Can I just say I’ve never seen a dog with smile lines. Maybe I just never noticed. This little rescue pup of ours has stolen my heart, and spending time caring for him has taught me such valuable lessons about worth, and how God sees us.

We’re rejected and abused, left alone, labeled “bad”, “broken” or “unteachable” before he adopts us into his family, too.

A child of God. What a treasured position to be in. 

We are so fortunate to have a God who wants to be a loving parent to us.

I’m reflecting on what our pastor Matt said on Sunday, “gratitude seals the provisions of God in to our hearts.” 

Each time I see my dog’s smile begin to curl around the corners of his mouth .. all because I speak to him, and spend time delighting in him… I feel Jesus’ warm smile over me. He says, “this is how I see you. I delight in you – not because you can do anything to add worth to yourself- but just because you are.”

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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”..?}

Being Brave in the New Year

 

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Interrupt Anxiety with Gratitude…
Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. THEN you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Some very key people in my life have needed me to open my mouth and to help them through some things. I grabbed God’s lifeline and for these various events, friends, gatherings, encouragement-sessions, what-have-you… I found the strength to speak out against what plagues me… because others were hurting, too.

Have you EVER met ONE Christian who can do all those things? I have not.

God has told me that every disease that plagues us doesn’t melt away instantly, although he is the Healer. Some, he uses to define you, shape you… so you’ll share with others.

I broke down and cried right in the middle of leading the congregation on Sunday. As my heart wept, my voice cracked and I backed away from the mic, down to a whisper in total weakness and brokenness. To me that’s not a failure… but a victory. I claim it as victory when the Holy Spirit moves on the hearts of his worshipers and whispers gently, I don’t love you in bits and pieces… but gave my life to save you. You’re everything to me… would you give everything back? Stop holding all your fear and anger and hurt inside. Let it out. It’s okay to let your guard down with me. I am the Lord your God.

I’ve definitely been walking through a season of dark depression and unexplainable anxiety.

The word cling in the dictionary means:
a : to hold together
b :  to adhere as if glued firmly
c :  to hold or hold on tightly or tenaciously
2a :  to have a strong emotional attachment or dependence
2b :  to remain or linger as if resisting complete dissipation or dispersal

I’ve written God’s word all around my home, office, and car- to encourage myself! This morning I spoke at a breakfast study. I encouraged the other ladies to do the same: posting encouraging scriptures all around them, to see God in every situation. That’s why I’m posting my thoughts from our study today.

See.. if you put good IN…. good will come OUT.

Max Lucado said, “God says don’t worry about your future. He is the author of your story and He’s already written the final chapter.”
If you recount God’s victories in your past, you can KNOW there’s triumph in your future, just like Moses and God’s people did in Deuteronomy 6:1-13 (NLT):

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. {Then… what will happen?} →
“{THEN}: The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him.

Being brave. “The giant in front of you is never bigger than the God inside of you.”

Like the nation of Israel was promised the Promised Land, and they feared the people that lived there… we sometimes fear the very things that God has promised we’d overcome. (Numbers 13)

Sometimes we make a habit of telling our all-powerful God how powerful our enemies are.

Yet we serve Jesus… who stared death in the face and won. We have nothing to be afraid of. We can take his power into our daily lives, with us. Whatever struggles come our way we can know God will protect us, sustain our energy to complete the task, and remove obstacles– in his way and in his time.

I’ve come to realize that in life: I have got to live inside my head, with my perspectives. If I worry about where my life is going, I’ll feel like it’s going nowhere. However, if I grab a hold of my my life like an overcomer, brave & courageous- know the Lord my GOD is with me wherever I go… I can do anything- through Christ who gives me strength.

That’s why I decided for my Christmas gift this year, I wanted to tattoo this scripture upon my left forearm.. the arm I see every time I play or hold a mic:
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)- “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
the lord fights for you
Even when you’re just not doing all right… you can cling; adhere as if glued firmly: to God and His promises. This will enable you to be brave.

 

Whatever you’re facing…

In the book of 2 Kings, the Assyrian King named Sennacherib wanted to take Israel captive, and was taunting Israel’s God- the one that all the people in that day feared- knowing He had saved them from Egypt- caused plagues, and killed an entire army with the Red Sea.

Hezekiah was the king of Judah and he followed God, and didn’t worship other gods, “just-in-case” as was so common in that day. Sennacherib sent this message to Hezekiah:

“Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

Sidebar: I cannot imagine going through something like this! My troubles seem so insignificant compared to a mighty empire wanting to kill & plunder- and it’s heading toward my doorstep. Those words are scary, “don’t think for a second your God can deliver you! Have you SEEN what I’ve done to the other nations?” 

But notice what Hezekiah does:

And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “ Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.” 

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: 

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. This is the word that the Lord has spoken against him: “ ‘Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord. And you have said, “With my many chariots I have ascended the heights of the mountains, the utmost heights of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars, the choicest of its junipers. I have reached its remotest parts, the finest of its forests. I have dug wells in foreign lands and drunk the water there. With the soles of my feet I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.” 

“ ‘Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up. 

“ ‘But I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against me. Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.’ 

“This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: “This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 

“Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: “ ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the Lord. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’ ” 

>>That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies.<<

So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.”

Whatever you’re facing- trust God. These aren’t just stories… They really happened. God hasn’t changed since then… It’s our reading of the Bible and our faith that needs to change! 

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭19:10-13, 15-37‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/2ki.19.10-13,15-37.niv

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

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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.

His Name Is Love

Verse
Bound by chains, You set us free
We bring You shame, You make us clean
Choose to leave – You seek us out
Your love it knows no bounds
Your love it knows no bounds

Verse
You were poor so we are rich
Of humble birth to make us heirs
You heal our souls yet we still doubt
Your love it knows no bounds
Your love it knows no bounds

Chorus
His name is Love, His name is Light
Those He created took His life
All so that we could be His bride
His love it knows no bounds, oh His love it knows no bounds

Verse
Love came down- You made a home
You lived with us; healed our disease
We turned on You and shut Love out
Your love it knows no bounds
Your love it knows no bounds

Bridge
You give me melody
Fear has no hold on me
Because Love has a name to me
It’s Jesus, Jesus