I’ll be honest, I had no idea that God had a name other than “God.” At least I’ve never used a specific name when I pray to Him. Usually my prayers begin with, “Lord” or “Father God”, but up until this point I’ve never called God by His name. And truthfully, I’ve never even thought that there could be another way to address Him, until now.
Before I go into what His name is and why it’s so important for us to know, I want to talk about the power of names. When we develop relationships with people, one of the first things we do is learn their name. If we truly want to engage with someone and connect on a genuine level we need to remember their first name and be intentional about using it.
Think about the people you are the closest to in your life and how strange it would be if you addressed them using generalities. For example, wouldn’t it be awkward if everytime a married woman’s husband came home from work, the wife greeted him with, “Welcome home, husband,”? Or what about the mom who picks her kids up after school and says, “How was your day, first born child?” This would feel SO bizarre!
We don’t address our loved ones this way because it feels incredibly impersonal. So why do we do this with our God? If we know His name, why don’t we use it? But what is His name?
According to Exodus 34:5-7, Yahweh means “merciful and gracious”. This is the character of God. He is merciful and gracious! When I learned this, it changed the way I think about my interaction with Him. It helped me understand that He really loves us and wants to pour out his mercy and compassion on us!
I recently had a situation where I leaned into this concept, and it involved our family dog. Our 18 month old puppy developed a severe infection and we had to drive her to a teaching hospital hours away. We dropped her off and were told that she would most likely not survive the night. My husband and I began praying and I cried out to Yahweh, my gracious and merciful God. I asked for His mercy and compassion on our sweet pup, and I called out His character. The next morning we were given news that even the doctor couldn’t explain. Our dog had made a miraculous recovery, literally overnight!
Because I knew God’s name, I felt more in tune with His character and His will for our lives. I prayed into WHO He is and it changed my entire approach in this situation. Now, please know that I’m not saying this is some “magic secret sauce” like rubbing a lamp and getting wishes granted from a genie. It definitely doesn’t work that way. But it is a way to begin seeing God as your friend, your companion, and someone that you’re on a first-name basis with.
That is His desire for us. He wants us to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him and that means spending time in His word and praying (talking) to Him daily!
I challenge you this month to use His name, Yahweh, in your prayer time and begin thinking about Him as your friend. When you KNOW Him, it opens the door for a type of intimacy with your Creator that will richly bless you!
This title alone makes me laugh. As you can imagine, there’s a story coming. One of the cool ways that God reveals things to me are through everyday life scenarios. The most recent mini-revelation came last week on Valentine’s Day when I was helping my girls get ready to go out for a date night with their Dad and me.
Nowadays, I feel like we never do anything fun so having an opportunity to get dressed up, and do our hair is a BIG DEAL for this house of three girls. Well, maybe it’s more fun for me, but the girls play along. As we were getting ready, I asked them if they would like me to blow dry their hair for them. Honestly, I don’t think they cared too much, but both decided to humor me and let me play hairdresser with them for a minute.
My oldest went first. She sat down on a stool in my bathroom while I got the hairdryer out. Before I go on, I’ll give you some backstory on this hairdryer. Four years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of my treatment I lost all of my hair, and it was a lengthy process of growing it back. When my hair started growing back it came in like little baby fuzz all over my head. And let me tell you, I “babied” those little beautiful, happy, follicle produced wonders.
As my hair started to grow I wanted to be careful not to fry the heck out of it once I started using a hairdryer. It was a while before I even got to that point, but while I waited I started researching hairdryers like a fiend. I was going to be ready as soon as those glorious hairs began to make their debut on my shiny dome.
I landed on the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer because it didn’t use extreme heat and seemed like it would be gentle on my new growth. This dryer is an investment, so similar to how some new moms ask their husbands for “push gifts” when they have a baby, I asked my husband for a, “I survived cancer and I earned this stupidly expensive hair dryer, darnit” gift. And bless him, he got it for me.
Fast forward to the present. It’s now been three and a half years of using the above mentioned hairdryer, and here we are in my bathroom getting ready to dry my oldest daughter’s hair. As she’s sitting on the stool, I ask her to hold the dryer while I grab a round brush. I go over to the linen closet to grab the brush and as I turn around, Lauren says to me, “Mom, what’s this rubber thing?” I look over to see that she has pulled an oblong piece of rubber out of the center of the dryer that has been curled up in there since I opened the package three and a half years ago. To my horror, she is holding it in her hand.
Oh. My. Gosh. I immediately have an internal freakout, while semi-politely responding to her with, “Where did you get that?!?” She responds, “I pulled it out of the hairdryer.” Again, Oh. My. Gosh. Now I’m convinced that she has just forcibly removed the most important piece of equipment from this expensive hair dryer that has been my styling rockstar these past three and a half years. I immediately coil the piece of rubber up and try to stuff it back where it went praying that I can fix it.
From what I could tell it still worked so the crisis seems to be avoided, but I’m shook. Not my hairdryer, God. Anything but my hairdryer! (alright, I’m being a bit dramatic, but there’s a point coming).
After we get back from a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner and I get the girls tucked in bed, I can’t stop thinking about that crazy piece of rubber in the hairdryer. What in the world is it for? It’s been coiled in there since I opened the package, but why was it so easy for Lauren to take out? I decided to investigate a little further so I did what any modern day Sherlock Holmes would do, and I Googled it.
You’re not going to believe this. I’m almost too embarrassed to even go on. The darn rubber thing is a mat designed to be put on your bathroom countertop to rest your hairdryer ON so it doesn’t slide and fall on the ground. REALLY? So you’re telling me, this random rubber thing that has been INSIDE my dryer this entire time is not even supposed to be there? I’m dying.
Sheepishly, I removed the rubber mat, once again, and put it in the linen closet with all of the other random hair stuff I don’t use. The opening, A.K.A air intake, section of my hairdryer looked incredibly free and unobstructed for the first time in three and a half years.
Here’s the kicker. The next time I took a shower and dried my hair with the now unobstructed dryer it was as if I was using an entirely different machine! Seriously. It was the best blow-out I’ve ever given myself (and honestly, they’re not that great anyway), but I was BLOWN AWAY! (sorry, pun intended)
By simply removing this “thing” out of the machine it was suddenly able to perform the way it was intended to. It could finally live up to the potential that the designer and engineer of that device had intended. It was no longer inhibited by something that was never meant to be there in the first place.
Lightbulb moment. I felt God impress upon my heart, “Don’t you see? When you remove things from your life that I never intended to be there, you will be able to operate in the fullest capacity that I designed for you. But until you do that, your potential will be blocked.”
Whoa. So good.
It made me stop and think about those things that I need to remove from my life. Some are behaviors like impatience, controlling tendencies, fear, and approval addictions. Or, some of the things that may need to be eradicated could be physical things like toxic people, certain relationships, or habits. When we allow these things, that are not God’s will for us, or sinful behaviors, into our lives we inhibit His ability to work through us. He wants to blow His power, blessing, and light through us, but if that pathway is blocked those good gifts will not be as effective as He designed them to be.
What is the “rubber thing” in your hairdryer? What do you need to ask God to help you remove so that you can be an open vessel ready to receive his flow of transformation in your life? Sometimes the first step is simply identifying those things and then praying that God will help transform and renew your mind.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Why would we want to stop or hinder God’s flow in our life? Sometimes it takes hard work, sacrifice, and major self reflection to fix those things that are blocking us. But I can’t imagine living my entire life knowing that I may be missing out on the fullness of His design for me simply because something is blocking the way.
Identify what is in your “hairdryer” and commit to removing it today!
When I hear the word “Sabbath” it sounds so formal and honestly, a little daunting. It has this hyper-religious ring to it that feels slightly impersonal and a bit stuffy for someone who doesn’t understand what it really means. This was me awhile ago. I didn’t “get” what it meant to observe the Sabbath, and it wasn’t until recently that our family began making the Sabbath something that we DO, and practice, as a family.
First let’s dive into what the Sabbath is. The definition of Sabbath is “a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jewish people from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.”
In Exodus 20:8-11, keeping the Sabbath is actually stated as one of the Ten Commandments. It’s obviously something that is important to God if He made it one of the Big Ten.
It states, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neigher you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
I will be the first to admit that stopping and resting is not easy for me to do. I think as women, wives, and mothers, we super-ladies have constant pressure to get stuff done! Whether that’s in our profession or around the house. This makes intentionally turning off that switch and allowing ourselves to rest, WAY hard! But it’s not something that God simply suggests for us to do. No, it’s a straight-up command!
And why would God command you to do something that feels completely against the grain of your nature? Because He loves you. He knows that we need to rest and He wants us to love Him in the process. He also desires that time to be about worship. He wants us to engage in dedicated, uninterrupted time directing our gaze up on our Lord, Creator, and Friend.
I know all of us could use a little more rest in our week, but I think the real issue with keeping the Sabbath is a trust issue. When our family first started being more intentional about this practice, I’ll be the first one to say that I struggled with trusting that everything would still get done. I mean seriously, between my day job and trying to keep the house picked up, laundry done, meals planned, etc. I couldn’t possibly afford to sit back and chill-ax while the To-Do list was screaming at me, right?
Well, that’s exactly what God wants you to do. It’s about TRUST. Do you trust Him enough to let all that go and put Him and His commands first? The Israelites had the same problem. In Exodus Chapter 16 Moses had led the recently freed people into the desert and they were complaining about not having enough food to eat. So God sent quail in the evening and manna in the morning. He commanded them to gather only what they needed for each day except on the sixth day, they were told to gather twice as much so they would have enough for the Sabbath. The people that tried to gather the manna on the seventh day went out and found none. Zero, zip. Nada.
This story really hit me because I often find myself not trusting that I can get everything done. But then I’m reminded that when I have this mindset I’m not having faith in what GOD can accomplish. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, myself, and goodness knows my abilities are always lacking. So why put your faith in what only YOU can do instead of putting your faith in what the Creator of the Universe can do. I’m guessing He’s a little bit better at time management than we are. Just a hunch.
So sure, this all seems great but what does it practically look like for us? Last I checked, we weren’t living in a tent in the Sahara with no wi-fi gathering the morning pancakes from the ground in the backyard. Our lives look WAY different than the Israelites’ so what does the Sabbath look like for me? I think it may look different for every family, but I can tell you what we do.
We have chosen Sundays to be our Sabbath day. Beginning Saturday night and extending through Sunday evening my husband and I start with enacting “Cell-Free Sunday”. This means putting our cell phones on their chargers in our bedroom closet and leaving them there. Granted, if we feel we need to take them with us for safety purposes we do, but we’re not posting to our Instagram stories or checking email.
The second thing we do is worship. That’s either physically going to church or watching a service online. Even though we believe every day is the Lord’s day, being intentional about worshiping our amazing God, and filling our hearts with His word is SO important. Then we try to do something outside with our family. I am so grateful that my husband is an outdoorsy kinda guy. I love the outdoors too, but I can also be a homebody. He has been so good for me because he pushes us to get out and do fun activities together. Whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, or just walking the dog, getting out into nature, being active, and connecting with God’s creation feels like worship to us. If getting outside isn’t an option, then board games, puzzles, or Legos are our go-to.
The other parameter that we set for ourselves on this day is refraining from doing any work that is income producing. That means detaching from our jobs and really taking this time to rest our brains.
This whole concept may seem so foreign to you, and I get that. I often struggle with feeling guilty if I’m not “working” or at least doing something productive. If that’s you too, take yourself off the hook, sister! Have peace knowing that God commanded you to rest. He knows what’s best for your body, your mental state, and your family. If HE rested after creating our world then you know it’s important to Him.
Practicing the Sabbath is exactly that for our family. It’s practice. I can’t say that we get it right every single week. It’s something we have to really work at. (Doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron!?) But it’s true. My flesh wants to be active and accomplish things, so I have to constantly be working on suppressing that urge. Some weeks we rock it! Others are epic fails. But I believe God honors our obedience and when we keep His day holy, He will more than make up for what we feel we “haven’t accomplished” in those 24 hours. He will bless our work that we do during the week, and will do immeasurably more than all we could hope or imagine!
So are you up for it?
I feel like I hear this phrase all the time lately. And let’s be honest, it definitely has a nice ring to it. But what exactly does it mean? It seems so easy to say and “faith over fear” has become a bit of a mantra this past year, but how do you practically put it into action? Just like any mantra or word of wisdom, you can say it all you want, but if you don’t act on it, it rings hollow.
Let’s start with breaking down the two main words in that phrase so we first understand what each of them means. I’m going to begin with the word fear. The Webster’s Dictionary definition of fear is, “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger.” Another definition is, “concern about what may happen : WORRY.” I like to define it as an acronym, the (F)alse (E)xpectation of something (A)ppearing (R)eal. The common denominator of all of these definitions is the assumption that something bad is going to happen. A.K.A, worry.
Okay, now let’s dive into the word, faith. If we call on our friend Webster again, faith is defined as “a firm belief even in the absence of proof : complete confidence.” It’s having confidence in the substance of things hoped for and the certainty of what we cannot see.
Sure, this is great and all, but you may be asking, “How does “faith over fear” help me when it feels like my world is crashing and burning all around me? It’s quite simple actually. Finding peace through practicing faith over fear is a choice. I’ll say it again. It’s a choice.
Every morning when you wake up and your feet hit the floor, you have a fresh opportunity to choose to live by either faith, or fear. It’s so easy to fall into the fear category. In this world, we are constantly being bombarded by fear tactics that get our hearts racing, and our minds spiraling into that rabbit hole of worry. But what does the Bible say about worry? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Instead of living in a constant state of fear, instead you can choose to have a mindset of courage and faith. You can believe and TRUST that God has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, and that He has plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11). I firmly believe that when I pray, seek God, and ask Him to cover me with His protection that nothing can come to me that doesn’t go through Him first.
Does this mean that we will never have hardship or struggles? Nope. Being a breast cancer survivor I can tell you that’s definitely not the case. However, I also know that God can work beautiful miracles through those challenges if you’re willing to keep your eyes on Him through the storm.
Living a life of faith over fear is incredibly freeing because it allows you to operate in a state of peace that protects your mind from the craziness around you. It keeps your feet grounded but your eyes upward and connected to the source that will guide you through all of life’s difficulties.
Here is a great podcast about this topic.
What is the ultimate time sucker? Distraction! I am forever fighting this battle and honestly, somedays I win and others look like bloody battlefields of haphazardness. Being distracted is a condition that I think many of us face on a daily basis and one that not only drains our energy but makes our productivity almost non-existent.
I have found that especially in these times when my favorite local coffee shops have thirty minute minimums on tables, and I’m forced to work and write from home, I struggle with keeping my eyes on the prize. Instead, my eyes are flitting all over the place noticing the mounds of laundry, the living room that looks like a “tween bomb” just exploded in it, and the dishes still sitting in the sink from breakfast. What I wish were moments of uninterrupted, focused bliss, I am conversely flying around getting everything half completed and nothing done very well.
This year I am making it my focus to change that. Through trial and error, and prayer, I have found four simple steps that have helped me fight the distraction dragon.
Give your phone a vacation.
We all know that for some of us our phone is our number distractor. Most times, if your phone is anywhere within reaching distance you will grab for it. Half the time, we never really have a reason to grab for it, but we just do. I am SO guilty of this.
Give your phone a vacation. Here is what I mean by that. Simply put it in another room. While you are working in your office, send your phone to the lovely and tropical kitchen for a little R & R. Or maybe it would like some solitary spa time in your bathroom for a few hours. Get the phone away from where you’re working. Case in point, I just got some really cute blue light glasses, and I had the thought that I should share these on my Instagram stories. If my phone hadn’t been on “vacation” in the other room I probably would have picked it up, tried to take some semi-flattering picture of my glasses and then been sucked into the worm hole of Instagram. All writing productivity would have been flushed down the toilet for the next 20 minutes.
Create time blocks.
Time blocking is huge and I highly recommend it. Carving out specific blocks of time to do certain work tasks or things around the house is incredibly helpful. I talk a lot about these and how effective they can be. When you block off time it gives you accountability to stay on task. It also gives you peace knowing that all of those other things on your to-do list are going to get addressed at some point during their allotted time frame. It helps to keep you from running around like a chicken with their head cut off.
Identify a dedicated work space.
Whether you’re working from home or a stay-at-home momma/domestic engineer, having dedicated work space is important. For me, I only work on my Beautycounter business when I’m in my office. And when I’m writing, I sit in my favorite chair in the living room by the fireplace with my cup of tea or gigantic bottle of water. Each place has a different vibe and when I’m in those places my mindset shifts to the specific tasks that need to be done in that location. When I’m writing, I’m not thinking about Beautycounter. When I’m in my office connecting with my team, I’m not focused on what my next blog post is.
This can be as simple as sticking to folding your laundry in the laundry room (if you have space), not on the kitchen table. Because what inevitably happens for me is if I’m folding laundry any place other than the laundry room, I begin to see the messy dog bowl area and I leave my laundry task half done to clean up the kibble. Have your work spaces identified and dedicated. It really helps a ton.
Pray for focus.
Ya’ll. This is the secret sauce. Quick story. A while ago I was walking the dog and praying for God to help me in this area of fighting distraction. When I got back to the house I found a strange, but beautiful sight. One of my daughters was tying up my other daughter in a chair with a ball of yarn. (That was the strange part.) The beautiful part was that the daughter in the chair was reading out loud from her devotional book, You’re God’s Girl! By Wynter Pitts. She “happened” to be reading a chapter that spoke about distraction and she read the verse Proverbs 4:25. It says…
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Boom. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was another sword in my arsenal that I could use to help me fight distraction. Now, everytime I sit down to a new task I pray out loud and ask God to keep me focused on that task. I say, “Lord, let my eyes look straight ahead and fix my gaze directly before me.” I believe this keeps me from letting my eyes veer off course and from looking at other things that could steal my focus on what is at hand.
Distraction is what I like to call a “soft enemy”. It doesn’t seem particularly harmful compared to all of the other craziness going on around us in this world, however it’s still very real and very dangerous. Distraction keeps us from moving fully and effectively into our purpose and so much progress can be lost if we allow distraction to rule our lives.
It’s a battle I know many of us continually have to fight, but making some easy adjustments in our routine and asking God to keep our eyes on our paths will help kick the distraction dragon to the curb.
Last year at this time the world was anxiously anticipating the dawning of the year, 2020. Not only did it have a nice ring to it, but it just felt like the year that would bring new wonders and the promise of good things to come. In fact, many organizations developed marketing strategies around the numerical play on words, 20/20, creating slogans referring to the optical connotation of seeing things very clearly. The idea of casting vision about our future and making New Year’s resolutions along those lines was heard and seen frequently. And as much as I love a nice, shiny new start to each year, and I’m ALL for casting vision, I have found that beginning the year with a “filter” alongside that vision is so important.
My husband and I have a tradition that every year in the month of December we begin praying and asking God to give us our “words” for the upcoming 12 months. These are literal words that we feel God impresses upon our hearts to act as filters that we look at our lives, and anything we put our hands to, that year. Last December, after praying and asking God for our word filters for 2020 one of the words we felt Him gently impress upon us was “RESET”. We wrote it down in our journals, and I posted it on the back door of our home so that we would see it and be reminded of it everyday as we left the house.
At the time, I thought that this word was a prompting for us to take a look at things in our lives that perhaps needed to be done a little differently. I had no way of knowing that the entire world would be given a big, fat, RESET. I didn’t understand the enormity of that word and what it would mean last December, but now I see how God was giving it to us to use as a filter. A filter that we would eventually sift everything through. Having this filter gave us incredible peace and confidence as we began to walk out what this physical, emotional, and spiritual reset looked like in our own home.
I can’t stress enough the importance of committing your New Year to the Lord, and asking Him for a filter in which you can look at your year through. This may be something you’ve never done before and that’s okay! This year would be a great time to start. It’s simple. It’s as easy as committing to spending regular quiet moments with God and asking Him to impress His truths upon your heart. It’s coupling that with consistent time, even five minutes, of reading the Bible and filling yourself with His wisdom and knowledge.
James 1:5 (AMP) says “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.
After you have spent time seeking this wisdom, then write down whatever you are feeling is being impressed on your heart. It could be one word or a phrase.
The most fun part of this process is looking back on your “word” at the end of the year and seeing how so many things that happened fell into alignment with that filter. It’s incredibly beautiful how God loves us enough to go before us into the New Year. Instead of trying to white-knuckle through that list of New Year’s resolutions, as you binge eat leftover Christmas cookies and write out that unrealistic gym schedule fit for an Olympian, ask the Creator of the Universe to guide you this year. Add a filter to your vision and watch as what you “see” becomes more clear than ever before.
How many times do we hold ourselves back because our “head” tells us we’re not smart enough, clever enough, pretty enough, or liked enough? Or maybe your head is on overdrive and you’re over-thinking a situation or making assumptions that aren’t really the case.
A few years ago my husband and I were traveling, and we stopped at a restaurant to have lunch. A large neon sign was affixed on the wall in front of our table and it said, “It’s All In Your Head”. The gravity of this message struck me instantly.
You may not realize this, but there is a battle raging for control of your mind. The enemy wants to have a foothold over your thoughts because he knows that when he can control your thoughts he can control you.
It’s very similar to when a dog trainer uses a gentle leader leash on a dog. This type of harness fits around the animal’s muzzle so the trainer can control the dog’s head. When the head is turned in a certain direction, the animal will move in that direction. The same concept applies to us!
Think about those classic Looney Tune cartoons. If something delicious was baking nearby, the cartoon character’s head would turn toward the wafting smell and the whole body would lift off the ground and float toward in the direction of the aroma’s origin. The same goes for us, but instead of finding a tray of homemade cookies, our negative thoughts can lead us into despair and destruction.
Here’s the good news.
You can regain control of your thoughts and resist the enemy’s schemes. When you start hearing those lies begin creeping into your mind, fight back by swinging your sword. Your sword is the Word of God. Speak TRUTH over yourself, and I mean outloud! Jesus fought back the devil in the desert by speaking truth. We can do it too. Here are some examples of verses you can speak over yourself when you’re fighting the “mind battle.”
Lie: I am inadequate or ugly.
Truth: Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Decree (what you say out loud): “I am made in the image of God and I am beautiful! I am created for good works! God has prepared these works for me, and I WILL walk in His plan for my life!
Lie: I am alone. No one loves me and I am unlovable.
Truth: Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Decree (what you say out loud): God knew me before I was born and He is with me always. He loves me and delights in me just the way I am. He rejoices over me with singing day and night!
Lie: I am dumb. I will never amount to anything.
Truth: Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
1 Corinthians 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Decree (what you say out loud): I am smart, and the Lord gives me wisdom, knowledge and understanding FREELY! I have the mind of Christ and He is renewing my mind!
Get out of your head and don’t let the enemy or YOURSELF be your biggest roadblock. Flip the script in your mind and believe that you are created for such a time as this! Go rock the life God has given you, and if you start sinking into the abyss of self-doubt, fight back the lies and SPEAK TRUTH!
I was standing on the Kawarau Bridge on the South Island of New Zealand overlooking the 141 drop to the river gorge below. Strapped to my ankles was a large bungee cord, or essentially a glorified rubberband. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I could faintly hear the water rushing below me. The wind was whipping at my cheeks as the bungee worker began yelling the countdown in a loud booming voice. Three, two, one… All I felt at that moment was….fear.
“What in the heck am I doing?” I thought to myself in these final moments of the countdown. “I’m getting ready to throw myself off this bridge and hope and pray that I don’t go plunging to my death in the icy waters below. Have I lost my mind?” Some would probably say I had, but even though fear was for a moment holding me back from jumping into the abyss, it didn’t win. On that final count of three I jumped.
I jumped because I knew that something was holding onto me, and I trusted that it wouldn’t let me go. I began to free fall, head first, and found myself instinctively shutting my eyes tightly out of fear as the wind whistled past my ears. But then something incredible happened. I began to feel a slight pull on my ankles and my descent began to gradually slow. I felt a tension develop that eventually stopped my rapid fall and that tension started to gracefully bounce my body up and down. I immediately opened my eyes and threw my arms out like wings of a bird. It was the closest sensation to flying I had ever felt. It was a gloriously freeing moment that I will always remember.
I would have never had this experience had I let fear rule in that moment when I was standing on that bridge. Fear. The “False Expectation of something Appearing Real”. Fear has the potential to cripple us and keep us from moving forward into what God has prepared for us.
The Bible has more verses written around the command “DO NOT FEAR” than any other concept. In fact, I was reading the book “If You Want to Get Out of the Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg, and he said that there are 366 verses about fear to be exact. One for every day of the year including leap year! Obviously, God knows that fear is the enemy’s most powerful weapon that he has to keep us down for the count.
If God’s people are immobilized with fear, they can’t mobilize for His kingdom.
Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
“You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This one is a direct command for us to not be afraid. Not just a suggestion, but a direct order from our commanding officer, God.
In order to not live in fear you need to trust. Just like I put my trust in that thick bungee cord to keep me from failing, we need to put our trust in Jesus. Trust that He will carry you through whatever storm you are facing. Trust that He will protect you when the waters and the world are raging around you. And trust that if you push past your fear and take that leap, He will catch you and send you on the ride of your life.
Open your eyes, spread your arms, and get ready to fly.
Yes, you heard that right. YOU are a warrior. Is that hard to believe? What? You’re not feeling like you’re channeling Superwoman right now? You’re not flying off to save the world from utter destruction? Are you instead feeling like just getting dinner on the table for the “fam” before 8:00 pm is looking a little iffy? What if I told you that you ARE a warrior and you have a secret weapon that can fight and win major battles everyday? It’s true.
Here’s my secret. Your weapon is prayer. (Crickets)…. Was that a little anticlimactic? Just hang with me for a second. I’m serious. Prayer is your superpower, and you want to be tapping into your superpower on a daily basis.
A few months after I had officially finished my fight with breast cancer (and by “officially” I mean I was done with my chemo treatments and recovering from surgery) I was asked by a friend who owned a local clothing boutique if I would help with her fall photoshoot. She needed a few “models” to wear some of the new looks that came into the store and truthfully, I was the token mom in the bunch. The other girls were beautiful young twenty-somethings that were made for the camera. I was honored that she asked me and was excited to play dress-up, but I felt highly inadequate for the job. I mean really. My hair was just growing back so I had crazy lengths I was trying to manage, my eyebrows and eyelashes were essentially gone, and my reconstructed chest was still feeling a bit wonky. Not exactly checking all the boxes in the “model” department. But I happily agreed because again, I thought it would be fun.
Once I was ready and in my first outfit, the photographer and I went into the alley to start shooting. To say that my confidence had taken a hit due to my previously difficult road and very recent memories of being bald, would be an understatement. But I did my best to loosen up and dig down deep to my previous dance and performance experience for inspiration. As we were shooting I saw the owner of the shop come around the corner and take a couple of pictures of us on her phone. After the day was over, she sent one to me and it stopped me in my tracks.
The picture was of me standing against the alley wall doing a full-on Superwoman pose. My hands were on my hips, my feet firmly planted in a wide stance and the look on my face was one of complete confidence and let’s just say, world dominance. It looked like I was ready to go to war and no one or nothing was going to stop me! (Now, please know that was not how I was feeling inside, whatsoever. I was just praying that my fake eyelashes weren’t going to blow off in the stiff breeze swirling around us.)
But here’s the cool thing. As I looked at that picture I felt the Lord impress upon my heart these words. “Jamie, this is how I see you. You may be weak physically and emotionally at times, but you are strong in Me. You are my warrior.”
Guys, this is how God sees US! And it’s not how strong we are on the outside. It’s about the inner strength we have when we put our faith in Him! When we do that, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us fight our battles, and He gives us the best weapon to do that with. Prayer!
I love this quote from Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher from the eighteen hundreds.
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that- it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”
Prayer isn’t something you just repeat to check off a box. It’s true communication with your Heavenly Father and because He loves you, you have the ability to move the heart of God! I’ll say that again, YOU can move the heart of God with your prayers. How beautiful is that.
Matthew 18:18-20 says, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I am among them.”
You might be thinking, “I don’t know how to pray.”
Well, this is an easy one. You know how to talk, right? That’s all you have to do! Just talk to God like you would a friend. Share your hurts, your fears, your wins and your successes. Tell Him everything! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just talk.
But when should I pray?
Whenever you want to! (and all the time) I pray when I’m in the shower. I’ll pray when I’m driving in the car. I’ll even pray while I’m walking the dog. It doesn’t matter when you pray, just do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Your prayers move the spiritual realms so why wouldn’t you want to use this power God has given you. Does every prayer request turn out the way we want it to? No. That would be like giving our children everything they ever asked for including the pony and the riding stable. Duh. God our Heavenly Father loves us as His children, and He’s not going to give us everything we want, in just the way we want it, because He knows what’s good for us. But He does hear every prayer we pray and He will work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Stop walking around with your head hanging low feeling like you can’t make a difference in your world, your family or your marriage. If you believe in Jesus and He is your personal Savior, you have everything inside of you to fight massive battles. Start by praying. Stand up, get into your best Superwoman pose and start letting those words fly.
You ARE a warrior and you SLAY when you PRAY!
THIS is who I am. I am not a dancer, a teacher, a mom, or a cancer survivor. I AM a child of God. Are all of those titles pieces that make up the story of my life? Absolutely. I am proud of every phase that I have experienced and that God has walked me through. I believe that each of these seasons has played a very specific and important role in developing me into the person I am today. Each has been an opportunity to gain wisdom and insight for the next season. I have seen how God uses the spring seasons in our lives to gently grow and mature the seeds He has planted within us. I have also seen how He uses the winter seasons to demonstrate His fierce and unwavering love for us and to teach us to trust in His goodness no matter what we are facing. He will never leave us through those storms because we are His.
I have a strong desire to instill this same identity in my daughters and to equip them with the tools they need to face the identity crisis this world inflicts upon our youth. In searching for the best way to cement this concept into their sweet little hearts, I turned to my always reliable and favorite theological resource, Hobby Lobby. Yes, believe it or not, I found what I was looking for at this craft store that I harbor a slightly unhealthy obsession for. One day around the holidays, I was perusing the aisles trying to decide what farmhouse chic item needed to come home with me and was stopped dead in my tracks by a pretty lettered sign propped on a shelf. It read,
“I am the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world.
My God is with me, and goes before me.
I do not fear because I am His.”
I felt my arm reach out as if being powered by something other than my own strength and watched my hand take this sign off the shelf. I put it in my cart and headed home. I wrapped it up and gave it to my oldest daughter for Christmas that year, and promptly hung it in her room where she would see it every night before she closed her eyes, and every morning when she woke up.
This saying has become what I call our family’s, “I am” statement. We recite this statement in the car going to school in the mornings and pull it out when my daughters are feeling inadequate in any area of their lives. We stress that they don’t need to be moved by the world by peer pressure and that their God is with them always. They do not need to fear the challenges that will come because they belong to a God who hung the stars and set our world in motion. They are His now and forevermore. My hope and prayer is that these words will be rooted in their hearts, and will surface when they need them most. I want them to know their identities are in their Creator, and not their accomplishments. If this statement is a constant truth in their hearts, then it becomes a weapon they can use to fight the lies that the enemy will whisper in their ears, “You are a failure. You are ugly. You aren’t good enough.” Truth trumps lies every time, and when it comes to our identities, it’s no different.
So often my girls get asked the question, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?” They may answer, “I want to be an artist.” Or “I want to be a doctor.” I am guilty of asking them this question myself. However, I have learned that a better question to ask is, “What do you want to DO when you grow up?” God has given us all specific gifts and talents that He desires us to use for His purposes and His kingdom. But, defining our future by what we want to BE is deceiving because it insinuates that our identity is in what we do. I believe our identities are who we are from the minute we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and that identity is a son or daughter of a King. We can aspire to work as a teacher, a lawyer, or a stay-at-home mom, but just as the seasons in nature change, so will these seasons in our lives. The only thing that remains the same throughout the ever-evolving life path we follow is our title as a joint heir with Christ.
Changing seasons are extremely unpredictable. In fact, as I sit at the table in my sunroom writing this, I’m gazing out at my snow-covered yard. You may think, “Oh that sounds lovely. All of that white, beautiful snow must compliment your Christmas decorations so well.” It’s April. Yep. Not just April, but the MIDDLE of April. Five days ago my family and I were riding bikes and skateboarding in shorts. Today I’m looking at snow. It’s the same in our lives. There will be days when everything in your world feels bright and sunny, and then in an instant, a violent storm blows through and everything you know and find comfort in is crashing down around you. The Bible says in John 16:33,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We will experience hardship and trial. But through those storms there is a constant and steady truth. You are a son or daughter of a King. You are loved and cared for by the King of all Kings, and He is faithful to provide all you need.
When I excused myself from the rollercoaster of identity seasons and settled into the steady knowledge of who I truly am, I gained a peace that laid a foundation for me to build upon. This foundation is the rock solid wall that I now decorate with the gifts and talents that God has given me. When one of those giftings or professions gets a little cockeyed on the wall, or flat-out falls off and crashes to the floor, I will still be grounded in who I truly am. I now have the confidence to proudly wear my identity name tag that will always and forever read:
Jamie Dahl, The Daughter of a King
This is an excerpt from a chapter that I wrote in the book, “The Identity Effect”, A Collection of Stories by Women Who’ve Discovered Their True Identity in Christ. This book was published by FEW International Publications and can be found on Amazon.com.