the Lord?  There is a Proverb in scripture that reminds us to train up a child in the way he should go for when he is old he will not depart from it.  And though it is likely that if we train them up in the way that they won’t depart, but it isn’t a promise that they won’t.

I keep thinking about the harvest, but really all God’s

asking me to do is to sow in faith today.   

We have a hope with in us and the Holy Spirit helper to lead and guide us.  We are not responsible for the end result, we are responsible for what we as parents are called to minute by minute and day by day.

How we parent and sow into our children’s hearts should absolutely be shaped by the gospel.  Our little ones are sinners in need of Jesus and we are sinners saved by grace trying to show them who God is.  I was thinking about how Paul charged and encouraged Timothy in 1 Timothy 4.  

(vrs. 6-7) Be trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine…train yourself for godliness.  We must be proactive as we prepare for and train our children with the word.  How can we hide God’s words in their hearts when we don’t have them in our hearts?  How can we share the good news of salvation and teach them what to put off and put on when we don’t even know?

(vrs. 11-12) Command and teach these things, Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  It’s amazing that it’s in our youth that we are usually blessed with the gift of children who are solely dependent on us for everything and we are just sorting through life ourselves.  Our sweet little ones are watching our every move whether we like it or not.  What are we teaching them verbally, in our conduct, in how we love one another and others, in faith and in purity?

(vrs. 13-14) Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have.  Are we reading scripture out loud so that it can settle into the little hearts and minds that God has entrusted us with? 2 Timothy 3:16-27 says All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God maybe complete, equipped for every good work. As we read the word out loud not only do our kids benefit, learn and receive correction but God is faithful to use those times to work in our hearts as well.  We learn and grow as they learn and grow!  It’s part of how God equips us for THIS ministry of Motherhood, and it is your calling if you have children!  Use your gifts in your home to glorify our God as you minister, witness, and serve your family.

(vrs. 15-16)  Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.  Jump in there Mama, immerse yourself in the good work God has called you to.  You WILL see progress and others will too!  Keep close watch, heart checks and motives.  Persist: (verb) continue firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure. Persist in THIS!  You never know how God is going to use your faithful seed and reseeding.

Tomorrow I plan to go out into my garden and reseed the corn the squash and some other rows of vegetables.  It isn’t a waste of time to be diligent and faithful in the little things, because before long they become the big things and though we aren’t promised a full and plentiful harvest in the realm of parenthood, may we be faithful and obediently sow and resow when necessary and rest in the sovereignty of our Lord and King.

1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end (eternity) we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

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Infinite Grace Devotional: Who Fights For You?

Infinite Grace Devotional: Who Fights For You?

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)

 

The kids and I had a week off from homeschooling a few weeks back. I’m learning how important it is to schedule in rest to avoid burnout and not just stop all together. So, the kids and I were all working on different projects. I was working on food prep because you know, baby weight. The oldest four were planning and scheming a way to build the biggest fort ever!  After tons of chopping and dicing, I went into their room to find a fort roof cascading down one side of the bunk bed and all four of the kids packed in like sardines looking at books and giggling. I slipped right in and started asking them what a fort was for? Payton, my nine year old piped up and said “It’s something to hide in and protects us from the enemy”.  It immediately reminded me of the old hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”.

David writes here in Psalm 18 that our God is a fortress. A fort is a strong place that provides protection, where a fortress is a place of strength. Think about that for a minute. Fort: Strong place. Fortress: Place of strength. We can run and hide inside a fort but it will not fight back for us. A fortress is an intricate defense. It’s where the strength is, where the power is. When it says here that God is our fortress, deliverer, God, refuge, shield, salvation and stronghold, He not only provides a place of protection but He IS the source of power and who fights on our behalf.

Moses comforted the Israelites as they feared the Egyptians were after them.  Moses told them in Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” That very same God who parted the Red Sea for the Israelites is the very same God who provides a safe place and fights for you. I’m not sure what battle you are facing today friend, but be faithful in what you know to do and know that our God goes before you!  May you find rest in the solid rock of our salvation.  A Mighty Fortress and Deliverer is our God!

Love, Janell

A Running Plan For Life: It’s NOT what you think

A Running Plan For Life: It’s NOT what you think

Whether you know it or not, we are ALL runners. But you may be sitting there thinking, “I haven’t laced up my shoes and ran since Middle School when we ran the mile for our fit test!”. Or maybe you are sitting there thinking, “I know I am, I just started an in-depth couch to 5K running plan for the New Year!”. Or, you may be thinking, “I’m more like the weightlifting type….or book type!” Well, wherever this finds you, if you are a daughter of the King then you ARE a runner, trust me.

It was in God’s design. We were created to be runners. There is a race that has been set before us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The first thing the author of Hebrews points out is that, to run this race well, we need to lay aside every weight and sin which clings. What are the things that weigh you down? What are the things that cling so desperately for your attention that is not of the Lord? Seriously, think on this for a moment and evaluate these areas in your life. I know for me, the weight I usually feel is a direct result or is hand in hand with a particular heart sin. (i.e.: laziness, anger, control, lack of control, pride, etc.) Isn’t it just like sin to cling on and weigh down?! Let’s be intentional to continually lay them aside, minute by minute, day by day as God faithfully changes us into His image. Repent, Renew, and Run!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Secondly, we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us. Dictionary(dot)com defines endurance this way:

the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina:
The need for endurance is major as this life is hard. Where do we receive this energy to go on and the power that we need to endure well? I LOVE what Jesus says to Paul when Paul was praying and pleading that God would remove this thorn that was in His life. Jesus said,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

His power is found in our weakness. We are so quick to hide or be embarrassed when we show weakness or when others see weakness in us. Yet, THIS is the very thing God uses to perfect His power in our lives as He provides the grace for us to RUN!

This race of faith that is set before you is tailor-made specifically for you! Specific and by design, as we all struggle with different things and are gifted in different ways. Don’t be tempted to look over at the other runners. They aren’t running YOUR race. Keep your eyes laser focussed on what is set out right in front of you. Your race may be in the form of the husband who is hard to love, it may be that child that is beautifully different or has special needs to tend to, it may be in the church that didn’t meet your expectations, or in the relationships around you. It may be in the financial situation you are in, or just in the call to run. Be confident in THIS very thing, He is not only the perfecter of our faith but the perfecter of our race.

Thirdly, look to Jesus the founder of our faith. I LOVE how this verse is worded in the NASB.

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Not only look or glance, but FIX your eyes on the Author of YOUR race, the Author of YOUR story. He is the one who makes it perfect, not by Hollywood or America’s standards, but by His Eternal Kingdom standards and plans. No matter what race you find yourself running, our King can relate as He modeled endurance to the cross to the point of death that we might live. We are called to endure as runners in our race of faith, and we can because of Jesus and the gospel.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrew 10:35-36

We want to be women of faith right? I told you that you are a runner! The only way our faith can grow in Christ is by running through the hard things. Persevering with endurance through the obstacles that reveal our weakness and dependency on Christ, and faithfully (moment by moment) fixing our eyes on the one who is strong and carries us when we feel we can’t continue running the race set before us.

We ARE weak, we ARE in need, we WILL run it imperfectly. But our God is faithful, He is perfect, and He is Great. He didn’t ask us to run it perfectly, He just asked us to RUN! We don’t run this alone friends, everyone knows that any good Coach runs alongside His team. We have the BEST!

“If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.” Psalm 94:17-18

Love, Janell

Being Faith Led In The Year Ahead

Being Faith Led In The Year Ahead

Every time the New Year approaches our email boxes, social media news feeds, and NY Best Seller list are always filled with the Top 5 ways to be the very BEST you in this New Year. Top 5 ways to declutter and simplify. Top 5 ways to be a stellar homeschool parent. Top 5 ways to slim down and get strong. Top 5 ways to be more successful in business. Top 5 ways to consolidate debt and become debt free. The lists, articles, and blog posts go on and on about planning for success, creating your best life, and living a life of design. THIS is how to be your BEST YOU in the upcoming year!

The thing is, we forget the Creator of all things who gives life, has already drawn up plans for us and has a specific purpose for us. In the imperfect day-to-day’s He IS doing His work to make you the BEST you…through Him!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

These books, articles, and tips aren’t bad things as we aspire to be better stewards of our body, mind, time, and possessions, but may we not forget to first pray and seek God first and foremost. Are we seeking God with ALL our heart regarding the changes that need to be made in our life, body, relationships and finances? Are we asking Him first if these are the things He has for us in our life calling? Or are we making decisions and resolutions based on things that we feel others think we should be doing? Are we striving for Pinterest Perfect and Facebook Fabulous, or are we desiring holiness and righteousness offline? Everything we say “yes” to ultimately gives a “no” to another area or other people in our lives. Are we praying for wisdom, discernment, and direction?

Though culturally the New Year is a great time for reflection, adjustments, and change, the awesome thing about being a child of the King is that we don’t have to wait until January 1st to start over. We don’t even have to wait until Monday as God and His grace are available to us minute by minute and day by day. When we fail to follow through perfectly with our resolutions, we can know where our hope lies and we can find rest and satisfaction in our God who is faithful to change us.

The steadfast love of the LORD never cease;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV)

With all the New Year’s resolutions, they tend to be rooted in who we are (or hope to “appear” to be), what we would like to be known for, and what legacy we want to leave. If you look in Hebrew 11 we see the “Great Wall of Faith”. It is this awesome list of people who did great acts of faith in their life time. All their acts of faith were in God and what He had uniquely designed for their lives.

Abel- Offered the best parts of a lamb as a sacrifice to the Lord. (Gen. 4:1-6)
Enoch- “truly loved God”. (Gen. 5:21-26)
Noah- Believed God’s warning that God was going to destroy the evil people of the world in a flood. Built a large boat (ark) as God commanded to save his family and animals. Gen. 6:1-9:17)
Abraham- Left the comfort and security of his homeland, when God called him to go to a new land where God would give him many descendants. (Gen. 12:1-9, 17:1-8, Rom. 4)
Sarah- Was too old to have children, but she had faith that God would give her a child anyway. (Gen. 18:1-15, 21:1-8)
Isaac- Gave a blessing to his sons Jacob and Esau. (Gen. 27:1-40)
Jacob- Blessed his grandsons (Joseph’s sons) Ephraim and Manasseh. (Gen. 48:1-22)
Joseph- Used his position in the Egyptian government to save his family when they went to Egypt during a time of famine in Caanan. He also trusted that God would lead the Hebrew people of Israel out of Egypt. (Gen. 37-50, 50:22-25)
Moses- Refused to be considered the king’s grandson; led the Hebrew people out of Egypt; and celebrated Passover. (Exodus 1-15, 19-34)
Rahab- Helped two Israelite spies escape Jericho so they could make a report to their commanders. (Joshua 2:1,3; 6:21-25)
Gideon, Barak, Samson, & Jephthah- Performed acts of heroism and helped the Israelites to gain control of the land (Canaan) promised to Abraham and his descendants. (Judges 4-16)
David- Slew the giant Goliath and helped the Israelites to conquer Canaan. (1 Samuel 16-1 Kings 2:11; 1 Samuel 17)
Samuel- Led the people of Israel as a judge and prophet. 1 Samuel 1:1-1 Sam 25:1)
These men and women weren’t out creating and designing life for themselves and for their glory, yet they were ordinary everyday people with sin struggles just like you and me who needed a Savior and sought the Lord. Who followed His leading and truly LIVED the life that was already designed for them. It’s so amazing if you take the time to go back and read about these people. They mess up, they accomplished great acts of faith through God, but some even missed out on blessing and opportunity. This wasn’t a list of perfect people. It wasn’t a list of the most fashionable of 2016, the wealthiest of 2016, the most fit of 2016, the most organized, successful, etc. These normal everyday people God saw fit to use were imperfect and willing to step out by faith and live the life that was tailor made for them. I’m pretty sure “Save my Family during the Famine” was not on Joseph’s New Year’s resolution list. Yet God had brought Him to that very place to be available to do the unthinkable. Just think where God might place you this year if you are only willing and listening?

So, as we prepare our hearts, thoughts and time for the New Year, may we seek eternal things, Kingdom things. May we seek God and His righteousness and these things will be added unto us. He truly will lead us by faith! As we slow down and seek Him first, may we hear from Him and see in His word what He is calling us to. May we be Spirit lead and have wisdom and discernment to know what our best “yes’” are for our home, our family, and our ministries. May we take it one day at a time as we continue looking up. Then we can boldly and faithfully step out in the power of the Holy Spirit and do mighty things for His Honor and Glory!

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34)

Love Always,

Janell

When You Don’t Feel Jolly And Bright At Christmas

When You Don’t Feel Jolly And Bright At Christmas

This Holiday season has been packed full of hard and unexpected things, and though I’ve tried to be super upbeat and jolly, there are days that my heart breaks and has me feeling lonely. I’ve been in a funk and though I have known the Lord for years and have many things to be thankful for, we don’t always know how we will actually respond in specific circumstances until we are right in the middle of them. It’s this battle and spiritual warfare of the flesh and the spirit and in God’s goodness He reveals to us areas of our doubt or unbelief. It’s humbling to say the least.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-12)

As I read these scriptures today, I noticed that it said, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” If you know God, then the Spirit that is in you is the Holy Spirit, and according to the scriptures, the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit. Read that last sentence over one more time slowly…If you know God, then the Spirit that is in you is the Holy Spirit, and according to the scriptures, the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit. So the very Holy Spirit that knows our Creator God and His thoughts intimately is the VERY same Holy Spirit that searches and knows our thoughts! The thoughts that we wouldn’t breath to another soul. The thoughts of insecurities, doubt, hurt, longing, and disappointment. The Holy Spirit connects and bridges the deep things of God and our human hearts.

My heart leapt for joy as God reminded me that He loves me SO much, enough to search me and know me. So much in fact that He not only gave His son, but then gave His Spirit to dwell in us. We are NEVER alone. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, the Image of God was with them as they chose truth and were tossed into the fiery furnace.

Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:21-25)

The Holy Spirit is with us through every trial, every fire, ever uncertainty we walk through this side of heaven. Notice that God did not provide an additional friend to stick in there with them, their Mom or Dad didn’t come to the rescue, and their Pastor wasn’t there for “moral” support. It was our God all Mighty who stood with them.

If you find yourself in the midst of the fire this Christmas season and are tempted to despair and believe you are all alone in this, be encouraged. We are not alone as we have been given the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Nothing is wasted as He is faithful to complete the work He has started with all who believe. No matter how long we have known God or what we continue to face, we will always need God to fight for us. May we come to a place where we can be strong and courageous as we walk through trials, all because we are absolutely sure of the One dwelling inside of us, and may we fight the temptation to dwell on how we feel, but be rooted in what we know.

Same Power

I can walk
Down this dark and painful road
I can face
Every fear of the unknown
I can hear
All God’s children singing out
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us

We have hope
That His promises are true
In His strength
There is nothing we can’t do
Yes, we know
There are greater things in store
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome

Greater is He that is living in me
He’s conquered our enemy
No power of darkness
No weapon prevails
We stand here in victory

“Same Power” by: Jeremy Camp

Love, Janell

When Your Friendship Becomes Your Idol

When Your Friendship Becomes Your Idol

Just about every two to four years our family would be stationed at a new Air Force Base or location. We moved a LOT growing up. And as I started a new school or church, it became easier and easier to meet and greet new faces. Ask the same questions and make new friends. God really used these experiences to make me the friendly outgoing person that I am. This was the time before Facebook, so staying connected over the years on social media wasn’t even a thought. The new friends faded away after yet another move and I felt like I was always starting over. Making a new set of friends once again. I longed for the fairytale best friendship. You know the one? Started grade school together, knew each other forever, did everything together, finished each others sentences. A bestie.

God graciously gave me a set amount of years in one place during my Jr. High-High school years. These friends become the ones I had always dreamed of. Making memories, laughing, dating, & dreaming together. Most of these friends poured over into my twenties. As we went to college, married and had children of our own, our dynamics changed yet we clung to what we knew. Trying to hang onto the old while God was changing us into something beautiful and new. Then one year I lost my dearest and very best friend of fourteen years. My heart broke inside of me and I couldn’t understand how God would take away one of my most cherished friendships. She was closer than a sister to me. We had been through everything together.

In God’s goodness and mercy, He removed something from me that I would have never remove myself. And in doing that, He showed me truly where I had been holding that relationship. I hadn’t realized it until it was removed that I had cherished that one relationship more than I cherished my relationship with God. That was the root reason why I was so upset and heartbroken that our friendship was gone. I had put expectations on this relationship that no one but Jesus could fulfill. Instead of running to God, I would pick up the phone and run to my friend. Instead of quieting my spirit and intentionally listening for God’s leading, direction or seeking His word, I would ask my friend what she thought. She wasn’t meant to carry the load that was only meant for God to carry.

God was so faithful to do an overhaul in my heart. To be honest, it took a couple of years. I must be a slow learner. I had unhealthy ideals of what a godly relationship looked like. I expected my friend to be perfect. To not let me down. To always be there for me. To help me in a time of need. Do you see the theme here? Me. Me. Me. Guess what ladies? None of our friends will ever love us perfectly. Not even the one dearest friend you have right now. No relationship is exempt from the repercussions of our sin nature, and no relationship was meant to bring you ultimate joy and fulfillment aside from Christ. We are a broken people in a broken world. I guaranteed I will disappoint you, and that you will disappoint me. But if we both have Jesus, then we already have ALL that we need.

Now we know that God is FOR relationships! He has created us in this manner and this is a beautiful blessing that we can enjoy this side of heaven, as we keep it in proper perspective. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

So how then do we love perfectly imperfect and keep our relationships in proper order? Matthew 6:33-34b says “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Are we seeking our God first and being eternally minded with these relationships here on earth? Paul also wrote, ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)

I literally laughed out loud when I read that we are to bear with one another as fellow believers. How many times do we say “just bear with me here”!? We know that we are still learning and growing and we so desperately desire that others would bear with us as we learn and grow. But are we willing to extend the same grace? Are we willing to bear with them when they are unbearable? Are we forgiving like Christ who has forgiven us? Are we loving unconditionally and holding these things loosely as we rest in our King?

That desire to be fully known and fully loved can ONLY be fulfilled through our God. He DID love us perfectly. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) He loved us unto death. He gave His life for us so that we might live! We can live confidently and take the risk to love unconditionally because of the great love that was given to us. We can boldly love with compassionate hearts, with kindness, with meekness, and patience because He is in us and is changing us from one degree of glory to the next. As we find our ultimate joy and fulfillment in our God and find Him as our very BEST friend, it frees us up from expectations, requirements, or demands that we might otherwise put on others.

I am happy to say that God in His mercy and grace has restored this old friendship of mine after years of heart work. Though it doesn’t look like it once did, He did a mighty work in the both of us that I don’t think would have otherwise happened. He gave me these verses in Isaiah as I had been tempted to long for the old times to remind me of where we are headed. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV) He has been faithful to make a new way in this friendship. A healthier and more lovely way as we both seek Him first. He has also been faithful to equip me with tools for healthier relationships now and in the future. I wouldn’t trade any of the heartache or tears for what I’ve learned as He made me refocused, solely dependent on Him as he redirected my wayward heart.

These relationship idols can so easily happen in a friendship, in a marriage, in relationship with our children, etc. as we look for fulfillment and purpose in these gifts instead of looking for fulfillment in the Gift Giver. What expectations have you put on the relationships in your life? Do you have a relationship that may need to be rechecked? Have you asked God to show you where you hold this relationship in light of your relationship with Him? Have you possibly held this relationship in an unhealthy manner with unhealthy demands? May you truly find your ultimate joy and fulfillment in our loving Lord and be free to love others in a healthy way because of the great love He has for us.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.

I have set the LORD always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;

my flesh also dwells secure.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Psalm 16:5-11)

Infinite Grace Devotional: A Million Little Deaths

Infinite Grace Devotional: A Million Little Deaths

Most of us would say that we would be willing to die for our faith in God, yet we are so unwilling to die a million little deaths to the everyday things for our Savior.

I have been mulling on this thought for a while now. It is amazing to me how easy it is as believers to be “all talk and no action”. It’s easy to say we would die for our faith if it came down to it, but when God convicts us of sin or requires more out of us in the minutes and days that he has so graciously given, we retreat, avoid, or totally flake out!? We are SO like Adam in the garden hiding from the all-knowing God just hoping he doesn’t see us…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)

He is SUCH a loving Abba Father, and here in this life He is so good to faithfully use these “deaths” to strengthen our faith and grow us in righteousness. What we don’t realize is that on the other side of the “death” to the sin, and the stripping off of sin, that there is TRUE life and freedom in walking in repentance and obedience. And yet we settle?

It’s like when our little one year old is sitting in her high chair so eager to eat her meal. You prepare her dish and sit down eye to eye with her, ready to fly that spoon right into her mouth. As she starts to eat from your hand, she can taste and see that it is good, but as you go back for another spoonful she starts licking whatever has fallen onto the bib thinking that will sustain her. You come in for another bite. You have a full spoon right in front of her. Sustenance that will carry her on until the next meal, yet she is ignoring your best for her and insists on eating the leftover crumbs and food that have fallen onto her bib because she’s not willing to look up and see what you have for her.

That is SO us at times! Why settle for crumbs right in front of us, when we can look up and have The Bread of Life? A lot of times that involves dying to our selves, our wants, and our abilities and just being willing to look up and move forward in faith trusting that what the Father has for us is far greater than our crummy leftovers.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10)

Friends, we’ve got a race to run! What is He asking you to put to death or to lay down today? Trust me, you can be confident in knowing that what He has for you is FAR greater than what you are hanging on to. Look up sisters! Say yes, repent, let go, be faithful, and taste and see that the Lord is good!

❤️ Janell

#preachingtomyself #dieamilliondeaths #allbecauseofjesus