This past week I noticed these three words on a picture in my house. They struck me as so profound.
Love beyond words.
Do I do this?
Does my life speak love? Do I go beyond the words? Sometimes....but not always.
Jesus ALWAYS loved beyond words. You see it all through the Gospels. He would teach and minister with words....then He would love. He would touch, heal, deliver and challenge those who followed Him. He had such compassion on people. He wasn't harsh. He was forgiving.
I think of the woman with the issue of blood and how He was so gentle and kind with her. I remember Jarius, when he heard his daughter was already dead, Jesus spoke love to him and said, "Don't worry, she's only sleeping." Then he went to his house, and raised her from death. How about the woman accused of adultery? Jesus not only loved her, He saved her life with His wisdom in dealing with her accusers. Don't you know I could go on and on and on and on and on. Get the point?
There is a reason Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and..... love your neighbor as yourself. "
You see, Jesus knew the power of love. If we are a Christ follower, we don't love with our love....we love with His love. His love changes hearts, attitudes, and mindsets. His love changes brokenness into wholeness. His love changes anger into forgiveness. His love changes fear into trust. His love changes bondage and addiction into freedom. His love.
His love lives inside of us. We have the choice whether to use it or not. If we choose to use it, it can be tough some days. We won't always feel like using it. Our flesh will rise up and fight against it. But if we choose to go beyond the words, and love out of our gratefulness for all God has done for us.....our life will be a powerful tool in God's hands.
My prayer is this today... "God, please take my life and pour into me your love for others. Let me go beyond just speaking the words "I love my neighbor." Let others experience Your love through my life today. Let my man, my kids, my coworkers, the checkout lady at the grocery store, my neighbor....let them all "feel" Your love flowing from my interaction with them. Let their life be changed, in some small way, by connecting with You through Your love in my life. Amen."
Have an awesome weekend....
This is a big week for Living Well. We are in the last stages of planning and preparing for the upcoming weekend. We have been praying, studying, and working on new messages to share. This weekend will be a bit different than our usual events. This time we get to encourage the ladies for a couple of days and then we will travel back to their church where we will share with the congregation.
I am excited to see what God is going to do in this congregation as they have been seeking the Lord for weeks. First the women will begin the weekend with messages on "Surrender." We will encourage them to fully give every area of their life to the Lord. We will finish the weekend by challenging the congregation that they are "Called To Be Like Jesus As A Family."
The church began this campaign of "Called To Be Like Jesus" weeks ago with a 40 day fast. Each week they have studied and been encouraged to transform their lives to be more like our Savior. I know the Lord will honor hearts that are seeking Him.
Beginning Nov. 1st Elizabeth and I have the awesome opportunity to share with this group and encourage them further in this walk and we would love to have you partner with us in prayer over the next week. We believe that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16) and we would be honored if you would join us in covering this event in prayer.
We are so grateful that we have a family of believers that will rally in prayer with us. We know that God hears our cry and will show up in an amazing way, changing lives for His glory.
Here are some prayer requests as we begin this week:
We believe that prayer is powerful, God is active and listening to His children and through our prayers, lives will be changed this weekend. We invite you to be a part of this journey, to partner with us, but most importantly partner with God as He works through us to love and encourage others. We value you as partners with Living Well!
Please send us a comment or Facebook message letting us know you will be partnerin
Have you ever known you've needed to change, but feel hopeless to do so? I found myself there this past week.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone blames their behavior on their personality. They say things like, "Well, it's just the way I am." or "I can't help it, it's my personality." or "I've always been this way." What people really mean is..."get used to me like this, cause I can't change."
Sorrowfully I admit I caught myself sounding like this. I was being challenged to change and instead of humbly listening, the phrases above were the words going through my head. It was not pretty. It was devastating. This was not the first time this challenge had been put before me, but I felt this overwhelming desire for it to be the last.
Thankfully, God was in control and had been working on my behalf even before I knew it. I was scheduled on worship team for the next day and had been learning a song that I was to lead the congregation in. I woke up that morning feeling very hopeless. How could I possibly become different? How could I? I've tried before, but have always gone back to old habits and tendencies.
During rehearsal we sang the song I had been learning. It was just for me. As I sang the words, they became alive in me and truth began to breathe hope....Living Hope....into my heart.
We cannot change by ourselves, in our own strength. But Christ, our Living Hope, resides inside of us. When we invite His presence to overwhelm our hearts, we begin the process of change and stop believing the lie that "it's just who I am, and I can't change."
Out of His presence comes the power to make decisions of how to act, how to respond, how to think, how to be the way God is asking us to be. He never calls us to change without first offering us Himself. My journey will take some time. It won't happen overnight. But like never before, I feel hopeful that I really can become different than what I am right now. Only because of Him, only because of Him.
The song God used to speak to me so clearly is called Holy Spirit by Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Be blessed by it. You can listen to it here.
I want you to meet some new friends of mine. This is Joe and Carol and in just a few short months they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary! In the past few weeks I have watched Joe and Carol and they have encouraged me in my own marriage. The biggest lesson I have learned from them is "Don't Stop."
Don't stop dating and having fun together. I met Joe and Carol at a restaurant where a mutual friend of ours was playing in a band. This picture is of them dancing it up that night! This yells to me, Don't Stop, dating and having fun together!
Don't stop growing together in the things of the Lord. Joe and Carol also attend a Growth Group and attend church every week to grow together. Their commitment to God and their relationship makes me think of the scripture Ecclesiastes 4:12 "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." You see when we place God at the center of our marriage, He is the strand that keeps us strong and then our marriage can withstand the test of time.
I can hear the Father, leaning in, whispering to us, "Don't stop praying for and with your spouse. Don't stop going to church together. Don't stop seeing the best in each other. Don't stop serving each other. Don't stop clinging to Me." Because through His strength and your perseverance to NEVER STOP loving......you too will be celebrating 60 years before you know it!
This week I encourage you to speak those words to yourself, "don't stop"......find those things that first drew you to your spouse. Make plans to go on a date, dancing, or to the theater. Something fun and different. Serve one another. Love each other deeply. And above all else......Don't Stop!
Recently I have been experiencing pain in my arms and joints. Sean and I have been responding to it by resisting any kind of disease or anything else going on in my body. One day, not too long ago, I was praying over myself and thanking God for a total healing.
I heard God speak to my spirit very plainly. He said, "Do what you know." "Ugh" I knew immediately what He meant.
You see I had also been reading some articles recently on the effects of artificial sweeteners. One of them said that pain in the joints can be caused by consuming artificial sweeteners. I had said to myself on many occasions, "I really need to get off this stuff." But have I? Nope.
I have to be honest. This was not the response I wanted to hear from God. I like Diet Coke. A LOT! I like my greek yogurt with Splenda in it! A LOT! I like the sugar free peach white tea at Quik Trip. A LOT!
"Do what you know." I sat there for a long time. Internally there was a struggle going on. I wanted to just surrender to this direction from the Lord. But I knew what that meant. It meant giving up things I liked and made my life enjoyable. I knew this was God's answer to my request for healing. If I wanted healing, I needed to obey.
What are you asking God for? What do you know to do, but aren't doing right now? Could it be the answer lies in the act of your obedience?
It's just a thought.
It's been almost two weeks now since I made the decision to "Do what I know." Wanna know the truth? I have not missed any of those above mentioned items. Not one. Now that is a work of the Holy Spirit! I give Him all the praise and glory! Wanna know something else? The pain in my arms and hands has lessoned. Thank You sweet Jesus!
Before I close, I want to make something very clear. If you are sick, I am NOT saying it is your fault or you are doing something you know you shouldn't. Please hear me, I would never make a statement like that. This is my experience with this particular struggle in my body. Just wanted to make sure I was clear. I love everyone of you who takes the time to read our blog.
Be blessed this week.
In the past few months I have had numerous conversations with people who are at a crossroads in their life. For some, it is health issues, for others it is a life or career change, some have marriages that are failing or new relationships just beginning. For one precious friend, life without a spouse is a new journey. All of us have change in our lives.....all have dreams that come to an end and new ones that are being birthed. For each of these life events the same promises comes to mind.
Isaiah 43: 19 (NIV) "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland"
Job 8:5-7 (NLT) "But if you pray to God and seek the favor of the Almighty, and if you are pure and live with integrity, he will surely rise up and restore your happy home. And though you started with little, you will end with much."
I love the hope that these promises bring. Regardless of our life circumstances He will restore us and bring forth new life. You may feel as though you are in a wasteland right now and facing uncertainty but hold on friend! He is ready to do something new in and through you. His promises are true and steadfast and written just for you and your situation.
This week write these scriptures, with your name in them, and place them in several areas where you will read over them many times a day. The Word is active and alive, it will bring hope to your spirit and I pray you will begin to see the New Thing that He is doing!
Please know we would be honored to pray with you over your circumstances. Leave us a comment and we will call your name to the Almighty.
Right now I have several friends who are walking a difficult path. The circumstances include fighting colon, breast, lung and lymphoma cancer, being unemployed, having a son walk away from his faith, having a brother in jail for drug dealing, having a son arrested for another DUI, and marital struggles. This post is simply to encourage my friends who are in the trenches and for anyone else out there needing hope.
What better hope than to know God is for us and not against us. What better hope than to know we are on His mind and in His heart.
Sometimes when we are walking a hard road, we can feel as though God is not with us. We can wonder if He is even aware of us and our life situation. But Isaiah assures us this is NOT the case...God IS aware of us and what we are dealing with.
14 "But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." 15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."
This was God's response to the Israelites when they were experiencing great adversity and felt abandoned by God. God's response was so reassuring......not only is He aware of our pain and suffering, He has engraved us on the palms of His hands so that we are ever before His heart and mind.
You are not alone in what you are walking through. God promises you in Isaiah 43:2 that when you walk through the waters, you WILL NOT DROWN! And when you walk through the fire, you WILL NOT BE BURNED. Why? Because "I WILL BE WITH YOU" says the Lord!
I know it can be so hard at moments. Moments when you just don't know if you can go another minute in your present circumstance. But brother and sister....you can. He is with you. His is your strength. Lean into Him right now and let Him hold you up.
Let me end with one of my favorite verses and promise.....
" God is our refuge and strength, an ever- present help in trouble."
In the past when Kevin would come home and announce that he unexpectedly had to leave, my tone would carry disappointment, "leaving again......for how long?" Today, it is no different....somehow after all these years, I still have to work my head around his absence. It seems crazy that it doesn't matter if it's 10 days or 10 months.....I always hate for Kevin, my husband, to leave town. As time has marched on and we have weathered many separations, short and long, I have watched many marriages struggle with the isolation that deployment or a traveling job creates. The isolation of physical presence, communication, conversation, laughing, and touching. These are the things that I long for when he is gone but I've found a small way to help during these times and at the same time it screams to my man....."I LOVE YOU AND I'M WAITING FOR YOU!"
Just before Kevin leaves on a deployment or a short trip I pick up a stack of Post-it Notes, grab different pens, and begin to write. On each Post-it I write just a little something to him such as "I'm so blessed to be yours!" "you are such a great dad...I love watching you with the kids" or "Sleep tight....I wish you were in my bed tonight!" and tuck them in various places in his bags. I may put a little note about how handsome he is in his shaving kit, or a note about loving how he takes care of himself in his running shoes, and I ALWAYS write a couple of intimate notes about how I can't wait for his return! You see, these notes help guard his heart and mind....he knows..... 1) that he's MY MAN! 2) I'm so proud of him and appreciate what he does to provide for our family, and most importantly 3) I long for his return and I can't wait to be with him! They also make me think about what I love about him!
Now that Kevin doesn't travel much I have found the Post-it idea still works wonders! Sometimes I will just put a note on his dash so when he gets in the car to start the day he knows that I believe he can do anything and I'm so proud to be his wife. Other times I will place a note in a book he's reading or in his calendar so that it will be a nice surprise in the middle of his day! Ladies, I believe this speaks volumes to our men and they need to be encouraged and lifted up by us!
So, give it a whirl, pick up a Post-it and get started! I'd love to hear about the response you get when you post it for him!
What do our kids need when they are afraid? What do they need when they are angry? What do they need when they are anxious? What can we do to settle their hearts?
When our kids are struggling, all we want to do is fix things. Whether they are infants or in their twenties, all we want to do is help.
I want to encourage you today as a parent that you hold a tremendous gift in loving your child. You have the gift of prayer and the Word of God. The living and active Word.....Jesus in written form.
I was talking to a young mother this morning who is struggling in her marriage. She was in anguish over how it is affecting her child. Her heart was so broken. We talked about giving lots of affection to this child, even when the child's attitude would normally call for discipline. I was encouraging her to stop and hold her little one and pray over her right then and there. Within the prayer, she would have opportunity to affirm that God is with them and loves them and would never leave them.
I then encouraged her to teach Psalms 46:1 to her little one. "The Lord is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble." As they memorize it together, mom can help her speak out the Word when she is feeling anger, fear or uncertainty. This will help bring comfort and the reminder that God is in control. It will also give her child a sense of control...now she has something "to do" when she feels scared or angry.
Our children need to know WHO their redeemer is. They need to be reassured WHO loves them and will never leave them or forsake them. They need to know WHO is more than enough for them. They need to know WHERE their help comes from.
The greatest gift we can give to our kids is an assurance that God is the answer for everything they will ever face in this life. The Word holds that assurance and repeats it over and over. Let it come out of your mouth and be a blessing to your child today....whether they are 1 or 21....let them be touched by Him through your prayers and words, His words, today.
Have an awesome week!