Thursday, 10 April 2014

Subtle sins.

We had a great discussion in our small group this week about irritability, impatience and anger. Anyone feel their toes being stepped on as much as I did? 
It's funny isn't easy we justify and rationalize certain sins in our life. But if this person just wouldn't do that? If they just wouldn't say things like that? 
We discussed some important truth.

We are responsible for our own responses.

Doesn't matter what someone else says or does to us. We choose how we respond every single time. And if you're like me, a lot of the time you probably choose wrongly. 
Then try and justify it by covering it with excuses to make myself feel better. Something I really need to work on. 

We've been working through the book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, and in case you didn't pick up on this already it is not for the fainthearted. It will step on your toes like never before and convict you of some serious ugly in your heart which you had refused to acknowledge before. Things you may not have been aware you were holding onto, things which have been in your life for years and really they have been causing some serious damage. 

But its all covered with grace. And reassurance that without Him, we can't even begin to work on the ugly. We just can't. But through much prayer and surrounding ourselves with truth, we can begin to graciously change our responses and line them up to far better character qualities, those showcased in Jesus. 

Its a tough work, I tell ya. This maturity thing. And as one of our church leaders shared this past Sunday, something we are never finished in this side of heaven. The marker just keeps moving forward as we change and grow. I feel the more I grow and learn, the more ugly I see in my life. 

Good thing our God has a lot of grace for us, huh?

I look forward to the day when I don't have to ugly cry over sin anymore. 
Won't heaven be beautiful!!! 

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Monday, 7 April 2014

Write your Story on my Heart.

{Thank you sweet Katie for taking this picture!}

You know its not just coincidence when you hear the same message/topic multiple times in many different places. So the theme the Lord has been speaking to me lately has all been on sharing our stories. You know our testimonies, stories of ways He has worked in our lives. How He has walked each of us through so many different struggles, experiences and seasons. Yet we all have these incredible testimonies of how He has been or is at work in our lives. 
When we let it, that can be such a gift to share with others. Used for encouragement, sympathy and leaving people with the knowledge that we don't struggle alone whatever we are facing. Each of us battles different things, but there are others who have walked similar paths.

It is so encouraging when we encounter those who are further ahead than we are in a particular season or struggle in life. While at Hope Spoken last weekend, I had the blessing of meeting such a sweet woman. I hadn't given a ton of thought as to which sessions I would listen to when we had our breakout sessions and got to listen in to several willing ladies share their stories of how the Lord has worked some crazy things into their lives. And loved how the Lord's hand was so evident in each of their stories.

When I sat through Danielle's session, I was captured by her words as she let her story unfold for us. Then came the ugly cry in the middle of a hotel ballroom. Just the reminder that grace is there for each of us no matter what we face. That redemption comes when we are willing participants in the plans He has for us. That some seasons may feel excruciatingly painful, but they have a divine purpose as He allows them to happen. Nothing is wasted with Him. No experience is just unnecessary trauma, but rather it is often woven into our life for a purpose we may never know or simply to conform us more into His image.
And if sweet Danielle had not been brave and stepped up allowing the Lord to use her story to touch the hearts of those women in that room, I may never have seen that truth shine brightly into my own life circumstances. 

I loved this reminder last weekend, that this is why we each have stories. Several times in the past I have been told that I share too many stories with people. Yet I've always come away confused as to why you wouldn't want to hear that whoever you are talking to gets what you are saying, because they have walked something similar. I love hearing stories from others, I have so instantly felt like kindred spirits with a beautiful woman after hearing her encouragement in the form of her story. Its such a way into the depths of a person, hearing how the Lord has walked them through struggles and hearing how He has redeemed terrible situations. It gives such hope and encouragement in my own life. And it is such a blessing to be allowed into a person's life through them sharing those deep things. 

I really hope to be a good steward of the experiences He chooses to write into my life. To not just keep them to myself, but to share them with others. Even when that is hard.
But never with the intention of drawing focus to myself or to hurt others in my life, but because these stories are incredible because they have an incredible author. One whose glory is reflected in every broken relationship redeemed, every heart healed and every act of grace extended. 

How can we keep quiet about that? Why would we want to keep those things to ourselves? Don't be afraid to share what He calls you to or what He has walked you through. We are here for a purpose, to display His glory above all, that includes our experiences and stories. 
You never know who might be listening and see Him and be touched by that, all because you shared part of your story. 

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Monday, 31 March 2014

//Hope Spoken// A heart so full it may burst.

This is pretty much how I am feeling after flying home late last night from Hope Spoken:

Ruthie Hart @ruthiehart1 · Mar 30 Wondering how the heck I will ever put into words .... ever feel like you have so much to say but not sure where to start?

However, I wanted to start trying while I have such a full heart and it is still fresh in my mind. Because I truly want to share it with you precious friends. It doesn't feel like it gives it justice to just say it was amazing. It needs stronger, better words. 
I had my hesitations about attending after the overwhelming feelings I battled at the last conference I went to. But as I shared before, the Lord opened door after door and made it clear to me that this year I was to head to Dallas instead. I have never had such a great confirmation as when I got to Hope Spoken.

Picture being in a beautiful room filled with the most gorgeous paper decorations, twinkling lights, yummy food, sweet worship with the lover of my soul...surrounded by beautiful women who just shine inside out with love for your sweet Savior & you can begin to understand my experience. There were no barriers to approaching these women whose stories I have followed for years, and those who I had never come across in this blogging journey. And none of that mattered. 
Instead of handing each other business cards, most of the time the first question asked was just what your name was. I can count on one hand how many people asked me if I was a blogger. And I was completely ok with that!

This weekend was about Him. About His grace & His amazing work in each of our lives creating a story worth sharing. A story that is centered around Him, because He is what this is all about. Why we share our stories, why we do what we do. Because nothing else matters. It is so easy to get caught up in numbers, popularity and trying to turn this into a business, but I never felt any of those troubles this weekend.

There were a lot of tears for me. But not from feeling overwhelmed or unsure of myself. They were grace tears, full of hope at redemption to come in my life and the lives of those around me. Tears of joy over just how loved we are by our precious Savior. And these three beautiful ladies who I look up to so much, poured themselves out this weekend to make sure we were loved on and able to see Jesus this weekend. This weekend showed me THIS IS WHY I DO THIS. This is my focus. What it's all about for me. Why I long to share stories when I talk to people, why I want to encourage others....I want them to see Him through me and what He has walked me through.

And these beautiful women were just incredible:

Emily who didn't think I was crazy for admiring her beautiful family & so hoping the Lord fulfills a similar dream of mine for a family that looks a lot like hers. She was full of words of encouragement and support. 

Danielle's brave heart as she shared a difficult story in her life and let me cry all over her after she finished. What a beautiful display of the hope we have in Him, and the redemption that He can weave through these stories. I am sure I will be unpacking the words I heard from Him through her for months and months to come. 

Casey and her incredible ability to love on others well. Her example of how to be an incredible wife and mother has impacted me for so long. She gave up so much of her time to talk with me this weekend and I am forever thankful for the way I heard from the Lord through her sweet spirit. 

I can't put into words how thankful I am to them that they said yes to being used by the Lord in big ways! I am sure they will never know just how much they were used by Him this weekend this side of heaven. 

It was just so clear during this weekend that these ladies have prayed so long and hard for the Lord to use them and this event. And oh goodness, He was ever present all weekend long. The beautiful community leaders that loved on us were so genuine and real. Really wanting to make sure we felt heard, loved and encouraged by what was going on through the speakers. Hannah was our small group leader & wrote the devotional material we worked through during the course of the weekend. I can't wait to begin working through it in entirety and unpacking some of the work He started in me during the short time we had together. 

I think the word I chose for the year was completely appropriate, don't you?

hope spoken

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