Never Alone

JESUS IS THE ONLY ONE

 

Alone again. That’s what she must have thought as she walked to the well all by herself that day.

But she wasn’t alone for long. Jesus was there. Yet, she didn’t know who He was and she couldn’t help but wonder why He was talking to her, a Samaritan woman.

When He spoke, she heard gentleness in His voice. 

Kindness and humility in His simple request for a drink.

In His eyes she saw acceptance, not judgment. Love, not hate.

Many of us know her as the Samaritan woman, but I like to call her Sam to make her feel more like the real woman she was. A woman who struggled with hurt, rejection, and loneliness.

Jesus was on His way to Galilee that day, but Scripture tells us “He had to go through Samaria” {John 4:4}. Yet theologians would tell us Jews considered Samaritans to be the scum of the earth and would do everything to avoid them by traveling around Samaria — but not Jesus.

He had to go through Samaria. Perhaps it be because He knew Sam would be there.

Women normally traveled together to the well, in the cool of the day, to avoid the heat of the sun since they carried heavy jars filled with water back to their homes. But Sam went by herself.

Many believe that instead of avoiding the scorching heat of the sun, she went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others’ rejection and judgment. Sam had been married five times, and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband.

When Jesus met her, Sam was running an errand, and running from those who knew of her failures, shame, and imperfections. Pursuing her with His perfect love, Jesus timed it so she would run into Him.

He initiated conversation and asked her for the one thing she had to offer, water. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

Sam stopped and listened. She let Him speak words of assurance and acceptance into the broken, insecure, empty places of her heart.

Jesus intentionally pursued Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day and in the same way, He is there in the midst of our sometimes lonely, imperfect lives. He is there when our disappointments and failures leave us empty and make us doubt our worth and purpose. (keep reading here)

I don’t know about you, but this summer I have had many days when I felt alone and just need to know someone sees me. Knows me. Pursues me. Jesus is showing me, He does. Let’s keep talking about this over on the inCourage blog, where I’m hosting today’s conversation and praying for friends like you in our online community. Join me there. 

When You Don’t Want To Be A Burden

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It was supposed to be a prayer request, but my email started out more like an apology. I needed friends to pray, yet I was hesitant to ask. I didn’t want my burdens to burden them.

They already had so many problems of their own: illnesses, a job loss, death of a loved one,  relationship strains, overwhelming stress, and overloaded schedules.

I questioned whether my need rated high enough on the urgency “Richter scale.”

Was it really bad enough to ask for prayer, or should I wait to see how things turned out?

The first sentence in my email went something like this: “I hate to add to your list of burdens, but I need prayer for JJ.”

A routine check-up and blood tests results earlier that month caused my husband’s doctor to be concerned about his liver, which led to a biopsy that week. We didn’t know whether it would be anything serious in the end. I just knew I didn’t want to walk through it alone in fear… {keep reading here}

Ever hesitate to ask others for prayer, because you don’t want to be a burden?  Join me at inCourage where I’m sharing the rest of this story, and what God is teaching me about letting others walk by our side, down a path we were never intended to walk alone. I’d love to pray for you today. Join me here

Is it worth it?

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I thought I was over the hurt. Was sure I had moved on. But as I slipped my thumb under the seal of the invitation to my 10-year college reunion, it hit me:

I had not forgiven her.

During our last semester at school, the harsh tone and accusing anger of a friend had been more than my heart could handle, especially in the middle of my year-long battle with depression. A deep sense of sadness and self-doubt that I couldn’t explain or escape had left me feeling depleted.

When she questioned something I had done and expressed deep frustration toward me, I didn’t have the mental or emotional strength to process her criticism without being pulled into a pit of condemnation.

I knew if I attended our class reunion I would see her and other friends who had gotten tangled in our mess.

And with that possibility came a flood of memories and emotions that paralyzed me. The same way I felt the day our friendship ended. The day that pretty much ruined the last few weeks of my senior year.

Holding the envelope in my hand, all that hurt took hold of me again. Instead of simply deciding how to RSVP, I stood at the edge of a pit filled with insecurity that threatened to pull me back in.

After weeks of holding onto the invitation I decided I was tired of living as prisoner to my hurt. I wanted freedom. The kind of freedom I had come to know in the ten years in-between. The freedom of forgiveness Jesus died to give me.

I needed God’s hope and assurance so I could walk into the reunion, not as a wounded woman but as a secure child of God. Continue reading here.

 

3 Truths To Hold Onto When Our Plans Don’t Go As Planned

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I had it all planned:
when they would all arrive
what I needed to do beforehand
how I wanted my heart to feel when they got here

Not wanting to turn into “the frazzled friend” I can become when planning a get-together, I banned myself from Pinterest and my own desire for “perfect.”

I planned ahead and recruited help from a friend. Together we would be prepared. Simple appetizers and decorations. A few pretty touches. My biggest desire? I just wanted to be ready early, with time to spare and room to breathe.

I wanted to enjoy this night. I wanted to feel calm and happy when guest arrived. I wanted to greet each friend face to face and let her know she was not only welcomed, she was wanted.

But even the simplest of plans don’t always go as planned.
A crisis at work kept my husband from being able to help me get the house clean. Traffic was horrible and my friend/co-host got stuck on the other side of town, unable to come early to help with setup. I was on my own, with three hungry kids piling into the kitchen asking when dad would be home to take them out for pizza.

I was not calm. I was not happy. Things weren’t getting done and I was coming undone.
My kitchen was a mess. Food wasn’t ready. And just as women started arriving, my tech-savvy-son told me our computer wasn’t compatible with our television, which meant streaming the inRL sessions (a highly anticipated part of our evening) was looking like another fail.

Deep disappointment and a slight sense of panic came crashing in.

Why do I even try??  I so desperately wanted to enjoy this night. These friends. And then I remembered…

CLICK HERE to join me on the (in)Courage blog today, where I’m sharing three powerful truths I learned that helped me 1)reset my perspective 2) see my imperfections as a gift 3)enjoy the party!

Instead of Giving In…

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I’ve always admired people who never give in.

You know, the ones who don’t consider defeat when they blow it?

I wish I were that brave.

But honestly, I tend to beat myself up a little when I fall short of the woman I want to be, or the woman God is calling me to be. Like the other day when I got upset with my son and went on a rant about his room being a mess.

Soon after, my internal bully (the mean voice in my head) started ranting about the mess I had just made and how I’d blown my chance of being a good mom that day. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve let failure knock me down, tie me up with ropes of regret and hold me hostage for a day, or two.

Maybe you’ve been there? If so, let can I whisper some assurance into your heart. You are not alone. I am with you and so are a boat load of other women just like us. In fact, while I was writing  A Confident Heart, I surveyed over a thousand women and discovered two of the most common causes of self-doubt are rooted in our past failures and our fear of failing in the future.

The greatest defeat comes when we allow failures, sins, and broken relationships to convince us we might as well give in.

But look at what God tell us in Psalm 37:23-24, and insert your name in the blanks as you read it:

“The steps of ____________ are established by the Lord, and He delights in ____________’s way. When ____________ falls, __________ will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds ________’s hand.” (NASB)

Instead of giving in, Jesus wants to empower us to get up again. {Read the rest of today’s post on (in)Courage) where I’m sharing more about giving in or letting Jesus help us get up again. I’d love to connect with you there!

Because {YOU} are His

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Startled by the silence, I shot up in bed and searched for blurry neon red lights that confirmed it was three in the morning, time to feed the baby. But Andrew, our then newborn son, hadn’t made a sound. Was something wrong? Or was he actually sleeping through the night?

Wavering between panic and joy, I felt my way down the hall to the nursery and leaned over my sweet baby’s crib. Listening for the sound of his breathing, I carefully rested my hand on his tiny chest to feel the gentle rhythm of its rising and falling.

Moonlight slipped through the blinds, helping me see he was perfectly fine.

Most sane mothers would have gone back to bed, but not me. I stood there for a while watching over and delighting in my child. 

I desperately needed sleep. And I should have gone back to bed knowing Andrew might wake up any minute. But my desire to be with him erased all logic. I wanted to savor this quiet moment and overwhelming sense of love I felt for this little guy who set my days in motion with his cries and smiles.

Andrew developed a routine of sleeping through the night soon after, yet there were nights when I’d still sneak into his room because I wanted to be with him. To watch over him. And then I’d tiptoe into his big brother Joshua’s room and watch him slumber, too.

Looking at my children’s faces, I’d sometimes imagine the boys God was shaping them to become and I’d ask Him to calm their fears, fulfill their dreams, and establish their steps to follow His.

My sons are seventeen and nineteen now, but sometimes I go in their rooms to pray over them and watch them sleep. They aren’t doing anything to make me feel proud or happy. In fact, they may have even driven me to my wit’s end that day, but it doesn’t matter. I delight in them because they are mine.

Zephaniah 3:17  reminds us that God feels the exact same way about you and me.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”(NLT)

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded that God wants to be with me.  He loves to watch over me – and {YOU}. Not because we are doing anything for Him, but simply because we are His.

Right now, in this moment, HE is watching over you with His love. He is there to quiet your fears, insecurities, and doubts each day….

KEEP READING HERE => I’m sharing more about God’s love for us over on the (in)Courage blog. I’d love for you to join me there and share your thoughts!

Sometimes I forget…

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Sometimes I forget.

I get wrapped up in all the Christmas-giving and forget to unwrap the gift of Immanuel, God with me.

In all the rush I forget my need for His soul-calming hush. But I want to remember.

I want to unwrap not only the gift God gives but the gift He {is}.

His presence is the present I need most. And so I quiet my thoughts and whisper a prayer, asking Jesus to create a quiet space, a dwelling place for His presence in the manger of my heart…

Join me over at (in)Courage today, where I’m sharing a prayer I wrote for our hearts at Christmas. I’d love to pray for you, too. See you there.

We’re Celebrating 5 Years of (in)Courage:ment {& giveaways galore}

Five years. Five years and thousands of women across the globe gathering at (in)courage each new day with their words.

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Five years ago, this place was created on the internet for women to gather.

A place that has become a shelter from the storm for so many. A heart-space filled with words that offer sanctuary in the midst of raging headlines, changing seasons and aching wounds of the world.

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And this Spring my hand and my heart joined with theirs – becoming family – in this gathering of women who create a cathedral of words and hide in the shelter of His Word {together} at (in)courage! Oh how I love being part of this place where “we take off our shoes and come with our bare, dirty feet to sit and kneel and circle around one another… a place where we see glory in all our ordinary.”

A place where Jesus makes us sisters, every one… and you, you are one of us, too.

This week we are celebrating our 5 year (in)Courage birthday with thanksgiving & lot of giving of pretty, awesome, fun, encouraging gifts galore! Hop over to the party with me and ENTER TO WIN!

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