Identity in Christ

  • More Than We Ask Or Imagine

    For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

    Ephesians 3:14-21

    Looking back over the last five years of ministry for Revive, I am amazed at all that God has done, is doing, and will do. I continue to stand in awe of His goodness, faithfulness, and love as He takes our meager offerings and multiplies them to accomplish Kingdom work before our very eyes. It is nothing short of miraculous. 

    And so much of this Kingdom work began with this prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21. It has been our hearts’ cry for each woman that we encounter at the coffee shop, in our online Bible studies, at church, on social media, at events, or in just the park. 

    We pray that she will be rooted and established in love. That she will experience the love of Christ in tangible ways, and that as her grasp of God’s love for her increases, so will her passion for Christ. 

    We pray that her relationship with Jesus will be the defining relationship in her life, the one that becomes the measure of how she sees herself and others. 

    We pray that her sense of self-worth and value will be wrapped up in who God says she is and how God esteems her, instead of the noisy opinions of the world.

    We pray she would know this love that surpasses knowledge: that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and a beloved daughter of The King.

    We pray that in the security of being fully known and fully loved by God, she will confidently step out in faith, using all the ways that God has uniquely created her to bless God and others. 

    We pray that she will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live the abundant life that God invites us to and that she will walk confidently in her purpose as a citizen in the unshakable Kingdom of God. 

    In a world that is broken, hurting, and lost, we need God’s daughters to rise up. We need to know God and who we are in Him. We need to shine the light and love of Christ to our families, friends, and to the next generation of women who will follow in our footsteps. We need to be a reflection of God’s love and a beacon of hope that there is more to this life than what the world can offer. Because we know that someone, somewhere will experience revival because of God at work within us. 

    So we pour out our hearts in prayer, confident that God will continue to work powerfully. We pray that He will continue to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, and we thank Him daily for the chance to join Him in the work He is doing. 

    There’s room for more people to join us in this Kingdom work. Pray with us and for us! Pray that as God continues to grow Revive Ministries, more and more women will begin to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who they are in Christ. The power of God is at work through His people, and His love will transform this generation and the generations to come. 

    “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

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  • Jesus & Pancakes

    One of the sweetest and most profound conversations I’ve heard was over pancakes at the breakfast table. 

    My oldest son Sam was about 6 when his good friend Josiah came over for a visit. Pancakes are Sam’s favorite, so I whipped up a batch for breakfast and set them on the table for the two buddies to share.

    They carefully poured the syrup over their respective short-stacks, and their little legs swung back and forth in their chairs as they casually chatted about life and their plans for the afternoon.

    I helped myself to a second cup of coffee and leaned on the kitchen counter, smiling and taking in the sweet scene before me. 

    Sam has always been a quiet kid, and Josiah just seemed to get him. He would never interrupt him like other kids often did unintentionally, in their enthusiasm. Josiah just listened intently and then would reply thoughtfully, often with wisdom beyond his years. Sam would listen in turn, and encourage Josiah right back. 

    At one point in their conversation, Josiah turned his whole body in his chair so he could look Sam square in the eye and asked him if he read his Bible and prayed every day. Sam nodded emphatically, and after chewing a huge mouthful of pancakes, assured him that yes, he did every day. 

    “That’s good!” Josiah cheerfully exclaimed. “It’s really important!” 

    Sam asked the same question of Josiah, who affirmed that he also read his Bible and prayed daily. The two finished their pancakes smiling, pleased that they were both living their best lives. 

    I was so inspired by their gentle encouragement of one another and moved by the sweetness of the Lord unfolding in this friendship between first-graders. Even now, ten years later, it brings a smile to my face. 

    Good friends are like that, aren’t they? They shape us to be more like God and spur us on to grow closer to Him. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” It was that same quality that I saw in my son and his friend, iron sharpening iron, not in competition or judgment, but in a heartfelt and caring desire to see the other thriving in their relationship with Christ. 

    Of course, we all want friendships that make us better and encourage us in all the different facets of life, but I think we can all agree that it’s not quite as easy as it was in first grade. 

    Nowadays, cultivating deep and meaningful friendships takes a whole lot of intentionality with a dash of Holy Spirit-fueled bravery. 

    Godly friendships start first with recognizing your own belovedness. I know at a glance that might feel strange, or challenging, or maybe even totally backward, but stick with me. 😉 

    When we acknowledge that we are God’s beloved children, we are recognizing that we are loved simply because we are His. Not on our own merit, but because He knit us together fearfully and wonderfully. There’s nothing we can say or do to earn it or lose it-He is our Abba, our Good Father and we are precious to Him. We can love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

    It is the love of Christ that frees us from insecurity and fear. Because our value and our worth are ultimately in Christ, we don’t have to worry about what others might think or get stuck in our own heads about where to start. We can boldly step out in faith, knowing that the One whose opinion matters most, loves us. 

    When we spend time with God, we realign our perspective with His. We can’t help but be reminded of who He is and how much He loves us. Jesus himself models this in the Gospels by withdrawing by himself to pray and spend time with the Father. He set a powerful and loving example for us to follow so that we could give from the overflow of the love we ourselves receive. 

    So often we try to operate on our own power and wisdom when it comes to relationships. The problem is that our power and wisdom are limited, and we eventually burn out. 

    But spending time with God and being constantly filled and refilled by His limitless love, empowers us to operate from a place of abundance instead of scarcity. We set healthier boundaries, make wiser choices, and speak more kindly to ourselves (and others) because we are more aware that God knows us fully and loves us wholly. 

    Embracing our belovedness and esteeming ourselves the way God does, also changes how we see and esteem others. Suddenly when you look at your friend, you see them first and foremost as a beloved child of God. They have honor and value in the Kingdom of God and are a reflection of God’s own image, just as you are. What a beautiful foundation for a friendship! 

    In the security of a friendship like that, we are able to rejoice when our friend rejoices, and mourn with them when they mourn. We can more easily speak the truth in love when they need encouragement or gentle correction, or simply to be reminded of who they are in Christ.

    Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us.”

    1 John 4:11-12

    There have definitely been times in my life when even if I’m doing all of these things, good friends seem scarce. It is in those seasons, that I turn back toward God in prayer, asking him to show me someone that can be a friend and someone for whom I can be a friend. He has been so faithful to bring people into my life that have blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined. And He has prompted me to notice people in need of His love that I may have never seen otherwise. Oftentimes, those people turn out to be one and the same. 

    In a world where many friendships are mile-wide and puddle-deep, I want to invite you to be bold in praying for the friends that you have and the friends you have yet to meet. 

    Maybe you have been longing for a true friend to link arms with for what feels like ages. We are praying that God leads you to just the right person at just the right time. May He strengthen you and comfort you and help you feel your full worth in Him. And while you wait, may He show you the people in your path that are also longing to experience God’s love through the friendship that only you can offer. Perhaps you are in their life for such a time as this. 

    Maybe you have been blessed with more than one good friend! We are doing a happy dance with you! I want to invite you to pray for those friends and also ask God to keep your eyes open for opportunities to share His love through friendship with others. Ask Him how you can bless your community and love as He loves. Make sure to also take time to withdraw and just be with Jesus, being filled with His love and recognizing your belatedness and the belovedness of others. 

    Finally, wherever you are in your friendships old or new, be intentional, be prayerful and be bold. Intentionally lean into the abundant love God offers, allowing it to fill up your soul to overflowing. Pray for God’s wisdom and tune your heart to His, and follow His lead. Boldly point each other toward God, reminding one another of who we are in Christ, and watch the sweetness of the Lord unfold in your friendships. After all, the joys in life are best when shared with a friend–whether you’re inviting them to coffee or to share a big ol’ stack of pancakes.

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  • Intentionally Building a Firm Foundation

    The other morning, as I shuffled out into the kitchen to make my breakfast, my husband called to me, “Hey! You have to come watch this with me.”

    I peered over his shoulder and saw a picture of the Oregon State University football stadium. Nothing was happening. The camera was focused on an area of seating. No fans. No music. Just empty seats. So far, the video wasn’t very exciting.

    Uncertain of my husband’s sanity I asked, “What are we watching?”

    “The imploding of the seating on the west side of the stadium.”

    “Oh! That does sound exciting. Let’s get the boys up and have them watch, too.”

    So my husband, two older boys, and I sat and stared at the computer screen for 15 minutes waiting for the exciting moment, when the athletic director would push the magic button, and the whole structure would come crashing down.

    At around 8am that morning, he finally pushed the button. Immediately we saw a flash of light cut through the bottom row of bleachers, the foundation of the structure. In 3 seconds, it all toppled over. In 3 seconds, a structure that held thousands of people every football season, was just a pile of rubble. All because they took the foundation right out from underneath it.

    While it was fun to watch the destruction of such a massive structure, it was also disconcerting that it was so easy to bring it down. Just take out the foundation and everything comes crashing down. A good foundation is essential. Without it, nothing can stand.

    Jesus talks about the importance of a solid foundation in Matthew 7:24-27. In this parable, the wise man built his house upon the rock and when the storm hit, his house stayed firm. The foolish man built his house upon the sand and when the storm hit, his house went SPLAT.

    This Scripture got me thinking about the importance of having a strong foundation in my life. Recently, I’ve come to realize that I have been the foolish man a lot. I work really hard to balance all the things I think I should do, but wind up basing my actions on everyone else’s expectations of me. Then, all it takes is one criticism, one imperfection in my work, and my world comes crashing down, leaving me too fragile to overcome even the smallest obstacles. Then I begin to doubt my self-worth, wondering why I fall apart so easily. Could it be from building my identity on the shifting sand of what I want everyone else to think of me or on what I think I should be?

    No one wants a fragile foundation, so what does a good foundation look like? What will stand the test of time and the storms of life?

    We need to be constantly reminded of who God is and who we are in him. That’s exactly what Paul does when he writes his letter to the Ephesians. Paul starts out his book, reminding the Ephesians of what they gained when they chose to follow Christ. They were chosen by God. They were adopted into his family. They were redeemed, forgiven, and most importantly, loved. (Eph 1:3-14). Ephesus was a center of trade, and home to the temple of Artemis. Since they were surrounded by pagan culture, they needed to maintain a strong foundation to be able to stand up to the pressures of the world around them. They needed to remember the great lengths that God went to, to show His love for them. Paul reminded them who they are in Christ, and that they needed to stand firm in that reality.

    Knowing who they are in Christ was only part of the puzzle. Paul also knew the Ephesians needed a firm understanding of who God is. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul prays for them.  “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” When you know God, like “deep in your heart” know, the hope he has planned for you, your rich inheritance, and the incomparably great power that lives within you, then you will have a firm foundation that Satan cannot destroy. When the storms of life hit, you will survive. You will have the power to be strong.

    How can you and I build this kind of strong foundation in Christ? Here are three practical ways that have helped me:

    1) Spend intentional time with God
    To know God better, we have to spend time with him. I know this sounds cliché, but it is true. You can’t get to know someone without spending time with them. You can’t trust that God’s promises are true if you don’t know what his promises are and how he has fulfilled them in His word. Make it a priority to build an indestructible foundation by spending time with God in His word, and choosing to take that wisdom and apply it in your everyday life.

    2) Statements of affirmation
    As you read through God’s word, find Scripture verses that encourage you. Then take those Scriptures and change them into personal, affirmative statements. For instance, when I am getting in my head and feeling down on myself, I recite that “I am worthy and valuable because I was not redeemed with money, but I was bought with the precious blood of Jesus.” (1 Peter 1:18-21). This statement of affirmation reminds me that I am loved enough for someone to die for me, even though I didn’t deserve the sacrifice.

    3) Memorization of Scripture
    This is similar to the statements of affirmation, except you memorize Scripture word for word. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 27:13. It says, “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” When feeling overwhelmed, I recite this verse to myself. Rather than continue in the emotional storm, this verse is a reminder to stop, take a breath, and see how the Lord is working in the situation.

    These are a few of the building blocks for a firm foundation in Christ. They remind us of God’s truth, give us strength when we are weak and help bolster our faith.

    In this new year, there are still many things that are uncertain, but God is the solid rock upon which we build our life. I hope that you will take the time to intentionally build a firm and solid foundation in Jesus, so that whatever 2022 brings, you will be able to stand firm in the unfailing love and confidence God provides.

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  • Identity of A Scripture Based Life

    Have you ever struggled with feeling lazy and lonely with daily Bible reading and dealing with constant guilt? Or gotten so serious about Bible reading, only to end up turning it into a mechanical routine of religion?

    It’s a trap either way, but the point of spending time with God is not to avoid guilt or to religiously maintain to-do lists. God wants our hearts. He wants our love and devotion. He wants you to WANT to spend time with Him; not out of habit and not out of obligation.

    Relationship with God, through Jesus, contrary to popular belief, is not accomplished through a one time prayer or acceptance of Him. Like any other relationship, it must be cultivated with intentionality, interest and love.

    As I look at my life and my relationship with the Lord, I realize how easy it is for me to find myself living in between guilt and habit when it comes to my quiet time. Maybe you are the same. But I am comforted by the truth and knowledge that God always gives us new mercies to start again with the right perspective and the right motives to spend time with Him.

    Here are some ways to put authenticity and genuine sincerity back into our daily devotion time:

    Read His Word as Daughters

    Think of the Bible as a gift from your Heavenly Father just for you! Little girls love to receive packages with bows and sparkles. Maybe your Bible is just plain and simple on the outside, but it’s the content and truth on the inside that is such a precious gift!

    God doesn’t use His word as a lecture, and He isn’t just sending swift text messages to His buddies. He’s written letters of love to His precious children.

    In 1 John 3:1, we are called children of God. Being a child of God is an identity changer. Once we recognize our rightful place, title and position in God’s point of view, reading our Bibles becomes so much more engaging. So, when we believe our Father God when He says that we are His precious children and daughters, we experience His scripture as a holy gift, one He’s gladly extending for our spiritual and practical use.

    Dig Into His Word as Friends

    Not only are we called God’s children, we are also called His friends (John 15:15). We are told in this scripture that we are not servants, but friends, and what is a friend? According to Proverbs 17:17, a friend loves at all times. We are God’s friends because He chose us and loves us. To show our mutual agreement to enter into this friendship with Him, He declares that, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14).

    In Scripture, we are commanded to read diligently (2 Timothy 2:15), hide the word in our heart (Psalm 119:11), be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22) and to meditate on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:2). Being God’s friend requires that we do what He commands. So, when people question why they should read the Bible, the simple answer is because obedience reflects our love.

    Speak His Word as Mothers

    As we begin to approach our time with the Lord as daughter and friends, it prompts us to share His word as Mothers. Now, I understand that not all of us may have children, but we all have influence. Even if you are young and unmarried, you are a mentor to someone who needs to hear the Word that you’ve been reading, digging into and chewing on.

    The call that God has given all of us is to run on mission daily, carrying the baton of truth and sharing the torch of Salvation with those around us.

    Colossians puts it very plainly, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16). Mothers, mentors, ambassadors, influencers … all these roles entail teaching and guidance.

    As we spend time in God’s word, His Holy Spirit begins to change us, restore us, re-create us and fill us with His wisdom. In turn, we will naturally begin to share this with others. Our speech begins to change. Our intentions begin to change. Our outlook, advice, interests and motives all begin to change, and those around you will take notice.

    “Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope” (1 Peter 3:15).

    God gives us opportunities to share His love and truth with others for the benefit of their lives, their relationships and their souls. He desires to use you to point others to Him. Just as mothers direct those entrusted to her, so we, as Christians, are called to do the same.

    God’s Word Brings Joy When We Know Who We Are

    My friends, the Bible is more than just a book. It’s more than just inspirational words or stories or suggestions. It’s God’s actual breath (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It’s His heart to us so that we can know His heart and do His will in all things. Please don’t miss the joy of spending time with Him with the right motives. Daily reading is not a superstitious act to ensure our day runs smoothly. Neither is it a burden that should weigh us down with guilt. Remember who you are: you are God’s child, you are God’s friend and you are God’s ambassador. Keep your relationship with your Lord into perspective as you read His word. It will change your outlook and your life!

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  • You Are Enough

    I remember staring in the mirror and thinking “gross, my body looks gross. Where did those rolls come from? Where did those dimples come from?” As I stared at myself in the mirror critiquing this body that has birthed babies, survived trauma, and run races, I heard Jesus whisper…you are worthy, you are beautiful. And then I felt like He asked me a question that I really had to sit with for a while. He asked me “would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself?” The answer was no. If my friend, or a stranger came to me and said “Amy, I don’t like the way I look, I wish I was thinner, I feel ugly.” I wouldn’t say “Gosh, yes you are ugly and gross.” Of course not. I would encourage you, I would show you in God’s Word where He says you are worthy!

    There are so many lies we believe. “You’re not good enough.” “You don’t deserve peace.” “You’re unworthy and undeserving.” You fill in your own blank. We have so much fear in our hearts and minds. Fear is never from the Lord. Shame is never from the Lord. Never ever.

    Satan is the master of deception and the father of lies (John 8:44) and will stop at nothing to convince us that we are all of the “uns” (undeserving, unattractive, unlovable, etc). Satan knows that God has already overcome this world, he knows that in the end he loses (John 12:31). So the best he can do is figure out what things hurt us the most and do his best to make you believe those lies, so that you forget who you are–who God says you are.

    Do you believe the lies?

    Satan is our enemy and he is always more than willing to hurl lies at us and try to convince us that they are truth. The thing is, it’s our voice through which we hear his lies…I am unworthy, I am undeserving, I am unlovable… he wants us to jump on board with the discouraging, destructive and dangerous narrative he has set up for us. The thing is, his lies only have power if we agree with them. His lies are NOT our truth.

    The Bible tells us so many times that we are precious to God, He loves us in spite of our shortcomings. God will never instill fear or shame in our lives. When our thoughts are aligned with God’s, the devil can’t lie to us. When you start to hear those whispered lies in your head, take them to God and check your thoughts against the Bible. That negative narrative, those painful thoughts, and hurtful feelings are not of the Lord. Instead, here is what God’s Word says:

    📣 You are loved in spite of your sin (no matter what it is): Romans 5:8-9

    📣 God would literally die for you…literally: John 3:16

    📣 He loved us first: 1 John 4:19

    📣 The Lord wants us to live abundantly: John 10:10

    📣 We are his children: 1 John 3:1

    📣 He chose us: Ephesians 1: 4-6

    You see, in spite of the lies that the enemy throws at us, we can know the truth: God loves us, He chose us, and He wants what’s best for us. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, God’s love covers all of it.

    So whether the enemy is whispering in your ear or screaming in your face today, I would encourage you to speak loudly and with authority for it to stop. Because you are worthy, you are lovable, and you are wanted by the God of the universe–the one who created you! Nothing you have ever done or will ever do could ever change His relentless love for you. In Him you are loved and you are enough.

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  • You Are Redeemed

    The last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at different aspects of our identity in Christ. As we turn our focus to Easter this weekend, we are reminded that the most important part of our identity is that we are REDEEMED!

    Redemption is not a concept we hear about much in our daily lives. Every year, around Easter, we focus again on what Christ has done for us, but to be honest, my brain kind of just glosses over the term. What does it mean to be redeemed? What was I redeemed from?

    For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

    1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

    This Scripture so beautifully captures not only what we were redeemed from but shows the weight of the cost. In the New Testament, redemption is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and to freedom from captivity. When Adam and Eve chose disobedience and brought sin into the world, humanity was now held captive by sin and death. This way of life only brought grief, evil, destruction and separation from God. Sin owned us–we were helpless against its power. This life of sin kept us from living the life we were intended to have–a life of joy and peace and flourishing.

    But God in His deep abiding love for us, began making a way for us to be brought back to full relationship with Him–restored to who He created us to be. He rescued us from darkness and a life of imprisonment to sin, and set us free so sin no longer had control over us. Jesus redeemed our life by restoring ownership to God.

    It is only through Jesus giving up His perfect life in exchange for ours, that we are redeemed. We were not redeemed by things that don’t last, but a once and for all act of mercy and grace. Our redemption cannot be undone–it is eternal.

    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

    Romans 5:1-2 NLT

    This redemption and new life that God has given us comes from the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Praise be to God! Not only are we redeemed but we are also chosen by God to be His sons and daughters. He has set us free in order that we may live in the world that He intended. As His redeemed, beloved daughters, we can boldly run into His arms without guilt, shame or hindrance. We are now His and we now belong to the Kingdom of God.

    As we enter this weekend of remembrance, please take some time to thank Jesus for rescuing us and redeeming us. Rejoice in knowing that Jesus has paid the price for our freedom and we can walk confidently and joyfully in God’s love and grace this Easter!

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  • You Are a Daughter of The King

    As I hold my sweet, 6 week old baby boy, I can’t help but smile and chuckle at the fact that as a boy-mom (now times three) I am completely outnumbered. The only other female in the house is our diva chihuahua Lucy.  My oldest boys are fifteen and eleven so my house is often home base for noisy hang sessions playing Xbox, making reaction videos on YouTube, and eating tons of pizza. Family movie night usually involves an action/adventure or alien movie, so catching a good rom-com happens on my own time. I absolutely love being a boy-mom and look forward to more noisy days with trains, trucks and Legos with our new baby boy.

    Recently though, I got to babysit my 3 year old niece and she LOVES all the girly princess movies. My time had come. She was getting over a cold, so the prescription for the day was to lay low and watch some princess movies, take a nap–totally my kind of day. As a boy-mom, I’ve never seen Frozen, or Moana or Brave or any of the fun princess movies. She showed me all her favorites while we snuggled on the couch. It was so much fun.

    As we watched and talked about our favorite princesses, I realized they all had something in common. While they were all royalty, they also struggled at times to live fully into their identity as princesses. It felt oddly relatable.

    We are children of God, daughters of the Most High King. 1 John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  Romans 8:14-17 tells us that God loves us so much he calls us his children and co-heirs with Christ. We are in a sense, princesses. I’m not talking about Disney princesses (although if I can get woodland critters to clean my house while I sing, I will count it as a total win). But like the Disney princesses, it can be hard to live fully into that identity.

    On my best days, I embrace my calling to live in relationship with my Heavenly Father, the King of Kings. I get lost in His grace and love, and marvel that He chooses me, just as I am. He shapes me to be more like him, to represent Him as a member of His family. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I walk and talk like a Daughter of the King.

    It’s harder to live this out when I am feeling tired, busy, hangry or anxious. When I’m hard-pressed for patience, it’s challenging to walk and talk like a daughter of the King. My husband and kids do not always get my best, in fact on my worst days they get the distracted, distant or short-tempered version of me. If I’m not careful, I’ll begin to operate on my own strength and my own discernment. Then I find that I can’t muster grace when it is needed and I carry myself in a manner that is less than what God has invited me to–because I’m trying to do it all on my own.

    But when I intentionally slow down and spend time with the One who made me, I remember the Princess that I am in Him. I remember that I have access to all the resources and power of the Kingdom of God. He fills my heart with peace and wisdom so that I can discern between what seems urgent and what is truly important. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I can speak life to my family and friends. Not only does my outlook change but even my countenance is lifted. Allowing God’s love to permeate my mind, restores my soul and my true identity in Christ. I can once again see the great love that He lavishes on me as his child. And I believe once again, that is who I am.

    As you go once more into the fray, and the day seems to be running you instead of the other way around, when you find you struggling to lean into your identity as God’s princess, stop and reevaluate. Are you leaning on your own strength and wisdom or on the infinite love and wisdom of the Most High King? Are you tapping into Kingdom resources or operating on your own limited supply?

    Dear friend, slow down and let Him care for you. Spend time with Him in prayer and worship and be reminded of who you are in Him. And when your cup is full, share it with others. Let Jesus be seen in your joy, in how you walk and talk, as a co-heir with Christ and daughter of a King.

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  • You Are Loved

    Do you know and believe that God loves you? It can be a tough question but it’s one that bears answering honestly.

    So many of us are walking around acknowledging in our minds that God loves us, but not fully believing it. We want God to love us, but believing that He already does, is a whole different exercise. Much of believing and experiencing God’s love, is affected by our own limited human perspective.

    “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”

    1 John 4:15-19

    HE. LOVED. US. FIRST.

    Not “we said all the right things, did all the right stuff, used all the right spiritual hashtags on Instagram and volunteered at all the right charity events, and THEN God loved us.”

    Before we did a thing, He loved us first. Breathe that in a sec. Look at Jesus as an example–when He was about to be baptized at the very beginning of His ministry, before he had done any official ministry, God’s voice from heaven claims Jesus as His own and declares that He is pleased with Him. He hasn’t even gotten out of the water, let alone healed anyone, yet God declares that he loves Jesus and is pleased with him, simply because He is His Son.

    And His love for us is no different. We are His children and before we ever do a thing, God loves us first. That is a love we can rely on.

    I love reading the book of John because we see the confidence John had in God’s love. Throughout the gospel of John, he has the audacity to describe himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. I must admit that for years I found this off putting because it seemed so bizarre for him to speak about himself in 3rd person. To be honest, it even sounded a bit arrogant to me.

    In reality, John was simply stating that he was God’s beloved. When he talked about himself as the disciple whom God loved, he was carefully choosing words to describe his core identity. His identity was completely founded on His relationship with Jesus. Jesus was the defining relationship in his life.

    Often we flip it don’t we? We describe ourselves not as the disciple whom Jesus loved, but as the disciple who loves Jesus. We strive to earn His love based on how much we love Him. In our striving, we miss the bigger picture. When we focus instead on Jesus’ love for us, it’s no longer all about us but about Him. When we describe ourselves as one loved by God, it is a truth about who we are, defined by God, not by us. We no longer have to prove our love, our value or our worth.

    It gets even better. In an episode of the More To Be podcast, we recently learned something really cool about the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”. Jennifer Dukes Lee tells us in this podcast that the Greek can literally be translated as “the disciple whom Jesus keeps on loving”.

    His love for us isn’t conditional. That’s why John could be so confident and assured of his own identity in Christ. He knew there was nothing He could do to earn Jesus’ love, and yet love was perpetually given. As John spent time with Jesus, he observed and learned that Jesus is love. And that he is one loved by Jesus. Period.

    In just a sweep through the gospels, we can see time and time again how much Jesus loved the people he came to save. Through the story of Mary and her sister Martha as he stood with them in their grief, with the woman with on-going bleeding, who he took the time to heal, even though he was busy, to bring restoration to her physically as well as emotionally. For Mary Magdalene who he came alongside at the grave to call out her name in her grief and give her great purpose. Jesus wasn’t concerned with appearance or what was most efficient, he was concerned about each and every person he encountered. He wanted them to walk away feeling like they were the most precious person in the world and he would do anything for them.

    This verse in Ephesians captures this idea of fully experiencing Christ’s love:

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

    Ephesians 3:19

    As I see Jesus interact with women in the Bible, I see Him relating to me as well. Tender, patient, kind and cherishing me not as just a person who is loved, but as one of His beloved. Set apart and precious, worthy and treasured. More than liked or tolerated, but worth dying for. A deeper love than I could ever imagine, just like the Bible says, “too great to understand fully”.

    His love has been made known to me in so many ways. In the lean times, when money was tight and He provided for us, in the times when blessing seemed to overflow beyond anything I could imagine, through the friend who just “had me on her heart” and thought to reach out, only to discover it’s what I desperately needed in that very moment. He has loved me through His Word, singing over me with love.

    You don’t have to wonder everyday, does he still love me? Because the answer is always “Yes!” Before you get out of bed, before you speak a word, He loves you. In every moment, in every circumstance he KEEPS ON LOVING YOU. That is your core identity. That is my identity. We can have total and complete confidence in that.

    Once you truly believe God’s love for you and embrace your identity as the wonderful, beautiful, chosen, daughter of the King whom Jesus died for because of His great love for you, it changes you at your very core. Every other decision, big or little, all our plans, and prayers and dreams all pass through that filter. It changes how we view the world and those around us, and it ripples out into every aspect of our lives.

    Today my dear friend, that is our prayer for you. That you may experience the love of Christ, even though it can feel like a bit of a mystery, so that you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Lean into His love, make your home there and let your identity as His beloved be the source of your joy!

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  • You Are Chosen

    There is something so special about being chosen. Think about when you were a kid. How amazing was it when you were chosen for the team or asked to sit with someone at the lunch table? Or when you are chosen for a job or for an award? Being chosen makes us feel valued. When someone chooses to be our friend or spouse, it makes us feel loved and brings worth to our identity. We all have a longing in our heart to be chosen, to feel like someone has chosen us and picked us. That someone sees our worth and they choose us.

    Not only did God choose to create us and to make us in His image, but He chose to be in relationship with us. He took great joy in living with His people in the garden of Eden. And when His people were separated by sin, He went to great lengths to make sure we could stay in relationship with Him, by sending His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and cleanse us of our sin.

    For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”

    Romans 8:29-30

    Throughout history we can see God choosing us, His people, over and over again. He chooses us, even when we run away, even when we choose to worship something or someone else, even when we act defiantly and choose sin over God. He never stops pursuing us and continually chooses us to be His. When we make the decision to choose God by following His son Jesus, we are adopted as God’s children, and become heirs with Christ to the kingdom of God. How amazing is that?!

    Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

    Ephesians 1:4-5

    We have a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally and chooses us to be His sons and daughters. He longs for relationship with us, as a loving father is with his child. Our identity is rooted in being the beloved child of God, the creator of the universe, the King of Kings. We are chosen and loved by God–that is the most important thing that defines us.

    Part of our identity in Christ is being one chosen by God. Knowing that God chooses us frees us from having to strive to be chosen by others. Even when we are not picked for the team, for that job, in that friendship, we can still know our worth will always remain in who we are in Christ. We are always chosen by God. We are not chosen because we are worthy but rather we are worthy because we are chosen.

    Apostle Paul knew exactly who he was in Christ and we can see that he often defined himself as chosen by God. In almost every one of his letters to the churches, Paul identifies himself to the churches this way: “This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus”. Paul found his confidence and worth in his identity as being chosen by God.

    You are chosen too! You are chosen to be on God’s team. You are chosen to be His beloved daughter and to have a close relationship with Him. You are chosen to receive mercy and grace. You are chosen to be part of the kingdom of God.

    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

    1 Peter 2:9-10

    We are chosen because we are loved, but we are also chosen to be a part of God’s work in this world. Being made in His image means we reflect Christ to the world around us. We are chosen for a purpose.

    “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” John 15:16

    “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

    Because we are chosen by God, He calls us to declare His praises and be a witness to His glory, to produce lasting fruit and to reflect His image by acting with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Because He called us out of the darkness and into His glorious light, we have the honor and privilege to be the holy, dearly loved, forgiven and called people of God.

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  • What if your suffering didn’t define you?

    “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” – Mark 5:34

    In Mark 5:24-34, there is a woman who has impacted me greatly. Her story of suffering has given me hope and has helped me see my Savior in a new way. The story doesn’t tell us her name, we only know her as the “woman who suffers from bleeding”.

    For this woman, her suffering was physical. She had been bleeding for 12 years. That’s a long time! Loss of blood takes a toll on the body–it can cause anemia which lowers energy and is linked to depression. On top of the loss of blood, there was the physical pain of the procedures she endured to try to fix her problem. Scripture tells us that she went to many doctors, but it only made her condition worse.

    As with most cases of suffering, the pain was multifaceted. It wasn’t just physical. There was emotional suffering involved as well. Because she was bleeding (assuming it was menstrual) she was considered unclean in her society. That meant she couldn’t be around other people, she couldn’t go to the temple to worship, she couldn’t even touch her own husband. This isolation would have been overwhelming. I wonder if this was the worst part of the suffering.

    Then Jesus walks into the scene. His presence provides hope. She had heard the stories of healing. “Could He heal me?” she wonders. Could he erase 12 years of isolation, loneliness, pain and suffering? She is desperate and leaves her house and ventures out into public to meet Jesus. Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd and was headed on an urgent mission to help a man whose daughter was dying.

    She sees Jesus, but doesn’t have the courage to walk up and ask him for help. Years of being isolated stole that confidence from her. But her faith gave her the courage to reach out to Him anyway. She sneaks up and touches His clothes and in Mark 5:29 it says “immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering”. After 12 long years, she finally receives the healing and relief she was so desperately seeking.

    While she was now healed from her physical suffering, Jesus was not content with leaving it at that. Realizing what had just happened, Jesus turns around and asks, “Who touched me?” He wanted to speak to the person who received the healing. Trembling, this woman who has been suffering and isolated for years, comes before Jesus and confesses what she did. Thinking she was going to be reprimanded, she instead receives words of encouragement. I can imagine Jesus smiling at her, reassuring her that going to him is never something you should be afraid to do and says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Have peace and be freed from your suffering.”

    These two sentences that Jesus speaks to her are beautiful, and in the moment, it would be easy to miss what he is really saying. He first affirms her physical healing, declaring it for all to hear. But, he is not done yet. Next, he invites her to a completely new life… Jesus tells her to have peace and be freed from her suffering. Why would he need to command her to be freed from her suffering? He just told her she was healed. This is the beauty of Jesus. He knew that physical suffering was only a part of what this woman had suffered over the past 12 years. He knew for 12 years she had been identified as the “woman who suffered from bleeding”. Not only was this how everyone else saw her, but how she saw herself as well. It was a reality that consumed her life and left her feeling isolated and alone.

    Now Jesus tells her to free herself from that identity and live in a new one. She has a new name. Daughter! Remember how Jesus addressed her? Daughter. No longer isolated but a part of a family, an heir in God’s kingdom. Bleeding was part of her story that definitely shaped her, but it was never meant to be her identity.

    I can relate to this. I have often defined myself by my suffering. In my mind the suffering is all consuming and I allow it to become my identity. In my mind, I am “the woman with an anxiety disorder”. I have asked to be free from my anxiety, but it is still my constant companion. So how do I reconcile these different outcomes? I know God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t love some more than others. So what am I supposed to learn from this story?

    As I asked God these questions, God spoke to me in this story. The key is identity. My identity is not a woman who struggles with anxiety from dusk to dawn. The anxiety is a part of my story, but it is not who I am. I am Daughter. And God is calling me to live within that identity because it affects the rest of my story. It impacts how I live within the suffering.

    The truth of being called Daughter by God allows me to pause and hold on to God as my anchor when the storm of anxiety overwhelms me. His strength allows me to thrive in anxiety and not just survive.

    It is this strength from God that brought me through one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I remember sitting anxiously in a room in Colorado, crying out in despair while my son continued to suffer debilitating seizures. It appeared that he would never be freed from them and I didn’t know how I was going to cope. God met me there and said, “Daughter, receive my peace and I promise to walk with you as you care for your son.” As I chose to embrace my identity as Daughter and take my suffering to God my Father, my story of pain and suffering became interwoven in a story of redemption, strength, and beauty. It became a testament to the amazing love of my Heavenly Father.

    Are you going through a time of suffering now? If so, be encouraged that God invites you to come to Him with your suffering to receive strength, healing and a new identity. Even if full healing doesn’t happen this side of heaven, our story can change like the woman in this story. Her identity is no longer a woman with bleeding. She is called Daughter by her Savior, Jesus Christ. You also are not defined by your suffering. Your identity has been secured by the one who created you. You are Daughter.

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