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Doing Our Part

The antidote to the cries of an aching world is found within me because it is only my contributions that I control.

It is incredibly easy to live a life void of self-examination, paying little attention to my behaviors and motives, all while hyper-focusing on what I deem right or wrong in those around me.

Judgement.

It is insidious.

My soul is much better served working on me rather than worrying about them.

Blame temporarily feels good. It is a false place to surrender our pain, but never solve it.

The most significant piece of doing our part is found looking inside not outside of ourselves.

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Tears, Fears and Truth

In the late afternoon on the day Carter was born, a nurse came into my room and told me she needed to take him for an echocardiogram. The doctor that examined him earlier detected a heart murmur and they needed to investigate further.

I was scared and immediately broke down in tears. I didn’t want them to take my baby anywhere, especially somewhere that might bring bad news.

It had been a difficult pregnancy. It was an arduous delivery. There were a few moments of silence when he entered the world and my heart stopped, only to stutter again a few hours later.

My nurse was on the latter end of her career. Advanced in age, not much appeared to faze her. “Don’t cry,” she quipped. “Save your tears. You will need them later.” At the time, I thought how insensitive she was. I was young and naive.

When I was pregnant with Macey, we thought we would lose her several times. Then there was a point early on that I ended up in the ICU with a collapsed lung and a chest tube. I wondered if we would both be lost?

My pregnancies were so complicated that I remember crying out to God so often to please let my children be born so I would know they were safe. As I said before, I was so naive. I never knew I would shed so many tears. I have good kids. It isn’t that.

It is that the “good” things have become the hard things.

Kindergarten graduation. The transition from elementary school to junior high school, then to high school. Letting them go off in a car. Driving. Camps. One and two week-long camps with no communication. Empty nest staring me in the face. And for Heaven’s sake, I never knew there would be tears and trepidation just over sending them to school.

I was so naive back then, but in more ways than one.

The most important difference now is that I know I am not their Savior.

I know now that God is sovereign and understanding that and standing under it look very different.

I know now that nothing takes God by surprise.

I know that He has already assigned all of our days, ALL OF THEM, mine and my children.

I know now that I have very little control and forgetting that is costly to me and those I love.

I know now that battles are better fought in prayer than panic.

I know now that as long as I am breathing, as long as anyone is breathing, evil will exist and I will not understand it, but I am not called to figure it out rather trust without doubt. Easier said than done, but worth fighting for.

I know now that this world is not my home, not my family’s home, and because of our eternal destination hope and gratitude trump fear.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

I am saying a few extra prayers for all you mamas tonight. You are loved.

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The Rock Of Empathy and Understanding

Have you been misunderstood, wronged, hurt, betrayed or falsely accused?  Everyone has at some point.

You know what is the most difficult thing for me to do, but the right and respectable thing, taking it to prayer rather than people? Bringing my hurt to The Father rather than Facebook, and to the Scriptures rather than my stories.

We all desire to be affirmed and understood, but when that desire becomes more about needing the validation of people than God,  I know I have a problem.

This is a great and convicting quote from Julie Sparkman’s book, Unhitching From The Crazy Train, co-written by Jennifer Phillips.  “When you are wronged, instead of pleading, “God, make this right!” you begin to pray, “Jesus,  You know what it feels like to be mocked, misunderstood, and falsely accused. I do long for You to make this right, but in the meantime, would You show me how to honor You as I bear up under injustice?  These Christlike prayers and attitudes come from the Scripture that is stored in your heart.”

I love this!

We have a Savior who suffered to know and identify with us in our affliction.  I am the first to forget to submit mine to Him, the Rock of empathy and understanding.  He is there for me and for you, friend.  Let’s not forget Him.

You are loved.

Unhitching From The Crazy Train is available at Lifeway and on Amazon 2/5/18. Also, you can order from newhopepublishers.com. 

www.restore-ministries.org

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Fishers of Men Not Means

Through earnest prayer, I have seen God change so many circumstances in my life and the lives of people I love. More importantly, I have seen him transform me so that I am not bound to begging for a different outcome but rather a divine income.

For many years I thought the purpose of prayer was to get something from God. Now I understand that the hope of prayer is to get God. Just God, more of Him and less of me. His desires become mine, not vice versa when I sincerely seek Him.

Praying does not require fancy language. God does not give credit for style. He is looking for surrender.

Prayer changes everything. The thing is, change just does not always mirror our desires.

I have heard a couple of renditions of this misconception the last week, “I don’t understand, He didn’t answer my prayers.” He did, friend. He just answered them His way, and we are not called to comprehend but to commit.

If you are a parent and you make decisions that are best for your children, you know sometimes they are hard, but they are also right. Our kids most often do not understand. Hard and holy go hand in hand, though, and it has been that way since the beginning.

God understands our difficulty because He, too, is a Father. He is a person to know not a commodity to control.

Prayer sometimes changes earthly directions, but most importantly it alters eternal destinations, and that is our primary commission.

We are fishers of men not means.

If I can pray for you today, please let me know. It is my privilege to petition the Prince of Peace on behalf of my friends.

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Prayer

It is prayer through things, not out of them that moves mountains. Sometimes my prayers are not answered the way I desire. When they are bound to my expectations, not my evolution the disappointment can lead to despair.

It is right and natural to pray for circumstances, especially difficult ones, to change. Jesus demonstrated that for us when He asked, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.” But we cannot miss what He says next, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Jesus was facing the most unimaginable circumstances, and He did ask for a different way, but ultimately His heart’s desire was the will of His Father not the way of His flesh.

It was not until I came to understand and trust the character of God and the location of my final destination that I could afford to pray with a boldness that says, Lord, here is my earnest plea, but it does not trump my longing for your eternal plan. My prayers shifted from being less about relief to more about refinement. If this cannot change, God, change me.

When I desire self-modification more than circumstantial transformation, my communion with The Father is lighter, and I am free to risk more because it is not about a particular outcome but a positive income. Praise seeps in when personal comfort steps out, and God is glorified. That is the objective of prayer. God’s glory. Not mine.

When we pray through the valley of suffering ourselves or with a friend, and we see God’s faithfulness and ever-present provisions in pain, it affords us patient perseverance because we know that He is good and His ways are sometimes hard, but always holy.

How can I pray for you today, friend?

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A Pilar of Comfort

When Carter was in the intensive care unit in Oregon after his traumatic brain injury, he was struggling with pain and double vision. In the early morning hours after an arduous night, he asked me to come and lay beside him because he saw two of me and he would feel better if the real one was close to him. As I laid there, my heart ached because I could not take the pain away. I wanted to be his substitute but had to settle as his soother instead.

Friend, God must see you, His child, like I saw mine in those wrenching moments. He looks down and knows you are struggling, in pain and hurting. For reasons you do not understand, He cannot take the pain away, but He does desire for you to invite him to come and lay down beside you so that He may be a pillar of comforter and peace.

The love of God does not negate our suffering, but it gives us what we need to get through and beyond it.

I pray you welcome Him into your circumstances tonight and that His peace is perceivable in your weary heart and pacifying to your worn out hands.

Be watchful. His steadfast faithfulness manifests in many ways.

You are loved.❤️

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Broken Relationships

Broken relationships. They are a painful reality. For some, it is a daily ache that shackles our every step, and for others, it is an ache that shouts and settles throughout time. Universally, however, the holidays seem to ignite and amplify the grief that resides in the hearts and minds of those carrying the cross of someone living in the world but lost from our lives.

Sometimes reconciliation is not possible. Maybe you have hurt someone, and despite your repentance and request for forgiveness, it was refused. Know this; we are only responsible for what we can control, an apology, but not an acceptance.

Sometimes reconciliation is not achievable because the pathology of the relationship is too unhealthy. The loss is still painful, nevertheless. I get it.

Although being reconciled is implausible, relinquishing resentment, retaliation, and further ruin is not. I realize and know that takes time. Often, a lot of time. A lot of prayers. A lot of dying to self and surrendering to the Savior. We cannot make ourselves forget, but we can pray ourselves to forgive. The two things are not the same. Forgiveness does not always look like an active relationship, but it can manifest as an intentional release of the toxicity that grows from the root of resentment.

In some scenarios, forgiveness is not a one-time event.

For some, it takes a daily recommitment. It is painful. I know.

There are other times that forgiveness is possible, but pride convinces us that we are justified staying stuck. It is then easy to find ourselves reasoning, “I cannot do it.” What that statement means is, I will not do it. Forgiveness of tender transgressions requires sacrifice. It demands a figurative death that feels real.

The antidote for my stubborn pride is always the cross.

I can try and run from its reality. I can try to deny its ramifications, but I have not found a comfortable place to hide.

The truth is, I am a sinner who was in desperate need of the greatest act of forgiveness history has ever known. It did require a literal death. It did require bloodshed. It demanded far more than my flesh can comprehend, but Jesus did it anyway. Like a lamb led to the slaughter He was my substitute, and He never articulated a word. No complaints. No poor me. No. Whining.

This holiday season friend, if you are in the league of the unforgiven, have asked for forgiveness from a well-intentioned place and were denied, I am sorry and pray that you find peace. I know the anguish will always be present to some degree, but remember pain is the best tutor, and it’s redemptive purposes are infinite.

And you, dear friend, if you are on the other side of the fence, carrying the weight of unforgiveness, that I sympathetically recognize is not a one size fits all scenario, I pray that your heart would soften because I wish freedom for you.

Sometimes the very things we are trying to escape, we cling to.

Holding on to the pain can oddly feel comforting. It is a counterfeit comforter. I know you must have been intensely wounded. About now you may be thinking; you just have no clue. No, I do not pretend to understand, but I have experienced a lot.

One thing I do know for sure, life is so very short. Once someone is gone, what was not spoken cannot be undone. Sometimes there are no second chances. No do-overs. If you possess the power to release someone, not necessarily reunite with them, I am praying for you. It is so very hard. I. Know.

I am not writing to you because I have gotten anything right. I am writing to you because I have gotten just about everything wrong and I am processing my realities, too.

This Thanksgiving may we all acknowledge the sadness of what is not, and then shift our hearts towards the abundance of what is.

You are loved. All of you.♥️

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What If You Get It Wrong?

Recently, I was struggling with an important decision. It was tearing me apart as I was allowing the lies of the enemy to compromise what I know to be true.  I was lamenting to a trusted and wise friend that my fear was I would get it wrong.  My friend said to me, “D’Anna, what if you do get it wrong?”  It was then that I remembered that Jesus’ gift of salvation does not come with a qualifier that I get it all right.  If my performance was a qualification, that would mean I have some responsibility for my salvation and in my eyes, I would never be enough.  How exhausting that would be!

Thankfully, I can take no credit for my eternal destiny.  Any good work I do is as a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence, not my power.  I cannot even take credit for faith, for it is from God, as well. (Ephesians 2:8).

Are you wrestling with getting something wrong today?  Has the idea of not being perfect or falling short thrown a dark disguise over the veil of truth that is meant to set you free? (John 8:32).  I pray if you find yourself here, you take the hand of truth today.

Father, I repent of the times I fail to believe. Help me and my friend remember that you and your promises are the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) AMEN.

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Purpose Amidst Imperfection 

Nestled amidst the sunrise of a fresh week and all the promise it holds is an ever faithful reminder of my inadequacy. I am presently, but peacefully aware that I got more wrong than right last week, and that will surely be my truth this week as well.

My keen sense of insufficiency poses a different purpose for me now, though. Growing in grace teaches me that it is no longer about striving for perfection only to be frustrated, but seeking purpose amidst my imperfection only to be furthered.

 It is an incongruent truth that on the other side of our failures is an intention designed for our prosperity. 

Understanding that falling down is not a shameful thing, but a sacred tool is the genesis of praise. Praise opens the door and welcomes gratitude right into our hearts.

When gratitude is our guest, we see through all the heavy right into the heart of the holy, and joy becomes a source of our strength. 

This week, friend, I pray you have eyes to see and ears to hear all the beauty that your brokenness beholds, and your heart will sing, it is good and it is well with my soul.
You are loved.❤️