Encouragement

What Mirror Are You Looking Into?

If you rummaged through my boxes of un-filed, and very disorganized photos from throughout the years you would be hard pressed to find more than a half-dozen photos of me. Photos of my babies as they grew, and family gatherings are replete with those present … minus me.

I often said when my kids were little, “If something happened to me, my kids wouldn’t even know they had a mom.” There was little photographic proof of such a human existence. 

You’re probably wondering ‘what in the world would possess someone to be so camera shy?’

Glad you asked!

At the risk of sounding like a 90-year old grandma … back in the day … K-Mart was the place to get portraits made. Clearly nothing digital or quick about the process. We’d dress up, put on our best possible smile and pose, only to wait with great anticipation for about four weeks when the final portrait would be revealed. 

I was 10 years old when I accompanied my brother and my mom (who had adopted me just three years prior) to pick up our much anticipated portraits. Portraits that my mom hoped to proudly display and send to her friends and family.

I noticed that my mom was slightly agitated as we walked across the K-Mart parking lot. Finally, she stopped in her tracks and pulled out the 8×10 portrait of my brother and me. My brother looked his typical handsome self. But me… not so much. She angrily waved the portrait in front of me and said, “Look at this! Just look at your smile! You ruined another picture!”

I already was self-conscious about my smile, but this moment … these words spoken over me utterly crushed me, and would follow me for decades, dictating my actions and responses, including causing me to hide behind the camera, sacrificing capturing the most precious moments of life.

BUT GOD … 

I’m turning 50 soon, and it’s only been over the last five to six years that I’ve been able to embrace the camera regardless of the output. 

God, through the Holy Spirit, has healed the wounds of those words and other words that have been spoken over me through the years. He has unveiled His love to me, showing me who I am in HIM! That I was created in His image, and the Spirit of God lives in me because I believe that He is who He says He is, and that He sent His Son, Jesus to die a most horrific, tragic death, taking on every scorning word, every moment of rejection, abandonment and abuse, so that I would not have to bear it any longer.

For decades I was looking into the wrong mirror! The mirror of judgment, condemnation and shame. The mirror of rejection and others’ opinions.

But, when I chose to look only into the mirror of HIS Word, I saw (and see) a daughter who is adopted and chosen by the King of Kings! Loved! Treasured and cherished! Free! Healed! The apple of His eye! Forgiven! And … one who has been entrusted with the keys to help set women free from the same pain and wounds that for so long kept me in bondage. 

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Guilt? Shame? Hopelessness? Ugliness? Pain? Pride? Fear?

When we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we see who we truly are in HIM. Our true identity! Who He created us to be! Loved. Forgiven. Chosen. Redeemed. Free. Secure. A new creation. Strong in Him. Transformed. Delivered. Treasured. Cherished. Created for great purpose!!

So … what mirror are you looking into?

Dig deeper: Psalm 45:10-15, John 15:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 8:32, 2 Corinthians 3:15-18; 4:16-18, Galatians 5:1, 1 Peter 2:9

God Never Wastes Our Pain and Sorrow

June 1st is the most significant date that forever changed the course of my life. One month before my 6th birthday … my mom died. It was a tragic, and most unexpected day. And, since I was not given the opportunity to naturally grieve her loss, as the years have gone on, it’s the one day that I sort of give myself permission to “go there.” To acknowledge the void that her loss left in my life, and linger a bit on her memory. And then … June 5th comes along. It was the 2nd most significant day that forever changed the course of my life. It was 1) the day of my mom’s funeral; 2) her 32nd birthday; 3) The day I was officially an orphan, as my dad said his final good-byes, never to be heard from again. And … though there’s much more to my story (it got worse before it got better) …

The amazing part is that my God is a redemptive God! There’s not one part of my story that God has not redeemed. God never, ever wastes our pain and sorrow! For those who love HIM, He promises to work ALL things together for GOOD. And all things means, ALL THINGS. Our circumstances. Our pain. Tragedies. Even our own sinful choices. If we’ll repent, and yield to Him, He will literally overrule the “THINGS” and turn them into something good! LITERALLY, y’all!! I am proof of that promise.

It’s about yielding to Him. Dying to ourself, our desires, and our deepest longings. Allowing Him access to the deepest wounds of our soul so that He can heal and make us whole. As our Creator, He alone knows how to put the pieces of our heart back together. When we put Him on the throne of our lives, making Him Lord over every part of our hearts and minds we will fulfill our unique purpose as we become the women and men that He created us to be before He ever knit together in our mother’s womb!

(RE: Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10) 

When God doesn’t answer your prayers …

For nearly two years I prayed. And, not your normal type of prayer. I’m talking day after day, face down on my floor, agonizing, crying out to God, praying through His Word, begging Him to intervene. I so desperately needed Him to intervene. I wanted Him to turn everything around and stop my pain. I trusted Him implicitly and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He could do what I was asking. But, not only did He not turn things around for me, my circumstances grew increasingly worse.

Betrayal.

Loss.

Rejection.

More loss.

Life was spiraling out of control, and there was no stop button that I could push. Oh, how I wished for a “stop” button! Truth is, we always have a choice. We can choose to throw in the towel and become a victim of our circumstances, or we can choose to press into the presence of the One who knows every way we take, who predetermined our purpose before we were knit together in our mother’s womb, whose promises are “yes and amen,” who promises that He will never, ever, ever leave us or forsake us, who is always working everything together for our good for those who love Him.

I chose to press in to His presence. And, I’ll never regret it! Though I could not often see His hand at work, He was working in ways that would only be revealed years later. Every circumstance. Every pain. Every loss. Every betrayal. Every seemingly nonsensical moment. God was weaving a beautiful tapestry. One that would take years to unfold. Yet … without even realizing it, through the supernatural, loving hands of God, He’d placed me into a carefully spun cocoon. A place of darkness and death. Yet a place that would bring a supernatural transformation. A transformation that could only come through dying. Dying to all my hopes, dreams and desires. The years of watching my life spiral out of control were years of God working for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! A glory that would find me emerging from the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. No longer crawling like a caterpillar from pillar to post, but free and flying! Flying with two strong wings. The wings of Spirit and Truth! Transformed! Free! Spreading the fragrance of Jesus!

Having gone through long seasons of not seeing God rushing in to fix my circumstances and relieve me of my pain, I can’t help but think of Mary and Martha. Their story unfolds in John chapter 11.

Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus (Jesus’ friend, whom He loved) was very sick. But oddly, Jesus didn’t stop what He was doing to run back into town to tend to His very ill friend, let alone, support His very dear friends, Mary and Martha, in their despairing angst.

Instead, Jesus’ response was, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

Only the true Son of God would be able to foreknow such an outcome!

Keep in mind, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were some of Jesus’ closest friends. He invested time in His relationship with them and loved them with an “agapao” kind of love. This was a higher, deeper, most tender kind of love. One of being chosen. Incidentally, it’s the same kind of love that you and I as believers share in today.

Mary and Martha surely anticipated that Jesus would immediately run back to their home. They desperately needed their Friend, but even more than their Friend, they needed the Divine Physician. They had seen Him perform miracle after miracle. He made the lame to walk. The blind to see, and cast out demons. And now, their brother needed a miracle!

I wonder if they felt forgotten. Forsaken in their greatest moment of need. Surely they trusted Him. They knew that their brother would be resurrected at the final day, when the dead in Christ will rise. But, they were certain that Jesus would heal their brother. After all, everywhere He went He healed people, and now, one of His closest friends needed healing, and Jesus was nowhere to be found.

Now it was too late. Their beloved brother was dead.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you can imagine Mary and Martha’s deep anguish and grief. It was an indescribable loss, and I can imagine their sorrow was compounded by the delay in Jesus’ response.

I’m sure you can relate. You were certain that God would answer your prayer, and come through for you. Your faith was unshakable. Yet, the answer you prayed and hoped for didn’t come.

Or, could it be that He answered. It just wasn’t what you expected and wanted. There are times when it’s clear that His answer comes in the form of one single word.

“Wait.”

It’s a tough pill to swallow when our world is spiraling out of control. When the pain is so deep that we aren’t sure how we’ll take another step.

It’s a one-word answer; yet, one that if we had the ability to unpack we would see that He is really giving us a gift.

The gift of time.

Time in that carefully spun cocoon.

Time to change and transform us into His image.

Time to renew our minds so that we become more like Him.

Time to see and experience His supernatural faithfulness and provision.

Time during those lonely, dark long nights for Him to comfort us and show us the depth of His love.

Time to learn how to truly abide in His presence.

Time to open our eyes to an eternal perspective.

Time to learn to love what God loves most … people.

Time for our hearts to learn to break for what breaks God’s heart.

Time to experience the freedom that only comes through the Spirit and Truth.

To Mary and Martha, Jesus arrived 4 days too late. They wanted Him to be the great physician. But, Jesus delayed His arrival, so He could show them that He is the Resurrection and the Life!

One of the things I love most about this story, is that even though Jesus knew how the story would end, that Lazarus would be resurrected and reunited with his sisters, Jesus entered into  Mary and Martha’s anguish and sorrow. He wasn’t just grieved, He was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, and He wept in anguish with Mary and Martha.

The Jesus who wept with Mary and Martha, is the same Jesus who today enters into our grief and sorrow. He grieves with us in our deepest losses. He anguishes with us when we are betrayed and rejected, or abandoned and feeling unloved and forgotten. He hears every cry, and He is near to us when our heart is breaking.

And make no mistake, even if He doesn’t immediately answer and come to our rescue, He is working behind the scenes in the supernatural so that when our answer does come, we will know that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that allowed us to emerge from the cocoon a new creation, transformed into the image of His glory, flying in freedom, spreading His fragrance to those who have not yet experienced the Resurrection and the Life.

I’m so thankful for the ministry of my dear friend, Liz Dickson with LoveUnVeiled. God has used Liz, and her  incredible ministry to bring supernatural healing and transformation to my life, as well as equip me to help other women experience this same healing and transformation. 

Dig deeper: John 11:1-44, Psalm 34:18, Ephesians 2:19, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Hebrews 13:5-6, Romans 8:28

So … I discovered something new this morning …

There are only 4 chapters in God’s Word where Satan’s presence is no where to be found: The first 2 chapters of Genesis and the last 2 chapters of Revelation!!! YES, WE WIN!! But … in the meantime, on the timeline of life, while we are closer to Revelation, we can not underestimate the craftiness of the enemy! He is alive and well, and we must not let down our guard. NOTE: he is more crafty than he is powerful! But, he is the enemy and he must be handled as such!

So …

1) Be on guard!

2) Know truth so you can quickly identify his lies

3) If you are a Believer, you have the Holy Spirit in you! So … give the Holy Spirit your permission to reveal lies you have believed. To reveal Truth. Ask Him to guide your steps. To fill your longings. To comfort you. To hold you. To strengthen you.

His Word is His will! And all of this is in His Word!