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How to Live Free of Expectations-Part 2

Do you ever feel like you’re a disappointment to others? Like you can never meet their expectations? How can we approach people who have unrealistic expectations of us? What are we responsible for and what isn’t ours to take on?

Discover one mindset shift that can end your people-pleasing days and guard your peace. Check out more HERE!

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Believing For Healing After Hope’s Grown Cold

I’d lost hope completely. Whenever someone offered to pray for me…for this issue…I’d smile and say, “Sure, thanks!” But, inside, my heart had grown cold. I knew the prayer lifted up in genuine concern and out of love for me would fall flat.

After living with a diagnosis for more than eight years, I’d come to accept that having Type 1 diabetes, an “incurable” autoimmune disease, was to be my lifelong fate. This is the kind that you can’t just exercise your way out of. It’s living dependent on insulin injections every. single. day.

Years ago, my heart was still tender. I sat praying one day about just this issue, believing my God for a miracle, asking for what He wanted to do, fully open to Him. And I heard, resonating through my spirit, “I have healed you.” As in past tense…already complete.

But when I didn’t see that manifest in actual physical evidence, hope waned…gradually…over the next months and years. I stopped asking for prayer. I stopped praying even for myself. I started concocting reasons. I started believing lies.

I’m too undisciplined with food, so having diabetes is a necessary thing to keep my appetites in check.

The apostle Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” that never left him, so I guess this is mine.

Managing diabetes helps keep me in line and have a reason to eat well and work out. I can’t do those things without it.

It’s not so bad having an excuse to put myself first, such as urgently eating if my sugar crashes, or bringing food with me anywhere.

But God…

While I was at a conference a few weeks ago, God began stirring my heart. And when one of the speakers stood at the end of her message and prayed for healing over those of us in the room with autoimmune disorders, something broke free in me. A spark of hope. A sliver of receptivity to believe the impossible.

So, I asked…one more time.

The next day, my sugars were inexplicably crashing again and again. My body simply didn’t need as much insulin as it had the day before. Once I stabilized, I was using about 30% less insulin than I typically needed!

And I prayed, breathing out belief, breathing in truth…

Lord, thank You for restoring every single cell in my body to Your original and perfect design.

Father, thank You for being the God of the impossible things. Thank You for healing me.

Thank You for making me wonderfully, fearfully.

Lord, I reject the lies I’ve believed and spoken. I believe You can do anything! 

Make me a testimony of Your presence, Your healing touch, Your grace in my very physical body.

Thank You for caring about every part of me…not just my soul…but You care about my spirit, soul, AND body!

I surrender to You my appetites and attitudes. I don’t need any disease to keep me in check. You are my everything!

Lord, thank You that the days of wearing my insulin pump are numbered. I will see the day when it is no longer needed at all!

Lord, I receive You. Renew every cell. Regenerate what has been lost. Resurrect what’s been dead in me.

Over the past several weeks, the confirmations of His movement have continued…every day! Insulin needs lowering. Friends standing with me, believing alongside me that we will see a miracle here. Words given (completely without prompting from me at all!) confirming that God has told someone to tell me that He’s healing me.

I’ve considered keeping this under wraps while healing is “in process.” But God is asking me to be bold…to draw a line in the sand and declare out loud what He’s doing in the quiet places.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

Will you join me in praying and agree with me? Will you dare to believe that our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever? This Jesus, who healed every single person who came to Him asking for healing, and healing many who never asked…will you believe with me that He’s still healing?

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” Psalm 103:2-3

Is there something you’re facing where you’ve lost hope that any change is possible? Your Healer stands ready to meet you. Are you willing to invite Him into the impossible situation?

I’d love to stand alongside you and pray with you! Let’s shake off the lies and the excuses and the doubts. Let’s believe beyond what our minds can grasp. Let’s spend time with the Healer, with Yahweh Rapha, The Lord Who Heals…it’s His very nature to do so. Let’s ask Him what He has to say about the situation, what His truth is, despite what the evidence might suggest. What are you believing for today?

“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. ‘If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,’ he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!'” Mark 1:40-41

[In the meantime, I am still taking insulin. I am still monitoring my blood sugars very closely. I am still exercising and caring for my diet. And, as I see my blood sugars go down, I’m slowly lowering my insulin intake. I’m still keeping my doctor’s appointments. I’m believing that the “facts” of measurable evidence will continue to reflect the truth of His healing more and more.]

 

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog Poetry

God and the Waves

God and the waves

Terrifying.

Soothing.

Predictable patterns within incredible unpredictability.

Each wave different, unique.

Each move of God different, unique.

Crashing waves roll in, never ceasing.

Listen for the pounding presence

A whisper, a roar

Overwhelming and powerful.

The awing invitation

Filled with life and deep things unknown

Draws me to put toes in the surf.

But I want to know, and cannot fully, despite my longing.

The shallow shores sparkle and sway.

And deep depths carry towards freedom.

Fully dependent on the wave, on His movement.

To wade or dive…a decision to make,

An invitation to accept.

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Trading In Our Insecurity

Have you ever felt insecure?

It’s something we all deal with and is often an ongoing battle we face as we attempt to live our lives with authenticity and courage.

But if we stay in this place of insecurity, it eats away at our emotional health and, in fact, our very sense of identity. Emotionally healthy people exhibit healthy boundaries with others, owning their own feelings without taking on responsibility for the feelings and choices of others. There will be an ease in forgiveness, a lack of bitterness. Gratitude, positivity and trust in God will also be manifest in the way they live each day.

But an insecure person has an unpredictable, shifting foundation underlying their core beliefs. (I’m over at Single Matters today. Continue reading HERE!)

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Finding God Everyday Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Choosing Between Life And The Lie

Sitting easy at a coffee shop, hugging the warmth of my cup, struggling to know where to begin when the hardness pounds me upon waking. Having opened my eyes to a message of desperation and despair, beginning a day with heartbreak where hope was anticipated, I could pray for so many answers, but the only true answer is Jesus. For my loved ones in the midst of messy custody battles, I hurt, I ache, I pray. I want smoothness and ease and resolution. I want safety and communication and forgiveness. But, most of all, I want Jesus to be on both sides of the wall that now separates. With wars and disease, genocide and slavery everywhere I look, everything I read; with marriages on the rocks and children caught in between; the walls stand tall, seeming to grow each day, between the sides and differing perspectives.

When I look around, I see heartache and very real, very intense pain. I see children abused, ripped from the only families they know, and oftentimes returned to the place where the abuse first occurred. I see little ones used as pawns in domestic disputes. I see the depth of pain when the color of skin divides. I see the hardened hearts, attempting to protect themselves from further attack. I see the disillusioned and the bitter.

Can we look just beyond? Can the eyes of our hearts – covered by the rubble left from a lifetime of battles – can they begin to see again?

There was a time when life and knowledge grew on trees and we could see them. There was a time when the sound of rustling leaves we heard was the swinging legs of the Almighty walking in the Garden – where physical and spiritual met, where our eyes could perceive with equal clarity the physical items before us as well as the spiritual. This time will come again.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations…And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-2, 5)

While the hurt and broken and disillusioned may feel stuck like a pawn in the middle of God’s twisted game, the truth is just beyond. God isn’t pushing us around on a giant chess board. He’s never wanted control of robotic, unfeeling, disconnected pawns. He longs for mutual love, which is a choice, which can never be forced. So the choices we make and the choices other imperfect humans make are what move us. Some of those humans listen to the truth of God, some listen to lies of the enemy, but each one directly intertwines with and affects others.

Those things we ask for – clarity, justification, revenge, the upholding of our cause – those things, themselves, aren’t the answers. The answer is freedom.  “Freedom is when you engage the presence of God and become the person you are created and redeemed to be.” (Bob Hamp)

And freedom is found in truth.

And truth is found in Christ.

In a relationship, not a religion or a set of rules.

In intimate knowing, not intellectual ascent.

“‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” (John 8:31-32, 36)

Adam and Eve looked upon life dangling from a tree branch. Jews and Romans alike stood looking up at the Source of life hanging on a tree. And all forsook life in favor of a lie. Their intentions weren’t to seek out death. The lie appeared to them to be wisdom.

What brokenness to do you face today? What heartache and uncertain thing? Without a doubt, the enemy will take that difficulty, that pain, and give you his interpretation, full of lies. Will you listen?

Or, will you choose to believe that God has a word about that very same situation? Will you step out and hear the truth He’s speaking? Will you choose His life over the lie?

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Adopt | Foster Now Found Blog

Are You Safe?

Upward
Photo Source Llima Orosa via Flickr

We’ve been talking about the Underground Railroad recently during our homeschool days.  How do you introduce the atrocities that led to the need for such a thing to young children?  How do you teach the horrors of history so that you can also teach the heroics?  How do you explain to children who have friends of every color, that there were (and still are) people who dehumanize an entire population, based solely on an outward appearance?

In one book we read, illustrations showed people opening up their doors and their arms to runaway slaves. Escaping from a horrific existence, many escapees found sanctuary in the homes of strangers who were willing to risk their very lives for what they knew was right.  What compelled these “conductors” and “station masters” to such selflessness and personal risk?

Simply…they had a vision that far exceeded their own importance in their eyes.  They saw something greater than themselves, a need that demanded of their consciences a response.  Discomfort and danger they willingly accepted for the sake of being a part of giving others a chance at freedom.

It made me think of our days fostering a beautiful little girl who had come to us from traumatic circumstances.  Though the dangers we faced were nearly nonexistent, I now know the feeling of having a vision greater than my own comfort.  To this precious child, I wanted to give safety.  It took many days of tender moments before she began to trust that I wasn’t going to hurt her.  It took weeks longer before the light came into her eyes and joy began to enter her world.

You see, I don’t just want to be safe myself.  I want to be safe for someone else.  I want to be that safe place, with arms open to receive someone who’s facing brokenness, who’s trying to find freedom.  I want my friends to know that when we talk, they’re safe with me…they’re not being judged…they won’t be gossiped about…they can find rest and come out of hiding.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Are you a safe place?  Can others come to you expecting to find shelter from the storms that hunt them? Are your comforts secondary to a greater vision or are your comforts a guiding force?

These are questions I have to continually ask, because if I’m not careful, the answers can swiftly change. I know where I can go when I need a safe place…to the arms of God…to the embrace of my husband…to the ears of several dear friends…And when it’s time for them to need safety, I can only determine that I will be that same safe place for them.

Where do you go when you need a safe place?  How are you a safe place for others?

 

If you’re interested, the books we’ve used in our school days to introduce the tragic topic of slavery in America include Who Owns the Sun and Follow the Drinking Gourd.  I definitely recommend these if you’re trying to open up this discussion with your children.  I read them with tears in my eyes, choking on words at the end of each, knowing that they were honest, while still being a safe and non-traumatizing entry to this topic with my kiddos. 

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

The Complex Turned Simple

blue pansy

It’s almost too easy to slip into a sea of hopelessness as we face this complicated thing called “life”.  For those who have found their salvation in Jesus, it can still be overwhelming just dealing with the day-to-day. But, what if it was intended to be simple?  What if the complexity of trudging through our days was merely a deep-seated lie we’ve accepted as truth?

A thriving relationship with God need not be formulaic or complex.  It can be very, very simple.  But the complexity we bring to the relationship via sin shifts all that simplicity into seeming chaos.

All through the Bible, we are told to lean on Him, trust Him, come to Him.  Basically, the simplicity of a relationship with God is that we live as though He is actually our life-source.

But then we’d have to release other things, things that we find comfort in, things that we’re used to, things we believe to be true.  Perspectives, addictions, worldly comforts, the sense of having control…all these things we would need to let go of for the simplicity of a relationship that more than fulfills all we think we’re getting out of these temporal things.

What if it was as simple as saying, “God, here’s my concern, my hurt, my devastation.  What do You have to say about it?  What do you have to say about me?”  And then stop…and listen.

What if we could truly trust that Jesus dealt with our sin once and for all and is, Himself, the living Truth which moves beyond our limited and skewed perspectives?  What if He is the only Source we need? Things might begin to look drastically different.  Life may not get “easy”, but it would certainly be simpler. No longer relying on “me” to fix whatever I think needs fixing.   Just trusting Him with it, whatever “it” may be.

Honestly, I’m not fully there yet.  Many times, I still turn to worldly comforts as a default.  I turn to topical books and classes (which are often full of wonderful wisdom), but when I look to them to “fix” everything, I’m seeing the class or the teacher as my source rather than God.  Or, I take the nuggets offered and I try to force them on my circumstances, therefore attempting to master my personal universe.  Take a wild guess how that usually turns out…

But God is wooing me back to a relationship founded in simplicity.  Founded in trust.  Founded in love. Founded in actually living like He’s my Source.  Bringing Him into my day-to-day, asking Him to sit with me at the kitchen table, inviting Him into the reality of my messy kitchen while we sip a cup of tea and chat…doing life together.  Isn’t this the point of it all anyway?  Relationship.  One that opens the front door unapologetically while wearing pjs, with the kids’ toys scattered all askew, without fear of judgment or reprimand.  Relationship with the One who loves me most.

What does He have to say to you today about where you’re at? About who you are?

 

Imagine what your life would look like if you knew exactly who God designed you to be?  In my book, Refining Identity, you will dive into God’s Word, sift through the lies you’ve been living under, and discover God’s purpose and identity for you.  For individuals as well as groups, Refining Identity is written as an interactive discipleship journey to help you walk in that relationship with God, coming to say for yourself, “I am who I AM says I am.”  Discover more HERE!

refining identity cover no grad

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

Being Fully


136-people

A tall piece of pink card stock graced my dresser top throughout 2013.  A list of specific goals.  Not so much resolutions to begin on January 1st as they were habits or accomplishments to develop and fulfill throughout the year.  It made January easier to swallow in 2013, knowing that I didn’t need to miraculously morph overnight into a super-human goal-conqueror.

Some goals I met.  Many I didn’t.  One I knocked out of the water.

But everyday, I’d see my list and have direction.  So, even on those goals I didn’t fully meet to utmost perfection, I still worked on…still kept at the forefront of my mind what mattered.

This year, I felt a tug from the Lord to shift a little.  Rather than a neat list of my top ten for this new year, He gave me two words.  Two simple words that underscore a depth tremendous.

Freedom.  As in freedom to be exactly who God has designed me to be.  As in freedom from the fear of man.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

And…

Gratitude.  The kind of gratitude Ann Voskamp portrays with exquisite and agonizing beauty in her book One Thousand Gifts.  Gratitude that embodies a habit of thanksgiving for both big and small.  Gratitude that opens the door to joy and grace.  Gratitude that is deeply thankful for the life that already is rather than constantly hoping for the things which are not.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Freedom…Gratitude…A new way of thinking…A new way of being…that will touch every area of my life and, hopefully, the lives of everyone I touch.

So, with a fresh slice of card stock, resembling the sandy grains of dirt into which God breathed the Breath of Life, I begin a new year.  Not so much a list of to-do’s.  Much more it is a list of “just be” and be fully.

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Relationships | Marriage

The Pressure Cooker – Part 2

So we left off from “The Pressure Cooker – Part 1,” with the thought that we need to know our design. God made us in an intimate way, knowing us before we were formed , “For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV

I find it awesome that our God and Creator of the universe took His time and effort to personally know us, to personally or Godally (yes I know is not a word, but it should be) “knit” the fabric of our being. Because He created us, I believe He knows what we are created for and what type of environment we are going to flourish in. To tie it all together, He knows the heat setting that’s best for us.

How much heat can we take? You may have heard the label of someone with a type A personality, that refers to someone who is highly driven or “successful”. And although these people may thrive in tough situations and may be able to get stuff done, that surely doesn’t guarantee that they can handle the heat very well. In many situations they are actually just plain stressed out and the “successful” and driven side is very often is a coverup, a sort of manifestation of a protective mechanism that this person is using to not deal with his or her past. They may truly be results driven, but many times there is unhealthy stress and pressure that needs to be removed.

Keep in mind this isn’t a dig at type A personalities, many have said that I am type A. But either way we all have our issues no matter our personality type of traits, “for [we] all have sinned, [are imperfect] and fall short of the glory of God” and need to be “justified [and set free] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 ESV  (emphasis added). So no matter the personality type you may have been told that you are, God’s diagnosis and prognosis is much greater, much better.

So, we should figure out a way to remove the pressure. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pressure cookers are great thing, even in our Christian lives, because the heat and pressure can break down really difficult challenges and help us get through tough obstacles, BUT the heat must be removed sometimes for some time. Did you catch that “sometimes for SOME TIME.” this isn’t just 15 minutes a day, although if that is all you can get at the beginning do it. Lets bring back our pressure cooker, if it is cooking away and that rocker is a rockin’ you can take it off for a short amount of time and the rocker will stop, but you can put it back on the burner and it almost immediately picks up where it left off. Why? Although the heat was taken away and the pressure dropped enough to keep the rocker form rocking there is still a massive amount of pressure built up in side. Typically the safety valve is still up even. Are you getting the analogy? The safety valve is telling everyone to stay away do not open up, because bad things will happen. The second you add that heat back it is on again and you truly haven’t received a break, you truly haven’t received freedom from that build up.

This is probably why God told us to honor the Sabbath. I think it is cool that he made it one of the Ten Commandments to get some rest, to chill out, relax and take a load off. I think He may have known what He was doing, what His creation was going to be like, what pressures we would feel especially under the fallen world we are in. It is time to chill and reduce the pressure, to take some time for some time to balance that pressure again. We will examine some ways to do that in Part 3. To be continued….

 

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Freedom | Identity Now Found Blog

A shooting in a small town.

Walking out of my office with my family yesterday May 22nd,2013 at 6:47pm, across the street from Southlake Town Square(population not too many, last murder over 15 years ago), we were getting ready for a Daddy/Kiddo date while Mommy had a dinner with the girls. It was just then I heard pop, and I turned around immediately to see where it came from. Looking for a commotion….pop……..pop…pop..pop.pop.pop more shots rang out. The sound was too loud and had a pattern too recognizable to be fireworks. From the distance I was at (about 50 yards) it sounded like a .38, .380, or 9mm.

There were no screams, no squealing tires, no one running away like you would imagine if there was a altercation or what I have come to expect from a drive by. People were not running around in a chaotic fashion afterwards for what seemed to be eternity which made me start to doubt, my assessment of gun fire and then the sound of a heart broken woman in panic for the life of her beloved. I couldn’t see the shooter for the cars in the way, but I did see the panic of a man flagging down a police officer, the officers efficient yet cautious dispatch request and survey of the scene, the panic and heart break of a woman in shock of what just happened and the surreal reaction of the many onlookers. BTW..I had told my wife and kids to get in the van because I didn’t see were the shooter had gone and I needed to be able to have them in a controlled location and able to flee if need be. The ambulance came and went and the hustle of emergency crews grew. It was over, the man had lost his life, we woman had lost her husband, his son lost his dad and the threat was gone…..

“Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away. And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the  Lord , and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.” Psalms 64:1-10 KJV

Is the threat gone? Is it truly over? The scripture above tells us the wicked are scheming. I love how although the writer does mention the fact that God will take care of our enemies, he is not asking for revenge or retribution, judgement of them or their families. He asks for his Father’s, yours and my father’s, protection. Protection not from the people themselves or their evil schemes, but form that fear associated with the knowledge that they exist. As I started writing this earlier this morning the sound of a police car is ringing in the background.

We live in a world full of spiritual, physical and emotional challenges. Evil’s existence means that for now there will always be threats. Evil is being evil at every moment, not just when we see it, but we do not need to be fearful, bound by that spririt of fear.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment…”1 John 4:17-18A ESV

Who do you know of that lives and strives to cause punishment? It is not God and if you think it is then the Liar has you fooled thinking he is God and I would love to introduce you to the One True God, The Creator and Finisher, The Life and Salvation of the world, Jesus, the perfect love mentioned above, Son of the Great I AM. Remember there is no fear in Love(if you know and Trust Jesus as your savior), because we know we are forever going to be with Him no matter what happens in this life

Please feel free to comment and leave your opinions. If you need help dealing with the situation please feel free to contact us as we can help get you in touch with a great ministry that can walk beside you as you are set free.

Steve