Month: August 2019

  • Creating Margin

    We live in a culture of over-busyness; a culture that says that rest is for the weak. In this culture, it is easy to start equating staying busy with being productive. Have you ever heard yourself saying, “There are a million things I should be doing right now!”

    Life is just busy. We have work, church, family obligations and the list goes on! Even the good things in our lives, if they get out of balance, can leave us feeling overwhelmed, tired and no longer full of joy.

    When we’re not looking, our world will press in from every angle. If we don’t have a firm grasp on what our boundaries and priorities are, a vision for where we are headed, and a plan for staying on track, we will find ourselves tossed to and fro on the winds and waves of others’ priorities with no boundaries to protect our own.

    All month long we have been talking about how to be intentional, so we can enjoy a life of purpose. Today, we will be focusing on one simple thing you can incorporate into your everyday to help you live a life of purpose, joy and balance–its called “margin”.

    Normally, margin refers to the space on the edge of the page where there is no text. If there was no margin on the page, the words would be stretched to the very top and bottom and spill over the sides. But our lives need margin too. Without it, our lives can be like the page–stretched to the edges of our time, money and energy. Most of us find ourselves so busy that we don’t have any margin or space for rest and leisure, family and friends, time with God, or taking care of our health.

    Dr. Richard Swenson in his book called Margin, helps explain what having margin and not having margin looks like:

    “The conditions of modern-day living devour margin… Marginless is being 30 minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late out of the  hairdresser’s because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station–and  you forgot your purse.

    Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the staircase, money left at the end of the month, and sanity left at the end of adolescence.

    Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift; margin is a friend to carry half the burden.

    Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having the time to read it twice.”

    Creating margin and times of rest, allows us to live into our purposes and live the good life God intended for us. When we have margin in our days, we have the time, energy and resources to not only take care of our needs, but to build relationships with others, serve our community and give generously. It is hard to live into the purposes God has for us when we are burnt out, with no time or energy to take care of ourselves and be intentional with how we spend our days.

    Even Jesus, who was God in flesh, intentionally set an example of creating margin. We see in this passage of the book of Matthew how even with the many demands and difficulties Jesus faced, he was able to stay focused on his purpose because of his times of rest and margin.

    [King Herod had] John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

    As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’ ‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered. ‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

    Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” – Matthew 14:10-23

    Life was pressing in around Jesus as news of His many works spread. The demands on him were constant and it must have been hard to not feel overwhelmed and spread thin. John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and the one who foretold his coming, had just been beheaded. I imagine this news was devastating to Jesus. He tried to withdraw to a solitary place, but the crowds followed him. Even in the wake of his grief, people continued to press in wanting and needing more from Him.

    Our culture is the same way–others will continue to press in wanting more from us, oblivious to what our needs are or what we might be going through. It is up to us to create boundaries of margin so that we can live out our purpose and be restored daily.

    Because Jesus was in the practice of talking and being in relationship with God, even when a time of difficulty came, he had the strength in the Lord to keep ministering to others. He was able to miraculously feed a crowd of over 5,000 people, pointing people toward God and continuing His ministry. And when all was said and done, he took time to recharge. All this service and ministry was anchored by the times Jesus withdrew to lonely places, to pray and reconnect with God, the source of all strength, power and peace.

    Just like Jesus needed margin, we do too. But sometimes we feel guilty about having margin. We believe the lie that “there is too much to do–I cannot rest.” But there will always be more laundry, more meetings, more work to be done. When you allow yourself to rest by creating margin, you are actually helping yourself be a better wife, mother, friend, or co-worker because you have time and energy to spare for those around you. Not to mention, maybe a better attitude and outlook on life!

    So what does margin look like in everyday life? It may start with learning how to say no with grace to things that you really don’t want to do or don’t line up with your top priorities.

    Then start by planning ahead your months, weeks and days. Planning ahead will help you know what is coming up and think through what you need for that day to go smoothly. Margin is knowing you will need to leave a little early to get gas before you go to work, or that you need to work ahead on a project because you will not have time later in the week.

    As you are planning ahead, intentionally block off time for rest and space in your calendar. Treat that time as important as a work meeting–it is non-negotiable. You might be inclined to see the blank space on your calendar as a luxury instead of a necessity. But if you don’t prioritize margin as non-negotiable, when the phone rings and someone is asking you to do something that would eliminate that dedicated time for rest, you may give it up too easily. It is easy to think, “just this once”, but those times can add up. Without boundaries and protection for our times of margin, those precious blank spaces on the calendar will quickly disappear.

    You may find it helpful to keep a list of your priorities, values and vision for where God is leading you in the front of your calendar as a guide for you as you decide what to add and what to say no to. This will remind you of your bigger purpose and give you hope for the days ahead.

    Being intentional and creating margin in our days will take lots of prayer and practice, but it will be well worth it! As you implement margin into your life, you will begin to see the fruit of having times of rest and space so that you can experience a more joy-filled, abundant life.

    To hear more strategies and practical tips for creating margin, check out our Experience Revival podcast, season 1, episode 10 on this topic, called “Creating Margin” with hosts Summer Shore, Kara Deal, and Melissa Campbell.

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  • To The Woman Who Feels She Has To Do It All:

    We are honored to have as a guest blogger today, our good friend Jasmine Womack. Jasmine is an amazing wife and mom who has a passion for learning about God and sharing with others. She is a go-getter with an indomitable spirit and a heart that loves others deeply. Since we have been focusing on living intentionally and creating margin, we just knew you had to hear her story her unique insights. We hope that you will be as blessed by her words as we have been.

    Grace & Peace,
    Summer & Melissa

    To The Woman Who Feels She Has To Do It All…

    For much of my adult life I have been obsessed with being the “Proverbs 31 Woman” described in Proverbs 31:10-31. She is a woman who can do it all. She manages her household, has a career, knows her place in the world and is loved and respected by her family and the people she meets/works with.

    A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night, she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

    In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

    Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

    My journey toward being the ultimate Proverbs 31 Woman began as I looked for a role model and example of who I wanted to be. Growing up without any positive female role models in my life, I didn’t really know how to be an adult. I didn’t know how to buy toilet paper, let alone understand God’s expectations of me as a woman, a servant and a follower. What I did know was that the Bible has answers. So I started reading and looking for a plan, and the Proverbs 31 Woman seemed like the perfect blueprint for a plan. She was exactly who I thought God wanted all women to be like. 

    I felt like God had given me a distinct and clearly laid-out plan and true to form, I was eager to get started and determined I could do it all in one day.  For someone who has always felt insecure, unsure and unimportant, this plan was everything I was looking for. It made so much sense, until the plan changed. 

    At just 24 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. At the prime of my life, when everything seemed to be going well and I felt unstoppable, I had cancer. I didn’t know what to do. This was not in the blueprint. The Proverbs 31 Woman didn’t have cancer, she didn’t have surgery 2 months before her wedding or radiation right after her honeymoon.  She didn’t have to give up on her dreams of being a first generation college graduate and have a scar in all her wedding pictures to remind her of some of the most challenging times of her life. Most of all, I thought if I couldn’t be like this woman I had been reading and studying about, then I was failing God, myself and my family.

    I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Cancer was a short term difficulty and a long term blessing to my life. It was life-interrupting enough that all I could do was hold on to the hope that God gives us. I learned that I couldn’t do all the things on my own, I had to rely on Jesus and the joy that He gives in all circumstances. 

    When you get to a place where all you have are Jesus and hope, it allows you to put the lens of Christ over everything you say, do, and care about. You can love people through pain, anger, and fear, and you see things in a new way.  It is freeing and gives you perspective. I realized that God loved me for me, at my weakest when I couldn’t do anything on my own. When I was tired and fatigued from treatment and frail during recovery, God loved me, exactly as I was, not for what I was or wasn’t doing.  

    Today, I am 10 years cancer free, still married to my wonderful husband whom I was engaged to when I was diagnosed, and I have a 9 year old son. I finished my degree and go to the same church. Overall life has been  pretty even keel. I was working full time, had an internship, was running my household and helping with a few ministries at church. I felt like I had regained the rhythm of being the Proverbs 31 woman again. But before I knew it, circumstances took a turn and I was falling apart, overcommitted and stretched thin, trying to function on my own strength and stamina. Extended family members encountered some serious issues, a beloved family member passed away, and another one had a mental breakdown, and I was called upon to take care of things because I was the one who could do anything. (Note my sarcasm here). 

    I broke down under the pressure and was devastated. I somehow managed to see my commitments through and then backed away from everything completely. I was disappointed in myself and upset that I had allowed myself to get back into thinking that being the perfect Proverbs 31 woman was the blueprint for what God wanted and expected. 

    I took a few months to cool off, focus back on Jesus and pray prayers of gratitude. I then noticed something about the “Woman of Noble Character” that I have read 1000 times and had never seen before. In verse 15, it reads, “She gets up before dark and provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.”

    She had help! She didn’t do everything on her own! This one verse has changed everything about how I see myself. All this time I was operating under the understanding that the Proverbs 31 Woman could do it all herself. I thought I had to be the evangelist, homemaker, wife, mother, business woman, volunteer, caretaker and whatever else popped up. For years I had been running from work to home to make dinner, wash dishes, run to soccer practice and church, serve on every committee, thinking I had to do it all on my own. Then I read that she had help.

    Since this realization I have been trying to be more intentional about my commitments and how I spend my time and energy. I am careful not to fall into the trap of believing I have to do it all to honor God and my family. 

    This allows me to focus on the things I am good at, and bless people with those things, which is a better stewardship of the gifts God has given me. And it allows others to do the same. I don’t have to be the one to do it all! I have help! 

    I prayed for God to show me what my ministry was going to be. After being faithful to the stillness and prayer, God started opening ministry doors in a couple ways by people approaching me asking for prayer. 

    As I would pray in my regular prayer time, I would get frustrated because people would pop into my head. Didn’t my mind know that I was praying? After a couple times I reached out to people and said “you have been on my mind lately. What can I pray about for you?” 

    You know what? Those small seemingly inconsequential little moments have led to some of the most enriching conversations and moments of my life. It opened my eyes to how often people don’t feel connected to church, friends, and family. This prayer time kept leading me to people who I thought were already a part of my community but were actually in need of meaningful relationship within that community. 

    It has been my greatest honor to pray for my community. It has provided me with consistent focus. It sometimes doesn’t feel like I am doing enough, but then God says to me during a prayer time to be still and pray.  And sure enough, another person pops into my head so I pray for them. Turns out, I’m not the only one who needs help and can’t do it all on her own. We are all in this together!

    If you are like me, and tempted to try to do all the things all on your own, know that God never intended for us to run ourselves ragged, mustering that last bit of strength only to run out completely. He is listening to our hearts, knows what we need and provides it when we need it most. He gives us community and friends and family, to walk alongside us and be comforters, and helpers. Ask God to show you where you need people to help you and where you can help others. Maybe it’s carpooling so you don’t have to drive your kids to school everyday, or letting a friend cook for you or fold your laundry when you are sick. Perhaps it is empowering your own kids to help out more at home or letting a family member or friend sit with you while you grieve. It does not make you “less than” to accept help or to have someone share the load. On the contrary, knowing when to ask for help, and how to lead and delegate responsibly, is noble. Having this margin built in to your everyday life will free you to focus on the priorities that God has given you. It will allow you to be “clothed with strength and dignity; and can laugh at the days to come” because your energy is spread evenly and your strength supplied by God.

    Dear friend, be still and lean into God. He is with us always, in the silence, chaos, tears and laughter. He will help you to discern where you need help, and how you can help others in turn. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

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  • Living An Intentional Life

    Our lives are busy, full of good things, some unpleasant things and the things that just have to get done. We cram our days from early morning until late at night with work, sports, hobbies, tasks, errands, meals, and hopefully, sleep!

    We long to live out of our purpose and the dreams God has laid on our hearts but there never seems to be enough time. The day-to-day busy takes over and we find ourselves year after year never any closer to where we want to be.

    Have you ever had the thoughts, “How did I get here? Where am I going?” Somewhere along the way we get off-course and find ourselves overwhelmed and no longer where we thought we would be. We know something needs to change, but how?

    Proverbs 29:18 in The Message version says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” The King James Version puts it, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

    Without knowing where we are going, without a zoomed out perspective of our lives, we cannot get to where we are supposed to be. It’s like trying to find your way through a dense forest without a map. You can only see what is right in front of you. You respond to that rock in your path or the tree you need to walk around, but you can’t see the direction you should walk to get to your destination. In the forest without a map to guide you, everything looks the same day in and day out and you never make any progress. You may end up walking around in circles. We need a map and God is the map-maker of our lives.

    When was the last time you stopped long enough to evaluate what is on your plate and ask the Lord where He would like to take you? Stopping and pausing seems impossible, let alone finding enough space to evaluate our lives, our dreams, and our goals.

    One way to carve out this time is to start a new tradition called a “vision retreat”. Our friend, Karen Stott, author of the book An Intentional Life, writes in chapter 11 of her book about how a vision retreat can help us live our lives with intentionality and purpose:

    I realized that it had been a very, very long time since my husband, Isaac, and I had sat down, reevaluated where things were in our businesses, our ministry and our home, and actually sought God about them.

    I had been saying yes to so many things, I didn’t really know what made sense anymore, or why we were even making the decisions we were making. We didn’t have a vision for anything, so no wonder I was stumbling all over myself!

    Knowing we desperately needed to talk and pray together, I asked Isaac if I could set up a weekend away for us to go and seek God for our lives and businesses. He was game, of course, so I booked a quiet cabin at a central Oregon resort, and a few weeks later we were on our way.

    Even after a rocky beginning, this little weekend away felt truer in our souls than a hundred weekends before it. We wrote down all of our victories and failures from the previous year and our hopes and dreams for the year ahead. We talked about what worked and what didn’t, and the things we were scared to bring to the surface. It was beautiful, and complicated, and hard. There were some tears, and many laughs, and just a whole lot of breathing room.

    We were able to talk about dreams we both felt the urge to pursue and to seek God together on what He had for our lives. But what struck me most was how this intentional time away helped us carve out new goals, and next steps, and direction for the days and years ahead.

    Time set apart is most addictive when you know the power it holds. Life changing, to say the least. You can’t live in your mission or walk in your calling if you don’t know what it is, where you’re going, or the steps you need to take to get you there.”

    Kara Stott

    Taking some time to pause and reflect doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming. There is no set formula to it. It just starts with intentionally setting time apart from the busy day-to-day to zoom out and see the big picture. It’s taking time to seek the Lord and make sure you are headed in the right direction–one that is life-giving.

    Allowing God to craft a vision for yourself and your family and where He is taking you is one of the most valuable things you can do. Where you go on your retreat doesn’t matter as much as purposely setting time apart to seek God in the process. Spend time journaling, praying, talking to your spouse or a good friend, and reading the Word. Lean into God for clarity and direction so that you know where you are headed and what you need to do next to get there. God will reveal what you may need to let go of and what you should be investing in.

    The key to this time is being open to God’s leading. If you hold too tightly to your own dreams and desires, you will not be open to hearing God’s voice and the purposes and plans He has for you. As Karen Stott says, “We must seek Him first. Lean into Him first. Listen to Him first. And from that, talk it out, let the dreams flow, process what your next steps should look like, and always, always write everything down!”

    God will use these vision retreats mightily–not only in your work life, but in your marriage, your family, and in the overall rhythms of your life. These retreats can help clarify your plan and your core values to guide your decisions. You may even find yourself no longer drained by the responsibilities that you dread, or overwhelmed and weary because you said yes to the things you didn’t have margin for.

    Having a vision gives you permission to intentionally carve out the things that were weighing you down and hand them over to others who enjoy them. When you let go of the things that may be good things, but not necessarily the best things, you have more time and energy to take on the roles and projects that make you come alive, the things you are created to do. You know when something falls in line with your gifting when they are things you look forward to doing. They energize you, allowing you to make a huge impact on those around you.

    In taking time from our busy lives and intentionally using it to grow closer to God, something amazing happens. We walk away with a renewed vision for our lives. These opportunities not only clarify our purposes and give us a direction for spending our time, but a chance to be reminded of our identity in Christ (and sometimes to see the ways we have lost our way). You will experience so much freedom and joy from the opportunity to re-ground yourself in Christ and the plans and purposes He has for you.

    Only through living life by God’s design and direction will you find the peace and joy you long for. If you have ever found yourself wondering how on earth you got where you are or are confused about what to do next, I would encourage you to block out a day or two and spend time with God. He has so much He wants to say to you. He longs to show you the amazing life He has planned for you–you just need to take the time to listen. Let us live each day with purpose and intentionality as we seek God’s vision for our lives!

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  • What Does Your Life Reflect?

    My check engine light has been on for a little over a week now. It totally stresses me out because I commute an hour to work and the last thing I want is to break down on the side of the freeway. Not because of the scary being-stuck part, but because I don’t have time for that. My days are so jammed packed there is not a second more for anything unexpected. I know I need to take care of the car, but I just can’t seem to find the time to take it into the shop. I know that if I stop long enough to look under the hood, I might find that it is going to take more time than I have to spare to fix it and it may cost me.

    Sometimes my mind wanders to the blissful thought, “What if I could clone myself and there’d be two of me to get all the things done?! That’d solve everything!” But who am I kidding? I’d run her into the ground too.

    No, the problem isn’t solved by simply changing my schedule. It’s deeper than that–it’s a matter of the heart and my priorities. Right now, my life isn’t reflecting either one. I know that if I don’t make the time to take care of myself, and take time to really take a look at things, I may end up breaking down myself. But just like my car, it’s going to take some work to fix and it might cost me.

    I started the year with prayerfully adopting the word “intentional” as my word for 2019. I wanted (and still want) to be intentional about my priorities and my time. But slowly, my resolve has faded as each day the urgent things have pressed in. One thing after another has taken over–they aren’t all bad things or even things I can control. But because I haven’t left any wiggle room for the unexpected, I now find myself spread thin and worn out with my own mental “check engine” light flashing.

    Proverbs 27:19 says “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

    I know the priorities that God has laid on my heart. I’m in a rare and blessed season of knowing what I’m supposed to be doing and what God has called me to. I also know that I’ve let busyness become my master, and it’s reflected in my life. The space that had one been reserved for the important things, has been taken over by the urgent things. I spend a lot of time dealing with what’s right in front of me, instead of planning ahead and having the peace that comes from being intentional with how I use my time.

    And yes, there are times that we just have to get the things done. Busy seasons come and go. But when the busy never lets up so that you can no longer give your best, it’s time to re-evaluate how you are spending your time, as well as your physical and mental energy. There is always something that can be put down. Maybe it’s a volunteer opportunity, or an extra project. Perhaps it is working just an hour less per day, and trusting that God will help make up that little bit of income. Maybe it is asking for help catching up on housework or having someone watch your kiddos so you can take a nap. For me it’s crossing out a whole Saturday so that I can just rest and spend time with my family.

    If you are not sure where to even begin, start by bringing your schedule and your day before the Lord. Ask Him to reveal to you what He would like you to focus on and accomplish that day. Pray and ask for discernment to see the things that might be good but not best–those things that take away time from doing what is most important. He will give you the strength to lay those down.

    It’s not just the to-do list or the schedule that sometimes needs pruning. Our minds are powerful machines that can threaten our peace and rest if we do not learn to shut them off when its time. Think about what thought or worry might be consuming more of your brain space than is good for you. Pray about it. Imagine wrapping it up neatly and placing it in God’s capable hands so that He can carry it for a bit. He promises when we come to Him for rest, we will find it (Matthew 11:28). Sometimes I even need to ask myself, “Does the fate of the free world rest on this?” If the answer is no, then I let it go.

    I want my life to reflect my heart and the priorities that God has laid out for me. I want to be able to have the awareness to see where He is at work, and the time to join Him in it. I want my family to feel seen, heard and loved. I’m not always great at keeping that balance, but there is grace for that. Please know that we don’t have to fix it all on our own. Our gentle Heavenly Father is waiting to renew and restore our strength. He will grant the clarity and wisdom we need to know where to press on and where to let go.

    Dear friend, if you are feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, spread too thin with your “check engine” light flashing, it’s time to pause and pray. Pick one thing that you can do today to take care of yourself. With God’s guidance, start working toward a life that reflects your heart and the God-given priorities you have in this season. Breathe in and feel your shoulders relax as you exhale. Lean into the strong arms of our Lord and see what He can carry for you. He will not drop you or leave you, and His strength, endurance, love and grace are inexhaustible.

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  • Finding Freedom from Insecurity

    “I don’t want to go.” The phrase echoed in my head as I drove to what was supposed to be a fun event. But I knew there would be a couple of women present who have a tendency to make me feel like a don’t belong. They don’t mean to, but I feel “less than” around them. On top of that, I knew there would also be some new ladies there and I wasn’t quite sure where I fit into their group yet.

    Typically, I consider myself a fairly confident person, but the anticipation of this particular situation was weighing heavily on me. I was super nervous and anxious, and already starting to feel like the odd-woman-out. My fears and doubts started to get the best of me, and my mind gave into the lies of insecurity. I worked myself into a tizzy and honestly, started to have a little pity party for myself.

    In my moment of desperation, I called my best friend (wishing she was going to be at this event and hoping she could talk me off this figurative ledge I put myself on). I had hoped she might give me a pep talk or commiserate with me, but instead she reminded me of the best way to deal with a situation that filled me with insecurity.

    The problem with insecurity is that it can feel like a prison with no way out–it can make us feel hopeless. When we are feeling insecure, our focus turns inward and we can only see our weaknesses, our doubts, our fears and other’s opinions. We forget the ways that we are gifted and uniquely created to make an impact in each situation.

    She told me that the best way to approach a situation like this, is to change my perspective. She reminded me that something I am good at is showing God’s love to others. She said that I should go to this event with the purpose of using that gift and look for ways to show God’s love to those I encounter. It was a total flip in perspective–instead of viewing it from how people are going to treat me, think of me, etc., I had a new purpose and my focus was now on others instead of myself.

    While I can’t control how others will act toward me or what their opinions are of me, I can control how I think and act toward them. It was so freeing! I remember thinking, “I can do that!” As I refocused on God’s love for me, I had a renewed sense of purpose to show His love to others. This new purpose changed how I saw myself and the situation. I now had a job to do and it was one that I could get behind because I love sharing God’s love with others!

    God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us….We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”

    1 John 4:9-11, 16-17a

    Freedom from insecurity comes from remembering who we are in God. We can overcome insecurity by holding fast to our true identity. We are God’s beloved–His sons and daughters. As we focus on God’s unwavering love, instead of our doubts and fears, we can feel secure to extend that love to others.

    When we trust in God’s love for us and allow Him to remind us of our true identity, we are set free to live in confidence and security again. This allows us to walk into an insecure situation with people and focus on just showing them God’s love because we are walking in the overflow of God’s love for us.

    …we can only love if we are free. That is, love is motivated by the joy of sharing our fullness, not by the desire to fill our emptiness…God has called us to the freedom of fullness which overflows in love, not to the slavery of emptiness which bites and devours and is never satisfied. In Jesus Christ, God offers us forgiveness, daily help and guidance, and hope for the greatest future imaginable. And it is all free, purchased by the death of Jesus, received by faith alone. The secret of love is freedom, and the secret of freedom is utter confidence in the love of God.” 

    John Piper,

    We have the freedom to love because He first loved us and showed us true love. God’s love is a supernatural thing–it’s unexplainable, unconditional, all-consuming, overflowing, perfect love. It ministers to our soul like nothing in this life can. It fills the emptiness of self-doubt and fear so that we no longer approach life or others from a place of insecurity but from a place of overflow, secure in our identity as God’s beloved.

    Thank you Lord for Your great love. Thank you for pursuing us and loving us even when we lose our way. Open our eyes to our identity as your beloved ones. Your banner of love is over us. Help us to live in the freedom that is your love and freely give Your love to those around us. Amen

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