The Laying Down to Breakthrough

There once was a man. An ordinary man, who dreamt of things all men dream of: success, stability, a legacy. He did all the things men are supposed to do to achieve those dreams, he followed his father’s guidance, he played by the rules, he showed up every day.

Then God planted a dream in his heart. A bigger dream, a beautiful dream exploding with hope and possibility. It fueled the man, giving him renewed purpose and a deeper joy. His days now had even more meaning. His life had significance and he eagerly watched for its implementation, elusive as it may be.

He waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited for the opportunity to present itself, he waited for the first step to begin the string of events that lead to fulfillment. He had been showing up and doing all the same things he did when the dream was planted. There had been more than enough confirmations.

And yet, he waited.

He waited until it was apparently impossible for anything to happen. The moment had undoubtedly passed and the opportunity dissolved.

But God.

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Despite the man’s failed attempts to accomplish the dream on his own, despite the fact not one circumstance seemed opportune, God broke those seeds wide open, those seeds of hope planted decades before. The first step towards the dream finally sprouted, vibrantly. It was legit, the promises and confirmations all fulfilled, the beginning had begun.

The waiting was over. The future had arrived. Purpose had given way to profession.

It was all he had dreamt it would be.

But then, he was asked to lay it all down. To put his dream, his lifetime pursuit, his purpose and calling on the chopping block and walk away.

Leaving it for dead.

Could you do that? Could you place your deepest desire, your most sought-after pursuit – could you place it on the altar and light a match? And walk away? Willingly?

This man had a grandson, who walked a somewhat similar path. The grandson’s dream was spoken over him while he was yet unborn. He, too, would have a grand destiny, something pen-worthy and important. As the grandson grew he often toiled over the vision. I mean, it took some serious maneuvering to keep hold. One of his actions lead to a serious fall out. The kind of fallout that will land you on a midday trashy talk show.

It was ugly, family-dividing ugly. I’m sure as he packed up the shattered pieces and kissed his loved ones with a lingering “I’m sorry this hurts, but I had to” kind of kiss, that he wondered.

“How in the world will that vision, that dream, come to pass. I am forced to leave the very place I am called to be, all because I defended and preserved my destiny?”

I bet he ached with a deep groan and his head pounded with doubt. He had nothing left.

This Grandson went on to spend many years in a treacherous relationship. This boss of his was exploitive and deceiving. And yet, the young man prospered. His shrewdness could match the chicanery. Even in the midst of the darkness, when his dream was no where to be found, he kept building, steadily persevering.

Maybe he even settled there, in that secondary place. Striving over the comfortability of a lesser goal, a more measurable one.

Until God called him to go. Beckoned him to pack it all up and go back to the place of his full destiny, his full purpose.

Oh, this may have started out as a happy day- freedom feels fantastic until you realize it comes with responsibility.

You see, he was going to have to risk everything he had thought was his purpose, everything he felt he was worthy of. He had been working hard, for years, on what he had settled as his destiny. God was asking him to put all of it at risk in order to face his past. But to take hold of his future, he’d have to.

And thus he wrestled. He wrestled with fear, fear of letting go. Fear of laying it down. Fear of picking it up. Fear of failing. Fear of loosing. Fear of being rejected.

He wrestled.

And when he finally came to the end of the grappling, he emerged steadfast with his identity. Solid and confident in who he was, no matter the outcome.

Every dream requires a relinquishment.

Without sweat and tears there is no gain. Without a releasing of fear there is no trust. It takes trust to burn purpose into identity. The winds will howl and the waves will rage, but if the dream is etched upon your soul through the fire of a sacrifice and the breaking of a wrestle, it will stand firm.

That is the destiny I am pursuing; the dream burning in my soul is more than an accident, it is my calling, it is my legacy. And I must surrender.

Relentlessly, the Lord has asked that I lay it down. And oh friends, have we ever wrestled about that. But I want to give Him obedience more than I want to give him the duty of pretentious actions.

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And so, I must tell you. He has asked that I lay down my own personal writing in order to write the story He has placed in front of me. I need to immerse myself in those words, giving all of me to that process. Faith 2 Shine will still be here, and I will pop in as time allows (I love you too much!) But I am working on a book for a dear friend of mine, and God has asked that I pause this work, to pursue that work. Believe me, I plan to share it with you as I can! But posts here won’t be as regular, at least for a while.

Can I close with a prayer for you and me:

Lord,

This place, these words, these friends, I lay them all down at Your feet. Oh, what a blessing they are and how much freedom and grace have You brought through these times together. Thank you for your deep work.

God, our dreams, our visions, our hopes, our goals – they are all part of the destiny you have for each of us. You showed us through Abraham and Jacob that even when the circumstances shout one thing, You are still working. You have not forgotten and you won’t ever forget the dreams you’ve planted in the soil of our hearts. Your glory resides there, in the gardens of our purposes and identities.

We relinquish our control and set down all conventional plans and instead, God we surrender all. May our identities reflect you and may Your glory be on display in the story of our lives.


In Jesus name,

Amen

Oops, I Did It Again.

I did it again.

In my defense it started innocently with a status update, then an Instagram photo followed by an eloquent tweet. I cheered. I smiled. “Awe, so cool” I said.

But it lingered.

And then it moved to real life and it met me in the dressing room trying on swimsuits. And then again at the restaurant across from that chic.

I would brush it off with a casual flip of my hair, and a stiffening of my upper lip. “I got this, I totally have it all under control”, I thought.

Until it started to eat me for lunch. It ravished the peace in my friendships and then it gnawed at the tender joy in my marriage. Finally silencing the truth in my faith.

I got caught up in the tantalizing web of comparison.

I totally fell victim to this crap-trap of lies and twisted perceptions.

I let it eat at the inside of me until the process of being authentic was juxtaposed with false representations of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’.

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You see, I know better. I know better than to allow comparisons to turn to evaluations. I even wrote (and spoke) about it here. Umm, I know those evaluations brought on unwarranted shame. Like quicksand, I began to fear all sorts of things. Things like, rejection and insignificance and I doubted connection, fearing transparency. Oh, it was ugly.

But an echo from a book I once read came dangling down in front of me, just as I was about to go under.

“If I search around long enough, I’ll find insecurity beneath my grandiosity and arrogant expectations beneath my self-contempt”. -Terry D. Cooper (quoted in So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore)

Pride. Pride was seeping in all around my tender soul masked as insecurity. And the spark that started it all was a simple moment of comparison.

Beth Moore goes on:

“Pride talks us out of forgiving and steers us away from risking. …Pride is a slave driver like no other, and if it can’t drive us to destruction, it will drive us to distraction.”

Can I sum that up in two words: Social Media.

I sat there on that fatefully dangerous day and compared their success to my perceived short comings. I lined up their haves next to my have-nots and promptly declared myself as inadequate. Friend, don’t you dare tell me you’ve never done that, and hold the platitudes please. You and I both know this epidemic is rampant.

Pride was shouting, “See there, I don’t have as many followers as they do, I am not as important or valuable.” “She got more likes than I did.” “I wasn’t asked to join them because I am not enough”. “I’ve been passed over.” “It will never happen, I don’t deserve it.” Because according to pride, it’s all about me and my abilities and my worth.

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“Pride is the result of mistaking the eternal for the temporal. We end up looking in to look up instead of looking up to look in. We get fixated on every self-gain and every self-loss until, in our inordinate self-protection, we end up liking our wounds to the point they can’t heal.” (Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity)

And thus, the struggle to be authentically me.

I was too busy trying to make me like everyone else. Distracted I was, striving to make my journey just like theirs.

No, the truth is I am authentic, I am of undisputed origin, made in a way that faithfully resembles The original. I was created in His image.

Proverbs 11:2 says: When pride comes in, then comes shame. But with humility comes wisdom. And boy, am I ever familiar with shame; we were roommates for far too long. What I do want is humility, an unassuming position, a manner that avoids impropriety. Because I want the real, authentic me to be what shines, it’s the only thing that brings true meaning to the air in my lungs. And I don’t have air to waste chasing someone else’s validation.

“We must stop affirming and reaffirming to ourselves how inferior we are. It is the furthest thing from God’s concept of humility.” ~Beth Moore (So Long Insecurity)

In my quest for the shears to shed this unwanted shame and stifling pride I landed in Galations 5. Paul said it best and so I’ll quote him from the Message Bible, but seriously – you should go check out the whole chapter.

“I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

“You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect.”

“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Galations 5: 4-10, 25-26

Oh how I want the kind of deep down confidence from the Master, so that no amount of yeast can overtake me. I will work out these implications, daily. I surrender to find meaning, I bow low in humility to fulfill my praise to You, God.

Yes Lord, walking in the way of your (word), I wait for You. Your name (Your name alone) and Your renown are the desire of my heart. (from Isaiah 26:8 Parenthesis mine).

 

Linking up today for encouragement with Jennifer Dukes Lee #tellHisstory, and  Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart. Come join us for some encouragement and inspiration!


Rugged Breakthrough

Sunday Selah Image

Faith comes from what is heard,
and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
Romans 10:17

How many times do our hearts yearn for breakthrough? Breakthrough in our finances, breakthrough in our relationships, breakthrough in those deeply embedded dreams. We ache, we groan, for what we do not see.
And often, so very often, the Enemy sneaks in and whispers “Ah, but you don’t have enough faith for that.” And so very often we believe him. This father of lies.

Instead, let’s tune our ears into the truth. Our faith grows and strengthens when we listen to God’s word. Close your eyes and lean into His words about you. You have an inheritance of miracles.

Version 2

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Sealed, dear one. You are sealed with truth. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (from Ephesians 1:13-14)

Version 2

May the truth of God’s love shine over you, bathing you in radiant light. And as you soak it in, I pray you bloom into something stunning despite the rugged terrain. This stunning beauty, it is already within you, the world awaits. 

 

 

*this post first appeared in Drop of Encouragement through Remade Ministries. I just needed it again… maybe you did too. (grin and hugs)

Sunday Selah ~ Live

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Friends, life can get tedious at times. We fall into the ruts of the everyday duties and get bogged down with the weight of responsibility. But can I just remind you, that even in the midst of it all, there is a gift. When the coffee pot pours out empty, and the biscuits are burned, there is a bowl of Captain Crunch to be had with your son. Savor this. When the traffic is backed up, and the stoplights are all red, there is sun on your skin. Feel this. When you stand freezing outside watching yet another soccer practice, and dinner is not even thawed and the homework isn’t finished, there is giggle bubbling out next to you. Listen. When the laundry is piling everywhere, and the toys are yet again scattered, remember the snuggles had at bedtime last night.

Ordinary isn’t empty. And even the mundane carries meaning. It all adds up. 

Your life is good, full of amazing things. There are memories planted in the rich soil of your relationships, both past and present. There are treasures hidden in every single one of your trials, for you emerged stronger and smarter. Your everyday contains extravagant love.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

When We Place Limits on an Infinite God {A Guest Post}

My sweet friend Abby McDonald is with us today and I couldn’t be more thrilled! This amazing woman is a woman of deep authentic faith and her words have inspired me so so much! She has a gentle way of pulling the truth of the Word of God into my every day, challenging me to change towards Him and yet encouraging me with every step.  At the end of this post is a little bit more about Abby and a link to her blog and social media. She would LOVE to connect with you, and trust me, you have to meet her! It is an absolute honor to have her here, sharing coffee and an honest look at the vast influence of the Holy Spirit. 

Abby's Sand Quote

“I find that people often expect too much from people and too little from God.”

The words from author and speaker, Christine Caine, stung because I knew how true they were. Do we really believe God is capable of all he says he is?

While pondering her words, I stood watching my three-year-old play in his sandbox. He poured the freshly laid sand into stencils and smiled with delight.

He wasn’t concerned about using too much or running out. To him, the supply was endless.

I, on the other hand, knew better. A couple of days ago we noticed the sand was depleted, so Daddy purchased a new bag and filled the box.

With each shovel-full my child dumped into the yard, I knew he was getting closer to the bottom.

Often, I believe we view the power of the Holy Spirit like the sand in that box. We think if we use too much of it, the supply will be depleted. Somehow we place limits on the limitless and set boundaries where there are none.

We would be better off if we stood on a beach and looked at the sand not just on the shore, but extending out into the depths of the ocean.

Like the sand that’s constantly being created by broken shells and rocks, the supply of the Holy Spirit flows continually. Waves are constantly creating friction, which produces new gains.

When God deposits the Holy Spirit within us after we proclaim him as Lord, his living water flows within us with an endless supply. As we spend time with Him and in the Word, we become in tune with the Spirit more and more.

So how do we obtain this limitless resource? If we’ve walked with the Lord any length of time, we know that there are periods where we become weary, burnt out, and feel as though we have nothing left to offer.

We ask for it. Plain and simple. We come before the throne of grace and ask for a drink in Jesus’ name. No matter where you are, what you’ve done or how far you’ve gone off the path, you can come.

When Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit for the first time and reveals his true identity as the Messiah, he does not choose to share this information with teachers of the law or upstanding religious leaders. Instead he shares this priceless gift with a Samaritan woman, who as low on the totem pole of social rank as anyone could be. (See John 4:1-42)

Our God is not a respecter of persons or one to show favoritism. He came to heal the sick, regardless of past sins, status or background.

And later, when he talks about the living water in the temple courts, he does not describe it as a limited resource, but an endless one.

“Whoever believes is me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit…” John 7:38-39 NIV

So why do we place limits on a boundless resource? Friend, we are finite beings trying to understand an infinite God. We stumble and we fall. We try to place an all-encompassing God into a neat little box when there is nothing big enough to contain him.

The problem is that when we do this, we ultimately limit ourselves. We confine ourselves to a tiny place in the atmosphere when God wants us to soar.

Today, I encourage you to drink from the fountain that never runs dry. Open the living Word, come before your Maker and ask him to quench your thirst.

Don’t place finite limits on an infinite God.

Believe He will deliver. Believe He will take your tiny mustard seed of faith and use it to move mountains.

When you ask for more of Him, He will never turn you away. And I can promise, you will be satisfied.

Abby McDonald

Abby McDonald is mom, a wife and a southern girl, currently living on the mountain side of Maryland, who fell in love with writing at a young age. For most of her life, she never shared her writing with anyone. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.

When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog- Fearfully Made Mom, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Linking up today with  Jennifer Dukes Lee for #tellHisstory today.

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