Posted in Faith

It’s Christmas!

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Today, we celebrate Jesus’ birth! ūüôā

Reflecting on Luke 2, I love to think about what was happening on that night.

A census was issued by Caesar Augustus to have families return to their birthplace. Joseph and Mary made the trek to Bethlehem to be counted.  He was going to register Mary who was pledged to be married to him. Most of us are familiar with the story of an innkeeper that told them there was no room, however Answers in Genesis gives this account as a reasonable explanation for what really happened:

Joseph and Mary probably stayed with Joseph’s relatives in Bethlehem, but because of the large influx of people, the house would have been crowded and the¬†kataluma¬†(guest room) was full. Consequently, Joseph and Mary would have been relegated to living in the lower level of the house. It is hard to believe that pregnant Mary would have been turned away from a relative’s home in a society that greatly valued familial ties.

Archaeologists have excavated first century homes from the Judean hill country. They have discovered that the upper level served as a guest chamber while the lower level served as the living and dining rooms. Oftentimes, the more vulnerable animals would be brought in at night to protect them from the cold and theft. This sounds strange to many of us, since we wouldn’t dream of bringing some of our cattle into the house at night, but even today in some countries of Europe (e.g., Germany and Austria), the farmhouse and the animal quarters are often different parts of the same building.

This is where the manger comes into play. Mary likely gave birth to Jesus in the lower level of a crowded house, in which some of the animals had been brought in for the night. She then wrapped Jesus in swaddling cloths and laid Him in the manger (feeding trough).

And thinking of the shepherds out in the fields that night, it’s incredible to think what they saw and heard.¬† It probably started out as a normal evening, and then within moments, an angel appeared (most likely, the shepherds had never seen them before) and told them not to be afraid.¬† Sure, no problem.¬† But then, the shepherds are told:

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. -Luke 2:9-12

Can you imagine just minding your own business and then a being appears next to you with a message? And then immediately after that, the sky opens and more angels show up, singing?

GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST HEAVEN, AND ON EARTH PEACE TO THOSE ON WHOM HIS FAVOR RESTS!

To be alive and witness these events had to be amazing! I know the shepherds had to be initially fearful, because an angel told them not to be, and there must have been an ignition in their hearts to go see what was happening because they “hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2:16

Here’s the part I love: He used unlikely messengers.¬† And I’m not talking about the angels.¬† I love that God chose shepherds to carry the message to the people.¬† Then they spread the news of what they saw, praising and glorifying God for what they had seen and heard.¬† Oh, to be near people that rejoice and get excited about what the Lord is doing! Never before, did they have hope like that! Up to that time, those who knew the Lord only knew that one day He would send a Messiah to save them, and here they were in the fields, getting the message firsthand.¬† What an honor!

I’m in awe, as well, of the role of shepherds. They obviously take care of sheep, but how exactly? They provide food, water, protection in the field and when walking through rivers, shelter from storms, and restoration to the fold when one runs off.

And how incredible that the Lord used the same role to describe Himself, to say that He is our Good Shepherd! In John 10, Jesus explains to the Pharisees about those who are able to enter the sheep pen by the gate, not other means. He is equating access to the Father through Him, our Good Shepherd.¬† He says that those who know Him hear His voice, which is the same as shepherds who have a specific call to their sheep.¬† Others can mimic the shepherd, but the sheep won’t respond.¬† So it should be with us.

I segued to shepherds because I love the correlation between one who protects sheep and the ONE who protects us.¬† Jesus was sent by God to become man, to be able to identify with us in our flesh, to be tempted and resist, so He could prove that we could do the same. He also humbled Himself by doing His Father’s will.¬† He sacrificed His life for His sheep (US!) and died on the cross so that when God and the Holy Spirit resurrected Him three days later, not only did He fulfill Scripture, but He conquered death FOREVER for those who believe in Him.¬† Death no longer has a hold on us!!¬† And there is also now a WAY, a DOOR to get to the Father that is not through human means, no matter what people tell you.¬† We have FULL ACCESS to our Heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.¬† And all of this was to be accomplished by our Lord whom we celebrate today.

So it’s an honor to reflect on the good news that brings us great joy this Christmas morning!¬† Jesus came to Earth to fulfill His redemption plan for us.¬† I am so thankful for the way He modeled righteous living, His continual and unending mercy and grace, His forgiveness that is never withheld and His precious, sacrificial love.¬† He was fully God and fully man so that He could redeem us.

When you are sipping coffee, watching wrapping paper fly by, and listening to Christmas music, may you take a moment to stop and reflect on all that this baby meant and still means for our salvation.

Glory to God in the Highest INDEED!

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Posted in Faith

Reachable

Almost ten years ago to the day, I began to believe a lie that I was worthless, a mess, unwanted, rejected and outside of the grace of God.

I believed that I had made a choice that would solidify my destiny, and that I was unreachable.

 And I began to live a life of lies, of masks, of walls.

The lies grew and grew between the enemy and me, and though I was acting on the outside like they didn’t bother me, my spirit and flesh were at war. I wanted to believe that I was significant, that I mattered, but everything else seemed to be against me.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12

My heart hardened.

Those who did love me, who tried to reach out, would be blocked by my harsh, hurtful, lashed out words.  Those who enticed me, got what they wanted, and I kept sinking further and further into the lies.  What was dangerous and scary became fun and challenging.  I was in complete darkness.


One thing I can say with grave certainty, is that the voice of the Lord is louder than the voice of the enemy.

One must be still to hear it.

A heart grieving what they believed to be true must admit there may be a possibility they were wrong. ¬†A person full of guilt and shame still wants to know they are loved. ¬†Even in a hateful, judgmental world. ¬†And every hurting person, no matter how much they’ve done wrong, deserves to hear the truth.

In my quiet surrender, in my lonely apartment that became a home, in my repentant heart that was aching so badly for what, I didn’t know…

I heard the Lord. ¬†I heard Him, not in an audible way, but in my spirit…

That He just wanted ME.

Me: full of guilt, sadness, shame, blame, accusations, anger, lust, envy, etc., was all,  He wanted in that moment.

He didn’t turn His back on me. ¬†He didn’t blame me or tell me what I had done wrong.

He stepped into my quietness, in the middle of sobs and declared that:

I was HIS if I would let go of ME.

“Surrender your heart to God,¬†turn to him in prayer, ¬†and give up your sins‚ÄĒ
    even those you do in secret.  Then you won’t be ashamed;
you will be confident¬†and fearless.” -Job 11:13-15


I have learned much in the last decade about myself, about those who love me, and about those who don’t.

Some people are strangers because they choose to be. ¬†They don’t want to go down the road of risking their heart to love someone that someone else rejected. ¬†They don’t want to admit they have too, judged and deemed me unworthy. ¬†They stand along the sidelines and just watch. ¬†Unsure of what to say, they say nothing. ¬†It’s okay. ¬†We’ve all done it.

I am not accusing or upset with those who didn’t know how to respond. ¬†I’m just aware that we all have moments of uncertainty about how to react when we see someone hurting.

Some people genuinely don’t care what you’ve done or who you were. ¬†They see you now. ¬†They know that something happened. ¬†They just choose not to address it, and love you beyond it. ¬†These are examples of grace and mercy. ¬†These are direct representations of Jesus.

These people are those who loved enough to risk. ¬†They stepped into my world, told me the truth about who God is, who Jesus is and what He did for me, and reassured me that I matter, that we ALL matter, and that every decision I’ve ever made in my life paled in comparison to the one that I made about my future. ¬†My ETERNAL future.

Out of obedience, they (and they know who they are) accepted the prodding of the Holy Spirit to not reject me, but love on me. ¬†Talk with me. ¬†Lovingly share the truth so I could see how I fit into the story of humanity and God’s redemption. ¬†They didn’t accuse me. ¬†(They didn’t need to- my own flesh/conscience had done that.) ¬†They didn’t tell me what the Bible says about the things I’d done wrong. ¬†(Again they didn’t have to, I had a Bible in my possession, and when I was ready, I sought the Lord myself.)

They pointed me back to the ONE who spoke into my heart.


There is an ache in all of us for more…more what, we’re not sure of. ¬†We keep trying and reaching, running and struggling, but we were never meant to fill the ache with ourselves or others.

There is ONE GOD who hears us. ¬†ONE GOD who knows the struggles we go through. ¬†ONE GOD who doesn’t reject us, or tell us we don’t measure up, or give us prayers to pray or words to say so we can be acceptable again.

The Lord Jesus Christ already LOVES you…from conception to physical death. ¬†PERIOD.

The Lord isn‚Äôt slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.¬†¬†The day of the Lord‚Äôs return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe.¬†Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are.” – 2 Peter 3:9-10¬†¬†

God wants all of us to be saved.  He is patient.  It says it right above.  He is waiting because everyone needs a chance to hear about Him.  He sent his Son to die and rise again (John 3:16) so HE could limit death and reject the power it has over us.  He wants you to know how much He loves you and that you can stop running to find out what is missing in your life.

Let Go.

There is NOTHING you’ve done that can keep you from His love. ¬†There is NO PLACE you’ve run that He can’t reach you. ¬†There is a loving God who is our loving Father who sacrificed His Son and shed blood for our restitution.

You are redeemable.

You are reachable.


I give you this song that warms my heart.

It reminds me of how the Lord stepped into my sadness all those years ago, fought the lies of the enemy in my heart with HIS truth and sought me out so I could see His love as it has always been.

Listen and BELIEVE.  You are never unreachable.  NEVER!

Love, Gracie ūüôā

Posted in Faith

Clear vision

I was seven years old when I realized that I could not read the words on the blackboard in my second grade classroom. ¬†They had become blurry after a few days, and I wasn’t allowed to sit in the back row any longer. ¬†I mentioned something to my parents, and shortly after, my mom¬†took me to see Dr. Rowe, a local eye doctor who¬†fitted me for my first pair of eyeglasses. ¬†It’s been almost thirty years since that day, and I’m incredibly grateful for the maker of corrective lenses and disposable contact lenses. ¬†Without them, I would not have been able to blog my first 60 blog posts (or do many other countless things)!

I was diagnosed with myopia along with astigmatism. ¬†Reading close-up or far away truly made no difference. I was unable to do it physically. ¬†Seeing underwater is something I’ve never been able to do, nor have I been able to see clearly across the room when removing my glasses at the end of an evening before bed. Had I been born in another time period, I would be considered an invalid. ¬†I would not be able to see the computer screen to medically code for the veterans that I submit claims for. ¬†I would not be able to drive a vehicle, order lunch from a fast food place, see across the room to whomever had called my name. ¬†I had a fear of losing/breaking my prescription eyeglasses (due to my intense prescription), or having a contact lens fall out, and having to drive home from someplace with only one working eye. ¬†These are not life threatening emergencies, but realities in the life of someone without 20/20 vision. My hope was to one day be able to see without glasses.

Recently, my husband and I made a financial decision that would allow me to undergo LASIK surgery.  So I did.

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The last picture of me with prescription glasses on. ūüôā

I have been researching the surgery for quite some time. ¬†I had watched a video that showed up close EXACTLY what happens during the procedure, and the follow-up afterward. ¬†I spoke with people who had done the procedure and loved the results. ¬†I had read reviews online of local surgeons, their staff, and reviews of the procedure, cleanliness of surgical space, and rates of success before choosing a location. ¬†I reviewed pricing options, financing options, and reimbursement factors before making my final decision. ¬†And ultimately, I found out I had money left over in a health savings account from a previous job that would cover the cost!! ¬†SOLD! ūüôā

So I had LASIK surgery this past Thursday morning, while my husband and I were off of work. ¬†I had to put antibiotic drops in the night before, and I left my home Thursday morning incredibly hopeful, squashing the anxiety I felt in my stomach. ¬†It’s silly how our minds wander down crazy paths when we are about to embark on something we’ve never done. ¬†Vast were the irrational fears that began to creep into my mind: would I jerk around during the procedure and laser off my nose? ¬†What if the numbing drops didn’t work and I could feel everything? ¬†What if I woke up after the procedure and my vision was WORSE?!?!

Thankfully none of those things happened.

Below is a picture of my eye before the laser part began.

My husband was fascinated with this:

wp-1468173951583.jpgAnd the laser part where they began to reshape my cornea:

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How wild, right!?!

The end result, however, has been none of those crazy irrational fears I’ve listed above. ¬†I had to go through some excessive tearing of my eyes as they adjusted to the corneal tissue growing and reattaching itself, and I also had a few sporadic moments where light sensitivity became an issue. ¬†Overall, I woke up Friday morning with the ability to see into the bathroom and I didn’t have to reach over to the nightstand for my glasses. ¬†It was a wonderful feeling, and still catches me by surprise!! ¬†I’m extremely thankful and glad I did this!

It got me thinking about eyesight and vision in general. ¬†Going through this procedure certainly was an example of trust for me. ¬†The second that I laid on the surgical table, I could not physically see ANYTHING/ANYONE. ¬†I had to trust the surgeon, the nurses, the laser, the pre-programmed measurements, the table, the calming medication, the numbing eyedrops, the outcome, the treatment afterward, etc. ¬†I ultimately trusted my Heavenly Father, as this was elective, and I didn’t have to put myself through this unless I truly wanted to. ¬†I trusted God with my choice of location, and the decision to do something that would benefit me long-term.

Throughout the procedure (Note: you’re awake the entire time), the surgeon was very good about making sure I was physically comfortable and ready to proceed. ¬†He and the nurses would encourage me, let me know what the next step was and how long it would take, and then GO only when I said I was ready. ¬†That helped me to feel safe and secure with them. ¬†Understanding what was coming and having a guide to know ahead of time was essential in building trust. ¬†If every day was like Thursday morning for me, I would be exempt from having trust issues. ¬†Wouldn’t that be great? ¬†But that is not always the case in life, is it?

I’m about to drop some serious truth here: ALL HUMAN BEINGS are people: individuals created by and loved by an amazing God. ¬†Over time and given our family dynamic, we learn and develop how to respond to those around us, sometimes based on personal experience, sometimes based on our parent’s views, sometimes based on other people’s views who have significance in our lives. ¬†We inadvertently are shaped by those who we learn from.

Value for every human being should be the same, as we all have value in the eyes of our Creator.  Sadly, though, bad life experiences with someone of another faith, religion or color has tainted our view of them as a person.  Even worse, shared stories of these events or views help children/others to take in that same tainted view, and begin to see someone through our perspective, as dark as it may be.

We go to the heart’s core function of judgement.

We may not even know someone, but based on what Susan’s sister’s uncle’s brother went through, we may find ourselves in a similar situation. ¬†The odds of that happening are beyond slim, but we begin to think irrationally and filter life through others’ eyes.

Is this fair?  Should we even be doing this?

The answers, of course, are NO and NO.

How does this begin, how do we end it, and how do we proceed for future generations?

In the original texts of Scripture, Romans 7 and Romans 8¬†use¬†the word “sarx”, which is Greek and means “sinful nature” or “rebellious nature”. ¬†The Bible is stating that we all have within us a nature that goes against the Lord’s value system. ¬†We are created, born into a sinful world, and daily fight against the laws of God. ¬†These laws are innate, since we are created by HIM. ¬†Our nature, however, hates the laws of God, and therefore chooses to reject the laws set in place to protect us. ¬†Only when we submit to the authority of God, and accept Jesus’ blood sacrifice as our own, can we be made right with God, and be given a new nature. ¬†Until then, we are sinful, hateful, judgmental human beings with an autonomous nature that is inherently selfish. ¬†See Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-25,

14¬†We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15¬†I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16¬†And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17¬†As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18¬†For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19¬†For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do‚ÄĒthis I keep on doing. 20¬†Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.

  There is a constant war going on inside of us until it is surrendered to Jesus.

Romans 8: 1-17 tells us this:

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c]And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

12¬†Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation‚ÄĒbut it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13¬†For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14¬†For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15¬†The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, ‚ÄúAbba,[g] Father.‚ÄĚ 16¬†The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God‚Äôs children. 17¬†Now if we are children, then we are heirs‚ÄĒheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Our flesh (sin nature) and our spirit is¬†at war. ¬†We have been blinded by the enemy who longs for us to stay blind and follow him. ¬†See John 8:44 and 1 John 1:8-9. ¬†To deny Satan’s¬†power doesn’t make him less powerful. It means you’re already under it. ¬†He is very much at fault.

Second Corinthians 4:4 states:

4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Without clear vision, we are led to believe that we are here on Earth to serve ourselves, that people’s lives don’t matter, that we can make judgments about each other, slander and degrade each other, hate, murder and kill those that think differently, and assume that there¬†are no consequences.

That is not the truth.

We are born into sin, whether we want to admit this or not.  We are sinful people.  We will always be selfish and want what is best for us, disregarding the needs of others, or their well-being, because this is how the enemy operates.  Our nature and the wiles of the devil cause us to be selfish and have no regard for how we live.  The only way to combat this, is to recognize our very rebellious nature that wants what it wants, regardless of how it affects others, and surrender it to Jesus Christ.  He has proven Himself to be the Son of God, who loved us in our rebellious state, and died to destroy that sinful nature, and to vanquish the darkness that wants to separate us from God and others.

Seeing sin in others is pretty easy, isn’t it? ¬†Do you know someone who gossips, who loves to share news of something that happened to someone else without the actual person being present to agree/disagree? ¬†Do you know someone who makes vulgar comments toward a certain type of race, gender, employment status, etc.? ¬†Do you know someone who places blame on someone else constantly without ever taking responsibility for their own actions? ¬†We are so quick to judge others, without realizing what it truly says about ourselves.

Matthew 7:3-5 says the following:

3¬†‚ÄúWhy do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother‚Äôs eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4¬†How can you say to your brother, ‚ÄėLet me take the speck out of your eye,‚Äô when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5¬†You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother‚Äôs eye.

Who are you to judge someone else?  Do you never make mistakes?  Do you never have a bad day and react accordingly?  Where is the love and grace for people who have bad days?  Where is the lack of stereotyping when someone wrongs you?  Where is the forgiveness for actions that hurt?

The truth of the matter with what is happening in America currently is corruption at its worst, and injustice that is out of control.  We are allowed to be angry when people are being murdered for no reason.  We are allowed to be angry when those who are supposed to protect us are profiling and making matters where there was previously none.  We are allowed to disagree.  We are allowed to protest these wrongdoings and state solutions that can benefit society.  These are still freedoms we are allowed to have here.

What is not allowed is incessant murder in the name of someone else. ¬†We are not allowed to let our anger take control and take lives of those whom we deem “inconsequential”. ¬†We are not allowed to take weapons and use them on others because we disagree with them, or feel like they no longer deserve to live. ¬†We are not allowed to go in front of the justice system and make judgments ourselves. ¬†We must wait for these processes to work themselves out in time. ¬†But our impatience keeps us from thinking rationally, and our feelings of injustice have us crying out to God that He’s taking too long.

These are judgments that are reserved for God alone. ¬†And HE wishes no one to perish without the knowledge of who He is, so He’s not advocating murder when we disagree. ¬†Where is the peace and love for each other? ¬†Where is the positive dialogue that can happen when we put others first?

We hate punishments, and we hate correction. ¬†We want to be right. ¬†We want to be heard. But we need to find a new way to do this. ¬†And though I would love to provide a clear-cut solution to the hurt in today’s world, I don’t have the one you want to hear.

I have one name:

JESUS.

The reason people are out of control and self-seeking is because they are operating out of their blinded vision.  They only see themselves.  They have hatred in their hearts and are using their voice as a mouthpiece for justification.  They hide behind computers so their faces will be obstructed.  They write and spew words that vilify and destroy others.

We, humans, are hateful beings. Read any comments section on any news site and you’ll see people who have never met each other, destroying each other because of a difference of opinion. ¬†We don’t care to hear what others have to say when it doesn’t support our own beliefs.

This is not love.  This is not mercy.  This is not grace.  This is not right.

This is blindness.

The only way to clarity is to seek Jesus and His ways. ¬†We are so quick to make assumptions about others, or to predict behavior patterns. ¬†The truth is that God says none of us know the intentions of another’s heart. ¬†So why do we act this way?

I’m reading a book by Ted Dekker called “The Forgotten Way” and in it, he says the following regarding our understanding of Paul’s teachings in Romans:

“Have we lost sight of Paul’s teaching? ¬†He made it plain: The preeminent evidence shown by those who know the Father is this: LOVE. ¬†And not just any love, but the unique kind that loves enemies, not only those who show us love in return. ¬†A love that is patient, showing no jealousy or arrogance, keeping no record of wrong, not seeking its own and not provoked by another’s behavior. ¬†This is to love as Christ loves, submitting to each other without judgment.”

The description above is the way to show the world the clarity of who Jesus is, by HOW HE LOVES.  He longs to see peace and unity among all of us.  Black lives matter.  White lives matter.  ALL LIVES MATTER!  Jesus died for all of them.  We are not to be taking these lives away from each other.  We are to encourage each other, and show love to those who are unlovable.

Something I learned a long time ago is that hurting people hurt people. ¬†Instead of responding with another harsh word or assuming why someone says/does something, why not respond to them in love? ¬†Turn the anger away, instead of fueling it. ¬†Ask Jesus for the love to give to those who are bitter. ¬†No one knows the journey of anyone else, so show grace when someone may not view life the same way. ¬†Show mercy when someone deserves justice. ¬†The Lord will take care of someone else’s need to “learn a lesson”. ¬†It’s not your job.

And let’s begin to ask the Lord to help us see others the way He does. ¬†He sees us as we are: by our hearts. ¬†If we truly saw ourselves the way He does, we wouldn’t be so quick to judge others. ¬†We need Him to transform our hearts of¬†stone¬†into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

Colossians 3:5-9 shows us who we really are, no matter how we deny it to ourselves:

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[a] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[c]with its practices

Thankfully, there is a verse 10:

10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator

Jesus never leaves us as He found us.  He transforms us.  We can become NEW in Christ and learn to love with His heart, instead of our sinful, hateful heart.  We can see each other through His eyes, with love and compassion for each other, with a yearning for others to know Him and share His gospel of life eternal with God.

Love is possible.  Unity is possible.

Will you choose to have clear vision today?

Posted in Faith, Family

What’s Next for us (a sweet testimony of the love and goodness of my husband and God)

¬†I cannot believe it’s been four years since I walked down the aisle to my groom.

Time has passed.  At times so swiftly, other times without regard for my impatience.  But it sure seems fleeting.

Four years of marriage is not a normal celebratory year, at least in popular circles or in card shops.  Typically, we tend to celebrate the first, fifth and every fifth year after that for patterned events.

So why is four such a big deal to me today?

Because I want to share where God has moved in the lives of two simple people in Ohio, out of the entire Universe. ¬†And I finally am ready to share a deep hurt that was healed and overcome. ¬†But first, some highlights of one of the happiest days of my life…becoming Mrs. Hejnal.

new startcake2

candles

God's KnotThe day had finally come.

My husband and I had a lot of strife getting to that day.

As with every wedding, there are moments that things don’t go as planned, and ours was no different. ¬†Leading up to our wedding day, we had a few hiccups: reservations and contracts for locations that went missing (gasp!), family issues with¬†unforeseen miscommunication (with people who weren’t even part of our day) (YIKES!) and deadlines we didn’t plan for (seriously!?). ¬†Waking up the morning of the wedding, I just prayed for God to handle it all, and we would soak up every minute.

And on the day of the wedding, everything fell into place.


We both were so excited and were ready to commit to each other.  We could have done without the trimmings and planning. We just wanted to be together!   me staring offKevin excited

listening to In Christ Aloneso happyfrom the startrings

our new stepfamilyStarting over would be an adjustment for me.

I had been divorced for a few years, and I was used to doing things on my own. ¬†My personality is independent by nature. ¬†For as long as I can remember, once I conquered something, it was on to bigger and better. ¬†I didn’t like someone telling me what to do or how to do it. ¬†I would figure it out and then move on.

So, I definitely had a lot to learn about submitting to a man. ¬†Obstacles, schmobstacles…

It couldn’t be that hard, though, right? ¬†I mean, this guy and I seem to get along so well. ¬†We play video games together, go to church together, grocery shop together. For those who are afraid we do too much together, we do have separate interests and hobbies, but they are done in moderation. ¬†We truly enjoy each others’ company. I’ve never had such an amazing and supportive guy best friend. ¬†So moving into the¬†house that was now ours, and sharing EVERYTHING shouldn’t be so bad, right?

Sadly, I didn’t prepare myself for everything. ¬†I did what I normally did, which was to jump into the abyss and run full speed.


We had those who opposed Kevin’s and my marriage, and I felt obligated to try to change their minds, quite verbally, I remember. ¬†I had those who slandered me on a regular basis, so I found myself in defensive positions constantly. ¬†And I felt I had to prove to everyone that I was capable of being a stepmother, since I’d had no previous children of my own. ¬†How hard could this be? ¬†(Just reading this, I’m exhausted.)

Another factor I didn’t really see ahead of me that would test my patience and willpower were his daughters. ¬†At the time, they were 14 and 17. ¬†They are both beautiful women now, and have always been loving and understanding. ¬†They have grown a ton, and so have we. ¬†But let’s be honest ladies, learning to love someone else’s children seems to come easy, but it comes with being on the back burner and being rejected A LOT. ¬†If you keep your eyes open for the lessons, however, it also teaches you humility and compassion.

I was young (and I say that to be humorous, but also to indicate my maturity level in all of this). ¬†I expected things to go swimmingly all of the time. ¬†I am not one for confrontation, so I didn’t have to worry about arguing with the kids. ¬†They rarely voiced discontentment. ¬†They were eerily silent more than I could stand at times. ¬†But I learned about them, I stretched myself and spent time with them when they were in our home, and I shared as much about myself as I could with them. ¬†They were adjusting too.

Was our daily life all roses and gumdrops? ¬†Absolutely not. ¬†I can remember a few days where I stayed in our bedroom and avoided them, after an argument with their mother, or someone else in the family who wouldn’t accept me. ¬†I had to become aware of the times that the enemy would try to pin Kevin against me, and when the enemy would isolate me. ¬†Sometimes I felt excluded, unwanted or just plain ignored. ¬†Those were painful times, but they passed. ¬†We all grew.


Now the kicker: I’ve shared previously on this blog that I wanted to go back to school when God revealed that He wanted me to go into Christian counseling. ¬†What I didn’t share was how I made that decision solely by myself, signed up for, was accepted into college and THEN told my husband. ¬†Who does that!?! ¬†Ugh, I hate that things went down that way.

Kevin and I have had many conversations about US adjusting to each other. ¬†And at the height of one of our saddest but most raw arguments, he admitted how hurt he was by that, and I was ashamed that I’d not even seen that I had done it.


My point for all of this is to share what my view of marriage is, and how it’s taught me to rely on my Lord and my husband. ¬†And to share that through some of the heartache, pain and humbling heart condition checks that were necessary, God is not done with Kevin and me. ¬†There is more to come, and it can¬†WILL be accomplished with our Lord and my unselfish, unconditional loving husband.


A ceremonial addition we incorporated into our service was God’s Knot. ¬†It’s a cord of three colored ropes that you braid during your ceremony. ¬†The groom holds the ring and the bride braids the three colors together. ¬†Below you can see the description, and the shadow box I made of our knot after the wedding.God's Knot cord 3 strands

I loved this aspect of the ceremony, but the truth is that I didn’t know how to incorporate it into my marriage.

I had my faith, Kevin had his, and we would meet in the middle, I was sure of it. ¬†We were growing as a couple. ¬†We were going to church. ¬†We were attending life group, and I could see Kevin’s growth, and it just fueled me to do more at church because God wanted me to be helping others in their lives. ¬†After all, mine was perfectly fine…

Yet in all honesty, for the first two and a half years of our marriage, I was running my race to the goal line (whatever event I had created in my mind), and Kevin was jogging behind, lovingly supporting me, but keeping silent.

Newsflash, brides: That’s not journeying through life together.

That’s living as though you’re still single, and just having the guy’s last name. ¬†What could be more emasculating to an amazing man (or any man for that matter)?

I have learned so much in the time since I’ve walked down the aisle.

I have learned the ability to admit my wrongdoings.

It’s not that I didn’t know how to do it before, it’s just that in the past, my lips seemed to go numb, and my mouth wouldn’t open to get the words out. ūüėČ ¬†I mean, come on, who loves to say, “I was wrong”? ¬†If it seems hard to say, take a few minutes to repeat that over and over…it gets easier.

I have learned the ability to put my partner first.

Kevin is so simple, and I mean that so lovingly. ¬†He really doesn’t ask for much. He’s not extravagant, he doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for me, he just lives so simply, and if he sees a need somewhere, he does it/fixes it/helps someone/loves on people. ¬†I couldn’t ask for a better example of who Jesus is.

Kevin really is a living example of someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to see others love their lives and Christ. ¬†But my nature (and let’s be honest again, it’s not a personality flaw, it’s my sin nature), was to put myself first. ¬†And I have a background, so here’s where I used to justify it.

Coming from a first marriage that ended in my leaving abruptly, I wasn’t used to putting the other person first. ¬†I had been dealing with someone who had so many expectations for me to live up to, and a facade I couldn’t pull off…well, it just was such a relief to get away from someone trying to change me and I could finally have an opinion without him making fun of me, or calling me a name because I thought differently. ¬†But unfortunately, my desire to overcome that part of my past, left Kevin in the dust! ¬†I had opened a business and gone back to school all by myself. Surely, you’re proud of me, right, honey? ¬†Honey??


I’m going to take you back to a moment in time that is forever seared into my memory. ¬†It’s painful, but becomes beauty from its¬†original ashes.

Thankfully, God got a hold of me one morning/afternoon in February 2014. ¬†And let me tell you, where I should have been treated harshly for the words I let spew out of my mouth during a Valentine’s dinner to my sweet husband, God wrapped His arms around me and said, “Tell me what’s wrong.”

The afternoon¬†after that dinner, when I was alone in my living room (Kevin was at work), I had such shame. Have you ever been so mad at something, but had so much going on, you didn’t know who to blame or where to put the pain? ¬†I was at my wits end! ¬†(Clearly.)

¬†I had allowed myself to become so overwhelmed, overworked, disappointed, and so angry at everyone and everything, that I didn’t even want to go into the Lord’s presence. ¬†Quite honestly, I figured He didn’t want to talk to me. ¬†He was there at the restaurant the night before, when I unleashed venom against my husband (who had done nothing wrong), and made him my punching bag for my built up anger. ¬†Surely, God’s back would be to me.

I wrestled in the living room. ¬†I went from couch to chair to couch and thought, This is ridiculous. ¬†I can’t even muster up the courage to talk to God. ¬†And though I wanted to cry (and for those of you who know me- that’s not a hard feat for me to accomplish), I couldn’t get any moisture from my eyes. ¬†How sad…now what?

And so I texted a few of my soul sisters from church: “Will you ladies¬†pray for me? Without going into detail, I’ve hurt my husband and feel like I can’t pray.”

Within minutes, my dear sisters countered the enemy’s lies and told me to press into God, to seek Him with my heart and He would reveal a way to redeem myself with Kevin, that I need to resist the devil, draw near to God (James 4:7-8) and just boldly go to Him.

I stretched myself out on the floor facing downward.  And then I laughed.

How absurd, I thought! ¬†I have no words to even say. ¬†Obviously I’m sorry, but where do I begin?

So I stayed on the floor, arms stretched out in front of me. ¬†And I started, “Lord, I don’t even know what you want me to say…”


Within seconds, He spoke into my spirit, not words of condemnation or ridicule, but peace and truth. ¬†He somehow got me to the point of repentance. ¬†I can’t even explain exactly how, but with my arms out in front of me,

I began to sob,

and then cry,

and then mourn loudly.

I hadn’t let tears out in a LONG TIME! ¬†On my knees, still facing the floor, I knew what I had done wrong. ¬†I knew I had gone before Kevin and hurt him, but God was letting me know that I had RUN IN FRONT OF HIM AS WELL! ¬†Talk about a 2×4 to the face! ¬†I’m just living my dream, without regard for anyone. ¬†What in the world is wrong with me?!?

The Lord is our judge, yet also a loving Father. ¬†That day, when I should have had Him laying out the record of all of the times I had wronged my husband, God chose to show me His grace. ¬†(And if you know 1 Corinthians 13, Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, so this clearly shows you where my belief about God didn’t match up with His character.)

He spread out such merciful, totally needed, completely undeserved GRACE.

Still sitting on the floor, I cried endlessly, and felt His love, compassion and clarity. I knew within minutes that I had to back out of school, close up shop on my business, and put my focus on HIM and my husband, and then my family.


Words that echoed in my spirit, which will never go forgotten, were the following: “Grace, you’re calling me the Lord of your life, but you’re not letting me do it.”

That realization hit me so hard.

I had such remorse for my treatment of Kevin. ¬†He didn’t deserve my tongue-lashing. ¬†I had immediate sadness at knowing my dream of finishing college would again go to the wayside. ¬†But knowing that I was a fraud to myself and my Lord was the most painful. ¬†Who was I kidding? ¬†Yes, my grades were high where I wanted them to be, but the grade for my contribution to my marriage was F after F. ¬†My priorities were so skewed. ¬†Devastated, but hopeful, my heart ached horribly, but I couldn’t wait to talk to my husband.


Later that evening in our bedroom, I finally had the opportunity to apologize to Kevin. ¬†He had been quiet all day when he got in from work, and my stepdaughters were over. ¬†I certainly didn’t want to do this in front of them, so I asked the Lord to give me the words at the right time. ¬†Kevin listened so intently, and yet his face would look away at times. ¬†I shared with him all that the Lord revealed to me during my quiet time, and when I was finally done, he looked at me, and said, “I can never stop you, Grace. ¬†You get something in your mind and you just run with it. ¬†I’m in awe of you. ¬†Everything you’ve ever wanted to do, you can do it. ¬†But what killed me was that you’ve never asked me, not that you need my permission, but that you would consider me. ¬†You’re still living like you’re single.”

Dear friends, if I can impart wisdom to you regarding marriage- which is a holy, beautiful, institution using two broken, imperfect people (one man, one woman), take my words to heart. ¬†YOU CANNOT CLEAVE TO SOMEONE BY YOUR OWN WILL. ¬†The Bible is so full of wisdom and truth regarding marriage being an institution that reflects the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. ¬†That one would lay down their life, they would cleave to each other, they would forsake all others, they would lead, serve, submit… ¬†I wasn’t doing any of that. ¬†And I had been so blinded because of my own selfishness, I didn’t realize the pain Kevin ¬†even felt.

I used to pride myself on telling others to “put the shoe on the other foot”, but I couldn’t follow my own advice. ¬†And because I had squashed the Holy Spirit, I wasn’t hearing His gentle rebukes to consult my husband, pray before deciding, wait to see if it was something the Lord wanted of me. ¬†All of these steps I took were “GRACE-driven”, but not grace-driven.


I have learned the ability to squash the enemy instead of the Spirit.

If you are married or considering it, your primary concern will always be for the other person. ¬†Yes, you have dreams and goals, but trust me, if they don’t include your spouse, you live a life of secrecy and darkness. ¬†These things always come to light, Scripture says. ¬†Even in the midst of a godly marriage. ¬†If we’re not seeking the Lord and our spouse’s approval on things, are we truly surrendered to their ideas, opinions, viewpoints? ¬†And let’s not gloss over the fact that the enemy HATES marriage, so he will do anything he can to separate, isolate and KILL off any part of you that works in conjunction with your spouse. ¬†Instead of running ahead of your mate and figuring things out, seek your spouse’s opinion (communication is sexy, people) and see what he has to say. ¬†You may be surprised by his wisdom and acceptance of your ideas.

Submission to a man of God is easy.

If a man loves the Lord, and follows His commands (most importantly to put YOU first in his life, and love you like Jesus loves the church), you can easily walk alongside him and submit to him.  I know every marriage is not like this.  But if you are a godly woman, you are not alone.  Your Lord is your husband and voice of wisdom until He gets through to your husband.

I learned that my husband “gets” the idea of unconditional love (and it’s something I cannot take for granted)

When I screwed up royally, Kevin never held it over my head. ¬†We have thousands of dollars in college loans for a degree that I never finished, and he’s never said another word about it, except to tell me that we have to remember a certain amount coming out monthly. ¬†He said it’s a lesson that we learned together.

Talk about GRACE!! ¬†Could you do that? ¬†If your husband cost you THOUSANDS of dollars for a dream that God called you out of, would you be able to NOT talk about it? ¬†I mean, we may want to tell our girlfriends why we can’t go out for coffee or dinner, “because let me tell you what my husband did…”.

He NEVER did that. ¬†He just moves forward with me, seeking God for our next step. ¬†That’s insane, but possible with God. ¬†Kevin’s love for me overshadows my mistakes. ¬†Sound like anyone else you know? ūüėČ

I’ve learned God’s plans for me do coincide with my dreams (after all, He put them there), but I can wait for His direction and timing to execute them.

My frustration and becoming overwhelmed was because I was putting pressure on myself that was never meant to be there. ¬†I needed to seek God and His Word regarding my steps, but I was too busy running to stop and read (or listen). ¬†And out of that journey of running, I realized many reasons why I was pushing to prove myself. ¬†I am now equipped with Ephesians 6 and the armor of God. ¬†I know the schemes against me, I know the tactics the enemy uses, I know his cunning behavior. ¬†I cannot prepare myself for everything, but I can be aware, and that is what is required of us. ¬†We need to watch and know that he seeks to KILL us and DESTROY us. ¬†This is your ENEMY…the one that knows he loses in the end. ¬†So remind him of that.

And ultimately, I have a few dreams that are in my think tank. ¬†I know the Lord put them there. ¬†He is slowly revealing timing for certain things, but I’m more patient than I’ve ever been. ¬†I know when I see myself putting on tennis shoes in my mind’s eye, I need to sit back on the bench and consider him and my husband first.


The cord of three strands is essential to a vital, godly marriage. ¬†Kevin is a flawed human being. ¬†As am I. ¬†And there is only one other person involved in our marriage, who has a vested interest in our marriage, who is not flawed. ¬†God designed it, He knows the obstacles, but He has the power and the resources to conquer them. ¬†And He’s given us the wisdom to learn how to do it.

Put simply: RELIANCE ON THE LORD HIMSELF.

I can come up with some pretty awesome ideas (brushed knuckles on chest), but if I haven’t sought the Lord or Kevin, I will be devastated at the loss of time spent by choosing to go the path alone. ¬†I’ve witnessed after a long day of work, Kevin come home and say something that neither one of us has talked about, but that I know the Lord must have put on His heart. ¬†That is evidence enough for me that He is present in both of our lives. ¬†And He has to be! ¬†We are so prone to going our own way, but in a marriage, it’s always about the other person. ¬†Sacrifice to self is essential.


Something else that the Lord brought to my mind in the living room that day was that friends lay down their lives for each other. ¬†I hadn’t done that. ¬†For me to be successful as a wife, submitted to my husband and completely surrendered to the Lord, I had to lay down my hopes/dreams/college credits/Avon makeup business for the sake of Kevin and my longevity. ¬†It’s not that these were bad ideas, but sometimes the Lord asks us to give up things that are in the way of what He is trying to accomplish through us. ¬†If my grip had been so tight on school or my business, where would that have left Kevin?

hold everything in your hands


I’ve learned to let go of hurtful, hateful moments and live in the NOW.

Earlier, I had mentioned how things went wrong leading up to our wedding day. Life isn’t perfect, and moments aren’t as tidy or neat as Pinterest tries to convince us. ¬†Over the last two years, the Lord has been working on my heart of unforgiveness. ¬†I’ve been holding onto so much, about so many people, that it had become a huge wedge in our marriage. ¬†I had to come to the realization of three things:

  1. Kevin wasn’t responsible for the actions of those who hurt me, so I had to stop treating him as if he was.
  2. Holding onto the anger for what others had done wasn’t hurting them. ¬†It was hurting me. ¬†And Kevin. ¬†And other family members. ¬†My responses weren’t Christlike many times, and if I was trying to be a light, I wasn’t accomplishing it very well.
  3. Forgiveness is able to be done by humans, but the peace that comes as a result, is something only the Lord can give. ¬†I have said I’ve forgiven and forgotten a ton of times. ¬†But I hadn’t ever given the situation to the Lord. ¬†Then, all of a sudden in 2013, God started messing with my sleep schedule. ¬†He would keep me up, replaying an incident or how I handled it. ¬†My anger would rage, my thoughts would get wound up, and I would want to scream. ¬†But when I learned to take those moments and hand them over to the One who already died for their mistakes, and mine too, I was able to let Him deal with that person and no longer hold it over their heads. ¬†I cannot tell you the freedom I have, and the lack of weight on my shoulders for doing this! ¬†If you need help with forgiveness or unforgiveness, call me, text me, email me. ¬†I will be doing a bible study on this topic because it is so beneficial to our mental and physiological well-being.

I’ve learned that where God said No for now, it doesn’t mean forever.

I still have dreams. ¬†I also have a husband whose work schedule might change, and stepdaughters in college. ¬†I want to be there for them. ¬†This doesn’t mean my goal of counseling will fade. ¬†It means that the Lord will be faithful in what He told me: He will give me what I need when I need it. ¬†And I can rest in that.

I’ve learned that everyone needs second chances, and third, and eighteenth, and ninety-seventh, and…

The beautiful truth about the God of the Bible is that He is full of grace and mercy, justice and truth. ¬†He gives grace much more than He punishes. ¬†Like the loving parent that He is, He disciplines those He loves, but He doesn’t leave us in timeout, or in prison! ¬†He conquered death so we could be with Him. ¬†Is He happy with our choices and behavior all of the time? ¬†That depends on your walk with Him. ¬†But the good news is that when we screw up, He is faithful and just to see the sin, cover it with the blood of His Son, and grant us newness. ¬†Out of that thankfulness, we need to be appreciative and turn our lives in another direction.

Where our sin is great, His grace is greater!


So that’s my story. ¬†At least for now. ¬†Four years may not seem like a long time, but for me, it’s been packed with lesson after lesson and grace upon grace. ¬†I’ve titled this post “What’s Next for us”, but to be truthful, only God knows that.

I just know that we’re all in, whatever that looks like. ¬†And we’re going to do it hand-in-hand until He calls us home.

flowers butterflies marriage walking the future

Posted in Faith

On understanding forgiveness

Forgiveness is not easy.

Yes, I know that‚Äôs an understatement.¬† In the life of a Christian, however, it should be easy.¬† I know…I know. ¬†I can almost hear you beginning to protest.¬† The Bible talks about it constantly, so there is much to learn about the concept.¬† Also, Jesus came to Earth to show us that God loved us so much that He forgave us and redeemed us.

So, as Christ followers, why is forgiveness the bumpiest part of our path?  How do we overcome something that creates so many emotions in us?

I‚Äôd like to let you in on something I learned about, during my talk with God on my drive into work this morning.¬† It softened my heart (I actually felt warmth in my chest), and I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.¬† Believe me, even as I write, I‚Äôm still struggling to let go.¬† I know I want to give God my hurts, and He was pretty insistent at telling me to do so.¬† Yet my stubbornness is holding onto them currently.¬† Talk about fighting the flesh…

John 1:12 says, ‚ÄúYet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.‚ÄĚ

Source: gatheringlex.org

When we choose to accept God’s call on our lives, we enter into a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).¬† We begin to walk in the newness of the Holy Spirit (Romans 7:4-6) and we shed the flesh (old desires, habits or anything that separates us from wanting to be obedient to Christ).¬† In doing so, we develop new habits.¬† We begin to see needs in others and we talk with God about how to meet them.¬† Then we physically follow through so that the lost can see who God is, and know that they are loved.

That is the profile of being a Christian.  Simply meeting others’ needs and sharing Christ’s love, forgiving and spreading His Word.  Nowhere in that description is there room for judgment, anger, bitterness, hatred or resentment.  However, as Christians, do we still feel these feelings and deal with roots of these emotions?  Absolutely. So, in thinking about forgiveness and my resistance to let go, I needed a perspective shift, and it was this morning that God brought to my mind the concept of enemies.

To those of us who have been wronged (go ahead, you may nod your head), we have held onto a thought, word, conversation, action or anything that justifies our anger and bitterness.  We may not even consciously do it.  But something triggers that emotion again when we see that person, or hear something that sounds like the comment that put the seed of bitterness into our hearts, and we are reminded all over again of the pain we felt.  In that instance, we tend to look at that person who hurt us as an enemy.

Here’s a twist: God looks at the concept of enemies differently.  Yes, they are still people who wrong us.  Anyone who is not a child of God, who has rejected His teachings, is considered an enemy to God.  Does this include people of other faiths, following rules and regulations that are not governed by our Heavenly Father?  Yes.  The hard reality is that God said Jesus would be the doorway, and He is the only door to God.

Referencing John 1:12 above, the criteria to be a friend (child, family member, son, daughter, etc.) of God is right there.  We need to believe Jesus is who He said He was and that He loves us.  We also know that because of our belief through faith in Jesus, and grace from God, we are His extended family.  The Bible says we are no longer enemies.  Anything apart from that means we would have remained an enemy to God.  This is a hard truth, I know, but please stay with me.

Paul wrote the following to the church in Colossus regarding our position with God.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.¬† But now he has reconciled you by Christ‚Äôs physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation ‚ÄĒ if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.‚ÄĚ (Colossians 1:21-23)

Source: trulyrichmom.com

Paul is addressing Christians who, after accepting the truth of the gospel, now are no longer enemies of God.  They (we) are now reconciled through Christ’s body and are asked to follow through with what God has called us to, until He returns.  It’s that simple.  This is the transition of enemies to children of God.

 

But what becomes of those who are Christ’s enemies?  The Bible states there are two places we go after we die: a place for those who love Him and a place for those who reject Him.  Heaven and Hell.  Both are two real places and both are not entered into, until we pass from life to death (or life to life, for a believer).

In this context, I feel a real urgency.

Because this means that if someone is not a friend of God’s, that they will pass from life to death, and never know Him.  This is a serious offense, and one that should be taken very seriously.  For those who are lost and unbelieving of who Jesus is, their fate is ultimately death.

And the insight God brought to my mind is that we can’t let these people perish.  It’s up to us to be the hands and feet of the gospel, so that everyone has the opportunity to accept or reject the truth.

So, what does this have to do with forgiveness?

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells all believers to go against their instincts of hate and rejection.¬† We are told to ‚Äúlove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.‚ÄĚ

Simple enough?¬† No way!¬† That‚Äôs easier said than done.¬† If you‚Äôre like me, you‚Äôre thinking, ‚ÄėWhy should I be praying for them?¬† They‚Äôre jerks!‚Äô

Think about it this way.  Is God really concerned about the little fights/disagreements/injustices of our daily lives?  Yes, He does love us enough to love the intimate details that affect us.  But we already know where our inheritance is.  I think His goal for sharing this truth with me this morning, was to show me that their unsaved status is a little more important.  And that’s something I cannot argue with.

Source: betsyfromtennessee.blogspot.com

Any enemy of God is an enemy of ours, and we are not to reject them and give them what they deserve.  The lost may not be aware of their need for God yet, and we are to be the ones to help them.  If we’re rejecting them, we’re encouraging the lost to stay lost.  But maybe because of our injustices, we have an opportunity to show them that they are forgiven, which is not a reaction they will expect.

God showed me the bigger picture, which is this: While He is concerned for all believers and hurts for us when we are wronged; His goal isn’t to just make our lives better.  He is using our pain to help grow us in His character.  We are being asked to step out in faith, and show the person who wronged us the truth of the gospel by praying for them.

Their enemy status is not just against us.

It’s against Him.

Those who are not children of God may hate and reject us forever without any repercussion.  But if they hate and reject Jesus forever, their consequences are eternal.

I may be justifiably angry at being hurt or rejected, but the pain is ultimately Jesus’.

It’s not me they’re hurting the most.

Heck, it’s not even about me.

I’m not to seek revenge or stay the victim.  In Christ, I AM VICTORIOUS!  And not in a prideful way, but victorious in the sense that I have hope of eternal life because of what Jesus did for me.

I can overcome forgiveness issues if I keep the mindset forefront that God is primarily concerned with those who are His enemies.  He doesn’t wish anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

In light of eternity, is anything that was ever said/done worth losing someone over?

If it is, you may need to ask God to help soften your heart.  We as believers should never have the idea that we’re good to go, and that’s all that matters.

The hurting world around us is waiting to be shown the love and mercy of Christ.  Can you look past yourself to see them as an enemy of God, and that they need grace in every sense of the word, just like you did?  Let’s shift the perspective from ourselves and put them first.  The Holy Spirit will guide us to help those who have hurt us, and instead of festering hate and anger, He will begin to produce love and mercy.  It’s a win-win.  We get to let go of the pain and someone sees the light of the gospel.

Source: heritage-christian-university.blogspot.com

If you are a child of God, you are being called to step out of your comfort zone and love those who hate you.  You are being asked to lessen your pain and put Christ’s first.  It doesn’t mean your pain is any less worthy to be worked through.  It just means that you have the supernatural spiritual ability with Christ’s help to love someone when you feel you are unable to do so.  You are able to love and forgive, even in the midst of that pain.  Can you do that?  If not, I invite you to pray and talk to God about the root of bitterness that needs to be taken from your heart.

I promise you that you will flourish and love with Christ’s love in an amazing way!  Why hinder your own growth for someone else to rejoice over?  They may not even be aware of the pain they caused you.  Please let it go.