More Lessons Learned From a Dog

I had a rough week. Like nothing crazy… I was just sick with the flu, we were both out straight busy, and my dog injured himself, got stitches.. and then tonight- he ripped out 1/3 of the stitches while we were out on a date. And it feels like it has been a really long time since we just went on a “real” date. Ugh. Have I mentioned how much I hate blood?

Sometimes small rough patches we go through can teach IMMENSE things about our inner self that God always intended for us to know. Kingdom things.

I grew up with a belief that God would punish me if I did anything wrong. Anything. I know… It’s silly when I think of it now, but somewhere, burnt onto the crust of the bottom of my heart- that belief still lies down there, and churns up from time to time.

After the week I’ve had- which again, I know is small-potatoes compared to real suffering.. I felt like I was drawing up empty. I wasn’t really connecting with God, or sharing my junk with Him. Deep down I thought maybe God was letting Rex get hurt, allowing me to be sick, some things I’d hoped for to fall through – all to get my attention. A lot of well-meaning folks have used that line before. “God is trying to get your attention, Brittany. That’s why these things keep happening.”

I know that God isn’t the author of sadness, pain, and confusion. I know that’s satan. I know satan hates worshipers of God. Yet from deep within an inner child hangs her head in shame and says, “God isn’t happy with me. If I had/ hadn’t done _____… then all of this wouldn’t have happened. It’s my fault.”

And satan’s lies are so believable aren’t they?

So back to my small-potatoes chaos. I was so mad at our dog for costing us over $1300 in one week… and so of course, being a mama’s boy, he hid his face from me. He can sense it when I’m upset with him. So an hour later or so, when Jonathan wasn’t around, I held the dog’s head in my hands and told him I was sorry. (Yes I talk to my dog like he can understand me. I’m a little crazy.) I told him, “Rex, it’s not your fault. You know I have always loved you, and I will always love you. There’s nothing you could do that would make me love you less--”

And I stopped. Healing tears began to fall. God was smiling and gently whispering, “that is how I view you, Brittany. Daughter. You don’t have to do or to be anything for me to love you. I always have, and I always will. And there’s nothing you could do or say that could make me love you less.”

I sat there looking at this bewildered, injured dog that I love so much… and God whispered to me “Oh Britt, how much more I love YOU.” He watched over this little accident-prone dog all the times he has been injured, and to boot, some unexpected money was deposited into our account tonight just as we were at the vet freaking out. God loves me enough to care for the things I love. Kind of different than how I started the night. Hm.

He’s showing me just how much he loves me this week. And let me tell you.. I have not been lovable. I have royally messed up more than anyone could count.. and even blamed God – like He was somehow the author of all this madness. 

He is protector during- and out of the madness. 

He loves me so much more than I am aware. And all those times I felt tormented and alone, He was there with me. He even shed a tear for me in my pain. 

He has always loved me- and He always will.

There is nothing I could do or say to gain His gaze upon me, His approval. His love. He is already smiling down upon me with love, as a father holds his newborn daughter. That tiny child is helpless to do anything to bring joy to her parents, yet the parents’ eyes are full of joy and love for that wee one. 

Even more than that – God loves me. God loves you.

{Coy Marlar.. when are you going to write your book, “Lessons Learned from a Dog”..?}

Homecoming Praise 

There’s something new and beautiful about a homecoming & yet a new beginning, all in one. Pathways are reopened in the heart with a new outlook, and beautiful memories lie and wait in the remembering… the walking down old roads as a completely new person, in Jesus. 💕

As I drive these old roads, ride the old trails, smell the old smells … something is different, and it’s me. 

I was afraid that living where I grew up would somehow make me feel small, like a child.. or remember things I wish I could have done differently- a widescreen video of the outtakes from my past life- footage of the  mistakes I’d made. 

Instead… I have nothing but worship in my heart for the God who enables me to remember all the sweet memories of what made me, “me”. 

We all have a journey and it’s rough, but Immanuel, Jesus, is God with us. He is awakening a new outlook on days gone by- because he is love, and light. He is rescuer, healer, friend. 

Today, I choose to not only love new seasons, but also to praise him for the ones I’ve already lived. 

My past embraced || My sin forgiven

You delight in showing mercy
And mercy triumphs over judgement

My past embraced
My sin forgiven
I’m blameless in Your sight.
My history rewritten

Oh love, great love
Fear cannot be found in You
And there will never be a day
You’re uncertain of the ones You choose

So I will wake
And spend my days
Loving the One who has raised me up
From death to life
From wrong to right
You’re making all things beautiful

Draw Near to God, He is already Near to You

Screenshot 2015-07-08 12.34.26

Recently I thought I had too much on my plate. I exercised my ability to say “no”, and took my day off seriously. Looking to the future: I tossed the idea of cutting down my hours at work. I wanted to work on future details of our family, make our house a home, and visit my family back home more.

None of that was the plan, for now.

In a recent turn of events I was asked to take on more of a leadership role at the Church, with more responsibility, with pay cuts and budget cuts all across the board for our church.

So. I dropped my plans and fell on my face before Jesus. He has been my Rock. I have peace. I have joy. I am brave.

I know God will make it possible for me to plan our future as a family, cook, clean, plan visits, have people over, take care of our pets, enjoy life… all while taking on this important calling. I just need to listen to His voice.

I’m ashamed to say in these times of turmoil… they are the sweetest times of worship for me.

Why can’t I seem to be this close to my Lord during the good times?

I realized today that I find the most peace and joy in the trials– not because God has changed, but because I have. Tweet this.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you {HE IS already close by}. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

7 Steps to Becoming a Happy Person Others Wants to Be Around

Screenshot 2015-07-08 12.46.46

The corollary to the principle “you see more of what you notice” is “you get more of what you notice. If you catch people doing what is right and complement them for it, guess what happens? They start doing more of it. This is not manipulation; it is influence. It too is contagious!

7 Steps to Becoming a Happy Person Others Wants to Be Around.

“I Can Count on You”…

No matter what you’re going through today…. is it possible part of the root of your fear | panic | worry | heartache | disappointment is that you don’t really  know if God’s “got this”? Circumstances hurt. Saying “I’m fully letting go”… ? Sounds impossible. I am still repeating this prayer right now. I definitely am not there.

But together… can we sing this and pray it? Even if you’re just trying to give it over….

I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go….
I’m surrendered to Your ways
The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change

In every season, in every change
You are near
In every sorrow,
You are my strength
You are near

A peace in the storm
Your voice I will follow
In weakness I rise
Remembering You hold my world

I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go….
I’m surrendered to Your ways

The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change

I love You, I love You

My great Redeemer,
My constant Friend
You are near
My faithful Father,
You took me in
You are near

I will remember Your promise forever
My Strength, my Defender
I can count on You
I CAN COUNT ON YOU-
Savior, My Hope and my Shelter
Your love is forever
I can count on You

A Special Place in God’s own Heart

crush-serpent

Ladies. “Fellow laborers” in Christ as Paul says. I want to talk to you about how God really sees us as equals and a partner with men to serve him. The Bible actually tells us we are special. Important. Equal. Loved. {Tweet this quote!}

So many different types of Christians see women as lesser, thwarting the beautiful “Good News” into something it was never intended to be. Women are mistreated {throughout history, and today more than ever} because of the fall. The Bible talks about this.

In Genesis 3, Satan attacks the woman first. He tries to get her to pull away from God, so that her husband, who loves her more than his own life— will follow. See the influence and potential the wicked one sees in her. And then stomps on it:

“Now the serpent was MORE CRAFTY  than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
You will not certainly die,” {The lie satan ALWAYS uses on MEN and WOMEN!} the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

… Later, because of what they’ve done, A “forever curse” is put on both man and woman, they must leave paradise- walking and conversing with the Heavenly Father- to labor in misery and pain. They will never look upon the face of God again until Jesus comes, dies, and returns to bring us all home to paradise again.

Read carefully: “13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”….
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this… I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

Satan hates all believers. He hates anyone who loves God. But in my reading of the scriptures I believe he has a special hatred for womankind.

Throughout history humanity has enslaved, mistreated and abused women. Young and old. Yes, the weaker vessel.

But that’s not what God intends for us. We may be smaller (1 Peter 3:7), but our souls are NOT so. We were created in God’s image with many of the Trinity’s beautiful, compassionate traits. Women nurture and love in a way all their own. {Tweet this quote!}
Satan would love nothing more than for us to take every single thing that comes our way, believing we are lesser and cannot serve. Do you see his plot? (I have a close to home testimony about this in my own life. Maybe a story to come later.)

What would GOD love, and satan HATE?

For women, all around the world to rise up and disciple other women in the TRUE Words of God- the Bible. The Good news. To spread His love despite our lesser view in humanity’s eyes. There is nothing more we can do but prepare for God’s return and just go around loving others!

Women, we actually have a really tough assignment. We have to put aside our differences between each other, and any of the past hurts we have experienced, and go all-in for the cause of the gospel. For one young lady, it may be a season of life of staying home and discipling and pouring into our children and husbands. For another, maybe a season of life that is singleness and finding other women to pour into. For yet another, it may be serving in the local church here or abroad.

God sees who we are “on stage” (figuratively or literally)… and he sees us “off stage”. Let’s strive to make both a pleasing aroma to him.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. YES, and I ask you, my TRUE companion, help these WOMEN — since they have contended at my side in the CAUSE of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:1-3

Your names are in the book of life, beautiful women all around! Take the baton, God has called you out! Rise up, and serve!

Because People Matter

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ ESV)

Jesus came here because people matter.
He desires our worship, and for us to love others,
Not perfect pitch,
Not perfect rhythm,
Not the “perfect church service”…

… Just our hearts.
that is why I’m so glad to have been at a church in Virginia where people were loved and cherished at all costs!

My friend Trevell has a story similar to many. He felt neglect, loneliness, disappointment. Then he met Jesus!

That is why he always has the biggest smile on his face! and ends all his jokes with, “……..EXACTLY!!!!!”

Take a moment to hear my friend tell part of his story. Hear this child of God, not this “heavy metal drummer.”

God throws a party for the humble

“God makes confetti out of our status and titles to celebrate His love for humble people.”

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=702576406484302&id=329771387098141

Wow, ouch. It’s so tempting to try to climb the ladder, or talk yourself up to make yourself look good.
But Jesus says to humble ourselves and wait to be exalted by His power alone.

Matthew 20,
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Apologies

crowd, scared

Apologize. That word always sits in my throat like an egg, I can hardly force my vocal cords to want to verbalize “I want to…. Ap – ol – o – gize.”

Why is this such a forgotten concept in our culture? No one ever wants to apologize because maybe, just maybe it means they are wrong. {Tweet this Quote!}

Although I know deep, deep down that I am wrong- saying it out loud puts me in such a vulnerable place that I feel like I’m giving a speech naked in front of 1,000 people.

But I am on a long journey of asking God’s Holy Spirit who I am designed to be, instead of who I am currently acting as. {Tweet this Quote!} If God wants us to strive to be holy and perfect, although we know as human beings we’ll never attain it… shouldn’t we try? Philippians 3:12, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”

I read one of those cutesy life change quotes yesterday. It said, “Do something every day that scares you.” Well I think besides the zombie apocalypse or giving a speech in my birthday suit, apologizing to someone I’ve hurt is my #1 fear. Check that off my daily to-do list for like… a whole week, son.

Can I tell you something though? Each time you apologize to someone who deserves it- it gets easier. Not easy, just easier. Even as a minister, I’ve used words that have cut down and wounded others; whether I meant to or not. Once you speak a word you cannot get it back. It’s a done deal.

Good thing Jesus dying on the cross for the eternity of harsh words is also a done deal.  {Tweet this Quote!}
Can I tell you something else? That feeling you get each time you pick up the phone to call and apologize, or the laptop to type… that feeling that says:

  • “You’re being so doofy.”
  • “You can’t apologize now, it’s too late.”
  • “They don’t even remember. And even if they do, they won’t forgive you!”
  • “You’re making a bigger deal of this than it really was…”
  • “They hate you for what you did.”
    or the biggest, “What you did is etched in time. You can’t fix it now. There’s no hope.”
  • Those feelings are all lies from Satan himself to get you to harbor that original bitterness and keep your apology shut in your head, never to restore a relationship. Never to become more like Christ by admitting your wrongs.

    Those are the things satan wants. Good thing he has no power where God’s Light shines! Good thing the Light of Christ lives within each of us who believe and follow Christ. Good thing it is for freedom we are set free! Good thing Jesus already died on the cross for those harsh words you spoke, those deeds you did. {Tweet this Quote!}

    So be free. Pick up the phone. The pen. The laptop. Make it right. Swallow your pride, Brittany.

    Jesus was so relational, that He laid down His life for His friends. Let’s be willing to at least lay aside our pride for ours. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” {Tweet this Quote!}