Tag Archives: living in freedom

You Are a Masterpiece. – What?

absolutelyMasterpiece: a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship.

You are a complex being.

You are a masterpiece.

Your thought life, your experiences, your physical well-being, your perceptions, who you think you are, are all vital components that help make up the quality of your existence.

I want to encourage you to not just accept what is o.k. or passable, but to challenge yourself to live fully. But I would remiss if I did not touch on the importance of recognizing the God of the universe and how much He digs you.

It is not about what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you.

It’s about who you are, and what He’s done for you.

There is no shame in who He created you to be. You are a masterpiece, though you may have had a few mishaps or tragedies along your way. You’re still a work of art, and He is the artist.

I used to think that God had to love me because it was just how it worked… I didn’t see His love as a deep, all-encompassing, knock-your-socks-off kind of love, because well, that was kinda weird. I was just one of the gazillion people ever to walk the earth and therefore not very important.

Funny thing is, when I slammed to the bottom of my pit of hell and finally reached out to God, begging for mercy, you know what happened? He gave me more than I ever dreamed.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot of work to do, skewed perceptions to right, and responsibility to take; but not once have I been alone. Because I took the risk to ask Him to walk with me, He has never left my side.

It’s been hard.

It’s been painful. But it’s also been full of joy. And now, as I continue this journey of becoming all that I was created to be, I recognize His smile. His beckoning. His direction.

Friend, it all comes down to this: His love and mercy is free. It cost Him immensely, so that you and I could benefit. He gave us the ability to choose. (Why do you think the world can be so messed up, and yet so good? Because He gave us the freedom to make choices and we regularly exercise that.)

When we choose to do life with Him, and when we choose to let Him love us completely as He so longs to do, that is when transformation happens.

God’s love isn’t some wishy-washy-fruity-kinda-icky-sweet-mumbo-jumbo for the weak and flighty. It is a powerful force that completes.

It is the gas in the car, the food in the system, the reason for all that is good. It makes life happen.

And it comes from one source. Jehovah.

He is Absolute, and He loves you. Absolutely.

He desires for you to become all that He intended for you to be. And He will be right there with you if you ask.

I hope you ask.

Be you. Absolutely.

Tell me, what are some of the things holding you back?
I can’t wait to read your answers.
– love,
Shev

Hand in the Water

We Are Never Alone

beautiful scenerySo here I am.

Again.

Between a rock and a hard spot.

No escape.

No negotiating.

My choices are: hard or harder.

I crumble.

…at least this time I know where to turn.

This time I’m not alone.

Unable to foresee the exact outcome of these circumstances is enough to make me melt into a puddle and slip down the drain into oblivion.

As I cry out and ask, “why?” and, “I thought You were doing something here?”, I recall a conversation the week before with one of my closest friends.

As she pulled some teeth to get me to open up, I stated that I was trying desperately to keep my head above water. Her reply was, in essence, “What for? God will be there even under the water. You just have to look for His hand.” Huh.

In other words, stop trying so hard.

I shift my focus to begging for mercy.

For deliverance.

To be pulled onto His lap and comforted.

I let myself cry and feel sorry for myself. I let myself beg the God of the Beginning and the End to hear me and not leave me.

I begged for His hand. “Where is Your Hand? Where is Your Hand?”

He rocked me until I was calm. It took awhile, but I was calm. Then He flooded my mind with songs of deliverance. Songs of hope.

Songs of His faithfulness.

So I sang. And He lifted me above the mess to see His Hand, and I grabbed hold.

Is He God or not?

Yes. Yes He is.

And I am His Beloved.

He formed me in my mother’s womb. He knows when I sit and when I stand.

Hears my every thought and knows every hair on my head.

I hear the birds noisily chattering outside my window and remember that if He cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, how much more does He care for me? They have all they need: food, shelter, color, sun, and wind.

Beauty.

Wake up Sleeping Beauty! Your King has come and not only kissed you, He has died a bloody, gruesome, agonizing death, and 3 days after that darkest of days He arose.

For you.

For me.

He has overcome.

As these revelations seep into my weary heart, I know.

I am not alone.

I pick up The Book and read as James calls us to count it all joy as we face trials and tribulations. Hard stuff. Like this. My God cares for me as a father, a friend, a master, a lover. He loves my heart. He has given me the righteousness of Christ, and the seal of His Holy Spirit.

I do not have to do this alone. I can trust Him. He has been faithful. He has told me He has great things in store. That if I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart because He loves me.

And wants my love and trust in return.

So I say, “O.k., I trust You.

I reread His promises and thank Him for them.

I sing praises to Him, and I feel Him smile.

akianesjesus

 

 

 

 

Who Came Up With The Concept Of Waiting Anyway?

impatientWhen my husband walked out on me in 2005, my world fell apart. I had already endured the death of our 8 month old son, had jumped in with both feet trying to navigate how to parent our second daughter who has special needs, and was living each day on a wing and a prayer, barely surviving. Our marriage had been in trouble for a few years already, but I really didn’t allow myself to believe it was over even though we barely spoke. So, through a few kind of cool events that happened, I turned to God for help and support and direction.

A good friend of the family who had been through the same sort of thing sent me a book that made a significant impact on me, called Wait, a poem actually, by Russell Kelfer. Based on Isaiah 40:31: “But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”, I was struck by the profound idea that God is more concerned about the process of developing my character and teaching me to look to Him for everything, becoming intimately close to Him.

I don’t like to wait. I am impatient. I get scared. I hate feeling vulnerable. All that being said, though, I have learned that there is something amazing that happens when I look up above the chaos I find myself in, and directly into the eyes of the One who loves me most. When I plant myself beside Him like a tree planted by a river, my roots grow down deep, finding all the nourishment I need in Him, and Him alone. Winds may blow, rain may pelt, drought may threaten, but I am never without. I am rooted and grounded in Him, who supplies all I need.

There is no other way to experience this than to walk it. It stinks. It’s hard. It often hurts. But the outcome is always surreal. Other-worldly. Supernatural. Maybe not to the onlooker, but to me, and to Him — and that’s what counts.

So I have learned to wait, even when I would rather not, because it is always, always for my best. Who came up with the concept of waiting? God Himself, because He knows what it brings about: a much better me.

Learning to Carry On Even When It’s Scary

tightropeMost of us can’t predict the future. We live our lives hoping that things will work themselves out, that our dreams will come to fruition; or if those have been dashed, that we’ll get through each day without a major mishap. Some of us have been reduced to mere survival mode, so the idea of any goal other than that requires too much of our dwindled energy.

Just because we can’t predict the exact outcome of whatever circumstance we’re in, or foresee anything beyond today, does not mean that we have to live without hope. We may not know the details of what tomorrow brings, but we can be confident that our God does, and it matters. That we matter. The process of learning to trust Him is at the crux of our relationship with Him.

I feel like I have walked a million miles already in my 40+ years, the last twenty covering the most ground. It’s only been in the past eight years that I can truly say I have made an effort to travel with God as my companion, instead of keeping Him at arm’s length. It’s amazing to me that He even gives us that choice, and when I remember what life was like for me before I opted to get to know Him, I admit that I’m relieved I did. I’ve had some scary moments. Some lonely ones too. Overwhelmed, hopeless, discouraged, stuck… those are pretty accurate descriptions of where I have been, and sometimes didn’t even realize it. Sure, I’m a hard- worker, and fiercely loyal. I “fix” things. Yet hope didn’t kick in until I learned I could trust the One who loves me best.

Part of me wants to sit God down and have a chat about why He thinks it’s important to keep testing the limits of my faith in Him. “Haven’t we already covered this, God? I learned this one already…” But I don’t think He’s interested in just replaying some important life lessons for me; I’m pretty sure that even though I find myself feeling fed up with this whole scary I-hate-not-knowing-when-this-is-going-to-resolve stuff in my life right now, He has bigger and better plans for me as I continue to learn to completely trust Him. The painful, stretching process of giving up what I view as control is a beautiful part of this dance we call life.

So, carry on my friend! Look up above the chaos or the swamp you find yourself in, and lock eyes with the One who loves you so much it should floor you. It’s when things are especially dark that we can see His light grow brighter, leading us with hope. Hang in there.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

It’s Astounding, Bizarre and Ridiculous!

nativityThe very idea that God would become a man should cause us to take a step back in amazement. Of course, you would have to believe that there is indeed a God, and then be willing to entertain the idea that becoming human would be within the scope of possibility, but let’s just say you’re there with me, ok? The concept that the Most High God, whose very countenance is so magnificent that we could not survive gazing upon Him, (much like getting too close to the sun) would lower Himself to become like one of His creations… is truly a marvel. Bizarre. Ridiculous. Unmerited. Difficult to fathom. Why would He do such a thing?

Many people view God as a cold, unreasonable, judgemental being. Actually, I had someone tell me the other day that they thought if God really did exist, then He was a sick, cruel b@$%@*d. I assume that He has this reputation because of painful, horrible things that happen in the world, as well as religious people performing awful deeds in His name, and so I understand how the blame is easily placed on Him. The problem is that God is good and there is no evil in Him, so even though I don’t always understand why bad things happen, I do understand that the first gift He gave us as humans was the gift of choice. We are not automatons, we have the ability and pleasure of choosing our thoughts, our words, our behavior, as well as who we love and who we don’t. The downside to this gift is the poor choices that often get made, and too many times the innocent get caught in the ugliness of it all. Which, of course, sucks.

For God to take the step and create a way for His most prized creation to have a relationship with Him by becoming just like us is astounding. It borders on fantasy, yet we often miss the enormity of what has taken place with the hustle and bustle of the trimmings that ensue the season, and we are no more in awe of His perfect Gift than we would be if the lead broke on our pencil.

The King of kings, and Lord of lords has come! He lived, He died, and He rose again so that we may have freedom. So we may have life to the fullest. He has showered us with grace that is so bountiful, so immeasurable, that we cannot ever comprehend it’s vastness. I don’t have to perform at my best, keep my nose clean, watch my p’s and q’s in order to be considered to be good. Because of Jesus I get to come to God on his coattails. He sees me as He sees the perfection of His Son. That blows me away. Brings me to my knees. Makes my eyes well and sting. Makes my heart sing with praise and adoration. With thanks. A grateful, satiated, overflowing heart.

My world has been rocked. And because of His goodness and love I want to love and be good in return. It’s a win-win. Be astounded by the love poured out for you. He went to a lot of trouble to show you; don’t turn a blind eye.

Getting to the Other Side of It

mtnsHope can be elusive. It’s one thing to talk about it, to assume you have it, but when life comes crashing down around you, it often can’t seem to be found. It’s like it evaporates just when we need it most.

I can’t explain, rationalize, water down, or dismiss it: hope is one of those things that was graciously given to me when I was fresh out. I had nothing to draw on from my own reserves, but when I made the switch from just simply talking about God, to pursuing an experience with Him, well, that’s when everything changed.

I’m not sure why it surprises us when we first come to the realization that our Creator is such a personal Being. Why is it so hard to believe that He wants us to communicate with Him, regularly, and to establish a relationship with Him? I think the deal-breaker for so many comes when He calls them to trust Him completely with not only their lives, but their hearts and their souls as well. It is a traumatic thing to give up our control. In reality, we can actually control very little in this life, yet we have convinced ourselves that we are the masters of our ultimate fate. So handing over the reins on a daily, even hourly, basis rubs us the wrong way.

It is when we come face-to-face with the cold, hard fact of our delusional power that we can choose to acknowledge One who is bigger, wiser, kinder, stronger, and infinitely more deeply loving than we are, and accept His plans for us. As we experience His touch on our lives, mending the broken pieces, we find ourselves pleasantly surprised that we can detect hope once again welling up from the depths. That is how we are able to get to the other side of our misery: with hope, planted by the One who loves us most.

What Side of the Tracks Are You Proud Of?

tracksI’ve noticed something. After caring for elderly wealthy people in their homes for a few years, I have realized that the amount of money in the bank account doesn’t necessarily change the quality of a person. Sure, the weight and scale with which life has been lived can be vastly different, but people are still people.

It doesn’t matter what side of the tracks you were born on when you come to the end of your life. Yes, money can buy more comfortable care and maybe medicine to ease some pain, but money doesn’t buy you affection. No matter how many homes I’ve worked in, I can’t help but be convinced again and again that money cannot buy you love. Powerful people now relegated to a wheelchair, unable to wine and dine peers to maintain status, are left with memories of fading accomplishments, and not enough affection. Tales of conquests, fame, and well-publicized charity work get rehashed, but no one comes to visit them without ulterior motives.

I know I sound harsh, but I’m frequently amazed at the shallowness of life when it is not lived fully. Frankly, I have been stunned that the conversations I have witnessed were not coming from a movie screen, but were right in front of me. I’ve gone home wondering: “Did I really just hear that?” The motivation of money and the power so many think it possesses is passed on so easily, and I’m so surprised every time it happens. Do you not see what it got them? Are you so different? Greed and selfishness knows no boundaries.

Wealth and privilege do not guarantee character. Nor do they guarantee a heart that is full.

Was it worth it?

Will I be different?