We all have a choice. We can live a life of freedom in and through Jesus Christ or we can live a life in perpetual offense.
What is perpetual offense? It is existing, not truly living, in a state of constant victimhood. It is remaining chained by this stronghold of the enemy. When I think about this perpetual offense and how to describe it, the old song "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll eat some worms." I laugh as I type this because I literally sang it as I was typing. Ha Ha Ha! It is this mindset and attitude that I see and think of when I see others living in perpetual offense or constant victimhood.
We live in a world full of "safe spaces." And we live in a society full of "political correctness," that is an environment that plants, grows lies and is a place that tries to keep all of us in perpetual offense. We live in a time that so many spend all of their time finding anything to be offensive instead of spending time focused on God and His truths. There is nothing offensive, about God. Does He convict us when we are living outside of His truths? Sure! Instead of being offended that the creator of everything and us (in His image) is gently trying to get us in line with His will, why not listen? Even in the church, "political correctness" has infected, festered and corrupted with trying to "appease" everyone instead of standing in and on the TRUTH of what God's Word says. As my pastor has said so many times, "You either believe God's Word or you don't. Genesis to maps! You believe it all or none of it."
We live in a world and society full of lies. The most dangerous and damaging attitude and phrase in today's world, especially to disciples of Christ is, "You do you, Boo!" This way of thinking and living is dangerous to disciples today because it encourages taking your eyes off of Christ, the cross and the Word of God and keeps you/society looking inward, selfishly. That is what the enemy wants! When we are focused inward on ourselves and our feelings/emotions, we miss out on God, His will, way, promises and potential of ALL God has in store for us.
People today are so quick to be offended by anything and everything, truth or lies, because that inward focus keeps us in bondage. Here is an idea! Who cares?!?! Who cares that so and so doesn't like you or called you this name or that name. Is it truth? Is it God's truth about you? We are commanded to love our neighbors AS ourselves, not INSTEAD of ourselves. That does not mean that we believe everything those we know say to us or about us either. Mark 12:31; Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13:10, 1 John 4:7; Galatians 5:14; John 13:34; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:9; These are just a few instances in the love letter commanding us to love one another but never once does it say to love others' actions.
Where does your truth lie? Whose are you? When someone (the enemy) tries to cover us in lies with belittling, viciousness, lies, blame, guilt, etc., why give them (the enemy) that kind of false power over our minds and hearts? You MUST go to the truth of the matter and remind yourself who and what God says you are! Your freedom, purpose and "matter" does not lie in anyone in this world, so why take every little thing to heart? It robs you and does nothing to grow you. It does, however, give the enemy a foothold/stronghold like a hook in your entire being to keep you from God. Why give him that kind of power over you?
I have chosen to allow God to break those strongholds and fill the spaces in my heart, spirt and mind with HIS truths about me! The enemy wants to keep us captive even if we have experienced justification in salvation through Jesus Christ. Why? Because the enemy knows that he has lost us for eternity. BUT! He tries everything in his "power" to keep us, in this life, from recognizing, walking in, claiming and having the abundance that God has promised. The enemy does NOT want us to be walking in our authoritative swagger in Christ because when we do he not only loses us, but others we will bring into the family of God. How does he keep us down? By lying to us. The heartbreaking part of his lies in our hearts and minds is that until we truly walk in God, we believe his lies. We give the enemy the foothold that turns into a stronghold that disrupts and prevents us from walking in our authority. STOP IT!
How do you stop this?
#1-Submit to God. God wants ALL of you. He wants it all, even those parts you think you are hiding from him or you think are not useful. Allow Him to do what He does best! He made you in His image and He wants you! You are chosen and wanted. You are full of potential and have amazing gifts that God has already given and wants to continue to give!
#2-Speak LIFE! Speak life over yourself. How often are you intentional in speaking life over others? How often are intentional in speaking Scripture to others? Praying for and over others? How often do you do those things to YOURSELF??? When you replace those spaces in your heart, mind and spirit that you have allowed the lies of the enemy to be spoken and believed with the truth of God's Word, promises and life, you are able to change your perspective and rob the enemy of his control and power.
#3-Go back and do #1, then resist the enemy. He MUST flee when you do these things. You cannot make him flee from you and release his measly attempt in trying to keep you down without submitting to God first. Submit and then stand up against your real enemy. James 4:7
#4-Recognize the enemy in all of the words and actions that are thrown at you by others and society. Be aware, 1 Peter 5:8 gives clear instruction to us! Guess what..2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV brings the enemy into the light of truth, "And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." There are times that those around us do not recognize they are being used by the enemy in our lives, but we can. Ephesians 6:12 ESV gives us the truth. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
Change your perspective from inward and worldly to the truth of everything. Remember WHOSE you are and speak those truths over yourself. Stop living in perpetual offense because it changes who you are and dims the light you are purposed to be through Jesus Christ. We are told to be in the world but not OF the world. Keep your focus on God, seeking Him in all things, learning, saturating your heart and mind in His Word. Know YOUR truth and stop allowing the world and the enemy to rob you of the beautiful, amazing YOU that God sees and wants to mold.
How well do you know me? How well do others know you?
Over the past few years, specifically 5-8, I have changed. I have changed tremendously! There is no doubt in my heart, mind and eyes. You see I am growing. I am changing. Yes, physically, because that happens as we accumulate age and our physical bodies change. The change I am seeing, feeling and living in is spiritual. It is God sanctifying and edifying my heart, eyes, mind and spirit.
As I continue this joyney, God is showing me ALL of the ways He is changing me. As I seek Him more, love Him more, listen more, learn more, I praise him for HIS work in me transforming me from the "old Shalon" into the "new Shalon." I am learning, growing and leaning into the "new Shalon" who is leaning into and saturating herself in God.
God tells us in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."-ESV
In every way over the past few years, God has transformed me in some of the same ways he transformed Saul to Paul. My heart jumps each time I think about this amazing work.
I have been reflecting on the me from years ago. My actions, words, reactions to people and situations. I am not reflecting with a sorrowful heart, guilty mind or regretful spirit. Those emotions do not represent my new mind, heart and spirit. Why? Because those are all chains, footholds or strongholds the enemy tries to plant in order to keep me from walking and living in the abundant fullness God has poured out and has planned for me. I KNOW who I am now. God is transforming me and I cannot get enough of Him and all of the goodness He has in store.
When I am confronted by someone who knew me as "Saul" and that person or group of people throw their judgment because of my past, the Lord brings to mind several things.
#1-I am clothed in dignity and strength because I wear the Armor of God. Those words of judgement and condemnation or rejecting attitudes are fiery arrows coming at me by the enemy and are powerless.
#2-Even having been a believer in Christ since the age of 9, the past few years have been when I have truly had my soul awakened to my true identity. This realization and walking in and with God has removed the scales from my spiritual eyes and allows me to see more of God and who I am in Him. That freedom is priceless and the hope and peace I receive is difficult to put into words.
#3-I am called to SHOW God's love and power. How receptive or reactive of those who knew me as "Saul" has zero to do with me and lies with them alone. In the love letter, God tells us, "If anyone will not listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust of your feet."-Matthew 10:14, NIV
I am free in Christ! Truly free to walk in the light of who I am because of His blood shed on the cross. I am free to walk as "Paul" and leave "Saul" behind because that is just what God wants to do in accomplishing His plans for my life and His kingdom here on Earth. My purpose is to be the light simply because the Holy Spirit leads, guides and directs my steps. I want more of the promises God has for me because I know that He keeps His promises. That alone is enough for me to keep seeking God first, in all things, leaning not on my understanding but fully committed and trusting in God because HIs ways are good.
Our willingness, full surrender and complete trust allows God to transform all of us from Saul to Paul. Which version of you do people know? Which version of you do you know? Are you walking and living in the freedom and fullness God has in store? My prayer is that you allow God to remove the scales from your spiritual eyes and grow your heart in Him so that you may go forward out of the shadows of the enemy and walking in the authority Jesus gave you when He died on the cross and rose again 3 days later.
A cup of tea. Simple. Seemingly insignificant, even to the one drinking it at times. On the other hand, soothing, warming, comforting, useful for sleep, aches, pains or many other ailments.
What about the cup in which the tea is poured in? Do you have a favorite cup or drinking glass? Is it stained? Is it broken? Chipped? Special because of where you got it or someone who gave it to you? Salvaged because it was dropped and broken at one time?
What is meant by "being someone's cup of tea?" or NOT being someone's cup of tea? It means to be something one like or excels in. It can also mean, a thing to be reckoned with. Interesting? I have only recently began hearing the phrase, "Let's talk tea" and "spill the tea." In this sense, it apparently refers to sharing gossip. This is something I strive to stay away from. Unnecessary drama and lies, no thank you.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand.
I have NOT been someone's "cup of tea" more often in life than I HAVE been. I am okay with that. As I continue to grow, bloom and blossom in my journey with God, I see that it is okay to not be someone's/everyone's cup of tea because the truth is, I AM God's cup of tea! I was fearfully and wonderfully made with a special purpose even more than one.
You see, I am a tea cup in God's cupboard. A broken, stained, chipped, glued back together after being accidentally or purposely broken by someone else. I have rough edges but am not seen that way by God and neither are you!
In God's eyes, in His collection of vessels to carry what He chooses to pour in to, I am a precious heirloom of His. I am treasured, adored, loved, valuable, useable, cherished, special and worthy of being used by Him. You see? I long to be a cup overflowing of God's purpose, love, truth, comfort and use. I long to accomplish complete servanthood of God my Father. I was made in His image, therefore, He longs to pour into me and allow me to spill over onto those around me whom He chooses to also pour over and into.
In preparing to write this, I asked God what it meant for me to be HIS cup of tea. This is what He said:
T-TRUTH in speaking, seeking, sharing God's truth
E-EXPECTATION from obedience to Him completely (Just be that cup that is useable by God in whatever way He knows I can be of greatest use for Him. He has made promises to us that he WILL keep!)
A-ACCEPTANCE, walking in fullness & anointing of God by God
I long to be overflowing and not just full? Why? Because the overflow reaches others and allows God to touch them in ways I never could. Of course, I want to be full of God's grace, love, mercy, wisdom, discernment, fruits of the Spirit and touch those around me to know that same fullness, BUT! I want to be overflowing, able to accomplish more.
I want to be overflowing in speaking God's truth with His love, grace and mercy steeped into life-giving words to others. I long to be warming to others with the sweet aroma of praise to God and to those around me. I want to allow God to "steep" my baggage from the past hurts, abuse and mistreatment by others that in my humanness try to contain in a neat "bag." God is the only one who can steep that "bag"gage and then throw those pieces into HIS compost pile that is transformed into something useful, nourishing and freeing to others as well as me. Holding on to my tea "bag"gage weighs me down in the water and does not allow me truly be free.
I am not everyone's cup of tea and I am okay with that. I was not created to be everyone else's cup of tea or tea cup. I was created, designed and made to be God's tea cup vessel overflowing with His Truth with Expectation of fulfillment of His promises from my obedience and Acceptance of walking in His fullness and anointing.
Several weeks ago, God showed me a verse and spoke it over me in a way that opened my eyes to His amazing love and purpose for me, his cherished, loved, adored "heir"loom and I have been unable to stop hearing it being repeated to me.
Song of Solomon 2:10, "My beloved spoke to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.'" My heart leaps whenever I hear or read this verse because God gave such an incredible meaning behind it directly to me.
I hope you are able to see yourself the way God sees you as an invaluable, cherished, loved, adored, worthy "cup" in his cupboard and will allow Him to pour over you not just to fill your cup but to overflow onto others the way He wants to do this. And remember, if you don't empty a cup, it never needs to refilled. Also, you have the choice to be just full or to be overflowing!
So, you want to begin Bible JOYnaling. There are so many different ways to jump in!!! When I began my #Biblewrecker joyney, I was very scared, hesitant and extremely nervous. As I have shared in my previous post, What is a #Biblewrecker? I was raised with a VERY strict reverence for any Bible. If you have not read that post, you can find it here:
When I began my joyney, I HAD to give myself permission to begin. There were so many reasons why. If you are anything like me you may be so afraid of "messing up" that you just cannot jump in with both feet. I get it! I am here to give you this encouragement, God WANTS to spend time with you!!!!! God WANTS you to spend time IN HIM and HIS Word! He is NOT complicated in His want of you and to just BE with you while you are meditating in and on HIs Word.
Let me repeat, God WANTS to spend with you. He WANTS you, your heart, your time, your creativity. Also, one of my MOST favorite things to say to anyone beginning to joynal, has been doing it for years or those occasional folks who scold me for it, "Journaling is NOT about how you mark the Word. It IS about how the Word marks YOU!"
Before I begin joynaling, if I need it for my own heart and mind, in a new Bible, I give myself permission to REALLY use it! I have so many journaling Bibles and sometimes they are just so beautiful on the outside that I, even now, have to give myself permission to use it for joynaling purposes.
Permission pages are so helpful and a wonderful reminder to you that your particular Bible IS for joynaling, for coloring, for writing, doodles, praising, learning, worshipping, renewing and for YOUR connection to God. Give yourself permission to take risks, to grow in God, to use art as a form of healing, worship, praise, meditation and expressing your love to God.
Along with reminding yourself what your journaling Bible IS for, I find it helpful to add in what my journaling Bible is NOT for. WHAT? Yes! That is correct. I remind myself what is NOT allowed in my Bible. My Bibles for joynaling are NOT for my Type A personality perfectionism. They are NOT for being neat. Unless it is a specific Bible that I am creating specifically for someone like my daughter or son, my journaling Bibles are not for showing off, impressing God or anyone else. My joynaling is ONLY for me, God and my praise, worship , prayers and reflection of my communication, meditation and relationship with God.
Give yourself "permission" to let go of all of your preconceived notions about what Bible Joynaling is "supposed" to be or "supposed" to look like. Only you can describe, show and express your relationship with God. You might want to consider giving yourself a reminder of possibilities of things that "could" happen in your joyney. Art/craft supplies can be messy. Some are trial and error. Markers are going to bleed through pages at times, Pens are going to ghost sometimes. Pages are going to wrinkle when too wet. Sometimes pages will rip. Beautiful paper clips may damage our pages. Believe me, it is OKAY! Things happen. Give yourself permission to ALLOW all of these things. Focus your heart and mind on your WHY! Why are you joynaling?
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (ESV)
Remind yourself why you felt drawn to Bible Joynaling in the first place. I pray that you grow so wonderfully close to God in your joyney! Love and blessings to you as you grown in the Lord. Below is my very first permission when I began my joyney. I hope this inspires you to just jump in!
Awaken like the flowers and trees in Spring. Be restored. Grow, bloom, transform into who you, whose you are, learn to grasp the power within you and the authority you have to use it. -Shalon Day
HEART SNAP: PSALM 80:19-(NIV) Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
Spring is my favorite season of all. I absolutely love going out to my patio and seeing all of my beautiful flowers peeking up from the ground. Anticipating all of the sweet fragrances, beautiful colors and magnificent blooms that will show in a few days, weeks and months as God is gently waking them up from their winter slumber. Spring reminds me of how amazing God is as He gently awakens all of the trees, flowers, birds, insects, "life" He created.
I am reminded that God shows me his magnificence and restores my heart, mind and spirit each and every day as I study, read, pray and seek Him. These are days, especially in the Spring, when I love to just sit in the sun, feel God's love radiating down on me, smelling the sweet aroma of His love, imagining that He is looking down on me with the same thoughts in His mind of me!
How do you recognize when God is gently awakening you and your spirit or heart?
How do you respond to these moments?
Do you welcome them like a baby happy to see Momma or Daddy?
Are you a grumpy, grumbling half-awake teenager, irritated that you didn't get to sleep longer?
What is your vision of what Spring looks like from your perspective vs. God's perspective?
HEART SNAP: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NIV)-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!
Just as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, we become a beautiful new creation after accepting Christ as our Savior. Just as a seed or a bulb that has no visual appeal by itself, when planted, watered and given time, blooms. Christ turns us from dead, unappealing seeds, gives us a solid root system and the ability to produce beautiful blooms or fruit that we are then able to spread to those around us.
Imagine God seeing you as a flower in His magnificent garden. What flower are you and why?
How is God cultivating you to bloom in your life?
Are you allowing your heart, mind and spirit to be soft, fertilized ground?
Are you resisting as dry, parched, cracked ground?
HEART SNAP: 1 John 5:4-5 (NIV)-for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Have you even seen a blade of grass growing up in the middle of a concrete pad and wonder how in the world that little blade made its way through gravel and 2, 3 or more inches of concrete to peek out and receive sunshine to grow?
I do! As I am spraying weed killer or pulling it, Yes, obviously in vain, because in just a couple of weeks, another one peeks up again.
Did you know that you have that much power? YOU DO! Because of Christ, you have overcome the world. You have the same power living inside to overcome the ground, gravel and concrete you may feel is hiding you from the sun. Use that power given to you from God to stand in the SON and refuse to be "Killed by the weed killer (the world)."
How do you feel when you read, see or hear God telling you that you have overcome the world?
How can you continue being a victorious blade of grass that has overcome concrete and stand proudly in the "Son?"
How can you show others how to be an overcome of this world/life, the messy middle between two perfect gardens?
Dig deeper in your study. I encourage you to look at the following verses (HEART SNAPS) to grow your heart, mind and soul!
1 Corinthians 6:19
1 Peter 2:2
2 Peter 3:18
1 John 4:14
I would also like to encourage you to write Ephesians 1:4-5 on a pretty piece of paper, sticky note or index card.
In place of "us," write your name and put it wherever you can see it and read it everyday.
May your day be blessed and I pray you allow God to cultivate your heart in ways you have never experienced before! Blessings, Shalon
What a difference living our lives in the fullness of God and His Love of us makes in our spirits, heart, mind and actions/reactions. Unless we recognize, grasp and apply that fullness, it is just there. Let's not be empty, seeking what would never fill us. Let's come into the heart of our Abba Father and grow in that overflowing place that never leaves us wanting.-Shalon Day
HEART SNAP: Zephaniah 3:17 (MSG) Your God is present among you, a strong warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love & delight you with His songs.
This verse speaks to me in so many different ways and provides me with such peace, comfort and amazement, to be honest. I looked at this verse in so many different versions and each one speaks loudly.
The CSB version states, "He will 'quiet' or renew me with his love.
NIV tells me God 'takes great delight in me, in his love he will no longer rebuke me, but will rejoice over me with singing.'
Can you close your eyes and see God rejoicing over you with singing? What an awesome vision. I don't know about you but knowing that God loves me, little ol' me, so much that He rejoices with song over me makes my heart so incredibly full. This gives me such a different perspective on myself, my worth and my entire identity in this life.
What does it mean to you that God, with His love, will calm you?
What do you imagine God's voice singing to you and over you sounds like?
How can you apply this verse and its message/promise into your everyday life?
How can you describe this amazing truth with someone else.
HEART SNAP: Jeremiah 31:3 (MSG): God told them, "I've never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love."
As a Mom, I tell both of my children that I love them. I have always told Cadrian, "I love you to the moon & back times infinity," or "I love you 3,000." (Yes, from a Marvel movie) and if I am just wanting to drop her a quick text, I will type, 143. With Steele, I have always told him, "I love you to infinity and beyond." What could be more than infinity??? As I think about how much I love my children, I think about how much more God loves His children. My human mind and Momma heart cannot fathom the overflowing, abundant love He has.
I would give up my own life for my children without hesitation. However I would not be able to give either of them up to save someone else. But, God did just that! He gave HIs only Son to be the price paid for US and our sin.
Society has become so flippant using the word "love." How often is it used to describe anything and everything? We say we love food, TV shows, clothes, shoes, vehicles,, all things worldly. When did "love," the feeling, the emotion, the ACTION become so meaningless?
I often wonder and talk to God about how it must break His heart that His love is so overlooked, dismissed, ignored or seen as something as common as our favorite food. Can you imagine?
Different versions of Jeremiah 31:3 God's love is described as faithful, everlasting, unfailing. I encourage you to read different versions/translations because the bigger picture of God's love is made so much more clear.
What comes to mind when you think of God's love being all of these characteristics?
How do you describe His love to others who are not believers?
What is your definition of love?
How can you live your life in the fullness of God's love?
HEART SNAP: 1 JOHN 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.
In my life, I have been called spoiled more than enough. I have been told that I am "high maintenance." I have experienced being the target of other people's judgements, either because of who they "believe" I am or more accurately the persona they want OTHERS to see me being. What so many have never taken the time to consider is what makes THEM feel this way about me? I have usually responded to these judgements, situations or statements with a laugh and saying "I am not spoiled, just loved. A LOT!"
I am the same way with those whom I love. I try to lavish them with it. If that is ensuring needs are met, even if it is a little "extra." I strive to ensure that those whom I love know without a shadow of a doubt, not by "things," but with attention affection, listening, time, so many ways that cost not a dime.
God LAVISHES (to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on-Oxford Languages)
GREAT (of an extent, amount or intensity considerably above the normal or average-Oxford Languages)
love on us that He calls us HIs children.
Does it really matter what others who have not yet experienced or know of His love say or feel about us?
They cannot understand why we live so fully loved because they do not know Christ to be able to experience this great love lavished upon them. YET!
What comes to mind when you hear the words, lavish and great?
How can you bring the fullness of God's love of you to others?
Are there times in life that you are slow or hesitant to believe and receive the full love of God?
What does it mean to you to be chosen, called, adopted as a child of God?
What does that REALLY mean?
What does it mean in your heart, mind, soul and everyday life?
HEART SNAP: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 (MSG) May the Master pour on the so it fills your lives & splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength & purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.
Have you ever had a glass or cup filled to the very tip top and had to walk to the table or counter without spilling it? We have all done that, I am sure. Have you ever paid attention to the way that cup/glass is carried? What I mean is, are your eyes focused on the cup, trying hard to NOT spill it? Or are your eyes focused on where you are and your steps? My experience is that when I am focused on the cup, it splashes out everywhere. If I am focused on my destination, not the cup, the liquid either does not spill or splash at all or very little. If you have a full cup in your hand, do you need to refill it? Nope, no need. Right?
Your heart, mind and spirit are a "cup" God wants to fill up.
How can He do that if we never empty that love onto others?
Are we so focused on our destination that we never splash HIS love and goodness onto people around us?
Are we focused on getting that cup full and allowing it to splash all over ourselves and the people around us who need?
Do you empty your cup? How often?
How do you imagine God pouring out His love into and over you?
How do you receive it?
Are you a cup with a lid, keeping all of it inside?
Are you a cup without a lid allowing God's love to overflow?
My challenge for you, after reading this, is to rewrite Jeremiah 31:3 from whichever version you choose. Insert your name in place of the word "them." Write this on sticky notes, note cards or anything you can put where you will see it. Read it out loud whenever you see it.
Who are you? What do you do? What is your purpose? What are you passions in life?
Do these questions give you a moment of pause? Do these kinds of questions ever make your heart beat a little faster or maybe beat almost out of your chest? Do you hear these from others? Do you ask these of yourself? Do your answers change depending on what stage or circumstance in life you are standing in at this moment?
I say to my children, 9 or 18, anytime they leave for school, "Remember WHOSE you are!" Steele responds with, "God's! That means be like Jesus. That means be kind, in all I say, think and do. And guard my heart above all else because all I do flows from it." Every morning on his way to the catch the bus. Cadrian's response is, " I will, Momma!" I have even been known to say this to the hubby when he texts me while at work and his mind and heart are weary from working around so many men who are not believers and take a toll on his mind and heart!
As a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, my "Who am I?" is subjective to which "hat" I am wearing. Over the past few years, though, I have made a concerted effort to discover who I am in Christ. I am on a quest in discovering, fulfilling and living out my purpose. My divine purpose and God's WHY for having fearfully and wonderfully creating me!
It is a quest, a journey, a process of refining, breaking, molding, growing and allowing God to be exactly WHO He is and to do exactly what He is good at within me! It is NOT fun at times. No one enjoys being vulnerable or broken or to feel as though there is no control in their life. BUT!!!!!!! I am finding that by allowing these events and events throughout my life, past and recent, are ALL for the fulfillment of HIS purpose for me in life. There are so many men and women in the Bible who welcomed God's refinement of them to be used in the Kingdom in ways only He could orchestrate. Many of those used did not "welcome" the refinement per se. God used them anyway and gave them exactly what they "thought" they were lacking in order to accomplish the end purpose.
Our identity, in any stage or circumstance, in life must first be found in Christ. Period! No more, no less. This identity must also be intimately based in Him. God tells us throughout his love letter WHO we are in and through Christ. Why don't we listen, grasp and stand unwavering in that identity? Fear? Societal views or "norms?" Rejection? What is your why?
FEAR IS A LIAR! Identify who is your true enemy and recognize what weapons are used to hinder you from stepping into, claiming and living WHO you are in the only place it matters..........In Christ!
2 Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you our of darkness into his wonderful light."(NIV)
Ephesians 1:4-5 says, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will." (NIV)
I encourage you to read on in Ephesians 1, specifically verses 6-14 to learn more about WHO you are in Christ to gain more understanding. These are truths that seem to be easy to recite but so incredibly difficult to live. Why? We can learn, recite, memorize, teach or preach all of the Scripture we want in life but if we do not APPLY what we are told, what we learn, what we "believe," we can NEVER become who God intends us to be or fulfill the amazing, specific, predestined purpose God has for us and had for us before he created the world!
What do you have to lose in discovering God's will and His purpose for your life? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Matthew 6:33-""But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will given to you as well." (NIV)
God loves so incredibly much that our human minds can not even comprehend it. He has a plan for each and every one of us and his plans are GOOD! He is good at being good, it's what he does! It's WHO HE IS!!!!!! LET HIM!
I hope everyone had a very merry Covid Christmas! My crew and I did. It was very relaxing, enjoyable and not so full of here, there, everywhere. Now to ring in 2021 full of prayers, faith, love and hopeful anticipation! All while being in our comfy clothes, safe at home on New Year's Eve!
I am currently reading and preparing to lead a group on Facebook in my Love & JOYnaling group on Lysa Terkuerst's book, Uninvited. I am excited to be leading this study and to fellowship with ladies from across the country that I have connections with through life! What excites me the most is that we are a group of ladies of all different age groups, backgrounds and life stages.
As I am digging into the book and study guide, my eyes, heart and mind are being awakened and opened in so many ways. Some of what I am learning, digging into and being opened up to is scary. I am not going to lie! SCARY!!!! To face, write, admit and discover past hurts, rejections (real and somewhat imagined) is scary down to my core. I am loving the journey thus far.
Rejection is something we all deal with in life, right? I am learning just how rejection, real AND perceived shapes the ways I think about myself, speak to myself and interact or do not interact with others. The heart of the matter that I have learned is that God rejoiced at the very thought of me and continues to rejoice, sing, woo, adore and pursue me. My worth should never be based on what others think or what I think they think of me.
I want to share a few of my own experiences of rejection that I have and continue to face while learning so much about God's love for me and how to have an intimacy-based identity through, with and in HIM!
I used to say about a certain someone who I felt rejection from ALL of my life, literally ALL of my life, was that "It's his loss, not mine!" Even though deep down, I felt so many emotions in a very deep wound that even though I believe and feel is healed at this particular stage of my life, I felt terribly unwanted, unloved, unworthy and like a waste of flesh, air and space, REJECTED! How could anyone else want me if he didn't? What was it about me that he hated so much? Why wasn't I worth as much or mean as much as others? After all, I wanted just as much as anyone to have his love, approval, attention, heartfelt effort. So? Why not me but everyone else? Why was I not worthy of a promise being kept? Why was I not worthy of just a shred of pride? I suppose I was given those things, but only when it was convenient. So? Why was I an inconvenience? Why was I an afterthought? About 5 years into my own parental journey, I began to heal. No, I just chose to be numb, so perhaps healing did not begin until just a few years ago when my relationship with God began to grow and flourish. Numbness is NOT healing...….because there is always the possibility, a strong possibility, that those wounds can be ripped open time after time.
These were my thoughts for so many years of my life with no answer ever received. I wasn't entitled to answers as I was made to feel as no wrong had been done and I was to blame.
I used this rejection in healthy ways in becoming who I am, to a true fault though. My high school sweetheart always said to me, "Shalon, your biggest strength and biggest weakness is your heart!" He was right and that statement has stuck with me. I know exactly what he was talking about now, at 42 years old, with so much life experience having had and still so much to have. I love FIERCELY!!!!! I do! If you are in my "circle" I love you and you are IMPORTANT to me! NO question. I was told in high school that I "cried too much." Looking back and looking at life now, yes I did, yes I do. But, that is not a bad thing, I FEEL! And 1 week before entering high school, my Bonus Dad was tragically killed in an accident. I was 14 years old. I had only had him in my life for 7 years! The most important years were coming, high school years! I perceived his death as rejection from God, that I was not worthy of having him in my life any longer. If I had been a better daughter, kid, fishing partner, something, God would not have taken him away. I didn't know how to deal with that type of life changing loss as a teenager. I only knew that I had to be strong for my Momma. I had to pick myself up, dust myself off and go on! So, I guess in the eyes of a fellow teenage girl who had both parents and a seemingly "perfectly intact" life, I did cry too much when I felt so much emotion not only from having to deal with real life, but also deal with "mean girls" in school who looked down on me because I was from the wrong side of a bridge, loved fiercely, felt deeply and so wanted to fit in somewhere, anywhere!
Rejection is real when you are made fun of for what seems like everything. I was teased for being long-legged, high waisted, ugly feet, not being a size 3, having a single Mom, not having a "Dad," not living in the "right" place, so many things. Rejection not just from "friends," but being treating differently by adults at church, of all places. Not being invited or welcomed to activities of peers that I literally grew up with at church. Being told that I was odd, not to be allowed to date certain people because my parents were divorced, all of these experiences hurt. Being rejected for things I had absolutely nothing to do with, no control over and did not understand, "Why me?"
Not long after my Bonus Dad passed away, I was standing in a hallway at school waiting for my Momma to pick me up. A "friend" was standing there with me. I put friend in quotations because after this particular incident, I never spoke to her again and had zero urge to be in her circle. As my Momma pulled in, "friend" asked if she got a new car. I said, "Yes! She did. We love it!" Her response? "The only way you could have gotten that was with your "Dad's" money. Must be nice to have money from his accident." STUNNED!!!!!!! SPEECHLESS!!!!!! SERIOUSLY???? I know, I know, kids say stupid things, but that HURT! I would have MUCH rather have had him alive than anything else and not to mention, my Momma worked full-time, made a good living and did well supporting us! 4 years of high school, I did not speak to this person again. Just a few years ago, she passed away and I felt her rejection so many years ago all over again. I don't even know why! Because I have carried it around as a broken board supporting myself in ways I never knew before diving into this study.
Rejection stings, cuts deep, burns, leaves gaping wounds and just builds in our hearts and minds. Here is the thing about rejection. It is a weapon! Read that again, It is a WEAPON! I know who uses this weapon, why he does it and can now replace my broken boards that he convinced me I had to keep with strong, sturdy TRUE boards of support, love, adoration, ACCEPTANCE, forgiveness, always wanted, cherished of God and my identity in and through Him!
I would love to have you join me and the amazing group of ladies for this study beginning in January! Feel free to search Love & JOYnaling on Facebook, join the group and dive in with us as we fellowship together, love on each other and learn with one another! You will be welcomed, NO REJECTION!!!!
Withstand. What does this mean? what does this compound word mean to society? What does it mean to me as a woman of God heart? This word has been on my mind and heart for months. haven't we all been withstand-ing this whole year? I mean, 2020! My goodness having to withstand all this year has thrown at us has tested all of us in so many different ways! That is true, but not what has been on my heart. I am creating this as more of a guide for you to dig into God's Word for yourself and listen to those things He may be telling you and saying to your heart. I hope that you might even discover some things you had never recognized in your own heart before and be able to take to God.
What does the word "withstand" mean? As a verb (ACTION WORD) it mean to remain undamaged or unaffected by; resist or STAND ground against powerful negative force. Read the second part of that definition again. Resist or STAND ground against a powerful negative force. Light bulb moment in my mind and heart! Being a follower of Christ, I must resist or STAND my ground against a powerful negative force (ie. THE ENEMY).
Okay, so let's break that word down.
WITH means accompanied by (another person or thing) and is preposition word.
STAND means have or maintain an upright position, supported by one's feet. It can also be used as a noun and is an attitude toward a particular issue, position taken in an argument. Also, a cessation of movement or progress or to rest, remain, or set in a usually vertical position.
I know you didn't want an English lesson, so I will move on with my heart and what I want to share with you along with scripture that I want to dig into deeper with you and hopefully encourage you to dig deeper on your own and discover what WITHSTAND means to you and what power you have being rooted, grounded and strengthened in Christ and how amazing that power is even when we don't realize or have never recognized it before! Then I want to share with you my journaling entry as I studied, wrote and heard the voice of God and the vision He gave me as my own heart has, in all honesty, struggled with being able to WITHSTAND so many things in my life. As I sat down to study, create and write, I had a song playing in my head over and over. "On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground in sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand. I know this was God's voice whispering as inspiration and encouragement as well as a reminder of WHOSE I am and where I stand in life!!!!!
What are some of the things you must withstand in your life? Family issues? Any kind of relationship issues? Societal issues? Health issues of your own or someone you are close to or give care? Are there issues within yourself? Depression? Anxiety? Physical disabilities or DIFFERENT abilities? I encourage you to make a list of those things that you feel are struggles you are, will be or have been withstanding.
Jesus tells us in John 16:33 (NIV) "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."
In the latter part of verse 32, as He is speaking to his disciples, Jesus states that He is not alone, because God is with Him. A simple, yet, super powerful reminder that we are also not alone if we have Christ! What does verse 33 mean to you in your present withstanding moments? How does this make you feel?
Joshua 10:8 (NIV)-The Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."
This was interesting to me because Joshua was going into battle against a great army and was fearful. I am sure we would be too. The thing about this command from God to him was that this is 2 fold. God gives his command to Joshua, "Do not be afraid," and that command is directly linked to a promise from God, "I have given them into your hand." a guaranteed victory! Wait, what? How would you feel if you knew the battle you were facing was a guaranteed victory for you, all you had to do was to not be afraid or WITHSTAND?
1 Peter 5:8-10 (NIV)
These verses give us specific instructions on withstanding life and our enemy and ALL of his weapons he tries to use against in. Being able to recognize exactly WHO our enemy is in this life, the messy in between two perfect gardens we live and what his game is against us, especially as women of God. Ladies, believe it or not, we are his number ONE target!!!!!! That is a lesson and study for another time though. The promise at the end of these verses is all about be one who WITHSTANDS!
Is this comforting to you? It is to me, for sure.
As much as God has created us for so many things, endowed with beautiful, unique gifts, because we are Christ's and live in HIM, God will restore us and make us STRONG, FIRM AND STEADFAST, which is all you need to withstand!!!!! During these times, we must recognize, embrace and practice our most fervent relationship with God and Christ. WE have been given the authority, a mighty authority because of Jesus and MUST use that authority to resist/WITHSTAND the enemy. He hates it when we use our authority to run him off and to let him know he has zero power over us! DO IT, Sister! Also, the more prayerful we are in our own times of struggle or the enemy's most active moments in our lives, he actually gives up and moves on. USE YOUR POWER!!!! DO NOT FEAR, RESIST, WITHSTAND! Here is the heart of the matter when dealing with the enemy and all of his attacks. The more we first recognize what is going on around us is him and that his efforts are only driving us closer to Christ, the more emboldened we are because we actually claim and use our authority in Christ, the further away from us he will move. There is your guaranteed victory!!! See it? Read it again if you need to. CLAIM IT! It's already there for you.
While thinking on, praying on and studying about "WITHSTAND," I had a vision of myself being a tree and my roots are intertwined and strong because of being in Christ! As I look at my life, both currently and my past and situations that I had to withstand, either due to my own decisions or because of other people and their decisions or just life circumstances that we all live through, survive, face, however you wish to describe it. As I have grown in Christ and expanded my relationship with and knowledge of God's Love Letter and learned so much about what my relationship truly holds and means for me, I wish I had known in my past what I know now. I am sure we all have that same thought because as the old saying goes, "Hindsight is 20/20!" I am ready for the year 2020 to be in the rearview and focus on the new year and all of its potential!!!!
Obviously, I LOVE Bible Journaling.
I discovered what is known as journaling almost 5 years by "accident." Growing up, I might highlight a verse or write a little note in the margin of my Bible. I used the same Bible from July 12, 1993 until 2013. I filled it with little colored tabs and there are some highlighted passages and writing or dates in some margins.
A little background........My grandparents were faithful Christians, as was my Mother. My earliest memories are having breakfast at my grandparents' house and my Poppy reading the daily devotions from the "Open Windows" publication. I was raised with a VERY reverent feeling about God's Word. I was taught to respect God's Word, never throw it on the floor, do not slam it shut, do not even throw it on your bed. Place it down, put it up, keep it neat, ONLY write on the first page to put your name, who you received Bible from, date and family information. You too???? Probably so!!!!!
Fast forward to 2015..........I was doing a Bible study and happened upon an image on Pinterest that matched the verse I was focused on at the moment. I printed that off and taped it in my Bible, like a bookmark. That was SCARY! Then, I continued studying and saw more and more interesting reflections and praise that others were doing inside their Bibles.
I ignored my fear and those voices in my head saying, "Do NOT 'deface' and ruin God's Word!" "How could you?" "Disgraceful!"
"Disrespectful!" I jumped right in, made a stencil of one of my favorite verses and PAINTED 2 pages of my Bible! That was it, I was a self-proclaimed #Biblewrecker!!!!!!
My grandmother was NOT happy about this when I showed her. AT ALL!!!!!! Then, I explained to her about what my "art" meant. I shared with her about what I was studying, what all I had learned and what the verse was saying to me and what my illustration meant. She was not impressed, however, I did not get upset or stop! I continued studying.
I continued to dig deeper in my study, I spread my creative wings with stickers, inks, paints, markers, pencils, stamps, anything, everything I used in my own scrapbooking, I used in my Bible!!!! I filled up one Bible with illustrations, bookmarks, tip-ins, tip-outs, colors, page markers, everything!!!!!!
I researched, watched, listened to, experimented, practiced all kinds of techniques, suggestions and tips!!!!!!
I was EXCITED to study, learn, absorb and LOVE God's Word. That's right, EXCITED!!!!!! I discovered that I loved to study Greek and Hebrew and am truly able to understand so much more God's Love Letter.
I continue to get "those" comments, judgmental looks and searing glares at me and my Bible(s). I LOVE my Bible(s)!!!!! I LOVE God's Love Letter!!!!
So, to those who do not understand why I do what I do, roll eyes, talk about me, I keep going. WHY???? Because it is NOT about them or what they think. My Bible "JOY"naling is just that, JOY! It is so much more than that, as well! It is study, immersion, learning, praise, worship, time with my Heavenly Father, the Maker of me!!!! Here is my exact response to those who make "those" comments about my "hobby" (though, ti is NOT a hobby, it IS a tool of so many things in MY relationship with God. Just MY relationship with Him and His relationship with ME!!!!!!!!!!!
Listen or READ carefully...........
God's Word is alive. His word is what we are instructed to write upon our hearts, to wear around our necks. The paper those words are printed on and ink used to print are inanimate objects, however, His word lives FOREVER!!!!! When I am approached with questions or comments about being a #Biblewrecker, my response includes the above, as well as asking that person or group of people the following.
How many Bibles does the "average" Follower of Christ own? I, personally have more than 10! I also have an app on my phone, tablets, computer that I can utilize for reading and study, if I happen to have covered words in the 1 of 4 Bibles I am currently using for study and journaling.
So, here is the deal........Journaling, for ME, is praise, study, growing in the Word, strengthening my relationship and fellowship with Him. Being in creative praise, study and growth is something that, as fas as I am concerned and feel, God smiles upon and blesses me through this avenue. As I continue JOY-naling, I am learning, gaining wisdom and I am emjoying quality time with my Abba Father, what could possibly be disrespectful or whatever others may say about it?????
Also, journaling should NEVER be how YOU mark The Word! it should ALWAYS be how The Word marks YOU!!!!!! Connecting with God and His love letter is PERSONAL!!!!!If art is how you connect, GREAT! If it is not, GREAT!
My time in journaling, visual prayer, art and expressions have allowed me to remember verses, caused me to dig DEEPER, make connections, have revelations and HEAR God speak to me! I have learned and encourage others who journal to never EVER EVER compare or even judge another person's journaling. We are all created differently, uniquely and our relationship with God is different, unique and ONLY between me (YOU) and God!!!!! I am not a #Biblewrecker to win any art awards or to receive any accolades from anyone! I ONLY want to create something special for my heart that God could hang on his refrigerator because I made it for HIM!!!!!
I enjoy sharing what I create with others ONLY because I want to give others the tools that have helped me in my walk and JOYney we call LIFE!!!!! With all of this being said, enjoy some of my latest time with God!!!!
I love you all and if you have any questions about Bible study, journaling, how to start, what is needed, etc. Please reach out to me! I want to help YOU with your walk and journey.
Daughter, Sister, Wife, Momma, Friend, Warrior Princess, Sold out follower of Christ. There is more to me than meets the eye. A beautifully broken, messy, loving, imperfect woman praying to inspire others to find the JOY in this Joy-ney we call life!