Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~3 Words~ November 21, 2013

I was recently presented with the challenge of asking myself what 3 words I want people to think of in regards to my life after I have gone on to my heavenly reward.  How will I be remembered?

I decided to look at this from a different perspective and ask myself how I want people to think of me right now, before I am gone.  How do I want people to characterize me in my absence?

This proved to be somewhat difficult as I would much rather place my focus on others than look inside and do my own soul searching.  Being gut-level honest with ourselves about the person we desire to be oftentimes opens our eyes to where we may be missing the mark.  In doing this exercise in the present tense, as opposed to thinking futuristically, I am hopeful that it will allow me start making adjustments now and continue doing so until I have become all that Christ designed me to be.

Having said all that, I did manage to come up with my 3 words.

1.  Genuine

2.  Compassionate

3.  Faithful

Being genuine is not something that comes easily.  It’s not that I choose to be deliberately dishonest, that isn’t what I am referring to.  I’m talking about complete transparency about my own struggles and having a vested interest in helping others with theirs.  This requires me to leave my “mask” in the drawer and be open about things that I would prefer to keep safely tucked away behind the “I’m ok, you’re ok” mentality.  It means that I will admit fault, seek forgiveness and actually pray for others when I say that I will do so.  Simply put, I want to be known as someone who is real &  approachable not fake & standoffish.

Where compassion is concerned, I believe this is something that I have been gifted with.  I am incredibly tender-hearted and sensitive to the plight of those around me.  In a room full of people, I am naturally drawn to the one hurting the most.  I never let someone cry alone and it brings me much joy to celebrate victories as well.  My hope is to never let this attribute become insincere or robotic in nature.  I feel deeply and want to be known as someone who uses their sensitivity to love, nurture & heal.

Faithfulness is just one of the character traits that represents the Holy Spirit dwelling in me.  Building a reputation as being dedicated and loyal is vital to serving in ministry.  Not only do I desire to express this type of devotion to others, but I want them to see my unwavering hope in the Lord.  I want my life to reflect my foundation in God’s word, regardless of the difficult circumstances I am faced with.  In living my life in this manner, I hope to be known as a devoted servant to God and his people.

So there you have it, the 3 simple words that I long to be known by.  Can I ask you all to do the same today?  Will you set aside some time to reflect on your own life and who it is you feel the Lord wants you to be?  If you do this little exercise, I would love for you to come back and share it here with me.  Even if you don’t want to elaborate, I invite you to post your 3 words to uplift and encourage one another.

who i am

 

~Quick Fix is not a Reality~ November 7, 2013

instant resultsI have seen an abundance of articles on super foods that reduce body fat, miracle creams that banish cellulite & one trick wonders that suddenly take your spare tire and transform it into rippling, washboard abs.  Are we really that gullible?

If we would be honest with ourselves about the amount of time it took for our bodies to get into the physical condition that it is currently in, then we would know with absolute certainty that it’s going to take time to undo the damage, so to speak.

And yet so many seem to have a similar philosophy when it comes to their Christian walk.  We spend years forming bad habits, nursing unhealthy relationships, accumulating debt and so on but expect it all to right itself when we get saved.  It’s like we’re waiting for God to snatch us up out of our old life and place us in a new one where all our baggage is checked at the door.

Just as no super food is going to miraculously cause 20 pounds to fall away without exercise, no cream is going to smooth your dimply thighs overnight & I have yet to find that ab machine that produces fitness magazine cover results without making serious diet changes.  The same is true for all the “yuck” from your old life when you make a commitment to live for Christ.  You have to put in the work!

I know this is short and simple today, but I have encountered quite a few disheartened saints lately that I feel need a reminder that life with Jesus doesn’t equal instantaneous change.  It’s a process that will have peaks and valleys.  If you find yourself in one of those valleys where the walls on either side of you seem so ridiculously steep & slick that you can’t possibly get a foothold to climb your way out, take heart in knowing that God is right there beside you, cheering you on.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

(Romans 12:12 NIV)

 

~The Words of Our Testimony~ September 16, 2013

testimonyLast night I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with a small group of young adults.  It was, by far, one of the most amazing things I’ve been a part of since beginning my walk with the Lord.

It was pretty awesome that our pastor had just spoke that morning on the importance of sharing our struggles with others.  After all, what good are we doing anyone by walking around like we’ve got it all figured out?  I can honestly say, that even with this message still playing in my mind, I wasn’t sure that my story could really make any kind of difference.  BUT, I was willing to share.

Once we got going with the interview, God just took over.  I was able to share so much of myself; about who I was, what I’ve gone through, who I am & my hope for what is still to come.  And as I was going through the details of my not-so-fairy-tale past, I got to relive the grace and mercy that God has showered me with over the years.  I was, and I am still, in complete awe of the work that God has done in my life.  Even when I was unaware of His presence, He was with me; protecting me & leading me towards the life that He had planned for me.

I can’t say that I have always known the importance of sharing one’s testimony, but having done so in this setting, I totally get it now.  The feeling of liberation that I experienced afterwards was unreal.  When you lay it all out there for others to see just how big a wreck you used to be, before Jesus, and how much of an impact accepting Him has had on your life, it is not just for their benefit but for yours as well.  Being real about the struggles that we still face, even with Him as the Lord of our lives, shows that we know we are all just a bunch of messed up sinners in need of a Savior…daily, not just a one time “Lord forgive me for everything, amen” kind of Savior.   It opens the door for others to find their way to a full and complete life with Jesus while at the same time reminding us of how far we’ve come with Him in control.

In searching for a Scripture to share that would sum up how I felt about this opportunity to share with others, I came across 2 Corinthians, verses 1-5:

“When I first came to you, dear brothers & sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.  For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.  I came to you in weakness-timid and trembling.  And my message and my preaching were very plain.  Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied on the power of the Holy Spirit.  I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

I pray that each one of us would use our testimony of God’s goodness to help transform the lives of others.  When you become transparent for the sake of growing the Kingdom, you will be amazed at the transformation that takes place in your life.  And even if you never know on this side of eternity the impact that you may have made on someone’s life, one day, it will all be worth when you hear the Lord himself say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

~Blessing In A Box~ June 14, 2013

boxesFor all you haters out there who think God doesn’t care about even the smallest details of your life, let me share a little story with you.

On Tuesday, June 11th I posted a blog titled “Hissy Fit.”  In said blog I mentioned as a passing thought that my curling iron had broken the week before we left for vacation.  This was not the primary point of my blog, just a little bit of back-story to lead up to the main event.  The next day, in the early afternoon, I received a random package addressed to me.  I knew I wasn’t expecting anything so my curiosity was peaked.  Once I opened the box, I quickly realized it was full of goodies from my sweet Aunt Lisa who has a knack for surprising me with her thoughtfulness and generosity.  There were all sorts of fun little girly things in there for me and my little ladies.  But here comes the good stuff….at the very bottom of this overflowing box was not 1, not 2 but 3 curling irons!!!  Seeing as how I had just posted about my broken pretty hair maker the day before, there was no way for her to have known that I needed a new one.  But I know who did …my Jesus.  (Just in case you are still doubting me, I did ask her and she mailed the package a couple days BEFORE my post.)

Now, this may seem like a random coincidence to some people, but for me, it was a gift to me not only from my Aunt Lisa, but from Jesus-both who love me enough to think of me in the big and small things.  If this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will!  Keep your eyes peeled, you never know when God will drop a blessing in your lap, or in my case, on your doorstep!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to Him be glory….”

(Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)

I would say sending me three curling irons when I really only needed one is going exceedingly and abundantly above what I would have asked or imagined.  If you could see me now I’m doing my happy Jesus dance!

 

~Psalm 15, the Expanded Version~ May 3, 2013

Photograph by Carl Waltz-this is a place in Wisconson called Holy Hill. So striking, I had to share!

Photograph by Carl Waltz-this is a place in Wisconson called Holy Hill. So striking, I had to share!

Psalm 15 is all about who will be allowed to live in the house of the Lord.  It is basically a guide as to how we should live if we desire to please the Lord and ultimately, one day, ascend His holy hill to live with Him forever.

In reading this psalm, I thought I would break it down, verse by verse, and elaborate on the meaning of each instruction that is given.

First, the question is proposed:

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?”

The first response is, “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous”

Let me start by pointing out that living a blameless life does not mean that perfection is required of you.  It says in 2 Peter 3:14 that we are to “make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.”  Making an effort means you are trying for something, not that you have already obtained it.  In addition to this, in Philippians 2:14-15 we are given further direction on how we should behave in order to be counted as blameless: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”  In other, more simple, words, be a light amongst the dark.

The second response to the question is, “(he) who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman”

I would venture to say this is probably one of, if not the, hardest for most people.  Because we’re not just talking about malicious words, we are talking about gossip.  Maybe you’re not going around spreading lies about others but if you have ever started a conversation with, “Well I heard…” then you have gossiped, (preaching to myself here people).  Whenever an uncomfortable topic comes up among friends, like another’s financial situation for example, if you feel it would be rude to correct the chatty group, simply say, “I don’t feel comfortable discussing someone’s private matters” and excuse yourself from the conversation.  This one is for my fellow southern lady friends: it does not erase what you said about someone when you follow it up with, “Bless their heart.”  Just throwing that one out there!

Next up on our list of responses on how to dwell in the house of the Lord: “(he) who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord.”

I would think that this is fairly self-explanatory but for the sake of making my point, I’ll add my two cents.  We are not to go around praising the works of the morally corrupt.  Remember, if they’re not serving God, they are serving somebody!  Who do you want to give your honor and support to?  Those who fear the Lord will do so by honoring Him in all that they do, in public and behind closed doors.  Those who don’t, well, they’re pretty easy to spot!

This next one is kind of rough, “(he) who keeps his oath even when it hurts”

No one in their right mind would choose to do something that is painful!  There will be times in your life that the commitments that you have made will be almost unbearable.  This could be the sacred institution of marriage to the man (or woman) who is wearing on your nerves so bad you don’t think you can survive another moment in their presence.  What about those kids you promised to raise up and train in the way they should go?  Don’t try to tell this momma of five that there haven’t been days when you would gladly trade them in for billy goats!  Here’s the thing about an oath, it is a solemn promise with God as your witness, that you will fulfill the commitment at all cost.  Life is full of painful moments but they are not an excuse for washing your hands of your responsibilities.

Last, but most certainly not least, “(he) who lends his money without usury (interest) and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.”

If it is within your means to give, do so out of cheerful heart.  If you give with the mindset of what’s in it for me or what will I get in return, then you might as well keep your “gift” to yourself.  God wants us to love our neighbors and offer a helping hand as often as possible.  It has been my personal experience that even when I don’t think I have it to give, when I obey the Lord, He always provides.  Always.

In closing, the last verse of this beautiful psalm says,

“He who does these things will never be shaken.”

From this point going forward, I will always see Psalm 15 as my own personal road map on how to climb the most treacherous of hills in order to spend my eternity with the One who gave it all.