Changing Perspective

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Whether we are focusing on the present, past or future, if our perspective is off, we can turn a small incident into something monumental. We must have God be our focus, so things are in the correct perspective. Sometimes the life lessons we all need to learn are seen in children.

Having kids is an adventure, to say the least. More times than not, they are the ones that end up teaching me. For example, our youngest son, Quintin, came in the other day from playing outside to say that he needed a band-aid. However, when he came over to show me, I could barely even see that there was a scratch. Quintin, on the other hand, could not see anything else, but the hurt. His focus was on the boo-boo and what I might be able to do to make it feel better. Later, that same day, our middle son, Ethan, was working on his math homework and having a difficult time. He just kept saying that he could not do it; it was simply too hard. When Ethan’s focus was on the entire problem, instead of looking at it one step at a time, he could not see that he was ever going to figure it out. His focus was on all the problems he had for homework and not simply taking one step at a time. It is easy in these situations, as a mom, to step back and say, “Boys, this is not really as big of a deal as you are making it.” In these instances, they needed me to help give them perspective on the situation.

It reminds me of a pebble. If we hold it up close to our eye, it is all that we see. However, if we hold it out farther. We can examine it and even classify it. To take it one step farther, if you would throw that same pebble at your feet, then it is seen in its true setting. It becomes just one tiny bump along our journey, instead of being the only thing we can see.

For the longest time, I had a real issue with pain from my past. No matter what the Bible said, I was so focused on my pain, my hurt and my past that I couldn’t see anything else. I couldn’t imagine ever getting beyond this point. In fact, I became so focused on this one circumstance in my life that I was missing out on everything around me. I was turning this pebble into Mount Everest. In fact, I was beginning to be crushed under the weight of my past, feeling like I could not more forward and certainly could not be used by God.

God began to work in and through my life to see that in His eyes sin is sin and Christ died on the cross for all of it. It was the enemy who wanted to keep me trapped in the past – distracted, discouraged and defeated. God lifted me up to see that I was loved, valued, important and needed. The very same thing is true of you dear friend. Don’t let the world lead you to believe anything different. God lovingly created each and every one of you for His purpose and plan.

Therefore, when the past comes to haunt us, it is so easy, just like with the pebble, to be solely focused on the circumstance. Like my sons, who were consumed with their problems, we cannot begin to see anything else. It was all they could see and think about. When this happens, life’s circumstances begin to overwhelm us. However, just like the pebble, we need to throw all of our troubles at our feet. The distance helps to put things back into perspective. God is right there, just like I was for my boys, to help us see things clearer. We simply need to take the focus off of the circumstance and throw it at God’s feet and let Him help us. It is mentioned in First Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (NKJV). God cares for us and wants to, not only help us, but to also put things into perspective. If you are feeling overwhelmed by a situation in your life or pain from the past, take a moment to give it all to God and let Him take care of it all.

How is your perspective today? Are you looking at your circumstances or your Savior?

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Isaiah 49:23

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I love going on a trip, whether it is overnight or for an entire week. It is so refreshing to just get away from the every day routine. However, with the joys of vacation also come the realities of laundry and unpacking all the bags after returning.

Having just returned from a trip over fall break with my family, I am well acquainted with unpacking the suitcases. To successfully empty the bag, you must look at each item and determine where it needs to go. The very same idea is utilized when “unpacking” a verse of scripture. To really get the most out of the passage, you can’t simply read it once and move on. Just like my suitcase from vacation, it is necessary to examine the contents.

Today, I will spare you the task of unpacking my families’ bags, but I would like to do some unpacking of Isaiah 49:23b, the key verse for week 1 of A Confident Heart Online Bible Study.

Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed (NIV).

As I read through this verse over the course of the week, three words really jumped off the page at me – know, hope and disappointed.

My wonderful husband gave me a Hebrew-Greek key word study Bible for our anniversary, so I was able to go back to the original Hebrew words and dig deeper into the meaning of this scripture.

  •  Know  – comes from the Hebrew word Yada, which is one of the most important Hebrew roots in the Old Testament. It means to discern, be familiar with, also signifies a person’s relationship with God.
  • Hope – comes from the Hebrew word Miqweh, meaning confidence, hope and expectation.
  • Disappointed  – comes from the Hebrew word Bos. It often occurs in the context of humiliation, disgrace and shattered emotions. There is usually a connotation of guilt.

Armed with these definitions, this verse really comes alive to me. In order for me to know that He is the Lord, I must be familiar with Him. I have to have a personal relationship with God, which requires time and effort on my part.

However, it does not stop with a simple relationship. God follows it up with a promise. Whoever puts her trust or confidence in God will not be disgraced and full of guilt.

It is no accident that Isaiah 49:23b was chosen for the first key verse. This scripture needs to be the foundation, not only for this study, but also for our lives. Everything else needs to build upon this. You see our confidence needs to be in Christ alone and not bogged down by guilt and shame. If we are in Christ, God does not see our past because the blood of Christ has washed us white as snow.

Everything in our lives needs to run through the filter of how God sees us and what He thinks of us. If we rely upon ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. God, on the other hand, promises that those who keep their confidence in Him will not be disappointed.

What about you, where is your hope and confidence today?

Life Interrupted

Gift

We play a game with my mom’s side of the family each Christmas called “Sneaky Santa.” Everyone brings a wrapped gift from his/her home. The presentation can be deceiving – the beautifully box with matching ribbon could be a set of shop towels or the huge gift bag could be a votive candle. It is difficult to distinguish what treasure is hidden beneath the wrapping.

The same idea is true in our lives as well. Many times God uses challenging circumstances – ugly wrapping – to bring about some of life’s greatest gifts.

The best example for me would have been my divorce. It was a very dark time for my three kids and me. I couldn’t understand why I was having to go through this, let alone how anything good could come from it. Little did I know that rumpled up, torn time in my life God was going to bring about the most incredible gift – my husband, Mitch.

I, honestly, didn’t think any man would be interested in me with three small children. But God had everything taken care of.

When Mitch volunteered to help us move before ever meeting face-to-face, I know he was something special. It certainly wasn’t the first impression I was hoping to give – loads of boxes, toys and dirt hiding behind and underneath furniture, but I needed the help and he volunteered.

I will never forget the way my heart jumped when he pulled up that day. God brought everything I was looking for and so much more right to my doorstep.

Dear friend, I want you to know that if you are walking in a valley right now, God is right next to you every step of the way. He will work it out for good. Just trust Him and remember that some of the greatest gifts in life come in the most unlikely packages.

What about you, how has God used a challenging time in your life to bring about something good?

Amazed

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I had the privilege to be on the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies conference call Monday evening with Mandisa. It was so wonderful to hear her speak and share with everyone on the call. I could write an entire series of posts on all the great insights she shared on the call. However, what really stuck with me was from Revelation 12:11, “by the word of their testimony”, we need to share our journey with others. So today, I’m going to reveal a little of my story with you.

If anyone would have told me years ago I would be where I am today, I would have laughed. In my mind, there was no way that God would use me. Those positions were reserved for those with certain looks, specific gifts and certainly no shadows in their past. I determined that the only thing I was qualified for as far as God was concerned was sitting in the back of the church on Sunday and occasionally helping in the nursery.

But God had other plans for me. He used me with my past mistakes and failures in such a mighty way.

Over ten years ago, I thought my world was coming to an end. My husband left our three small children and me. I was blindsided and completely devastated. I didn’t understand why we had to endure this valley. I felt like since my husband didn’t love or want me that God must feel the same way.

But God turned that mess into a message. I have been able to lift up, encourage and walk beside ladies traveling in that same valley.

The desire that God placed in my heart for women, like myself, who struggle with insecurities, doubts and fears, birthed my first book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask.

Those things alone are amazing, but God continues to remind me that He is not done with me.

Last fall, on my birthday, I received news that rocked me to the core – it’s cancer. During the time frame from diagnosis through surgery recovery, I have the privilege of having family, friends and my Online Bible Studies sisters lift me up in prayer. It meant so much to me to know that they were not only praying for me, but also checking in with me to see how things were going. This season planted a seed. Months later, that seed has blossomed into the Online Bible Studies Real Hope Prayer Warrior Team that I am the director of.

God knew even before I took my first breath that He would take that insecure, frightened young woman hiding in the back of the church and use her in a mighty way.

Amazed doesn’t begin to put my feelings into words. I now know that no matter how you see yourself, it is how God sees you that matters (John 16:33). This is not just true for me. God can and will use you. Do not think for a moment that you are too far away for God to reach you. He loves you dear friend – never forget that.

Simply say Yes to Him and follow His leading and be amazed.

Your Turn:

  • How has God amazed you this week?
  • In what area do you need to stop listening to the lies and simply follow God’s leading and see what He can do in and through your life?

Soaring – Part I

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Sitting in a window seat 36000 feet up, I am simply blown away. Not only am I physically soaring, but my heart is as well. As I make my way to the She Speaks Conference in North Carolina, I am overwhelmed at what all God has done in my life this past year. My first book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask was published and featured at a women’s retreat in Oklahoma. I became a member of the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study team and had the privilege of being on the teaching team and help to lead thousands of women around the world in Let It Go and Stressed-Less Living. I am also the director of the Prayer Warrior Team for the P31 Online Bible Study. I had the joy of witnessing several women being blessed through this ministry, lives changed and prayers answered. On a personal level, I was also diagnosed with uterine cancer last fall on my birthday. God brought me through the surgery and no further treatment was needed.

Looking out the window during the flight gave me the change in perspective that I needed. We do not see the entire picture. You and I do not know what tomorrow holds, but dear friend, God is already there. He wants to pour blessings upon you and take you to places you have never imagines, but you must be willing to say Yes and to take that step of faith into the unknown.

God cannot work in and through our lives if we never leave the comfort and safety of home. We have to rely on God and trust Him to direct our paths.

I know it is not easy. I completely get that, especially as I am seated in seat 8A on my first solo flight. I am not typically an eager flyer anyhow, so this was a leap for me. However, I truly believe God has called me to the She Speaks Conference to serve and give back to this incredible ministry that has impacted my life in numerous ways. I am nervous, but I know that God has a plan for my life and I need to be obedient to His leading. Therefore, I am volunteering at the Proverbs 31 Conference and looking forward to what God has in store – saying Yes to Him without limitations or restrictions.

I would love to hear from you. How are you choosing to say Yes to God without any conditions attached. I also encourage you to come back on Friday for the second part of this story.