Heaven on Earth: Finding Family
January 25, 2016
I heard a quote the other day that really hit me strongly.
“The more heaven comes to earth, the more earth will look like family.” -Jonathan Helser
Oh, how I long to experience heaven in that way again, I thought!
Within that statement, I began to envision the Father’s heart behind His original design of creation, and then seeing His ultimate plan when Jesus came to reconcile man back to God through the Cross.
But I have to admit, any time I heard someone praying “on earth as it is on heaven” or heard songs proclaiming “let heaven come,” my mind immediately associated those words with miracles, signs, wonders, and encountering God’s tangible Presence like never before.
I have experienced those types of encounters both privately and corporately and, yes, they are quite heavenly to be sure!
But there was a point in time where even in a crowded room, among other believers, I still felt like something was missing.
Although I have experienced “family” with a body of believers before, it seemed to have disappeared; I believe the void in my life began forming a couple years ago.
I no longer felt the sense of being a part of the family of God.
I mean, of course, I KNOW I am a daughter in the Kingdom of God, and I know I am a member of the Body of Christ, but the family element of my weekly church gathering had seemed to vanish.
As I saw close friends of mine, one by one, leave our church home, my heart began to grow colder, but instead of dealing with the pain it caused to lose touch with them, I embraced my ministry assignments and kept moving forward in my calling.
But sadly, my personal time with the Lord began to suffer, and I began to view my involvement in ministry leadership as just another job. Because of my driven and goal-oriented personality, I didn’t question this jaded point of view.
Just keep moving ahead with the vision. Don’t look back for those who no longer want to support the vision.
Just keep attending those leadership/planning meetings.
Just keep going to those worship team rehearsals….even on those nights when they are 3 hours long…
Just keep preparing those messages for the youth meetings.
Just keep attending those prayer meetings.
Just get to church early to unlock the building, run through sound-check, wrestle the baby through the service, pray for this visitor, invite that girl to the next youth group outing, stay late for a meeting with Pastor, do the process all over again if there was an evening service/midweek service and then do it all over again next week and the week after that and the week after that…
Just typing through all of that makes me exhausted!
As I have shared in previous posts, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul and I decided to step off of the hamster wheel of ministry at our church home and trusted the Lord would lead us where we belonged…hoping we would find our tribe, our community, our FAMILY.
A few weeks after we stopped running on the “hamster wheel,” we found ourselves in a safe place at a Baptist church, with sound teaching and surrounded by believers who truly love the Lord, but we both knew that our stay would most likely be temporary until we found our new “home.” We enjoyed four months there: Bible studies, Sunday school classes, Christmas concerts, choir rehearsals, and made some new friends. We are truly thankful for everyone who poured into us while we healed from our ministry wounds.
And then yesterday happened.
I’m still giddy from excitement and in awe of how quickly God can make things right in an instant of trusting Him to make all things new.
A few weeks ago, we kept running into an old friend of ours who also felt the pain of finding family, but recently found her tribe. Yesterday, we decided to take her recommendation, and got the whole family ready for church.
I was filled with such hope and anticipation, and within just a few hours, discovered my prayers of belonging had suddenly came to pass.
Just like I knew Paul was my husband after our first date, I knew this new church was our home after the first service!
Of course, everyone who greeted us as we walked in the door was so warm and inviting and we were both super impressed by the check-in process for their children’s ministry, making it as easy on the parents as possible…so helpful! And who could complain about a church in St. Louis that offers Kaldi’s coffee on tap! *Praise break*
Paul knew I was all in when the worship began. The song choices and the music style are, seriously, the sound of my heart, and since God has created me as a worshipper and songbird, it was hook, line, and sinker for me!
The message was the second one in a series called Renewal, which is totally a word the Lord has been speaking to me about my current season.
Stop mourning past seasons. I want to do something new in your life…trust Me.
I received confirmation on some passages I had been studying during the week, which is always something you are grateful for when coming together corporately to worship and study God’s word!
Then as we were leaving, we were able to connect with a young couple. We found out they only lived a few miles from us, so we exchanged numbers and I spent the next couple hours after we got home connecting with my new friend!
We are both stay-at-home moms too! Another answer to my prayers- finding someone who was in the same stage of life as us!
So within just a few hours, God turned ashes into beauty and is bringing “family” back into our lives again! We are so looking forward to our community group tomorrow night and then I have a girl date with my new friend on Friday- a night of worship with the women of the church!
Lord, You are speaking my love language!
I’m just so thankful and praising God for His faithfulness!
If you are battling discouragement or disappointment in your life right now, especially regarding relationships, I just encourage you to hang on, keep trusting the Lord! He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother and is faithful to the end! Soon and very soon you will find yourself surrounded by those who will love you for who you are and not what you can do for them. They will speak your language and make you feel right at home…
…just like heaven on earth.
When Death Surrounds Us
January 18, 2016
We are are now three weeks into 2016 and the only word I can use to describe it is HEAVY.
It seemed as if every time I logged onto Facebook, my eyes fell upon the tragic news of someone passing away.
One by one, headlines announced that another beloved artist in the music and entertainment industry had taken their final breaths here on this earth.
Then one by one, memorial service details for friends’ loved ones began to fill my feed.
Then I started receiving texts with more news of…
They were taken too soon.
This seems like a dream.
I can’t believe they are gone.
Heavy thoughts. Heavy words. Heavy hearts.
One of the many precious people who have gone from this life was a part of my own blood family (a distant great uncle of mine), and the other, just today, was my husband’s uncle.
My heart is so, so heavy with those grieving who I know very well and those who I may never meet.
What do we do when death seems to completely surround us?
The best advice that I can give is run to the Word of God.
It is full of promises of eternal hope, light, and life.
I have spent the last couple of days finding comfort in Psalms 121:
God the Help of Those Who Seek Him
A Song of Ascents.
121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul encourages those of us who are believers:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-3 ESV)
We know that no one will be able to escape natural death (unless you are caught up to the heavens when Jesus returns), but once we spiritually die with Christ, we receive the promise of His resurrection life. We become born again!
This is this hope of eternal life that we hold fast to.
Although when our loved ones leave us, we have to remember that this world is not our home.
Our bodies may taste death in this life, but when we trust in Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the Cross, our spirits will never truly taste death because there is a life to come and a resurrection of those bodies are promised when Jesus returns in glory, as Colossians 3 proclaims.
But I have to ask, is your life hidden in Christ? Do you embrace the gospel truth of John 3:16?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)
Do you believe on Jesus?
If so, everlasting life awaits you and there is no need to fear death or hell. Death, hell, and the grave has been overcome by the Cross!
The Apostle Paul brings us more hope in 1 Corinthians 15:
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:55-56 ESV)
We continue to grieve the passing on of those whom we hold close in our hearts, but we must keep our eyes on the life to come. I will continue to pray for those of you who are mourning the loss of someone close to you today. Look up to the heavens where your help dwells and know that He sent a Helper and Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to hold you during this time. He is our Peace.
I also pray that you begin to see this life with eternal lenses and embrace the promises of everlasting life with Christ. Hide yourself in Him until your dying day or until He returns in His glory.
None of us know what day will be our last, so I pray, believe on Christ today, beloved!
Does Jesus know you?
January 15, 2016
In May 2015, my husband and I heard a sermon that impacted our faith greatly and has continued to stir in our hearts as the months have passed.
Our eyes were opened to the terrifying reality found in Matthew 7:21-23:
I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (NKJV)
We had both read that scripture many times before, but it’s truth cut deep to the core of our hearts. Suddenly, we could no longer settle for the complacency that “Churchianity” had birthed in our lives. We were tired of standing in our leadership positions in ministry week after week and feeling totally empty and unsettled. We knew how important it was to serve in the House of God, but something wasn’t quite right anymore.
Had we lost our first Love all the while trying to serve Him? Aren’t we supposed to follow the Lord’s order to “Go into the world…”?
We discovered that religion had blinded us. Yes, even in a non-denominational setting, we had been conquered by a religious spirit.
This spirit of religion was demanding that we DO MORE for the Kingdom to reach the lost.
Yes, reaching the lost is important and a command from the Lord, but not at the expense of forsaking our relationship with Him.
It’s about the people, it’s about the people!
Those works of ministry that are listed in Matthew 7:22 are a part of the Great Commission; through them, many can come to know Christ and we can advance His Kingdom.
So why did Jesus tell these ministers to “depart from [him] (vs 23)?”
They clearly believed on Him, but I don’t think that was enough for them. They didn’t trust in Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross alone, they were declaring their works to the Lord.
As I have studied out this passage, one word jumps out at me: knew.
The Hebrew word for know/knew is “yada (YA-DAH)”.
It means to recognize, understand, to have sexual relations.
This word is found in the Old Testament hundreds of times.
This same word used in Genesis to describe Adam being intimate with Eve (ch 4, vs 1) is also found in Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God (NKJV)
Wait, what? Please, stick with me.
Today, when I was mediating on Matthew 7 once again (praying for those who are a part of the Household of Faith who honor the Lord with their lips, yet their hearts are far from Him), I looked up the word knew in my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance regarding Matthew 7:23.
The Greek word for knew is “ginosko (GI-NO-SKO).”
Ginosko has the same exact definition as yada!
Let me remind you, friend, we must look at intimacy with God with spiritual eyes, and not what we know of intimacy in the natural.
For instance, if you would break down the word intercourse, you would discover that it means that two courses are so intertwined, you don’t know where one course begins and one course ends.
The Lord wants us to be so connected and intertwined with Him, that you can’t tell where the relationship begins or ends.
That is what is means to know the Lord, and in return, the Lord knows you.
When we know Jesus, and He knows us, we are intimately connected to Him.
This is why there is such intrinsic beauty in Ephesians 5 when Paul reveals how marriage between a man and a woman is a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church, His Bride.
We must commune with the Lord every single day; this has greater importance to God than even evangelism, ministry endeavors, or using the gifts He gave us.
Remember, Jesus said Mary of Bethany chose the “good part” when He came to visit- while her sister was in a frenzy serving, she took advantage of the moment and sat at Jesus’ feet for awhile.
We cannot get our eyes so focused on the Second Commandment and ignore the First (Mark 12:30-31).
If we give ourselves fully to the First Commandment, the Second Commandment will naturally flow out from our devoted and captivated heart.
Father, we repent for trusting in our own works, even if they are ultimately in Your name and for You and Your glory. We long to see Your Kingdom come to this earth. We long to see prodigals return home. We long to see even more people awakened to the truth that through Jesus’ work on the Cross, they are given the right to be called Your child. Yes, we long to reach the lost, but not at the cost of forsaking our communion with You. We tremble at Your words found in Matthew 7 and take heed to not become ensnared by a religious spirit, one that says we must do more than just be with You. Help us to guard our heart from deception and remain watchful. We thank You for Your Blood, Jesus. We thank You for the Cross. We cling to it above all. Draw us away with You, and when it’s time, we will run together and see the greatest harvest of souls that this world has ever seen! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Find Rest, My Soul
January 6, 2016
I have observed, both in my own life and the lives of others, that if there has been a significant amount of damage done to the soul because of rejection from people, the person will often so many times try to overcompensate for their weakness by performing to gain the approval, love, or applause of men.
They start to believe that their worth and value is somehow directly related to what they can accomplish in this life and not simply just who they are, and ultimately and most importantly, who God says they are. This type of lifestyle and mentality will only lead to weariness, anxiety, and all too often, depression.
Stop striving and start resting.
“We will not experience true rest in our souls until we accept the Lord’s invitation to lay our burdens [and brokenness] at His feet.” –Rest Assured: a Recovery Plan for Weary Souls by Vicki Courtney
That quote reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary:
Mary and Martha Worship and Serve
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’[k] feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus[l] answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NKJV)
Martha’s striving and serving caused her to miss a truly exceptional experience with Jesus. I’m not sure if Martha struggled with finding her worth or not, but it was clear that she was stressed about the fact that she was having to serve the Lord in her home without any help, asking Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” (Luke 10:40)
That verse says that she was worried and distracted. My goodness, I have been there more times than I can count and the Lord is working that out in me, most definitely, in this season.
What about you?
Are you feeling distracted, burdened, or weighed down? Are those worries causing weariness?
What you need is the rest of heaven.
Rest in the Greek means “to refresh.”
The world cannot offer us refreshing rest or peace from the cares and stresses of life, only God can.
Don’t seek to find rest for your weary soul in your performance. Seek to find rest in Christ’s performance on the Cross.
Rest in the shadow of the Cross and leave your burdens and brokenness behind. Choose the good part, like Mary, and rest at the feet of Jesus and listen to His word.
It’s from this place of rest, trusting and believing you are worthy, and again, not because of what you can accomplish, but simply because you are a Blood-bought child of God, that God wants to then use you to tell others the glorious news, the gospel of Jesus Christ!
If you are looking for love or searching for your worth, know that you can find it in the arms of Jesus Christ- the One who loves you and treasures you so much that He died for you to experience total freedom from the sin and addictions that so easily ensnare us as we encounter total unbroken fellowship with your Heavenly Father from now into eternity.
Now it’s your turn: What is distracting you from the refreshing rest of God?
Last day of 29.
December 21, 2015
Today is a typical Monday…
Slow cooker chili in the CrockPot (although it is far from chilli here in St. Louis at 62 degrees), babysitting two little ones, chasing around my little one and trying to keep him from eating the giant, colorful bulbs on the string of Christmas lights for the one-millionth time, and of course, checking tasks off of my never-ending “to-do” list.
But there is one thing that isn’t typical…
…I’m soaking up the last day in my 20’s.
Ya know, I have never really made a big deal about getting older or focused too much on my age, but I believe there is something special about this particular birthday for me.
My 20’s didn’t start off on the best note and although the whole decade wasn’t horrible (I did return to the Lord, found my prince charming, and became a mom for the first time), I spent most of those ten years in a healing and recovery process from all the mistakes I made the ten years prior.
That’s why I am excited about this new decade of my life- I’m starting off with a solid relationship with Jesus and I’m not lost or confused about my purpose in life.
Although I called on the name of Jesus to be my Savior almost 14 years ago, this year marks the eighth year that I have been walking with the Lord without hesitation or compromise.
Eight is Biblically symbolic for new beginnings.
Paul and I have already experienced much of that in 2015:
- The newness of parenthood
- Selling our house and moving back to the area we lived when we got married
- Focusing on our health- changing our eating habits drastically and consistently working out
- Leaving our church home and trusting God to lead us supernaturally to our next church home
I believe the Lord has impressed upon my heart that now is the time that He wants to take me to a new level spiritually- a new level of personal devotion to Him and in Him.
Instead of the Lord taking junk out of my heart (what I experienced for a majority of the last eight years), I believe He wants to fill my heart and plant seeds of His Word like never before. He has been positioning me for this time over the last few months, and although it has been uncomfortable letting go of so much of the familiar, I am trusting Him in this new season of REST.
This kind of rest can only be found under the shadow of the Almighty.
It is my season of refreshing…
…the “breath of heaven” as one of my friends said.
I’m not sure what the Lord has planned for this blog, but I’m not going to force writing anything if He does not first breathe upon my words.
Perhaps, my readers will be taken on this journey of renewal with me.
Perhaps, the Lord will allow me to share revelation that I receive in the secret place.
Or perhaps, this blog may become somewhat quiet as this season of rest unfolds.
Whatever the Lord wants to do, I’m yielding to His every word.
I do appreciate that people take time to read this blog and offer support and encouragement along the way.
I pray you enjoy this Christmas season with your friends and family.
Jesus is the greatest gift I can share with you, that’s for sure!
December 7, 2015
I haven’t spent too much time lately on my blog sharing current personal events. It doesn’t mean there hasn’t been anything important to write about, I just haven’t felt the need to dive into some of the messiness of our life.
Paul and I have been through a lot of major transitions and changes throughout our six years of marriage, but for some odd reason, I never can seem to get used to it. Since I’m a “go-getter,” I pull up my boot-straps, bite my lip, and move forward full-speed-ahead.
In early May of this year, through studying the Word of God in a new light, we began a journey of discovering why we believed what we believed. We began to realize that so much of what we embraced was not sound doctrine. After hearing the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, our eyes were opened to the truth that we had become victims of the prosperity gospel– giving to get more in return, visualization boards, believing we could speak things into existence just like God did (we are not “speaking spirits” or “little gods,” my friends- that is not what being made in His image is about) positive declarations and confessions, seeking increase in possessions and finances, etc. That’s when we began to ask questions to spiritual leaders whom we trusted. We wanted to make sure what we were hearing, whether on Sunday morning or YouTube videos from well-known Bible teachers, lined up with the Bible, and most importantly, the words in red.
Within just a few weeks of studying, the Lord spoke to us about selling our house, so we obeyed. We started that process and within seven days, the home was under contract. Within 30 days, we packed up our three bedroom home in the country and moved into a two bedroom apartment closer to the city and closer to our church.
About two months after we got settled in and used to our shorter commute to church (we spent more time there than at home sometimes), the Lord started speaking to us about finding a new church home.
Again, we obeyed, relieved ourselves from our leadership positions appropriately and completely wrapped in love, and just trusted God would lead the way. Within a month, we were divinely invited to a church where some of Paul’s family (whom he had lost touch with over the years) attended. Being a product of numerous denominations over the years, it didn’t bother me that this church was a Baptist church. Paul’s religious upbringing was different than mine though. He spent his whole life at non-denominational churches, rooted in the charismatic and Word of Faith movements. This theology and doctrine became spiritual reality and truth to me since 2008 when I began attending the church he grew up at. Once we left that church, we found ourselves in an environment similar to that of which Paul grew up in. Since this was all he knew, we never thought about questioning it.
But we did start to question it.
And what we found out, over the course of several months of studying God’s Word, revealed the deception that had clouded our minds about God’s truth, salvation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, here we are, having attended the Baptist church for two months, learning more about the names of God. About HIM. Not US. About what we can do for JESUS. Not what Jesus can do for US. And in our own studying at home, continuing to learn more and more about the lies of the prosperity gospel and Word of Faith movement, of which they often go hand in hand.
I’ve realized that the devil will try all He can to distract you, bring doubt, and confuse you regarding the will of God for your life. Yesterday, I experienced that in the form of waking up from a terrible dream, which caused me to be completely out-of-sorts all morning- on my drive to church, the sound-check for the worship set (I joined the choir a few weeks ago), the whole church service, and my drive home. I was an emotional mess, all from one stupid dream the night before involving some rejection that occurred over the last few months. Because of the lingering feelings from the dream, I was finding myself missing our involvement at our previous church home and began to question our decision to leave.
I walked into the sanctuary at our new church as round 1 of sound-check was going on and I said, “Lord this isn’t me.” I had been involved in leading worship with different music styles, had experienced what charismatic churches like to call “prophetic flow” in worship services, and had many tangible encounters with God’s presence in that kind of environment, and to be honest, I was missing that in my current corporate worship situation.
While waiting for sound-check to start for the choir, the Lord spoke to my heart:
Stop mourning past seasons. I want to do something new in your life…trust Me.
We made it through sound-check and then 15 minutes later, I made my way onto the risers for worship service to begin. I tried all I could to “enter in,” ignoring the blank stares, straight faces, and lack of enthusiasm and expression from the congregation (I’ve concluded this isn’t just at Baptist churches, but can be found in churches all over the US…it’s just the fact that many don’t fully understand how much they have been forgiven and what great sacrifice Jesus made for them to be free), and centered-in on the One whom I was worshiping.
We were celebrating the Lord’s Supper and one of the song selections was “Jesus Paid It All” by Kristian Stanfill– a favorite of mine.
Just as we got to the bridge, I lifted up my hands in surrender and tears began to fill my eyes.
OH, PRAISE THE ONE WHO PAID MY DEBT/ AND RAISED THIS LIFE UP FROM THE DEAD
I have heard and sang those lyrics to this song countless times. I have stood on a stage for many years, whether performing in musicals and plays or leading worship. And this type of spontaneous overwhelming experience while singing, especially to the Lord, has only happened to me when I was involved in charismatic circles. I thought this was a result of “the anointing” or because our worship services were able to “flow” or they lasted longer than 30 minutes (sometimes).
In that moment, my ideologies and judgement about certain denominations crumbled. It doesn’t matter if I am in a “spirit-filled” church (which is actually a term that should be used for all churches who are filled with believers because all believers are “spirit-filled,” otherwise they wouldn’t be saved, and not ones who simply speak in tongues and embrace charismatic worship styles).
Above all, I believe the Holy Spirit is filling a place when He is allowed to guide us into all truth, bring conviction, and grant people repentance that leads to the revelation of Jesus Christ in whom they will put their whole trust in, thus becoming born-again or having restored fellowship with the Father once again.
“Prophetic flow,” extended times of worship, singing in tongues, dancing, hands raised, or clapping doesn’t make my worship in song better or more anointed.
And if you are a born-again believer, you are anointed!
God was doing something in my heart yesterday and my soul was trying to dominate with mixed emotions.
Knowing that there was something not quite right with my struggle to try to control my situation and questioning God’s will in my life, I went down to the alter towards the end of service and asked God to purify my heart.
Just then, the song that was being sung by our worship pastor met me right where I was:
“Make Us New” by Doug Mickan
Saturate us with your presence
Illuminate the sin within us
Help us to see the things that need to change
You know too well of our transgressions
Now we come with full confession
You are Holy and we are so undone
Purify our hearts
Make us new, make us new
Change our desire
Make it you, make it you
Remove the stain of shameful sin
Restore Your joy to us again
All consuming fire make us new
Tears streamed down my face and I lifted my hands in surrender.
I know that I may not be completely comfortable in my current season, but I do know that I must let go of the past and let God do a new thing in me, even if it is sometimes painful.
Then I’m reminded, the Potter’s wheel is never comfortable, and the molding process can hurt, but it is worth it to see God further shape me into a vessel that seems best to Him. He is making me new…again.
Kayla Aimee’s ANCHORED- A Review
December 1, 2015
I spent the course of a few days reading Kayla Aimee’s book, Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected fighting back tears and almost choking on my food.
That type of combination of great sorrow and tongue-and-cheek humor kept my eyes glued to the pages as she described countless stories of her life wrapped up in one major event that would undoubtedly change her forever- the birth of her first daughter at just 25 weeks along in her pregnancy and the struggle she and her husband endured as they watched their tiny baby girl fight to live.
Experiencing the newness of motherhood over the last year, I have to admit that I held my precious son closer after I read each heart-wrenching chapter of Kayla’s five and a half months existence in the NICU with a mirco-preemie. Little Scarlette miraculously had beaten many of the statistics, but her journey (and her parents’) wasn’t any easy battle.
Kayla’s way with witty words helped to soften the punch to the gut, so to speak, regarding the storytelling of her not-so-pretty initiation into motherhood. Her vulnerability to share her fears, weaknesses, and doubts in her faith was definitely all for God’s glory. Anchored reveals God’s sovereign hand in the author’s life, as you watch the surrender to His ways and the trust in His goodness, despite the often bleak circumstances.
To me, that kind of hope- the one that clings to our faith in Christ no matter what storm we are facing- is what makes being a follower of Jesus so beautiful. It is what the world longs for and it is what Christians can reveal to them through the gospel, most assuredly, but also through stories like Kayla’s.
As many of you probably know, I am a huge advocate for testifying for King Jesus, being an author of a memoir myself, all for God’s glory. Memoirs of not-so-famous folks are definitely worth your time, in my opinion…
…but I may be a little bias. (*wink*)
Anchored shares the same triumphant message as Yielded in His Hands– In our weakness, Jesus is strong. In our trial, Jesus is triumphant. He is the hope for all hearts. He is the anchor that we cling to when we are facing the storms of life. The moment we give Him control is the moment we find the hope that only He can bring in the troubling waters that we face.
Purchase your copy of Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected today!
*I received this book free as a member of the B&H/Lifeway Publishing Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Love, Sex, & Intimacy- Book Review & GIVEAWAY
December 1, 2015
This week my husband and I will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary!
I couldn’t think of a better way to express my desire to see more strong Godly marriages in our world than to share with you a book that has helped strengthen intimacy with my husband. Since marriage is a reflection of Christ’s love for the Church, we must look at what God says about love, sex, and intimacy first.
God’s love is limitless, but it does have boundaries. His compassion never cancels out His truth and holiness. -Dr. Juli Slattery, author, radio show host, and co-founder of Authentic Intimacy
This quote from Dr. Slattery stands firm as the backbone of her newest book, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy .
25 Questions speaks the truth of God’s Word regarding the Biblical definition of sexuality, marriage, and walking in love with utter boldness and without any trace of compromise- a quality I admire greatly, especially in this day we live in.
This book is written specifically for women of all ages and all backgrounds, but the message is crystal-clear, God (who is love- 1 John 4:8) is the author of our sexuality.
The world is not afraid to speak its mind regarding this topic, with its message of “Do whatever makes you happy!” and Dr. Juli is not timid nor afraid to challenge this mindset with her expertise in psychology as well as the ultimate Truth, the Bible.
Because sexuality is such a widely controversial topic in the Church, I’m thrilled that Dr. Juli is a strong Biblical voice that is speaking up, longing to see healing come to the Bride of Christ, who has embraced worldly ideologies regarding sexuality or has simply just remained silent on the topic.
The book is separated into 25 chapters (obviously) that each pose a common question that Dr. Slattery has heard over the years during her involvement in ministry and counseling. The reader can either read from cover to cover (like I did) or they can skim the text for a chapter that might pertain to an issue they have dealt with or are currently struggling to understand more about.
For me, my favorite chapters centered around the purpose for our sexuality and why God made us sexual creatures. Just like marriage reflects Jesus’ union with the Church, sex and intimacy reflect our relationship with the Father.
Sex and intimacy in marriage (which are all celebrated together in such beautiful harmony for a purpose) are what we get to experience in the natural while we are here on earth. It is pleasure that those who are in a Biblical marriage get to enjoy, and God made it that way! I am so blessed to have been able to experience that kind of joy with my husband for the last six years.
That kind of pleasure is represented spiritually as well- God wants us to experience His love and a deep, intimate relationship with Him, just like a husband and wife get to encounter in their marriage.
Let’s take the word “intercourse,” for example. Now, what typically comes to one’s mind is sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.
If you would break down the word intercourse, you would discover that it means that two courses are so intertwined, you don’t know where one course begins and one course ends. God wants us to be so connected and intertwined with Him, that you can’t tell where the relationship begins or ends.
This is the very reason God has set such specific boundaries when it comes to love, sex, intimacy, and marriage. It all points back to Him- it is all holy because God is holy.
I urge you to check out 25 Questions and start thinking about loved ones in your life that need some guidance in the area of sexuality. The truth of the Word of God is the best compass and 25 Questions is full of that beautiful, scriptural truth.
Grab your copy of 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask about Love, Sex, and Intimacy today at Family Christian!!!
In honor of my sixth wedding anniversary, I am giving away a FREE copy of this amazing book for both married and single women.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO WIN A FREE COPY OF 25 QUESTIONS, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET ME KNOW WHY YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THIS BOOK. WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM ON DECEMBER 4TH AT NOON CST.
*I received this book free as a member of the Family Christian Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
November 25, 2015
Last night, I sat down to read through my book. It had been almost a year or so since I made my way through the story. You’d think I would be familiar with it since, ya know, it’s my own personal story. But as I turned each page, I was simply just in awe.
This time of year brings back a lot of good and bad memories for me.
Bad because it was when I found myself caught up in an extra-marital affair with a man who was nine years older than me and then also when my dad was murdered.
And as God would have it, He covers the bad with His goodness.
Good because it’s when I began to fall in love with the man who would become my husband and when I first became a mother six years later.
Of course, I choose to embrace the good every time, but as I read the words in Yielded in His Hands, I was reminded of all the darkness, pain, and despair that I experienced for over two decades of my life.
THAT’S A LONG TIME WHEN YOU’VE ONLY LIVED ALMOST 30 YEARS!
I believe the Lord allowed me to write this book for so many people to offer them hope that God can make something so beautiful from the ashes of our lives, but I also think He allowed me to write this book as a memorial to His work in my life and a reminder to me to always remain thankful for all He has delivered me from.
If you find yourself existing in a world of hopelessness and despair, I encourage you to pick up Yielded in His Hands. I pray the Lord would speak to you through the pages, as you see a life transformed over the course of twelve chapters- from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.