12.28.2016

Facing the Impossible

Whenever I’ve stepped out to do something I felt God calling me to do, the voices of criticism and condemnation have been there to greet me.

Early on in ministry the voices were loud and cruel: “You’ll never be a speaker.” “You are not wanted.” “Look at you. Do you really think God could use someone like you after what you’ve done?”

Sometimes I measured myself against other people. “She’s so clever. She’s so educated. She’s so connected. Who am I compared to all that?”

Gradually, I pulled away. I put up a front of perfection with carefully crafted words and a house and kids that looked just right. Polished on the outside — yet completely undone on the inside.

Eventually the Lord called my bluff.

I was simultaneously going through the books Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson. Often I would have tears stream from my eyes while attempting to get through the lessons. But one day, it was more than just tears. It was sobs pouring from a chest so heavy with burdens I thought I might literally break apart.

Down on my face, I asked God to speak to me. What I heard in reply was one simple yet life-changing question: “Will you share your story?”

“Yes, I will share my story. The good parts. The parts that are safe and tidy and acceptable.”

But safe and tidy and acceptable were not what God was looking for. He wanted the impossible.

Totally impossible.

Absolutely impossible … in my own strength.

But God wouldn’t drop it. He met every one of my arguments with Scriptures about relying not on my strength, but on His.

He untangled my need for approval with the challenge to live for an audience of One. He helped me see where the voices of doubt were coming from and challenged me to consider the source. And, quite simply, He kept whispering He loved me over and over again.

The first time I shared my story was nothing but an act of absolute obedience. I kept my head down and my guard up. I expected the ladies listening to all start stoning me … especially when I got to the part about my abortion. The shame of all the abuse and rejection was nothing compared to the shame of my choice to abort my child.

I’d wept over that choice.

I’d repented.

I’d gone to God hundreds of times and asked for forgiveness.

I’d laid it down every time there was an altar call.

But nothing brought the redemption that this day brought. As I stood shaking at that podium, I shared exactly what and how God asked me to share.

And then the miracle happened.

When I finished and dared to look up at their reactions, tearstained faces were looking back at me. Mouths were whispering, “Me too. Me too.”

In that moment, I finally understood the idea that “what Satan means for evil, God can use for good” like Genesis 50:20 tells us.

Seeing God use the very thing that made me feel utterly worthless to help others changed everything. I was finally breaking free from Satan’s chains of shame and could see his lies for what they were.

In that moment, I felt victorious — not in my own power, but in the Lord’s strength and ability to use all things for good. Without that decision of obedience, I would not have been able to see how God wanted to work in the lives of so many women that night.

This is our heart at Proverbs 31 Ministries — to help women dismantle the lies of the enemy with the truth of God so they can walk in freedom. Because when one woman finds freedom, she is able to help countless others discover freedom in Christ!

Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us? We want to continue providing free biblical resources like our daily devotions, First 5 app, online Bible studies, and more but we can’t do it without your help.

If Proverbs 31 Ministries has encouraged you and helped you hold God’s Truth closer, we invite you to join us in continuing to bring the Gospel to women all over the world! You can do this by contributing financially or through prayer. All donations go right back into the everyday operations and expansion efforts of the ministry. Click here to give to Proverbs 31 Ministries today!

12.25.2016

How To Really Adore Him This Christmas

Oh come let us adore Him.

ADORE.

Jesus, this is the cry of my soul: I want to adore You. This Christmas, my desire is to…

A– Accept You into that place of my heart grown distant and resistant.

D– Decide to reverse the script of old by saying: Yes, there is room for You here, Jesus. Move in. Change me. Rearrange me. Heal me.

O– Order my steps toward forgiveness and away from bitterness.

R– Renew the lovely and beautiful inside of me. Jesus, whisper reminders of life, humility, grace, gentleness, and the assurance of Your forever love.

E– Even when circumstances beg me to grow cold, Lord, help me keep the flame of my first love burning so brightly that people are forced to consider how real You are. And as they walk away from me might they dare think, Now there’s a girl who has spent some time with Jesus.

It’s been a year full of extreme highs and lows year for my family. So these reminders are good for my heart to soak in this Christmas. And I hope they speak to you too. I’m praying that you experience the love of Christ more than ever this season.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

12.15.2016

Why Did This Happen, God?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll read those verses from Philippians and think to myself: This is a tough pill to swallow.

Content in any and every situation?

Really?

When my middle daughter, Ashley, was younger, she was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful and captivating to watch.

Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she’d ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she’d done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake destroyed her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor, only to be told she’d never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again. Watching a 14-year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn’t exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to want to wallow in the “why” questions and tell God He’d hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn’t You stop this, God?

Why weren’t my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn’t process why God would allow this to happen? Maybe it’s one of your young children having behavioral issues that seems crazy complicated and daunting. Or one of your older children having issues with addictions and devastating life choices. Or your husband being distant or possibly even destructive in making choices that are harming your marriage. Or another year of singleness that brings you wave after wave of grief, while watching others celebrating the gift of true love.

It’s so tempting to wallow in the “why.”

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn’t unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us further from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

If asking the why question doesn’t offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: “Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?”

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

I like to call this verse, “Directions on Where to Park My Mind.”

And that’s exactly what Ashley had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I had to help her say:

This is my reality. Now what am I going to do with it?
What can I learn from this?
What part of this is for my protection?
What other opportunities could God be providing?
What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

Is it always easy? No.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don’t understand and we absolutely don’t like?

Yes, it is, and I pray this helps you today. Because even if our circumstances aren’t good, we can trust God’s purpose always is.

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it’s just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If disappointing circumstances have left your heart feeling empty and depleted, you can trade those feelings for a more personal fulfillment from knowing who Jesus is. That’s what my new Bible study, Finding I Am, is all about. You can pre-order your copy here and receive FREE resources you won’t be able to get once the study releases!

And today I’m giving away 5 copies of the Finding I Am study guide to randomly chosen commenters! Just leave a comment below for your chance to win.