Masterpieces

Fun fact:  I have four (adult) children.

They are all different. Like really different.  Before I had kids, I had no idea that each one would be so very different from the other.  I mean, they were all parented by the same two people, with similar experiences and values.  The same household rules and expectations.   But as they grew, it became apparent, in a short amount of time, that each was unique and special. 

With their differences, I realized that I needed to see each one for who they were, individually.  In order for me to encourage their strengths and support their weaknesses, I had to view each one individually, while still maintaining the family unit.  There’s some tricky balancing going on there!  Each one had the same family rules, but each one responded to those rules differently.  Therefore, each one needed a slightly different level of parental involvement. 

Just like my children, each one of us is special and different from the other. 

I love this about God’s creation!  No two of anything, are exactly the same!  There are billions of human beings on the earth today (7.753 billion to be exact).  And no two individuals have the same fingerprints, DNA sequence or face.  We see similar things in nature.  There are millions of trees, but no two leaves are identical.  Also consider snowflakes!  Their patterns are special.  They look very similar at first glance, but when you look closer, you will find that the differences are extravagant!  Each one is ornate and wildly individual.

That’s me! The Subway Cave, Sedona AZ!

The word special as an adjective, is defined this way; “better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.”  As a noun, it’s defined this way;” of high value, or beloved” and “designed for a particular occasion or purpose.”  I like both of those definitions, especially as they relate to people!

God sees each person that He created as special.  Not “participation ribbon” special but patterned wildly different and beautifully diverse from every other one!  In Ephesians 2:10 the Apostle Paul writes “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God’s masterpiece, His work of art, His best and most glorious creation!  If you’re like me, you are having a hard time swallowing that truth about yourself right now.  With so many billions of people on the earth, how could I possibly be God’s masterpiece?

It is important to remember that our human, finite minds, do not work the same way that our Creator’s does.   

Artists work tirelessly in hopes to create one piece of art in their life, that is far and exceedingly above the rest.  The one that is more beautiful and more special than all the others that they have ever created.  But God has created billions of people so far, and His word says that each one is His masterpiece! Each one is special in His sight.  I don’t fully understand it, but I am not about to argue with scripture either!    We just have to believe it!

It is God who created us in our mother’s womb.  He knows every detail about us!  In Psalm 139:13-16 David writes, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  Wow.  It doesn’t get any more special than that, to be handcrafted by The Master.  Cell by cell, eyelash by eyelash. 

God Himself said that humanity was His best work when He declared it very good in Genesis 1:31 “Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good!”  On all the other days of creation, when God had finished, He said that what He has created was good.  But on day 6, when He designed the human race, He referred to it as very good. That, sister, is you and me!

It is clear that we are special to God.  But we are also precious to Him.  I know what you’re thinking. Those two words mean the same thing.  We often use them interchangeably, but I assure you, they do not mean the same thing!

Special refers to things that are unique, individualized, different from the rest. Precious refers to being of high value or, in particular, beloved. 

The beauty of creation in Sedona!

God paid a high price for you and me to be redeemed.  He gave His one and only Son to be our Redeemer. Jesus came to take our place and pay for all the sins that you and I have ever or will yet commit. The most quoted and foundational verse in the entire Bible is John 3:16. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  You and I needed a way to have a relationship with God and experience Heaven. When Jesus came to earth, He willingly gave His life for ours. Jesus paid a very high price for you and me, and this makes us precious. 

My children are special because of their individualism, but they are precious because of their worth.  Nothing on earth will ever be as precious to a mother as her children!  (That is, until she has grandchildren!)  Those that are mothers, sacrifice their bodies to have children.  Our bodies stretch and grow and change considerably when we bear children.  And except for the stretch marks, most of us wouldn’t trade a thing!  We lovingly gave up a part of ourselves to give life to them.  Each line and perceived flaw we now see on ourselves, is just a reminder of the precious life we held inside. A testament to the masterpiece we created.

So, when I say that God sees you as precious, it is the same emotion as held by mothers.  The word precious implies a person’s feelings in terms of sentimental and emotional value, not monetary value.   Sentimental and sacrificial value.

Psalm 139:17-18 goes on to say,” How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!”  The Psalmist is saying here that God has so many precious thoughts about us, that the amount of them is greater than the number of grains of sand.  This is astounding!  This means that you and I are on God’s mind continually.  And they are precious thoughts!  Sometimes we imagine that God must be continually displeased with us because we are often displeased with ourselves.  But scripture records that God thinks loving and precious thoughts about us constantly!

As a mom, I think about my children often.  Before I fall asleep, I pray for them.  And when they are far away or struggling, I pray for them.  They are never far from my heart and my mind.  I believe that in the same way that a mother loves and thinks about her children, God loves and thinks about us.  Only with greater intensity and frequency than we can even imagine!  Just as David is blown away by the vast and mighty love of God towards him, you and I would be wise to dwell on that same love for ourselves.  Let it soak down deep.

People and situations can make us question whether we are loved and cherished by others.  However, rest assured that you are loved and cherished by God. Know that He sees you as special, different than all the rest.  Not just a “number” or part of the mass of people.  But He sees YOU.  And when He does, He considers you precious.  He holds you close to His heart, and He thinks loving and precious thoughts toward you!

I don’t know about you, but I am going to rest easier tonight, believing firmly that I am special and precious to God. That I am His masterpiece!

If you are keeping a list in your notebook, believing that you are who God says you are, you can add precious and special to the list.  Maybe consider writing some scriptures next to each descriptor for reference!

Here’s what we have looked at so far: God says we are loved, accepted, a new creation, forgiven, chosen, precious ans special! Two more blog posts will finish out this series. I hope you are enjoying it, and that you will share the blog with a friend! I love comments, texts or emails! Let me know what you think so far! (You can email me at pursuingpurpose724.com).

Purposefully

Shelli

The Handsome Hubs!

Making new labels

School recess, playground games.  So many memories flood my mind when I hear those words. 

Dodgeball, softball, Red Rover, four square…..we spent all of recess in elementary school passing the time with those games.  And as fun as they were, there was also the anxiety of standing in a line with other kids.  Waiting and hoping to be picked for the team.  Was I cool enough?  Was I liked enough?  Would I be chosen?  I was never the team captain, I was always in the line, waiting to hear my name be called.  Maybe you can relate.

We all want to be included.  We all desire to be invited in.  Even my introvert friends want inclusion (even though they reserve the right to still say no!).  In our souls, as people designed for community, we have a longing to be included, or chosen.

Old Testament Jews understood this concept well.  They were God’s chosen people.  Deuteronomy 14:2 says “for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession”.  They spent all day, every day, knowing that they were special.  They knew the holy scriptures that declared that they were in fact, chosen by God.  They did not have to wonder or worry about being included.  They understood that as fact.  So, they had a difficult time accepting that, when Jesus came, He declared that even the Gentiles and the dreaded Samaritans were also chosen!  But we’re not here to talk about them, let’s talk about you and me!

If you have ever felt the sting of NOT being chosen or included, then I know you also understand the joy and happiness that comes when you ARE invited in.  I have good news for you today!

You have been chosen by God for the most significant team in human history!  The most amazing “team captain” of all, has set His sights on you!  He has called your name and included you among those He desires to have on His team! 

La Jolla California on a recent trip~~

Ephesians 1:3-4 puts it this way, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…”  John 15:16 says “You did not choose me, but I chose you…”

Let those words sink in for a moment.  God chose YOU!  Say it out loud right now (ok, maybe just in your head if you’re not alone…)  Say “God chose me!”  Don’t say it with hesitation, with a question mark at the end.  Say it with gusto. With an exclamation point!

Maybe your relationship with God is spot on today!  You are in the word, in church, and in prayer regularly.  Maybe you have just started a relationship with Him, and you are still figuring out what that looks like.  And maybe your relationship with God is…complicated. Whatever the case may be, know this; you are loved by Him!  How do I know?  Well, because you are reading this now, and I believe God led you here today.  And because He led you here, He desires for you to know Him.  And because He drew you here and desires to know you, you are loved. 

What you do with that knowledge is up to you, but He is calling your name.  Asking you to be part of His team.

Imagine you are in that line of kids, waiting to be picked at recess.  The captain calls your name.  In that moment, you were chosen for the team.  But you still have the choice whether or not to step out of the line and join the captain.  We can stay where we are, but we are still chosen.  It’s not until we accept that invitation that we actually join the team.

You are who God says you are, and He says you are chosen. My sister, if you have placed your faith in Jesus and trust in His work on the cross and in His resurrection for your salvation from sin, then He has called you, and you are chosen!  Rest in that truth today.  Soak in it for a while.  (Think, long hot bubble bath soaking, the kind that wrinkles your skin!)

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Called out of darkness, into His marvelous light. Chosen!

Fresh wisteria blooms~

As we work to reframe and combat the negative words that we hear from others, or from the enemy, words matter.  You may hear “not wanted” or “rejected”.  But God says you are:

Loved

Forgiven

Accepted

Chosen

And a new creation!

If you are keeping a list in your pretty notebook, add Chosen and New Creation to the list!

Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new is here!”  What a wonderful truth! 

Since we have Christ in us, we are a totally new creation.  We are not recycled or repurposed, but remade! 

Our old selves (before we knew Jesus) were without Christ.  But Jesus is the light of the world.  Once His beautiful light enters us, all the ugliness is exposed.  And He gets to work right away making room for His presence to fill and complete us.  He starts to get rid of the ugly and change us.  And almost immediately, His glorious light shines through and we are made new from the inside out! 

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Here, God didn’t say that He would add water to the streams He had already created, but that He would make streams appear in the wasteland. 

Because I am a new creation, I am not a slave to my old ways.  The old is gone, the new has come!

Ephesians 4:22-24 teaches us this truth: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” 

A new creation in Christ is not a second chance.  God is not limited to second chances, as though they could run out.  Rather, we are a NEW creation, a NEW beginning!  God is a God of new beginnings.  Even if you have wandered away.  Even if you use to follow Him, but something happened to change that.  You can restart with God.  Let Him create in you a new heart!  Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

My dear sweet friend, who is in every way possible, a new creation, said this to me.  “Remembering that I am a new creation helps me to step into what God is calling me to do.  I have to choose to no longer identify with the labels from my past that would certainly imprison me.  There’s freedom in Christ!”

The new me has fresh eyes.  Eyes to see beyond my circumstances, to see God’s purposes.  A new creation can be like nothing you’ve ever seen before!

Whether you are looking for inclusion or a fresh start, Jesus offers you both!

Father God, when I feel defeated and like I am never going to get things right, remind me that I am new in Christ.  I feel your tender mercies toward me every morning.  But sometimes, when the world doesn’t choose me, and I feel stuck in patterns of life that make me feel trapped, I forget that you have made me new.  Thank you for your word and the truths I read there.  I am chosen.  I am a new creation.  I choose to declare this in a fresh way today! Amen.

Purposefully,

Shelli

These two lovely, sweet sisters are amazing New Creations in Jesus! Donna and Amber!

Belonging

As a child, I remember disappointing my parents.  On many occasions.  I recall acting in ways and saying things that hurt and angered them. Especially as a teenager.  I know they wanted what’s best for me, but in my immaturity and youth, I thought I knew best.  I thought I had grown enough to not need their wise council anymore. 

Even though I am grown now, I can still recall times when our relationship was a bit broken.  I had said and or done things to create a gap in our relationship.  And I felt it.  Things were not “right” at home.  The usual joyfulness and peace that was normally there, was absent in times of strife.  There were times that I knew I was in the wrong, and I needed to apologize.  But many times, my stubborn pride kept me from making things right.  It kept me from owning my mistakes and accepting responsibility for my actions and asking for forgiveness.

Funny how certain patterns repeat themselves into adulthood, isn’t it?

I have repeated this pattern in my marriage, and in other relationships as well.  Especially in my relationship with God.

1 John 1:9 holds a powerful truth.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  This is an “if and then” statement. 

You’ll notice that confession brings forgiveness.  When I have unconfessed sin in my life, it creates a relationship barrier between myself and God.  Like when I was stubborn with my parents and didn’t own up to my actions.  But with confession, comes forgiveness!  And with forgiveness comes restored relationship! 

There is no relationship more important than the one I have with God through Jesus.  It is because of Jesus’s perfect sacrifice that I can have forgiveness and enjoy connection and peace with God!  Check out Ephesians 1:7. “In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” 

This means that because of Jesus’ death on the cross, and my acceptance of the free gift of salvation through Him, I have forgiveness of sin.  Now I can enjoy the riches of God’s grace!  The broken relationship is healed!  There is no longer a need to try to be “good enough” for God to accept me, He already does through His Son!  My relationship with God is restored and unbroken through confession of sin.

Psalm 103:12 tells us how God forgives and forgets our sin.  “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Unlike humans, God has the ability to forgive and truly, and completely, forget the things we confess.  This means that once we confess our wrongdoings and sins to the Father, they are gone!  He remembers them no more!  You and I do not forget our mistakes, and often the enemy of our souls likes to remind us of them to hold us prisoner to the past.  But we do not need to stay there, trapped in guilt and shame, “beating ourselves up” for sin.  Confess it and be free.  Stop looking back, you are not going that way!

I am forgiven!  (And you are too!)

Gorgeous right?

Because we are forgiven, we are also accepted. 

Because the broken relationship has been restored, we are accepted by God.  Romans 15:7 makes this truth simple and clear.  “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” 

We all want to be accepted.  We work to attain an identity to fit in within certain circles.  Those circles might be work related or socially driven. They may be at church or in our communities.  Experiencing acceptance by others is a heart desire that we all possess.  It’s why we join clubs, or bowling leagues, or steer towards certain types of people groups.    The desire for acceptance by others comes from a deeper desire to be accepted wholly and completely by our creator.  He put that desire in our hearts, and it can only be truly realized in the peace we feel when we embrace that we are accepted by Him!  It is only when we seek our core acceptance from Him, that we can be fully satisfied. 

In all my years, I have desired acceptance from various people, or social groups too.  I think it’s safe to say that I always will in a lot of ways. 

But what I find so exciting is that even if I am never accepted socially in any group ever again, that I am accepted by God into His family!  What a joy to know that the desire I have deep within me to be accepted, has already been met in the wonderous love of God!  The truth is, I don’t really need to search for acceptance on earth any longer, since the kind of true and lasting acceptance can only be fulfilled by the One who loves me the most and created me for His good pleasure.  If He is pleased and accepts me, that’s all I need!

Here is something that I find hard to believe but know to be true; God knows me at my best, and He knows me at my worst.  Yet He loves and accepts me into His family, and into His kingdom.  It’s not about anything that I have done, it is all about everything that He has done on my behalf. 

If you’ve known the sting of rejection (and I ‘m sure you have), let your heart be comforted and make it a priority to remember that you are accepted by God!  Jesus makes that possible when we place our trust and faith in Him. 

This is week two of the series that we are in on the blog.  We will continue to spend the next few weeks exploring the names that God gives to us.  The various ways that He addresses us.  We started last time with LOVED.  This time we are adding FORGIVEN and ACCEPTED to the list.

I encourage you to grab that pretty notebook that we mentioned last time and add “forgiven” and “accepted” to the page you started.  (Didn’t start one?  It’s not too late!)  Keep that notebook handy as we continue to add to this list!

God wants you to know that you are loved.  He went to great lengths to ensure that you would know this truth.  Remember, the enemy wants us to focus only on our faults and shortcomings.  He works hard to steer us away from knowing the perfect love of God.  I believe that since you are here today, reading this, that God brought you here to remind you of His love for you, and for your need for Him.

You are LOVED!

And if you have accepted Jesus, and His finished work on the cross, you are FORGIVEN and ACCEPTED!

Come back next week to continue this series.  Have a friend that could use some encouragement and proof that she is loved by God?  You can easily share this blog with her.  Use the “share” option from your phone or tablet or email her a link!  See you again soon!

Purposefully,

Shelli

Wisteria and bumblebees~~

A series of words

Words are a big part of our lives.  Words shape us.  Words influence us.  Words can wound us.  And words can heal us.

The words we speak to others can impact them in big ways.  When I have a close relationship with someone, the words they speak to me can influence me greatly.  They can change the way I see the world, and they can often change the way I see myself.  If you have ever had someone close to you speak loving words into your life, you know how lasting those words can be.  And by the same token, negative words spoken in anger or out of criticism can ring in our ears and minds for years to come. 

Words matter.

Do you remember as a child, hearing “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”?  I do.  I think that little rhyme was probably invented by a well-meaning parent that wanted to encourage their child, who was probably hurting from unkind words spoken to or about them.  They were intended to help. 

If only it were true. 

But words do hurt.  We often recall the hurtful words spoken to us much longer than we can kind words.  In an article by Lindsey Horton regarding the science behind the effects of negative words, she said this: “…negative words, whether spoken, heard, or thought, not only cause situational stress, but also contribute to long-term anxiety”. 

Sometimes those negative words come from the world.  They are spoken to us through social media and more subtlety through tv ads and so on. 

Sometimes those words repeat in our mind from the voices in our childhood, or sometimes they come back to us from a painful adult relationship. 

And sometimes…they come from our own negative self-talk.

Stop right here and think of three words that you might use to describe yourself. (I’ll wait).  I’m willing to bet that at least one or two of those words are negative in some way. 

Photo credit: Krissy Basham (AKA my daughter)

Here are some words that I know we often say about ourselves (as women), even if we don’t say them out loud, or to others. We say:

I’m lazy

I’m not smart enough

I’m overweight

I’m ugly

I’m unlovable

I’m useless

I’m a failure

I’m sure there are others that you say about yourself, words I didn’t list here.  Typically, we have no trouble finding grace and kind words to speak to others, but when it comes to ourselves, we aren’t usually as kind. 

In a world full of criticism and negativity, it is important to be kind to one another.  But I also believe that this kindness needs to start with how we speak to ourselves.  Proverbs 4:23 says it this way: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.  Guard your heart.  Words matter.  The words we speak to ourselves matter.

Since we are considering the impact of words, I think we should start with considering God’s word, the Bible. 

Last week on the blog, I mentioned a few of the words that God says about us in scripture.  I want to dive into this a little bit further, so I have decided to do a series here on the blog (something I haven’t done so far).  I want to spend the next several weeks together, looking into the words that God says about us.  Words that will help us reframe the negative words that we hear from the world or even in our own thoughts.

God says I am loved!

As human beings, this is the number one thing that we all desire to hear.  “I love you’”

The enemy of our souls works diligently to fill our mind and heart with lies and thoughts that keep us far from God.  And he chips away first, at the foundation of everything, love. 

By far, the greatest human desire is for love.  Oxford Dictionary defines love as “An intense feeling of deep affection”.  We see this desire for love displayed everywhere in our culture.  We seek to receive love from people.  We start (and end) relationships searching for love, romantic relationships as well as relationships with friends.  We even have children out of a desire for love. 

As humans we desire to give love as well as to receive love.  The idea of love is a driving force for all of humanity regardless of their geographical location, heritage, upbringing, race or gender.  We all desire to be told that we are loved. 

Photo credit: Krissy Basham (AKA my daughter)

I desire to believe that I am who God says I am.  And God says that I am loved by Him!

Look what Jeremiah 13:3 tells us.  “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love;  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.”

This love of the Lord is everlasting, lasting forever, never changing, solid and sure.  

1 John 4:19 says “We love, because He first loved us.”  You and I possess the ability to love because He (God) loved us first!  How did He love us?

Jesus, God’s own Son, is speaking in John 3:16 and He says it this way.  “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  The way to heaven is through Jesus Christ.  And because the sin of man broke the world, the way that God designed it, He sent His own Son to make a way for us to know this love and to be with Him forever.  John 15:13 tells us this truth “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  

This fierce love was displayed in the ultimate act of love.  God gave His Son, and He then,  willingly laid down His life, so that your life and mine could be redeemed.  There is no greater love than the sacrificial love that God showed to us.

So when the enemy starts to whisper in your ear that you are not loved or that you are not worthy of love (human love or God’s love), rest assured of the truth that you ARE indeed, loved greatly by the Lover Of Our Souls! He went to great lengths to show that love to us.  Our part is to believe it.  To let it settle down into our souls and fill us. 

Photo credit: Krissy Basham (AKA my daughter)

The greatest human need is to be loved.  What an amazing thing to recognize that our greatest human need has been met in the powerful and mighty work of God!

If you are struggling with this truth today, then I believe it is no accident that you are reading these words.  I believe that God sent you here today because He is speaking to you.  He directed you here so that He could tell you what He knows you need to hear.  

You are loved.

I hope that you’ll join me over the next few weeks, as we learn the words that God speaks about us in scripture.  My desire is that you will allow these words to influence and define who you truly are, and how you see yourself. And that you will begin to replace the negative voice inside, that works to defeat you with the words of God.  

Challenge:  Use Google or your Bible app to search for  scriptures that speak of God’s love for you.  Write some of them down in a notebook.  (The pretty kind that you will want to look at again and again!)  And then choose one to commit to memory.  This will help replace those negative things you hear.  Words matter.  What God says about you matters the most!

The world does not get the final say on your worth,  value or loveable-ness.   Only Jesus does!

Purposefully,

Shelli

Photo credit: Krissy Basham (AKA my daughter)

Seeing clearly

For a number of years, I worked at a school.  I have some fun and cherished memories of my time there.  All the kids at the school where I worked were small, preschool through just second grade.  One of the things I especially enjoyed about that age group is the funny things they would say! I mean to tell you, these kids were often quite hilarious without even trying!

I remember one day, talking with a group of first graders on their way to lunch.  One of them had just lost a tooth (a fairly common experience in the first grade!)  He was showing me the space where the tooth had been and talking about the night before and how hard he had to wiggle that tooth to remove it from his mouth.  At that time, my grandson was also in the first grade, and I was curious if they were the same age, so I asked the boy just how old he was.  “I’m 6!” he declared proudly.  This simple question had all the other kids nearby, asking me to guess their age too.  After guessing a few of them, I made the cardinal mistake of asking them to guess how old I was….

To be fair, I did ask them first. I did open myself up to suggestions (and humiliation).  I did put it out there for interpretation.  But if I’m honest, what I really wanted to hear were guesses like, “I think you’re 29 like my mom” or “I think you are 35 like my aunt”.  No such luck.

This same boy, who had just lost his tooth, said “I think you’re 73, like my grandma.”  (Insert the mental image of a balloon deflating here).

Can’t beat the veiws in Sedona AZ!

Often, when we decide to be open with people, what we are really hoping is that they will say nice things to us. That the sometimes-negative things we tell ourselves, will not come out of their mouth.  We’re wishing that they would encourage us in some way to help us feel better about ourselves. What we really want to hear is, “You’re wonderful just they way you are, don’t change a thing!” We try to convince ourselves that the negative opinions of others don’t matter, but in our souls, deeper down, we mull over those opinions.  We let their words get to us and confirm our worst fears.   

But maybe that’s just me….

There is only one whose thoughts about me matter ultimately, and that’s God.  He is the only one who speaks the lasting words of acceptance and love over me. 

But we live in a culture and society that constantly tells us that we are not attractive enough, rich enough, thin enough, interesting enough, young enough or personally fulfilled enough.  We can easily be caught in a cycle of feeling that our identity in this life is found in our appearance, possessions, weight, age or career. 

But who does God say I am?

God says I am loved.  Scripture is full of verses where God speaks His love over us. Consider Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.  Or 1 John 4:9 “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him”. God’s love for you is personal.  He doesn’t just love all people, but He loves you personally and specifically. 

God says I am precious.  Precious refers to something that is deeply treasured, truly beloved, and dear to the heart.  This is how God thinks of you.  Psalm 139:17-18 tells us “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” 

God says I am treasured.  A treasured thing is something of great worth or value.  Deuteronomy 14:2 puts it this way, “You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.” 

God says I am chosen.  Something that is chosen is selected or marked for favor or special privilege.  In John 15:16, Jesus is speaking, and He says this about those who follow Him, “You did not choose me I chose you.”  Think 3rd grade recess, picking teams for dodge ball, only far more important.  You are chosen, by the Team Captain (Jesus)!

I never tire of hiking in Sedona

How about if you and I become more intentional about where we get our identity from.  Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.  How we see ourselves, our identity, should come from the one in whose image we were created.  Our creator is the only one who should be influencing the way we see ourselves.

So, when the world, social media, television, and the opinions of others (no matter what their age, even cute toothless first graders…) have you feeling down, remember some of the ways that the Lord sees you. 

He sees you as:

Loved.

Precious.

Treasured.

Chosen.

Understanding your true identity in Christ starts with an understanding of who He is, then what He says about Himself, and next what He says about you.

Embracing what God says to be true about you will help you feel secure when the attacks and opinions of others threaten to dismantle your peace. 

Even if it is a first grader. (*wink)

Lord, this world can be rough on me sometimes.  I don’t often talk kindly to myself in my thoughts.  And sometimes I let the opinions of others influence the way that I imagine you feel about me.  So today, I want to remember the truth of how you love me and see me.  In Christ, I am loved, precious, treasured and chosen.  Will you remind me of those 4 words often this week Lord, so that I can begin to more completely embrace your love for me?  Amen.

Purposefully,

Shelli

At the end of Fay Canyon Trail after you climb!

Thrive Worship

Thrive Worship is coming soon! 

I hope you’ll plan now (if you are local) to join me for a night of contemporary worship just for women! Thrive Worship is Friday April 29th at 7:00 p.m. Thrive Worship will be held at Grace Church in Chino Valley in the main sanctuary.

This event is free! 

Grab a friend or two and come worship The Lord with us through song!  You have the opportunity to hear from Amber Leason as she shares what God has brought her to in life because of the act of worship.  Amber is a woman of joyous faith!  You will also hear from Donna Dominguez as she and I share together all that God is doing in her life because of her recent renewed faith!  I am confident that these God Stories will be encouraging to your soul and spirit!

Check it out online at cvgrace.com under the Events Tab.  This is a FREE event, no need to register!   We want everyone to come out and enjoy this special once a year opportunity!  Will you help us pack the house?

If you would like a digital invitation that you can share via text with your contacts, please email me at pursuingpurpose724@gmail.com and I will get one to you!

You may have heard about and seen my posts on the blog about the Thrive Event that happens in November!  In case you haven’t caught wind of all that is exciting about Thrive, it’s not to late now to start planning to attend! You can read more about it by searching this blog for a post titled Reflections.

Thrive is an event for women, at Grace Church in Chino Valley that focuses on two kinds of CONNECTION.  Connection in relationships with one another as valued women, and connection in vibrant relationship with The Lord.

I look forward to seeing you at one, or both, of the upcoming Thrive events this year! 

Thrive Worship, Friday, April 29th or the fall Thrive event on Friday, November 4th!

Purposefully,

Shelli

Take heart

“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13

Truer words were never spoken.

Once you are fortunate enough to have made it to adulthood, you have undoubtedly experienced a broken heart along the way.  A broken heart can come in many ways and from several sources.

Broken relationships.

Job losses.

Death of a loved one.

Watching your child or spouse suffer in illness.

Your own diagnosis.

World events.

And the list goes on.  

It stands to reason that if a glad heart shows on your face, then a broken heart must show there as well.

Like you, I know what it is to experience a crushed spirit.  It happens in those times when life is difficult, when you can’t change the circumstances in your own life or in the life of a loved one.   When life is challenging like that, you can’t hide it.  Try as you may, it’s more obvious than you may want to recognize.  Your entire countenance is changed, and those who know you best, can tell.  You can speak whatever words you choose, but those closest to you, know when you’re hurting.  Your spirit is crushed.

A broken heart crushes the spirit.  

I like the way The Message translation words this verse, it says “ A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.”  Yup.

I think it is safe to say that we have all, at one time or another, had a hard time getting through the day.  I mean, obviously we “get through” it, we breathe,  we eat, and we sleep.  (Sometimes we do very little of any of those, but we get through).  

Jesus Himself, was not immune to difficulties in life.  

He experienced brokenness in relationships.  When He was close to the truth of the cross, and what it would require of Him, His disciples couldn’t stay awake through the night with Him.  He experienced betrayal when Judas, one of his own disciples, turned on Him for a small sack of silver. He experienced the death of a loved one when Lazarus was still in the tomb. And He certainly experienced the sorrow of a diagnosis, knowing that for your sin and mine, He would willingly suffer a painful death on the cross at Calvary.  

When life was hardest for Jesus, what did He do?  

He Prayed

Sometimes, He left the company of others to have some alone time with The Father.  In Luke 22:39-46, we see Jesus doing exactly that.  He poured out His heart to The Father, and shared with Him all the anguish and grief that He was feeling.  The human side of Jesus sought the Father for another way through this hardship.  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…”. None of us would have done things any different.  

I have done that and more when I have been desperate for a better way through my circumstances, than directly through the minefield of my pain.  I desire an easier way, a way around.  

He surrendered to The Father’s will.  

After His time of prayer, and seeking another way, Jesus submitted to the will of His Father.  He said “Not my will, but yours be done.”  While it is normal, and human for us to seek another way through the difficulties of this life, ultimately, only God can see the whole picture.  He sees the way through and the rewards that wait on the other side of sorrow, more clearly than we ever can.  So while it is normal and expected for us to seek another way through hard times, continuing to resist the trial doesn’t change the trial.  Peace comes when we recognize that God is not the problem, but rather, that He is the answer.  He promises to never leave us.  He didn’t promise that hard times wouldn’t come, only that He would be our shelter in the storm.  

Remember, Jesus had the power and authority to stop His own death on the cross, but He did not.  For the sake of all mankind, His great love is what kept Him on the cross.   He surrendered. John 3:16 tells us “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”.

Lastly, He served others.

Once Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, His public ministry began.  This was the beginning of His journey to the cross.

And on His way there, He chose to serve. 

He served by healing the Roman officials’ very ill son in John 4:46-47.  He served by casting out an evil spirit from a possessed man in Mark 1:23-28.  He served by healing His disciple, Peter’s mother-in-law from a terrible fever.  He served the unclean, unapproachable leper by healing him from leprosy in Mark 1:40-45.  He served a widow by raising her dead son, and only provider, back to life in Luke 7:11-18. He served by healing an outcast paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8.  There is much more that could be listed here, but you get the point, Jesus served despite His own heartache and personal circumstances.  

Like He did so often throughout His life on earth, Jesus sets an example for us in difficulty.

Jesus prayed and spent time alone with The Father.  He knew that the task before Him would require more than His humanity had to give, so He prayed and asked God for a way out, or a way through.

Then He surrendered His own will and allowed The Father to complete the Best Plan, even though it came at a great personal sacrifice.

And then He served and met the needs of others during His difficulties.  I know from my own experience that doing this helps me feel less powerless and discouraged.  It brings me joy to serve others, and I am certain that serving brought Jesus joy as well.  

John 16:33 tells us this;  “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart!  I have overcome the world”.  

So, this week, as we all struggle though whatever difficult thing that’s in our path,  lets remember Jesus’ example to pray, surrender and serve.

Jesus, I am struggling.  Things are difficult and my life feels like a battlefield.  Thank you that you are The Overcomer.  Lord, I need your help to see the purpose in my pain, but I choose to trust your will.  Help me to be aware of opportunities to serve someone who may also be struggling.  I desire to use what you have given me to encourage others.  More than anything Lord, please don’t let go of my heart as I seek to honor you in all I do.

Purposefully,

Shelli

Baskets full

It has happened to all of us at one time or another.  We have found ourselves facing something that feels like an impossible situation.  We have all come to a place where the problem in front of us is much larger than what we have the ability to resolve, or take down.  A struggle that feels like there is no way out, or that the way out is far too difficult for us to navigate on our own.

Maybe you are saving to buy a home, but the time frame and the dollars are not lining up.  Maybe you desperately want to change jobs, but the opportunities and the offers don’t seem to make sense.  Maybe there is a rift in an important relationship that feels as though it will never be right again.  My guess is that these types of situations are possibly even keeping you awake at night.  You wonder and worry and even pray, but the truth is, you just can’t seem to see how it will work out.

The disciples had a similar situation.

The disciples were Jesus’ students, but they were also His helpers.  Jesus was going all around Judea, teaching, healing, and performing signs and wonders.  Often there were large crowds that followed Him out of town to hear and see Him.  The disciples would have had big tasks as they traveled. They had to set up camp each time their location changed.  They were managing the crowds that followed Jesus, trying to keep things moving.  They were attempting to tend to Jesus’ human needs, as well as meeting their own basic daily needs.  They were constantly on the move.  

The account in Matthew 14:13-21 finds them in just such a situation.  

This account in scripture is called the Feeding of the 5,000.  But by all accounts, that number is far lower than the size that the crowd truly was.  Scripture states that there were 5,000 men, not including the women and children that could have been present.  The crowd could have very easily been closer to 20,000.

I have been to professional sporting events with crowds numbering around that amount.  It is a massive amount of individual living, breathing, and potentially hungry people.  What they were facing was no small feat.

I never tire of Willo Lake (obviously)

Back to the story….

Jesus had just learned of the beheading of His cousin, John The Baptist.  In His sadness, He took a boat and tried to get away to a private place to grieve.  But the crowds heard that He was on the move, and followed Him where He went.  As always, Jesus had compassion on them and began to heal their sick, once He had docked the boat.  He does this for many hours, and now it is approaching evening, or dinner time.  They are all far from home, and far from food.  (And even farther from Chick Fil-A!). There were no local conveniences for them to fall back on.

The disciples see the problem for what it is: There’s a hungry crowd that could potentially become a hungry mob.  And they think they understand the solution.  They tell Jesus to “Send the crowds away so they can go buy themselves some food”.  That seems fair.  It seems reasonable and simple.

But Jesus had another plan. One designed to show His power and authority over all creation.  He told them “They don’t need to go away, you give them something to eat.”

Uhhhhhh…..excuse me?  

At this moment, the disciples are trying to solve a God sized problem with man sized resources.  They tell Jesus “We have here only five loaves of bread (think dinner rolls) and two fish.”  They were facing what Dallas Jenkins (creator of The Chosen series) calls, “Impossible math”.

So Jesus instructs the crowd to have a seat in the grass.  Then He does what Jesus always does, He sets an example for all of humanity.  He prays and gives thanks for what He does not yet have, and for something that hasn’t happened yet.

And after that prayer, all 20,000 mouths ate, and were filled.  The problem was solved.  But the solution didn’t come in a way that made sense by human standards.  It didn’t come in a way that gave the disciples credit.  It didn’t come as a result of their efforts, nor did it come through their own resources.  This problem was bigger than they were.  Yet the solution came,  though they had no human way to navigate and fill the giant need they were facing.

Scripture says that after they all ate and were satisfied, that the disciples picked up 12 baskets full of leftovers!  Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that Jesus “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us”.  Jesus not only met the need, but provided more than just what was needed.  He left them with more than what they started with.

Only God.

Mark Batterson said this in his book The Grave Robber, “If you put what you have in your hands into God’s hands, He can make a lot out of a little.” 

Willow Lake

 Imagine the disciples, with just a tiny amount of food, facing such a large, hungry crowd.  I can feel their fear, sense their intimidation.  Surely, this tiny bit wasn’t going beyond the first two people, let alone the other 19,998.  If I was one of the disciples, I would probably be recalling the miracle that Jesus performed at the wedding feast in Cana.  Jesus filled 6 stone jars, each holding about 30 gallons, with water before miraculously changing the water to wine (a chemical miracle of epic proportions).  I would personally feel more confident in the ability to feed these 5,000 people if I had the 12 baskets full at the beginning of this feeding, instead of at the end.  

But that’s not how Jesus works.  

Notice that the miracle didn’t occur until the disciples, in faith, began to distribute the food.  

Jesus thanked the Father for what was not yet visible and trusted Him to provide what was not yet completed.

And there’s the lesson for you and I.  

We are instructed to pray and ask the Father for what we need in Matthew 6:9-13, The Lord’s Prayer.  And then a few chapters later, Jesus gives us the example of trust in God’s provision for our needs.  Giving thanks ahead of the provision.

Are you facing something bigger than yourself?  Is there a mountain of insecurity and doubt in front of you?  Are you in a place that you cannot see your way out of?  

This is where Jesus can step in and do more than you can ask or imagine.  His power is at work within us.  Sometimes we forget that, but scripture says it’s true.  

On my own efforts, I wrestle and strain.  I am often unable to meet the need of the situation I face.  My solution is always a “bare minimum” response.  I just want to “get through it”.  

But the resolution comes when my own resources are exhausted, when my own way simply won’t work, and the credit can only go to Jesus.  

What steps can we take to invite Jesus into our impossible situation?

First we have to take what is in our hands, our struggles, hurts, shortcomings and needs, and place them in God’s hands.  Then, in full complete trust in His plan and purpose, we thank Him for what He is going to provide, that hasn’t appeared yet.  We thank Him for doing the things that haven’t been done yet.  For the solutions that He has and will reveal in His time.  And when we do that, we can know that He is able.  Able to meet our need and provide even more than just the bare minimum.  He can do a lot with a little.

Like the disciples, we will be left with more than what we started with.  Impossible problem solving math, amazing relationship resolution, and perfectly balanced provision.

Only God.

Lord, I find myself in what seems to be an impossible situation. I am reminded that You said that nothing was impossible with You. So I invite You into my impossible situation now. Please give me the courage to thank You for the solution that You have yet to provide, because I know You will. Only You can. Amen.

Purposefully

Shelli

Downtown Prescott

New tires

I had to buy some new tires for my car this week.

As a woman, I can’t think of too many purchases that are as completely unsatisfying as the purchase of new tires.  Typically, if I am going to drop money on something (especially big money like tires can be), I like it to be seen!  New tires are just straight up unglamorous!

I’d rather buy new furniture, new clothes, or something fun for the kitchen!  Even pretty landscaping is more exciting than new tires!

However, from time to time, it is necessary to spend money on unsatisfying things, like tires.  But I realize that when I do, I have peace of mind.  I know that I am safer on the road.  I worry less about a blowout on the freeway with new tires.  I also get better gas mileage and have better control of my vehicle.  Rough roads or bad weather don’t worry me as much with those new tires.  Sigh. 

Let’s consider something else that might seem unsatisfying (or seem like it gets in the way of more fun and desirable things that we could invest our time in) but also brings peace of mind and preparation for potentially rough roads-reading the Bible.

There.  I said it. 

Watson Lake, Prescott AZ

I know there have been times when I have felt this way, and I bet that you have too.

But I know that If I want safety and security on the road, sometimes, I need to spend some money on tires.

And if I want peace and security in my thought life, and in the struggles I face every day, I need to spend time with God. 

Regularly.

If you and I are going to move from the women we are into the women we want to become, and into the fullness of all that God has for us, we have to invest some time. 

Change does not happen magically, it happens intentionally.

What does scripture have to say about spending time with God?

1 Chronicles 16:11 tells us this, “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always”.  Where can we look to the Lord?  How can we seek His face?  Where can He be found?  In His word, the Bible. 

Mark 1:35 gives us a beautiful example of this in Jesus.  He was fully God, and also, fully man.  And because He was a man, He needed to spend time with His Father in heaven.  Here’s what Jesus did, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  He got alone with God.  This chapter was written during a time when Jesus was healing and teaching often.  It was a very draining time physically and emotionally to be sure.  So, because He knew that He was going to be doing so much within His day, He needed time alone.  He needed time to be with God.

Jesus was preparing for rough roads.  And each time he stole away from the disciples, or the crowds, to spend time with God, He was essentially buying new tires.

Watson Lake, Prescott AZ

Even the sleekest, most beautiful cars, don’t get very far without good tires!  It matters when we use our resources and time on things that are not seen, as well as those that are.

The more time we spend with God, the more closely He will be involved in our lives.  I’m certain that in your life you have had to develop relationships of various kinds.  Spending time together is necessary to get to know someone well.  You may have had to develop friendships, or a relationship with someone you were interested in romantically, or even relationships with new co-corkers.  Deepening those human relationships takes an investment of time.  We seek to get to know the person better through dialog and observation.  We may talk on the phone or even meet up for coffee to become more familiar with that person.  When we do, we learn new things about them.

It is much the same with our relationship with God.  If we want to know His heart, and more completely sense His presence in us, we will desire to spend time with Him.  We do this best through reading His word.  It has been said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us!  He shows us so much about Himself there. 

It’s where He tells us that He loves us in John 3:16.

It’s where He says He’ll keep His promises in Hebrews 10:23.

It’s where He tells us that He is always with us in Deuteronomy 31:6.

It’s where He says that we are His in 1 John 3:1.

It’s where He says that He is working in our lives in Ephesians 3:20.

It’s where He says He’ll give us strength in Philippians 4:13.

God speaks to us primarily through His word.  But we can’t hear Him if we aren’t listening or giving Him the opportunity.  God will most often draw near to us when we draw near to Him.  We cannot truly expect to deepen and grow our relationship with God if we are not reading the Bible.

Don’t believe me?

I double dog dare you to try it for two weeks and see if you don’t notice a change in your heart.  Invest the time you need to, to be road ready, by reading the word of God. It’s like getting new tires.  You can certainly find more glamorous ways to spend your time, but will you get a better and more lasting return for your investment?

I doubt it.

If we want to know God’s will for our lives, we have to look to His word.  And when we invest a piece of our day seeking Him there, we begin to change.  Romans 12:2 says it this way, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Not sure where to read? Open your Bible to the book of John in the New Testament.  John gives us a clear picture of Jesus, who He is and how He loves us.  Or, if you want to read the bible on your phone or tablet, the You Version Bible app has hundreds of reading plans to make it easy. 

Grab your Bible (or app), maybe a yummy warm drink, and go!  Pray, and read.  You may not notice a huge difference immediately, but you might.  However, if you keep it up for a while, you surely will see God at work.  You will sense His peace and presence.  You will notice Him changing you on the inside, where it matters most. 

He’s ready. Are you?

Lord, I want to get to know You better.  I want to give you priority in my day, wherever that fits best.  My desire is that You and I can deepen the love relationship we have into something strong and beautiful.  I open my heart to you now and ask that You speak to me through Your word.  Amen!

Purposefully,

Shelli

You be you!

There I sat, in the audience at a Christian Women’s conference, inspired and awed by the words of our speaker that night.  She was so knowledgeable of God’s word, so eloquent in her speech, and so passionate in her delivery.  I wanted to be just like her.

I was so impressed by her, that I found myself drawn to her as a person almost more than I heard her message.  I imagined what it would be like to be as wise as she was, and as polished.  I perceived that she had “it all together” in her personal life, that surely her life was picture perfect due to her closeness to God and her obvious personality.  How could it not be?

Everything that I admired in her, were the very things that I felt that I lacked. 

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe the situation is different for you, but you have felt that same way.  You have admired someone because of the character qualities that they possess.  Courage, boldness, eloquence, spiritual maturity, knowledge? Perhaps these are the very ones that you sense are not present in your own life.

It is true that it’s good to have people in our lives that inspire us and cause us to examine our character.  This helps us to grow in spiritual maturity. Let’s not forget that God has designed each of us differently to fulfill His purpose for us!

Romans 12:4-8 NIV puts it this way “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

You will notice that Paul doesn’t state that we should all be good at all those things, but rather, that we should know what we are bent towards, and do that, to the best of our ability! 

Sunny San Diego!

Many years ago, I took a Spiritual Gifts Test.  The results showed me the areas of my life that I already had a passion or high level of interest in.  The areas that I was potentially gifted towards by God.  This was amazing to me!  I was able to shift my perspective from feelings of inadequacy and lacking, to the understanding that maybe the things that I already enjoyed were part of God’s purpose for my life!  For me, it was like the light turned on in a dark room!

To be clear, I am not saying that I was suddenly complete, or done growing spiritually.  Rather, it was kind of a newfound freedom, knowing that I could hone in on the specific passions and interests that were God honoring.  And that I could further develop THOSE, instead of only focusing on my short comings!

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT puts it another way “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”

The cells in our body all work toward the same goal, regeneration and vitality.  But each organ, made up by those same cells, has a very different goal than all the other organs on the body.  But they all serve one purpose.  Our spiritual gifts may all be different, but they work together to serve one purpose in the body of Christ. That is to glorify God.

Here’s what I want you to consider; while we are flawed and imperfect, we each (as followers of Jesus, saved by His grace) have something to offer.  We each have been gifted by the Lord at the moment of salvation, with at least one spiritual gift.  What is yours?  What do you feel it could be, based on what drives or excites you?

Here is a list of potential gifts.  Give some thought to these.

Administration (details, organization)

Discernment (seeing truth or deception)

Evangelism (sharing your faith)

Exhortation (or encouragement)

Faith (confidence in God’s power, promises and presence)

Giving (financially)

Helps (the behind-the-scenes stuff)

Hospitality (serving others with joy, welcoming)

Knowledge (loving the study of the word)

Leadership (care and commitment to move people forward in their faith)

Mercy (empathy and compassion towards others)

Prophecy (or declaring God’s truths)

Serving (helping, ministering)

Teaching (effectively communicate the truths of the Bible to others)

Wisdom (similar to the gift of knowledge)

More than anything, what I want you to get from this post is this; You are valuable.  You have something to offer.  And instead of falling into the comparison trap, maybe spin that on its head and excel in what you are already passionate about or gifted toward!  Admiring qualities in others, like I admired the speaker, is excellent.  But have you considered what others might admire in you?

I always want to grow in my knowledge of God’s word. I desire to continually develop the areas of my life that need some correction. And I try to be aware of those around me and the example that they are to me.  But I don’t want to ignore my own God Given abilities!  Those areas where I can bring Him glory and honor as well as supporting those in my circle. 

Mission Beach, San Diego~

I am far from perfect; I have a long way to go to be complete, as He is complete.  But I do know that if I don’t acknowledge and appreciate the gifts and abilities that He has already given me to serve Him, I am missing out!  But that’s a blog for another day!

Progress over perfection.

Is this fresh news for you?  Maybe before this, you felt like you only needed to “fix yourself”?  Perhaps you didn’t understand why you get more excited about certain opportunities to serve, and not others.  Are your friends and contacts excited about opportunities that you are not?  This is most likely because, God has gifted you differently.  Celebrate that!  Develop that!  Embrace that God has created you lovingly and intentionally as you are. Your gifts are from Him!

And rest assured of this truth.

Philippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

My pastor said this just this morning, I hope you’ll take it to heart.  “You need to be the you-est you there is!” 

Father God, you are an incredible God, I praise Your name.  I am amazed by You!  Thank You for making me unique.  I want to grow in my understanding of You and Your word, and to develop the part of me that makes me unique for Your kingdom.  I ask You to show me how to be fully myself and yet still bring you glory.  Thank You for choosing me and using me! 

Purposefully,

Shelli

Take me back to the beach please!