Set Free on Good Friday

I haven’t posted on the blog for a while, so I can’t think of a better day than Good Friday to share the message of being set free! 

It is so easy for us to carry on with our everyday lives today, just like every other day.  TGIF, right?  So, I find it incredibly important for all of us to slow down and reflect on what is so good about Good Friday, when an innocent man was arrested, tortured, and died on the cross.  And maybe that’s why I’m writing this, to spend my own time in meditation processing the meaning behind this very day. 

I find it amazing that Jesus, a man of the flesh, stands quiet when Pilate asks “Do you not hear how many things they have testified against you?” (Matthew 27:13-14).  How many of us when we come under attack immediately jump to defend ourselves?  We feel hurt, betrayed, and we seek justice!  And yet, Jesus…he just stands there quietly.  We know that Jesus was scared, because when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was in such agony that “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44), a condition known as hematidrosis which is a very rare condition when the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands burst from significant emotional stress.  And yet, He still accepts this fate from his Father.  He puts his trust in Him, and Him alone.  He isn’t looking for acceptance from the world.  He knows that the only acceptance He needs, is from God.   

Think about that.  What an example of faith knowing the amount of suffering he is about to face.  Wow.

This morning I stumbled upon a Facebook video talking about Barabbas.  The video sent chills throughout my body.  Pilate asks the crowd “Whom do you want me to release for you:  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17).  Barabbas was a bad man – selfish, a thief, a criminal, and a murderer.  And, Jesus…well, he was a healer!  And yet, this crowd chooses to accept the murderer over an unblemished man!  And when Barabbas is unchained, with no gratitude for Jesus, the one that truly sets him free, he walks away without hesitation as the crowd continues to mock Jesus and call for his death.  Barabbas and the crowd are symbolic here, don’t we see it?  They represent me.  And they represent YOU. 

We can be so ignorant of our sin.  “I’m a good person.”  “I haven’t killed anyone.”  But you see, sin goes much deeper than that.  Do we deny Jesus such as Peter?  Are we quick to judge others, yet reluctant to admit our own failures?  Are we boastful and full of pride?  Do we have a sharp tongue?  Do we chase after the things of this world such as sex, money, fame, and power?  Maybe we look at others with envy?  We live selfishly?  Or maybe we even put spending time with God last a long list of things to do.  Let me tell you, I am just as guilty as Barabbas.  And I fail – Every.  Single.  Day. 

But Jesus, knowing he himself is innocent, and knowing just how guilty Barabbas is, let him walk free.  Because he loves him.  And he loves US! 

My heart breaks for Jesus.  When I reflect on The Passion, I weep knowing just how guilty I am.  And I know in my heart just how much I don’t deserve the free gift Jesus is extending to me.  But the last words he utters before giving up His spirit are “It is finished.”  My favorite words ever spoken.  As my pastor recently addressed – sin, suffering, satan, and salvation – all of them are finished forever and for always, because Jesus has already won.  He has conquered it all, for us.  And so, as I sit here writing and reflecting, I accept this gift of salvation out of love and gratitude for The One that gave up his life so that I could live. 

The chains are broken, and I am set free.  Without ever looking back at the person I was, I am forever transformed. 

If you have not yet accepted Jesus, all you have to do is open your heart, put your faith in Him, and ask Him for forgiveness.  He will wash you clean, and you will be made anew. 

If I can help you, or pray for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at lauren@laurentarr.com. 

May His peace be with you. 

xx 

 

Happy New You! Today, and Every Day.

A sparkly ball dropping.  A midnight’s kiss.  Streamers.  Noisemakers.  The singing of Auld Lang Syne.  Reflection. Goal-setting.  Planners.  Resolutions.  New beginnings.  A new you.

All of these mark the end of a year past and the coming of a new.  Not surprising, I find myself emotional as I look back at 2015.  It was a challenging year by many accounts, but somehow through it all, there was always a glimmer of beauty, hope, healing, and love.  Lots and lots of love.

New Year’s resolutions have never been my thing.  (I mean, let’s be real, how many of us have forgotten about our resolutions after a few days, weeks, or months into the new year anyway?)  Instead, I have come to know each moment as an ever changing opportunity for growth in my life.  And you know what?  Jesus, not once, tells us that we require a new year for a fresh start!

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

As His creations, we are made anew each day!  Thank God for that! 

Through the atonement of Christ, we can be freed from the sins of yesterday.  We have been extended the amazing gift of God’s loving grace and forgiveness.  And as we reconnect with our Father, our Creator, our God…our hearts become whole again and we are made one, with Him.

So while our New Year’s resolutions may absolutely be positive changes in our lives (and I by no means want to put the kibosh on them!), I pose this question:  Where are your motivations stemming from? 

Your ego?  The desires of your heart?  Your idea of the world's standards?  Or...from your unique love walk with The Lord?

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 14:21)

As I personally reflect on the past year, I see 2015 as a turning point in my life.  After living many years in captivity, I finally surrendered and released the grip that the enemy had on my life.  So long, insecurity!  Farewell, my fears!  Au revoir, self-centeredness!  Adios, perfection!  None of you have been missed…not even a tiny bit! You see, God was with me all along, revealing Himself.  But 2015 was the year that my vision was restored.  No longer was I blind; I could see Him shining brightly before me.  My guiding light. 

He taught me that I am perfectly woven as His beautiful creation. 

“For you formed my I inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139: 13-14, NIV)

He taught me that I have purpose.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

He taught me to fear not.

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9, NIV) 

He taught me to stop pleasing the world. 

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19, NIV)

He taught me to be bold.

“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalm 138:3, NIV)

And he taught me to lay down my life.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39, NIV)

Yeah, Yeah, I know I’ve said it before and probably sound like a broken record by now, but through it all, I’ve learned that my life has absolutely NOTHING to do with ME, and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with HIM!  While we are just specks of dust, our small stories play a valuable role in the big story of God’s creation. And all of it matters.   

So bring it on 2016.  I look forward to more of my story unfolding as I put my focus on obeying God, without hesitation. I will humbly submit to My Awesome Creator and follow Him, because ultimately, He has control of the paintbrush.  It is His right as Lord.  No, it won't always be easy.  Sometimes the actions He tells us to take might be small.  But, other times they will be big!  And sometimes they will be downright scary when we don’t know where He's taking us, or how we'll get there!  And that, my friend, is where our faith is tested. 

He is Almighty.  He is Compassion.  He is Creator.  He is Deliverer.  He is Eternal.  He is Faithful.  He is Forgiveness.  He is Grace.  He is Great.  He is Father.  He is Friend.  He is Kind.  He is King.  He is Holy.  He is Healer.  He is Joy.  He is Just.  He is The Lamb of God.  He is Light.  He is Love.  He is Mercy.  He is Patient.  He is Power.  He is Present.  He is Peace.  He is Protector.  He is Provider.  He is Redeemer.  He is Righteous.  He is Savior.  He is The Rock.  He is Sovereign. He is Shepherd.  He is Truth.  He is Victorious.  He is Wisdom. 

This is the never changing character of our God.  How awesome is He!

And while we enjoy our little black dresses, fun celebrations, and midnight kisses, let’s remember to make Him the focus of our 2016.   So, get out that popcorn and watch on as He reveals His beautiful story in your life, and mine!

Happy New You!  Today, and every day.

xx.

Merry Christmas, From a Jesus Freak

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The other night, I lay awake in bed praying.  In that moment, I wasn’t asking anything of God.  I was acknowledging Him.  I was thanking Him.  My eyes flooded with tears.  A continuous stream flowed down my neck and along the outside of my shoulders.  It wasn’t that I was sad.  I was in awe.  I was in love.

Over the course of this past year, I was stripped bare.  A job lost.  Strained finances.  Bubbling health issues coming to a head.  A new diagnosis.  Continued longing for a child.  Challenges in my marriage from it all.  And lots and lots of questions.  I was being hit on all sides.  And I crumbled to my knees more times than I count.

Funny thing is, it took all of those things happening to me in order to get me to that place—on my knees, completely surrendered. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. 

I grew up in the church…

…and I fell away from the church.

In my early twenties, I found Jesus again.  And while I believed in Him, I didn’t really know Him.  If I’m being totally transparent, it was more of a one-sided love relationship.  I still had my guard up.  And I still wanted to do things my way.  Except, I found myself falling into a spiral of overwhelm, panic, and deep pain.

There I was, trying to control every aspect of my life, all while feeling completely out of control. 

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

So, on my knees I fell.  Stripped bare.  Seeking a Savior.  Pouring out my heart.  Hoping He would hear my cries.  And as I bowed down, I noticed my tears of agony turned to tears of gratitude, my cold, selfish heart turned soft, and my fears turned to overflowing love.  I was restored.  And I began to trust my journey in that moment as I surrendered control to The Creator of all things.

Yep, this year I was hit on every side.  And at times, it was really, really freaking hard. But somehow through it all, I also made a new church my home, renewed my faith, laid down my life, found my purpose, joined a Christ-centered business coaching group, learned how to love myself, and love others, forgave people who wronged me, found healing, matured, became an entrepreneur, made new life-long friendships, wrote a book, and in the sadness, I found joy. 

This Christmas takes on a new meaning for me.  Today it isn’t about giving and receiving gifts of monetary value.  It isn’t about a vacation day from work.  It isn’t about the food.  And while I cherish moments with my family, it isn’t even about them.  It’s about Jesus.  It’s about a precious gift of life that is freely being handed to us.  It’s about a choice we all have to make between the sins of this world, or the love, grace, and mercy being extended to us from Our Father. 

These days, I am a new creation.  I am wiped clean.  My heart is changed.  And I am full of love.  I pray in acknowledgment and thanksgiving.  And I cry not from sadness, but because I am blessed beyond measure.  Even in the sorrow, I somehow experience peace and joy. 

Some might wonder what happened to me.  People from my past might see that I am no longer in bondage.  Maybe they see a transformation.  Perhaps they witness that while I had the hardest year of my life, I was given the strength to take action and accomplish things only God could have done through me.  Others might roll their eyes at this Jesus Freak.  And that’s okay too.  Because what matters today, is not me.  It’s Him.  It’s Jesus.  My Savior.  The Prince of Peace.  Our gift.  The best gift of all. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

With Love,

From a Jesus Freak

 

 

 

Prescription for When You are in a Funk

Soapwalla Indulgent Bath Soaking Salts (Lavender & Eucalyptus), "Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing The Will of God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby, "Without Words: Synesthesia" album by Bethel Music, a deeply connecting soul stroll

Soapwalla Indulgent Bath Soaking Salts (Lavender & Eucalyptus), "Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing The Will of God" by Henry and Richard Blackaby, "Without Words: Synesthesia" album by Bethel Music, a deeply connecting soul stroll

I hate when I'm in a funk.  I mean, we all have funky days, but I literally cannot seem to tolerate them in my life anymore.  It reminds me of former me.  The me that always felt like a victim.  The me that would get sucked into a dark mole hole, where I hid for far too long.  The me that was fearful.  The me that didn't like herself.  The me that didn't believe in herself.  I look back and I am so thankful that I have been able to grow and mature from that girl.  I have Jesus to thank.  He captured my heart and transformed me from the inside-out.  And I haven't looked back since.

Last week I had a tough day.  I wasn't feeling well to begin with, and then I got some bad news.  To be honest, this past year has been one requiring a constant state of endurance.  The majority of things in my life have not been going as I had planned.  But then again--I guess it isn't up to me.  God, The Author of my life, has something else in store. 

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Eph 2:10)

How amazing is it that God has prepared wonderful things for us in advance?  Things we aren't even aware of quite yet?  A few of my friends and I joke that he has already bought us a puppy...He's just hiding it behind His back waiting for the PERFECT time to present it.  And when it's time, that puppy will come running and jumping into our arms smothering us in those precious puppy dog kisses. 

See, this past year has been one of immense spiritual growth for me.  One that has taught me obedience--the lesson being, DELAYED OBEDIENCE IS DISOBEDIENCE.  All of those little hints, all of the messages in our dreams, all of the tugs at our hearts, all of the moments of inspiration...those are not coincidental.  God is speaking to us constantly, trying to reveal Himself to us.  God doesn't abandon us.  He's right here in all of the muck.  He's whispering to us.  He's telling us to act, not tomorrow or next week or in a few months....but NOW!  He's telling us to step up! And when we act with obedience without hesitation, He will unleash that puppy-full of blessings!  Trust me, I know, we often try to rationalize our way out of the "crazy" ideas that we think we aren't capable of ever achieving...But that only means it is time for us to trust in Him completely.  Time to surrender.  Time to let Him do the work He has set out to complete. 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'  From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.  What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.  (Is 46:10-11)

Wow, wow, wow!  How powerful is that verse?  Seriously, reread it and meditate on it.  Let it saturate your soul. Remember, God will always set out to accomplish His good works in you, no matter what the circumstances.  You just have to first put your faith in Him.  Believe.

Okay, so I was feeling yucky the other day and I knew that it was because I had fallen into my flesh.  I had disconnected from the love of God.  So, I chose not to let the enemy of lies get into my head and heart.  I indulged in a day of total self-love and -care.  I relaxed in a hot Epsom Salt bath.  There is something about a hot bath that instantly reconnects and grounds me to my Creator.  Our bodies require minerals to optimally function.  Epsom Salts contain a mineral compound of both magnesium and sulfate, which are easily absorbed by the skin.  Many of us are mineral deficient, one of those minerals being magnesium.  An Epsom Salt bath can help ease stress, relieve joint and muscle pain by decreasing inflammation in the body, alleviate constipation, and eliminate toxins from the body through reverse osmosis.  I encourage an Epsom Salt bath at least weekly!  While soaking in the tub, I played an inspiring, thought-provoking instrumental album in the background.  And I prayed my heart out, completely emptying myself to The Lord, crying cleansing tears.  Yep, emotional tears actually contain stress hormones that are excreted from the body when we cry and stimulates the production of endorphins (feel-good hormones) according to "The Health Benefits of Tears", an article published in Psychology Today (2010).  I intentionally (even kicking and screaming) thanked God for my life and what was yet to come.  I read from one of my favorite, life-changing books.  And, I took myself on a deeply connecting soul stroll (no matter that it just so happened to be one of the coldest days of the season yet! Brrrrrr....!!!  But oh so worth it!)

The result:  I was restored.  I was full of love, hope, and faith that God will complete His works in me.  I trusted my path.  I embraced my failures.  And I believed that God will indeed present that puppy at the most perfect of times.

Rx:  Take care of yourself.  Slow down.  Connect.  Take a hot bath.  Listen to moving music.  Pray.  Thank God for all He is and all He is doing in your life.  Read an uplifting book.  Take a soul stroll.  Act with obedience now.  And enjoy every second of the perfectly woven life you have been gifted with.  Each moment is with great purpose. 

xx

 

Love Hard, Hold on Loosely...

 
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This past weekend my husband and I felt a call to attend the annual Orphancare Expo at my church.  As many of you may already know, we have been yearning for a child, but a mixture of life circumstances and complications from my MTHFR gene mutation have made having a biological child a difficult feat.  Regardless, I feel God telling me that I'm meant to mother in some shape or form.  The expo addressed three parts - ministry/outreach, adoption/foster care, and child trafficking.  

Side note:  Do you know that child trafficking is a silent epidemic?  Most of us don't even realize it is happening right underneath our very own noses in THIS country!  Here are some stats:

  • An estimated 21 million people are trafficked around the world (Unicef)
  • An estimated $32 billion is generated by trafficking globally (Unicef)
  • An estimated 100,000-300,000 children are at risk for entering the U.S. commercial sex trade (U.S. Department of Justice Report)
  • The average age of entry into the sex trade is 12-14 yrs old (The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking:  America's Prostituted Children, Shared Hope International, May 2009)

Most of my time at the event was spent trying to fight back a constant stream of tears...and of course, we all know that fighting back tears just doesn't work!  It was a losing battle...so I succumbed.  There were two guest speakers before we split up into different breakout sessions.  These individuals addressed their childhood traumas, experiences in foster-care, and eventual adoptions.  They spoke about the "snapshots" they kept tucked away with each moment they witnessed a demonstration of love - a girlfriend's father lifting his hands in prayer at the dinner table, a father's kiss on his son's forehead, and eight years of consistent "I love you's" before finally being able to say it back.  

I met one woman who had 10 children.  I believe she said 4 of those children were biological, the other 6 had been adopted from China.  She sat there with one of her daughters who was missing both of her hands.  This young girl had written a book and was autographing them by holding a pen between her elbows.  Her handwriting was better than most people blessed with two hands!  Another couple told us they were in their 60's and retired.  After seven or eight foster children coming in and out of their home, they recently felt God's call to adopt a 17 yr old girl.  One couple, both at 35 yrs of age, had adopted seven of their foster children - their most recent being a 27 yr old man they had fostered ten years earlier!  He wanted to be adopted as an adult so that he had a family he could go home to and celebrate the holidays with.  This couple spoke about the difficulties and blessings of being foster-care and adoptive parents.  They said something that hit me - Love hard and hold on loosely.

It made me think...as Christians, isn't that what we are all called to do, to love selflessly?  God loves us regardless of how we love Him back.  But how many times do we reject His authority in our lives taking matter into our own hands? How frequently do we ignore His commands, or disobey Him when He disciplines us?  No matter how many times we turn the other way, God's character never changes...he pursues us with His love while giving us the space for our own free will.  Yet, in our own relationships, it is so easy to get caught up wanting a return investment. 

Why won't he say he loves me back?  Why isn't she holding my hand?  Why didn't he buy me flowers?  Why won't she help me with the dishes?  Why won't he go to church with me?

But God has this to say about love:

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

Ephesians 4:2 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love."

1 Peter 1:22 "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart."

1 John 4:7 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."

1 John 4:19-21 "We love because he first loved us.  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.  For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And he has given us this command:  Anyone who loves God must also love their brother or sister."

Oh how I love the richness of God's Word.  <3

First and foremost, He teaches us that there is no self in loving others.  It is always important to love the person God created you to be -- but in how we love, it is about demonstrating God's love for us.  It's about humility, sacrifice, and connectedness. The result -- true, unconditional, unwavering love.  Imagine the world if we all poured out this kind of love?  Happier marriages, more intimate friendships, more involvement in ministry and charity, less orphans, and more peace spread throughout the world.

We also need to remember that God is The Creator of all things, The Alpha and The Omega.  He breathes life into our lungs, and He also takes it away. Sometimes we unknowingly begin to idolize our loved ones.  The adoptive parents were referencing "loving loosely" because oftentimes orphans have been abused, they are angry, traumatized, and they run away from intimacy.  Sometimes they rebel and leave the home altogether.  I've witnessed this firsthand while working with these children in the mental health field.  But how many of us hold on to our loved ones so tightly because we are afraid of losing them, or we quiver at the thought of tragedy striking?   I think many, if not all of us, are guilty of this.  We must remember that above all else, we are children of God.  He is our first Father and He perfectly created us before we were even a thought in our mothers' wombs.  And it is He that we are all meant to return to.  We must trust His provision in our lives, knowing that with each breath there is a beautiful story being played out.  It is when that story comes full circle for His greater purpose (sometimes beyond our own understanding) that we are each called Home.  And what a gift that we have the opportunity to be reunited with our Creator and our loved ones for eternity in Heaven.

Here is my takeaway from the weekend.  My heart has been forever touched.  Not only was I challenged to reflect on the ways in which I love, but I also realized the responsibility that we all share to care for orphans that deserve love and a sense of family.  Whether it be through mentoring youth, donating or volunteering in ministries such as human trafficking, or becoming a family that is open to foster-care or adoption, I need to step up.  We as a people need to step up.  I will be sharing with you my journey as The Spirit guides me, so stay tuned.  

 May we all love hard and hold on loosely knowing that, in the end, it was worth it.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

 

 

 

 

When We Grow Weary...

Have you not heard?&nbsp; The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.&nbsp; He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.&nbsp; He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.&nbsp; Even youths grow tired and weary; and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.&nbsp; They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.&nbsp; (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary; and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Hi, Doll.

I don't know about you, but growing up I was never a roller coaster lover - the anxious butterflies while waiting in line in anticipation of the ups, downs, twists, turns, and loops that lie ahead.  As a child, I would avoid them.  As an adult, I would look at kids half my size shrieking with excitement and think, "Seriously, if they can do it, I can too."  So, I would muster up enough courage trying not to show any ounce of fear to my friends.  A rush of adrenaline would overcome me, my stomach in knots, and while I would want to run away, I would commit myself to fighting through the fear of what lie ahead.  The ride would only last about a minute and a half, and once I felt it halt to a stop, I would unclench my eyes and a whimsical high would overcome me knowing that I had survived and conquered.  What a perfect illustration of life:  a continuous roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys demanding constant perseverance. 

I'm not going to tip toe around it, I had a rough week.  I had a flare up of symptoms and felt my body growing tired and my mind discouraged.   I then found myself mourning the absence of a child in my life.  I am a faithful person.  I do trust that every aspect of my life is perfectly woven for God's greater glory, even when it doesn't make sense.  But, I still fall.  And I still have days that I struggle.  We ALL have a giant, scary monster in our lives whether it be illness, loss of a loved one, infertility, a miscarriage, loss of a job, financial instability, a betrayal, a divorce, depression, anxiety, loneliness...

And just like me this past week, maybe you are growing weary too...

So what do we do when we find ourselves in that valley of despair? 

1.  As for God, his way is perfect:  The LORD's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  (Psalm 18:30)

First and foremost, go to Him.  Over the past few years, as I set out on my own self-healing journey, I committed myself to growing my faith.  This year in particular, I joined a Christ-centered business coaching group with about 24 others entrepreneurs from across the country.  Our focus has been putting more of God into our businesses, and less of us.  I joined a church after years of church hopping.  I joined a Discipleship Bible study with three of my friends.  And I also joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) where I will be studying The Book of Revelation over the course of the next year.  Through it all, I have learned that the answers to any and all of my life questions, are found in The Bible.  And let me tell you, His Word is alive - there is so much power radiating from those pages!  Read His Word.  Meditate on it.  Pray the Scriptures.  Let it speak to you.  Let it restore you.  Let it transform your heart. 

2.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Call it tough love, but I am going to call you out.  (Don't worry, I gave myself a dose of my own medicine earlier this week.)  When we grow weary, we are not fully exhibiting trust in God.  I recall hanging my head in shame at the thought of me questioning His faithfulness.  But then, I remembered.  God loved us so much, that He brought us His Son to us in human form.  He loved us so much that He wanted to have a better understanding of our human nature.  He loved us so much that He allowed His Perfect Son to be beaten, spit upon, bloodied, crucified, and sacrificed so that each of us could be freed from our sin in a broken world.  In Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and made His own humanness known. He told his disciples "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."  He asked them to keep watch over Him while He prayed and he even warned them to not fall into temptation as "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  As He brings His prayer to a close, Jesus cries out, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."  Jesus walks among us.   He knows our circumstances, He knows our temptations, He knows our hearts, and He knows how weak we are in the flesh.  But trust is spread all throughout the Bible, over and over again.  Knowing our human weaknesses, God is constantly commanding us to trust Him, just as Jesus did.  You see, we don't have to understand our circumstances.  God is faithful to those who submit to Him.  When we seek Him, He promises to make our paths straight.  So, no matter what storms you endure, you have a choice to trust Him, to let His will be done. 

3.  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the LORD. (Acts 3:19)

When gripped by doubt, fear, overwhelm, or depression, we tend to shrink.  We become small.  We isolate.  And we are held captive.  Know that it comes from one source only - an enemy of lies that "seeks to steal, kill, and destroy you."  God is love, and anything that repels love is not God.  When I felt doubt creep in this past week, I knew I had let the enemy take refuge in my life.  It was time for me to say "PEACE OUT!" to the destroyer.  And it was time for me to go to My Father to repent.  I confessed my sins, asked for His forgiveness, and asked Him to help my unbelief.  To humble ourselves in His presence in a time of repentance allows God to wipe us clean and restore us.  

4.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)

Author Margaret Feinberg spoke at my church this weekend.  After studying joy in the Scriptures, Margaret wrote a book - but just as she was about to publish it, she was diagnosed with cancer.   She decided that joy would be her secret weapon to fight back, and she rewrote her book, Fight Back with Joy, from this new perspective.    As a joy seeker in my own life, I needed a reminder that my joy was in my control.  Margaret spoke of joy as God's complete love encompassing us.  When we fall into weariness, it's important to sit quietly in God's big, unfailing love.  Let it fill you.  Dance with His love.  Let it romance you.  Let it empower you.  Let it cast away all fear.  Surround yourself with His love reminders.  And know that God is refining and perfecting you with each perfectly orchestrated life moment.  Margaret looks back now and sees that unknowingly, her journey to write about joy had prepared her for what lie ahead in her cancer journey.  Then, she utilized what God taught her for His greater glory as she helps others fight back with joy.    So, I ask you, how can you use your story for good?  (I highly recommend Margaret's newly released book, Fight Back with Joy.)

In closing, go to His Word, trust Him, repent, and use joy as your secret weapon.  Enjoy the roller coaster ride of life and persevere!  May these tips encourage and restore your soul today.  And always, always know that you are deeply loved. 

xx,
Laur

It would be my honor to pray for you.  Please go to my Contact page to put in your name, email, and prayer request.  <3

 

Welcome to My Blog!

 

Hello, Darling.

Welcome to my blog - a place for all things mind, body, and Jesus! 

As a former therapist, now health and lifestyle coach, I will be sharing with you the intimate details of my own health struggles stemming from a genetic mutation called Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR).  It's been a frustrating bugger that has caused digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, menstrual and pregnancy issues, neurotransmitter imbalances, inflammation, and maddening food allergies.  Being a therapist, I acquired an arsenal of skills and techniques, but they weren't enough to lift me out of the funk I found myself in.  My heart yearned for something more, so I set out on my own self-healing journey.  I believe in a "wholistic" approach to healing touching on the mind, body, and soul.  And while I have good and bad days in body, my most profound healing has been spiritual.  I credit my suffering for deepening my relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthening my faith in The Almighty God.  I had been so self-centered and full of self-pity chasing the desires of my own heart and trying to please mankind.  But I learned that my life has absolutely NOTHING to do with ME.  Instead, it is about my love relationship with Jesus,  my humble submission to God, and my intentional walk to obey His call on my life.  I've learned to live joyfully through the physical and emotional struggles trusting that every single moment of my life is perfectly woven to give Him all glory and praise.  I am set free and full from His blessings.  And nothing of this world can take that from me.

So here I am - out in the open, out of hiding, on the path He set before me!

Please stop back and follow me as I share more of my experiences and provide health and wellness tips, daily/weekly doses of inspiration, lessons from Scripture, and how to live with an abundance of joy and peace regardless of life's storms of uncertainty.

Love and Blessings to you!

xx,

Lauren