[loop devotional reblog]

Standard

To Go Forward, It’s Time to Go Back

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me—Psalm 139: 7-10

Oh, restless one, I bring you peace now. These years go by, and I stay. These images in your memory, pages you flip through from the past, I make them beautiful. I show you beauty , and I want to show you more.

You can’t change the past, no. But you can look at it differently. You can’t change those moments when you were little, when you were the little girl with the tender skin and pink lips you used to bite. You can’t change that time, the one that hurts so much. Or, that one, the one you say you’d give anything to rewrite.

Oh, daughter, I want to show you what I see.

So, while the past can’t be rewritten, it can be made beautiful, even now, as you look back. I know what it means to not see one thing beautiful about a moment, to be filled with pain and sadness about circumstances. There are things that break my heart, too, you know.

But I forgive—and I will help you know how to forgive, too: as you look back at the pages of moments you wished you could change, the people involved. And yourself, my love. I need you to forgive yourself.

Let Me come for you like you need Me to. You can’t even know how much you need Me until you get a taste of what I have to offer you: healing for your heart, a past washed white. I make you clean, my daughter. I bend low and wash you clean with my very hands, my heart beating for you, my love. My grace covers you. My love covers you. My life restores you and makes all that you carry so light, so light.

You are made to be free. You are made to see and live in the beauty of you I created. You are beauty because I made you, and you were not meant to live in fear and regret and sadness—especially about the past. Close the old book now. A new one is written for you. I have new pages to show you. The pages of your past are in this new book, with a fresh, clean cover, white pages, pressed new.

And then turn the page.

There is so much more to write in this book, so many more stories and pictures to add these pages are not flat; they are not one-dimensional. For you are in the story, my love. You are the story I am writing. You are the love I have made. You are the daughter who stirs my heart and who I have redeemed and who I show is worthy and beloved and whole.

So, grasp hold of my hand. For the new book to be presented to you, you need to let Me take you back to the places where you haven’t let Me go with you before. You need to let Me show you the light in the dark places, the hope in the despair, the presence of Me in all the times you felt so hurt, so sad, so alone.

And I will be holding your hand the whole time.

The whole time.

I promise.

View Loop Here

The Matthew Challenge: A bunch of verses because I fell behind.

Standard

Ok, before we get into this. I know I’m behind. I suck. I got lazy, not even halfway through the challenge. But here I am- up and at ’em! Get your game face on, it’s time to dig into Matthew again ❤

Chapter 17 is talking about the Transfiguration. While I can only freaking imagine what it was like to be Peter, James and John in these moments, this is what I’ve gotten from this passage today:

First of all, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased..” how I long to hear those words some day. I hope that I am serving my King the way He plans for me to. It’s such a reminder to me that God sees the good in us. He sees beauty. He sees value. Sometimes, I need reminders like that.

Next step- disciples fall to ground. I MEAN i totally would have done the exact same thing. I would freak. out.
and Jesus is all”Don’t be afraid.” its just me in my floaty, sun-shiny face and and white clothed. WHAT. SURE THING JESUS, I’LL JUST STAND HERE WHILE YOU..

and then he’s like “hey, keep this to yourself.”
okay um HOW.


 

Skip to chapter 18, starting in verse 21. Forgiveness. Ugh. It can be such a tough one. But.. not here. It’s cut and dry. There’s no cap to the amount of forgiveness we should extend to someone, if we are living like Jesus. Yes. That means you. You who has been rejected and put in tough spots, when  you didn’t ask to be placed there. You who has been labeled the enemy, when you are only filling the gap and loving endlessly. You. With your hurts. Your pains. Forgive your trespassers.

The world wants you to hold grudges. The world wants you to be angry and bitter. My sweet friend- you are not of this world. The world does not line up with the gospel. The world lines up with Satan’s plan for you. His hope for destruction. Do not fall into his traps, precious one. Seek forgiveness.

The Matthew Challenge: Day 8 Verse 8

Standard

Any time we get to talk about Healing, I’m all about it. My God is so incredibly GOOD. Some people are scared, some are afraid and some are uncertain of what He is capable of. MY God is capable of healing cancer. He feeds the hungry, he heals the lepers.

In Matthew 8, the passage opens with a man with leprosy who simply kneels before God (so simple) and asks if He would be willing to heal him. Jesus TOUCHES him and commands that the leper be clean. He tells the leper not to share it with anyone, just to go see the priest and offer the testimony of Moses to him.

HE JUST TOUCHES HIM. HIS LEPROSY IS GONE. FINETO.

Just. Like. That.

Now, I am also particularly interested in Jesus’ healings because of my own physical ailments.

In 2012, I was rear ended by a truck going about 40mph while I was stationary. It impacted more than 20 of the joints in my spine and put me in physical therapy and required chiropractic treatment for 2 years. I started with chiropractic 5 days/week and finally dwindled down to once every six week a normal, healthy visit to my chiropractor.
I was left with brain trauma that the doctors couldn’t heal and couldn’t even see. They tested me several times and just had nothing for me. My family doctor finally caught onto the fac that my brain was LEAKING FLUID. So he put me on an antibiotic to slow it down. I could physically feel the fluid in my brain freezing (it was winter) and no one believed it until I saw this doc.
I was also left with a bout of (self diagnosed) PTSD. 100% of the signs are there, I don’t really need to see a doctor for him to tell me that it’s what’s happening in my mind.
One particular night at prayer, I felt God speaking to me. He told me to lie down on the ground, face down, as low as you can get. Be still. So I did.
Don’t move. Be still.
The worship team was strumming some music, which we didnt do every week, and the pastor/worship leader started playing Healer by Kari Jobe. and I immediately started sobbing.
Don’t. Move.
One member of the band stepped away and came to me, placed her hands on my head and started praying over me. She told me she felt uncomfortable but knew she needed to pray for me.
The next member stepped away from their instrument and came near, I felt a hand on my back. Then another by my feet. That was my pastor. I could feel her tears dripping on my legs.
Don’t move.
We all sang the chorus over and over.
God grabbed a hold of my mind and showed me this whirlwind. These bright pink and purple connections and dots with lines pulling them together. Some were bright and some were dull. Some were functioning right and some seemed distant. It was my brain. He showed me the inside of my HEAD. And of course I just started sobbing.
My mind was spinning a million miles an hour and all I could see was this almost lava-lamp replica of my brain. It’s not something I could ever draw or paint a picture of, it’s not the typical scientific image of a brain. It was my broken brain.
And then God just whispered to me: Time.
Time. Time. Time.

So I am still holding onto the promise that He spoke to me in regards to my own healing. That it will come in Time. When I get to read about His miraculous healings, it reminds me that my time will come. That He hasn’t forgotten me. He sees my spine, now that I’ve been in a second accident and it has a physical curve in it and I’ve shrunk an inch and am only 26. He sees me. He sees my brain get overwhelmed and my speech slur. He knows when I can’t form proper sentences or when the keys bring up letters that I didn’t mean to punch in. He sees the fogginess, 5 years later. His time. Not mine.

Back to Matthew.

“He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Immediately following this story, we have the parable of Jesus and the men on the boat. You of little faith.
You think I can’t heal the curve in your spine? I created you. I have stopped the seas from crashing in on my men. I have removed Leprosy from my people. I have cast out demons. You of little faith. Where is your heart?

Matthew shocks me with healing stories. It humbles me and grounds me and forces me to turn my face to Christ when even I have forgotten to pray for my healing. It seems so long ago and as if it’s just a part of me now. Me, of little faith. My God doesn’t break His promises.

Time.

Book Review: Restless

Standard

51jzh18+twL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg jennie.jpg

I haven’t really done a book review since I was in 7th grade and had braces and no friends, so bare with me.

But this book really resonated with me. I’ve probably never underlined so many powerful statements in one single book before. I’m supposed to let a friend borrow it but I don’t think I can let it go.restless-jennie-allen-quote-download

I purchased this book thinking it was going to be filled with encouragement for mamas who are downtrodden or stuck in a rut. I was right, but on such a different level.

I expected to hear “you got this, you’re facing normal, acceptable, parenting things” but it was more of “God has SO MUCH MORE FOR YOU THAN THIS GRIEF! GO GET IT!”

restless-by-jennie-allen-quote-4

Here’s some of my favorite lines:

[The things that make this calling weighty are the very things that keep my head down in it. Thorns push us to need God, and as I make my way through my thorns, I remember my humanity, my insecurity, my fear, my sin. I rustle through them all, knowing that through all this unbelief and fear and selfishness, he is on the other side.]

[We were built for this. What begins as a burden and obligation becomes the thing that fills our restless souls.

In the movie, Amazing Grace, William Pitt’s character races through a field with Wilberforce and says to him, “Why is it you only feel the thorns in your feet when you stop running.” When we run for God and for people, we forget for just a moment about ourselves, and it feels amazing. Nothing makes a soul sicker than too much time given to itself. ]

[We do not belong to the one who shrinks back, we belong to the one who moved through his blood and sweat and despair and fear and reluctance in the garden of Gethsemane and said, ‘Not my will, but yours be done. I belong to you and I will live for you and die for you.’ He walked headfirst into his death. So fight with me. ]

[Our souls are restless until they rest in God.]

When Jennie says “restless” she means restless in Christ.

restless-you-were-made-for-more-400x400

So stop what you’re doing and go purchase this book directly from Amazon.com  (I bought mine USED for less than $2, sorry Jennie…)

View the Book Trailer and fall in love with this short little book of hope.

She guides you through studies and encourages you to lay it all down, within the same pages (I was too scared to write my things down, since I was shipping mine to a friend when I finished it), but KNOW the exercises are so great and could be so useful in a small women’s group.

If you’re ordering, let me know by leaving a comment below.
Have you read this book before? Or anything else by Jennie? I’m so geeked to have discovered her, I love her already and I’m only one book in ❤

 

Happy reading, y’all!

 

 

Matthew Challenge: Day 3/Verse 3

Standard

Day 3 of this challenge has me feeling good. Mainly because I have a way to measure how often I have actually stuck my nose in my bible instead of saying “last week” or something related. I’m terrible at actually reading my bible. I’m good about reading Christian books that take me deeper, good about spending time in worship, prayer life is either on fire or cold, usually no in between. Something I am constantly bad at: Reading my bible. I don’t know why. I hate that I struggle with this. So I’m always looking for new ways: new devotionals, new times of day to study, new anything. The Matthew Challenge has me 3/3. Hopefully I’ll keep on the right track. After all, it’s only one chapter per day.

I love when John the Baptist says his famous line from verse 2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

I love it because he has a sense of urgency in this statement. The kingdom of heaven is near now. So get it together. This was HOW many years ago? I love that he is encouraging us to seize the time that we have. We can’t wait any longer. It’s coming. A beautiful reminder that the Lord will come like a thief in the night, that not one of us on earth knows God’s timing. We need to be prepared.

I imagine him walking over to the nearest people, to proclaim this news. He must have looked like a whack job. His clothes were made out of camel’s hair and was tied with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild honey. He probably had little locust legs sticking out of his beard and remains of honey on his teeth. yuck. But the people listened. They went to repent. They were baptized in the Jordan.

And the final verses of this chapter just leave me feeling nothing but the presence of beauty. In a way I can’t describe. Imagine the opportunity to baptize JESUS. To have the Savior of the world come to you to be cleansed (though He is clean). Heaven opens. The Spirit of God descends like a dove and then God says He is WELL PLEASED.

I long for the day He calls me His good and faithful servant. This passage is so beautiful.

Are you reading with me? Are you doing the Matthew challenge? What other Bible challenges have you done? How did this speak to you today?

 

 

 

 

 

The Matthew Challenge

Standard

This morning, I opened my personal Facebook page and was scrolling through my news feed as usual, when I found something intriguing. A bible study. A 28 day study. Not too much to handle, not too much to commit to. So here I am, starting day 1.

Here is the challenge:

Read the book of Matthew in February (28 days, 28 chapters).
If you want to join, we start today, or you can jump in at any time. February 1 is the official start date, but there truly is no right or wrong time to read and study the Bible :). Some have already started reading.
As we begin, take a moment today to pray for eyes to see and ears to hear what God would say to us through this challenge. Pray that all participating will be blessed and draw closer to God.
Matthew is the first book of the New Testament, likely because of its influence on the early church,as many scholars believe Mark was the first gospel written.
When reading Matthew it is good to consider that Matthew appears to be writing form the perspective to show how Jesus is truly the Son of David, the promised Messiah and as the Anointed King, He brings the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Common in Matthew will be quotes showing how Jesus fulfilled OT Prophecies and the usage of the phrase “kingdom of heaven.”
May God bless your reading.

Look for my reflections on Matthew this coming month. Let me know if you will be joining me in this journey! I’m excited to have a new challenge and to take part in one alongside other believers. The pastor who is leading this study is a senior pastor at two churches, a friend of mine, someone who has prayed deeply for the church that I belong to, and is one of my pastor’s closest friends- so I have great love and respect for him. I am always searching for structured studies, as a Type A. Excited to see what more lies in these pages.

Day 1: Matthew 1                                                                           Read the chapter here

Reading through lineage has always been difficult for me. But a couple years ago, Prince Charming showed me how beautiful it really is. I can’t say that I sit through and read every single unpronounceable name yet, but I am able to look at the list of names, the family line, their story- and see beauty. I see value in the way they tracked their history, the way that their names are recorded in history forever. I have always wished that my family cared enough about our history to have a record of it somewhere. Our history dies with my great grandparents. We know nothing before them. It’s really shameful.

Carrying on into the 18th verse,we stumble upon the story of how Mary became pregnant and to know that she is carrying the Savior of the world, Jesus. It’s hard to even type those words. I can’t fathom her emotions, I can’t imagine the weight that came with the encounter of the Holy Spirit.

Had she ever had an encounter with the Holy Spirit prior to this? If not, I can imagine her being overwhelmed and overcome by His presence- not even considering the message He brought along with Him.

I think about Joseph and his mind- “What do you mean this child is from “The Lord?” That’s not how this works. It doesn’t add up.” But he chose to keep his faith. He chose not to disgrace her, though he had the mindset that he would divorce her. Shortly after, an ANGEL OF THE LORD comes to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to have any fear, that she has conceived a child of the Holy Spirit. He will be the savior of people and their sins. 

WHAT.

And he doesn’t freak out. He doesn’t say no, I’m sleep deprived, I didn’t eat the right food before bed, that was a whack dream- HE DOES WHAT THE ANGEL OF THE LORD COMMANDS HIM TO DO. He takes Mary home as his wife. He doesn’t consummate their marriage until after the child is born, they name him Jesus.

What amazes me here (and throughout scripture) is when the people within these stories don’t hesitate. They just do what God tells them to do. They keep their faith. They trust Him. They’ve got nothing to lose, because their faith is in Him. It’s always a beautiful reminder that He will make it work, if we let Him.

What’d you think of this first day’s challenge? Did you learn anything new from today’s message?