Grace In The Eleventh Hour

Grace In The Eleventh Hour

Some things in life bear repeating. For over a month, I have been under the downspout of grace. So, this week I’m sharing what God has shown me. I’m not done with grace, and hope you can handle another dose!

“Justice is getting the bad we deserve.
Mercy is NOT getting the bad we deserve.
Grace is getting the good we don’t deserve.”
~Dr. Helen Fagan

I’ve been learning about grace. Grace is offered to everybody. You may know about it your entire life, or perhaps you don’t. Maybe you live a heavy life of imperfection—knowing you don’t measure up. Then, one day, you hear about grace and you are set free!

Matthew 20 begins with a parable about the kingdom of God. I’d always thought it was speaking about salvation, but am glad to know it is talking about GRACE!

In this parable, a vineyard owner hires workers for a denarius (a day’s wages). As the day wears on, he hires more workers at three or four different times. “In the eleventh hour, he went out and found still others standing around…’You also go and work in my vineyard.’

When it comes to the end of the day, he pays all the workers the same wage, regardless of when they began to work in the day. The all-day workers are upset that the eleventh-hour workers also received a denarius, and that there was no extra pay for themselves.

He answered one of them, Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first will be last.

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This doesn’t seem fair, but the truth is? Salvation is not fair. We sinned. Jesus never sinned. He died to pay for our sins. That’s the epitome of “not fair”. And? He did it because He loves us. He knew we could never be sinless, so He spent His own life-blood to pay our ransom.

An excellent example of eleventh-hour grace is given in Luke, chapter 23. Jesus is on the cross, between two criminals. One is taunting and mocking him, but the other defends Jesus. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43)

Grace is given to all people, regardless of our stories. Maybe you’ve been a vineyard worker your entire life. You’re serving God with passion and purpose. Maybe you came to him in your childhood. Or maybe in your teens, twenties, fifties, eighties—the amount of grace offered is the same. We can’t earn grace. Our good deeds don’t outweigh our bad ones. Jesus is the one who gives us all that righteousness that we long for.

When you accept grace, it frees you to extend grace to others. We forgive others because all our sins are forgiven. I encourage you to start living in grace. Strive to do your best, but allow a do-over, a fresh start, for the days that are less than your best.

And remember, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

You will find that the more you live in forgiveness, the more peace you find within. You look behind the offense to the hurt that caused a lashing-out. You begin to look on others with love and compassion, and you transform into a vessel full of grace. It begins with one small act of forgiveness and grace at a time, but it becomes a habit and then a lifestyle.
We’re walking this road together, you and I. And don’t forget that grace is extended to you, so forgive yourself as well.

I’ll leave you with a song about Grace. It’s called “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong. It speaks so beautifully about how Jesus sees us. (If you read my posts through our email subscription, you don’t see the video links. The videos are embedded on the web page)
So, here’s the youtube link.

TammyHow about you? Are you longing for grace but unsure how to start? Leave a prayer request in the comments. We’d love to pray for you!

This post originally appeared at OneWord365.com

Photo credit

Biblical Re-Gifting (Romans 12:3-8)

Biblical Re-Gifting (Romans 12:3-8)

Dear Daughter,

It was a humid early June night. Lightning bugs illuminated the darkness as dozens of heeled and coiffed women made their way inside a tastefully decorated room. Tables were set, candles were lit, dessert was served, friendships were forged, and Jesus was worshipped. At this women’s event, I enjoyed delicious food and drank sweet tea that had been prepared behind the scenes. I watched ladies give up their seats so other guests could sit in comfort. I listened to an anointed speaker and heard melodies of praise harmonize their way to Heaven. I caught glimpses of husbands working diligently behind the scenes, managing sound and lighting equipment, directing parking, picking up dirty dishes, and playing instruments. I was mesmerized, and I thought about Romans 12:3-8:

(3) Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (4) Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, (5) so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (6) In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. (7) If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. (8) If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

When I was younger, these particular verses confused me more than the others in Chapter 12.  I wondered what my gift was, and how I might fit into this list. I couldn’t grasp what it meant to be counted as part of Christ’s body, yet be fully equipped to serve Him uniquely. I didn’t grow up attending church regularly, so the visual aids I needed to completely understand were missing until much later in my life. It wasn’t until I began attending churches where loving Jesus and serving others was emphasized that I started to realize the importance of this passage. What once was hazy started to become clear as I watched these verses come to life in men and women serving God all around me.

It seems that mankind teeters between acknowledging or promoting any talent we think we possess and denying or downplaying its existence. Seldom do we evaluate ourselves from an honest, Godly perspective. The reality is, we ALL have been given some sort of ability from birth. Each of us can lay claim to at least one thing we’re pretty good at, and most of us have multiple skills. I think it’s as heartbreaking to God when we resolutely write ourselves off as good-for-nothing as it is when we parade ourselves around looking for personal glory. That’s what verse 3 is saying. God has indeed bestowed valuable talents on you, and He wants you to put them to use – not so you can get one million views on YouTube, but so millions might come to know Him through your unique witness.  As a Christian, you are never firing on all cylinders more than when you wrap up your God-given attributes and humbly offer them back to your Savior. That’s re-gifting at its finest…and there’s no need to keep the receipt!!

Romans 12.3a

Then there’s that other thing we like to do: compare ourselves with others. I’m a first-class offender in this area. I tend to look at someone who has a talent I wish I had, review my many shortcomings, and then hang my head and retreat into the shadows of self-pity.

“Why can’t that be me?”
“I have nothing to offer compared to (fill in the blank).”

All the while, someone else is looking at me, admiring a particular gift I DO possess and just wishing I could recognize it in myself. Sound familiar? Please tell me I’m not the only one!!  Over the years, I’ve come to realize there’s definitely certain things I should not attempt, like telling jokes (crickets every single time), singing solos, or anything really that puts the spotlight on me. No matter how much I esteem these talents in others, they don’t naturally exist in me. And as hard as it can be for me to admit, there are a few things I’m slightly better than average at. I’m slowly coming to accept how God designed me. And He created you with equally distinct abilities. It’s so easy to get hung up on what we don’t have and ignore what talents we have been given. It’s imperative, however, that we attempt changing our mindset.

Think about it:  how boring would it be if we were all good at the same things?  How strange would our bodies look if we were made up of only hands, or nothing but eyeballs?  Verses 4 and 5 reference the correlation between our earthly bodies and the body of Christ.  Each organ and appendage has its own function, and our physical bodies don’t perform at their peak when something isn’t working as it was intended to. The body of Christ isn’t any different. When its members are at war or aren’t behaving in the capacity they were created to, it can be utter chaos. Jesus ceases to be exalted, and His body gets sick. Ephesians 4:11-16 shows the flip side – what happens when the Church is flourishing and giving back to God:

(15) Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (16) He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

So, if you’re a follower of Jesus, it’s time to give back!  Have you opened your present, you know, the one with the faded label, “To: You, From: God?”  If you don’t know what your unique skills might be, now is the time to find out. Take inventory of what you enjoy and what comes naturally to you. Ask those closest to you what talents they see in you. And whatever they tell you – own it. Figure out a way to put your gifts to good use. Who can you help?  How could you honor Jesus?  (1 Peter 4:10-11)

You may not be able to stand in front of a crowd and sing well. You may not have the quick wit required to emcee a huge event and get the audience to laugh. You might not be called to pastor a church or live in a foreign country as a missionary. But you’re called to do something. You have a designated mission. There’s a huge need for you in this fallen world!

Can you strike up a conversation with strangers?  Maybe your friendly face is just what church visitors need to see.

When friends are struggling, do you notice before anyone else?  Be that encourager as often as you can.

Are you an exceptional hugger?  I’ve heard babies in the nursery love to be snuggled.

Is prayer your strong suit?  Go boldly to the throne and intercede for those who can’t find the words.

Have you been blessed financially?  Re-gift those Benjamin’s back to Jesus!!

And the list goes on. Whatever your talents are, God wants them back. There are endless ways to serve the Father. Let’s not allow fear or a false sense of humility to paralyze us. Let’s strive to be like the servants in Matthew 25 who took their talents and multiplied them for His glory!  We were meant to shine for Him, and it’s a beautiful thing when we do!!

Romans 12.3b

Dare to be Different (Romans 12:2)

Dare to be Different (Romans 12:2)

Dear Daughter,

The first time someone told me I was cool was in 1991. I was in the 5th grade, and a sneaker brand, LA Gear, was at the height of its popularity. By some miracle, I came to own a pair: white ones with black and purple accents. The first day I sported my new high tops at school, Michael, one of the legit trendy kids at Coleman Elementary, leaned over his desk and approvingly declared, “You got some LA Gears? You’re cool now.” I’m almost positive I walked with a good bit of extra swagger the rest of that day! It’s been decades since I first “nailed it” in the fashion world, but the acceptance I felt had a lingering effect on my psyche.

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The thing is, I am a non-conformist soul trapped in a people-pleasing body. This dichotomy presents an obvious inner turmoil: do I care what people think, or do I march to my own beat? For some people, the choice is easy. Let’s just say that, for me, the struggle is real! And the battle rages on, even as I’ve grown older and (somewhat) wiser. On the really tough days, the verse that keeps me grounded is Romans 12:2.

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I’m not ten years old anymore, but many days I still find myself seeking the approval of others.

I fix my gaze on a closet full of (hopefully) trendy clothes, trying to pick an outfit that will garner a few compliments.

I scour Pinterest for the most eye-pleasing images to add to my boards. Boards carefully crafted, presenting a refined image to my followers.

My followers. I have followers. People who like, comment on, or share bits and pieces of my online persona. People to keep happy.

I shut my mouth when confronted with an opposing viewpoint. I only speak out when I’m pushed to the point of anger. And you know those times always end well…

At least that’s what I do when I’m conforming myself to the standards of this world…

 

Then, there are those other days. The days that count for something beyond my limited earthly life span. The days I conform to who I was uniquely created to be instead of who the world tells me to be.

I fix my gaze on those around me. I notice a tiredness on the cashier’s face and strike up a conversation. I bring dinner to a friend. I give up checking Facebook for the fifteenth time and interact with my child instead.

I scour the Bible for some much needed soul-food. I feast on His truth and hide those precious, inspired words in my heart. I renew my mind. I meditate on my Savior (Psalm 119:15-16).

My Savior. I have a Savior. He created me, redeems me, and calls me His own. I worship Him. I talk to Him. He keeps me happy.

I open my mouth to speak encouraging and uplifting words. When I encounter one who opposes what I know to be real, I do my best to humbly point them to Jesus.

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And you know what? Those good days don’t happen enough for me. That’s why I keep coming back to Romans 12:2. Because the days when I’m focused on myself and what society’s standards say I should be, my mind cannot be renewed. I don’t experience the transforming, refreshing wind of the Holy Spirit. I look too much like everyone else and not enough like myself. People don’t see Jesus in me on the days I’m conforming to the world. They just see me. And it’s not about me, this life I’m living.

That’s the whole point of this verse, in my opinion. It’s like a chain reaction: fit in with worldly behaviors – corrupt your mind – miss out on God’s purpose and plan for your existence.

On the flip side: keep step with the beat God has placed inside you – renew your mind – learn what God’s specific will is for you.

If you’re struggling with acceptance, know that you’re not alone. I’d venture a guess that humanity as a whole is exhausted from all the fitting in, keeping up, and showing out we do. Maybe you’re ready to walk a path less traveled. What better time than now to do a little self-inventory…Who do you strive to please? In what ways do you conform? Are you invigorated or disheartened by the direction your life is taking? Do you want to know what the Father’s good, acceptable, and perfect will is for you?

Do not conform to this world. Be transformed. Renew your mind. Know God’s will.

Dare to be different.

You Make Me Brave

You Make Me Brave

I’ve been learning so much about grace lately. I never realized how hard I’d been on myself. I always thought if I worked hard enough, I could prove to God that I was worthy of His love and favor. I wanted to be the strong one, the dependable one. I hated my failures. You can read my post on “Finding Grace in Nebraska“.

If you have already learned this lesson, bear with me, because it’s so important to learn. God wants to be our strong one. He wants us to depend on Him—not ourselves. His ability, and not ours—to protect and provide for our families, or even ourselves.

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I had a dream recently. When I dream, it’s like an IMAX experience. You are really there—in vivid color! You hear, feel, sense every single part of it. In pleasant dreams, this is a blessing. In nightmares, well, you understand.

In my dream, I was inside my home and it was very stormy outside. There was an enemy raging outside, and I can tell you that the threat to my children was implied. When my children are threatened, there is a great protective mechanism that rises inside with a warrior’s cry!
I awoke with my mouth whispering, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

My husband woke me, as he knows what is going on when he hears me whispering Jesus’ name in my sleep. I then got up because one of our girls began to cry in her sleep.
When I had finally gotten her back to sleep, I sang myself to sleep.
The song, “Let it Rain” came to my mind.
In the middle of the song (2:31 in this video I’ve embedded), Psalm 97, verses 1-6 are read aloud. I tried to recall the passage as I prayed.

Psalm 97

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
    let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
    and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all peoples see his glory.

I prayed for God’s armies to be unleashed against these foes that came in my sleep. The perspective of “Our God is greater, Our God is stronger” is very powerful and can combat these fears.

The greatest comfort in this sleep experience was my devotional the next morning. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

It is not my own strength or power that I draw from, but God’s. And as I test the ability of God’s power to defeat my enemy—I find increasing courage and boldness to respond to those attacks firmly and standing tall.

That inner strength that God provides? It’s causing me to have more and more courage, even when I’m scared speechless. Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is a confidence, knowing our battles already have a victor.
Even though my feet may fail and fear surrounds me, I know who I trust. And He’s never failed. And He won’t start now.

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You make me brave, You make me brave, You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. You make me brave, You make me brave, no fear can hinder now the love that made a way.

 

Tammy

Called to Fight

Called to Fight

I’m a peacemaker. As a child, I was very compliant. I may have been muttering in my mind, but outwardly, I wanted so much to please my parents. I naturally want to fix and mediate. I enjoy fair and balanced situations and long to bring peace where there is conflict.

My children are of a different bent. (My youngest has a touch of compliance after seeing her sisters consistently get negative consequences for misbehaviors)

Speaking with other parents who never “talked back”, we are perplexed. How did our children come out so differently? The parenting methods that worked on us don’t seem to work on them.

It is my opinion that we are raising the warrior generation. And? They were given to us. They are in training. That means that we peacemakers must lay down our flags of surrender and pick up our shields of faith.

God is calling US to fight.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10-11
“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. Proverbs 30:5 (NLT)

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Bravery is not an absence of fear—it is the courage to face the fear.

As I embrace the call to fight, it is not emotional or logical, but it is a passion. I need to train up my warriors so that they can tell friend from foe.

There are battles unseen to our eyes that we are daily facing. You were placed on Earth for such a time as this. Do not fight alone, but instead join with others.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

And, be prepared.

Tammy

 

Wait For This Man

Wait For This Man

Dear Daughter,

I’m writing this letter about twenty years early (or forty if your father has his way), but one day you will read these words and they will connect. They will mean something to you. What I need to tell you can be summed up in one word:  WAIT.

Let me explain…

Yesterday I was resting in my favorite chair. It was about 5:00 pm, and I had been feeling under the weather all day. I sat and watched your daddy take stacks of folded clothes from the couch into our bedroom to put them away. Stacks that I folded two days ago and that I could have easily put away, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. He didn’t say anything; he just did it. He did it for me because he knew I needed help. And as I watched him, I had to fight back tears because I suddenly had this thought: “I hope Molly finds this some day.”  And I think you will, if you can remember to wait. Wait on the guy who finishes your chores for you – who comes through in little ways to let you know he cares.

Wait on the man who looks you in your eyes and holds your gaze as he tells you you’re beautiful. Wait on the man who has a habit of telling you this when your hair is greasy, you’re makeup-free, and you’re wearing yesterday’s sweatpants. You’ll know he means it.

Wait on the man who gets up and goes to work. Wait for the guy who sacrifices in order to provide for his family. Wait for the guy who has a strong work ethic and takes pride in what he does. Wait for that man who dreams big and invites you to dream with him.

And when your dreams seem too big, too scary to ever come true, I hope you wait for the one who listens to your insecurities but then speaks truth into your heart and breathes confidence into your spirit. This man will bring you to tears by reading Proverbs 31 to you, telling you YOU’RE that woman, and believing it with every fiber of his being.

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Wait for the man who thinks for himself – the man who stands apart from the masses unapologetically because he is rooted and grounded in God. Wait for the man who doesn’t need anyone’s approval. The man who teaches you how to be brave and courageous. The man who will fight for you and for what he believes in. Wait for this man.

Wait for the man who looks at the stars with you and ponders the mysteries of the heavens. Wait for the one who writes you poems…not all the time, but just enough to remind you how deeply his love for you goes. Wait for the man who buys you jewelry and flowers, but no stuffed animals (because that’s just cheesy)!

Wait for the man who makes you feel strong, capable, and worthy. Wait for the man who would never disrespect you. The right one will honor you even when he’s out of your presence. You wait on this man, and your heart will never doubt him.

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Wait on the man who allows God to break him down and mold him into the man he’s meant to be. Wait on the one who has a calling to serve his Heavenly Father. Wait on the man who isn’t perfect, but who keeps pressing on, getting back up, and learning from his mistakes.

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And finally, wait on the man who smacks your booty when he walks by, who hugs you for a full 60 seconds when you need him to, and who gives you amazing massages, even though you’re quite possibly the world’s worst masseuse and will never be able to repay him!!

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My darling daughter, one of these days you will be wondering if it’s love and if some boy is the right one. My prayer is that your daddy will set such a high standard in your eyes, that you will never be tempted to settle for anyone less than who you deserve. Don’t get in a hurry to find love. Don’t feel pressured to give yourself away. WAIT. Wait on the Lord, and He will send you a man who is everything to you that your father is to me. God will grow the love between you as the years pass. Your patience will be rewarded.

Wait…please wait!!

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(Check out Emily’s blog here)

Soaking It Up

Soaking It Up

Here at BraveGirl Community, we try to bring you encouragement regularly. So, we’ve got a schedule that’s flexible, but gives us a small bit of structure. My posts are supposed to come every other week, and we call them “Thirsty Thursdays with Tammy”.
A little alliteration there, but this week really does have to do with thirst.

Many of us are trying to “do it all”. We’re balancing our work lives with our personal lives and in the midst of all that we’re doing, we’re drained. There is a general sense of exhaustion that cannot be pinpointed, but it’s there in the background—if I stop long enough to notice it. Frequently I choose to then busy myself to drown it out.

If you study dehydration, the body mistakes the need for water with a hunger sensation—therefore not drinking enough water leads to weight gain. How many of us are spiritually dehydrated? We consume our social media, our music, our activities, anything we can find to try and fill that nagging, gnawing void.

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Like a sponge, we don’t work as well when we’re dried out. And? A clean sponge, moistened with soapy water, will clean up a mess without absorbing too much of it. A dry sponge, on the other hand, will absorb every bit of that mess and it will be difficult to separate the mess from the sponge. It soaks up the dirt, the spill, and it becomes part of the sponge.

In Isaiah 55:1-3, God calls to us.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
I have been so thirsty lately. I recognize a restlessness, a discontent, and it seems to be linked to the amount of time I’m spending on the computer or on my phone. I have a craving inside for something, but what? What is it that I’m really wanting?
(in verse 6-7, we get the answer)
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

And if we seek Him? Here is His promise—here is the power of His word: (starting in verse 10)
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.

If you are feeling empty, restless, needy, discontent, unsatisfied, perhaps you too are needing the “word that goes out from my mouth”. I long to go out in joy and be led forth in peace! Oh how wonderful that sounds!
I’m subscribed to a few pages on my Facebook feed that consistently share Bible verses and I cannot count the times that it has helped me.
Below is a list of phone apps or Facebook pages or emails that have “fed” me and brought me strength.
BibleGateway has a daily verse on their homepage.
GoTandem is a free app for your phone that will give you up to four verses a day and they tailor it to your needs based on a short survey you fill out. They also take prayer requests.
Proverbs31 Ministries has a daily devotional sent to your email (Monday-Friday).
Christine Caine has a daily email.
Unveiled Wife has a daily prayer for wives that can be sent to your email.
YouVersion is a great app for Bible Verses.

There are many others out there, so please add your favorites under this post in the comments.
My best encouragement to you is to find a short scripture that fills you up and write it out, hang it up where you’ll see it, and commit it to memory. (write it on your heart)
Here’s one that I found easy to remember.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ~Psalm 90:14

Also be watchful of the entertainment you seek out. You will absorb whatever you see, hear, meditate on. If you aren’t feeling filled, maybe there is a worship song that will focus you and feed you.
Mine lately is “Oceans” by Hillsong.

Again, we always love to hear from you. Visit us on our facebook page, send us a tweet, or email us! Leave a comment with a scripture that’s been feeding you. It’s guaranteed not to return void!

Tammy

A True BraveGirl: The Unveiled Wife (giveaway and book review!)

A True BraveGirl: The Unveiled Wife (giveaway and book review!)

Today I am so honored to share with you a story of a true BraveGirl. Her name is Jennifer Smith and she founded Unveiled Wife in 2011.
We are giving away three copies of her new book, “The Unveiled Wife”, as well as sharing a new worship song at the end of the post.
You can also view the trailer for her book at the end of the post!

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I met Jennifer in 2013 at a semi-local event. She was up in Central Oregon, visiting family and discussing her “Wife After God” devotional. After talking, she encouraged me to share my story on her website, believing it could bring healing to other wives who may have had similar experiences.

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I’m in the “I LOVE My Husband” shirt in the center, she’s in the coral top with a lovely scarf! My friend Angel is rocking a dark shirt and jeans and wedges. I give her the credit for introducing me to the Unveiled Wife ministry.

This is consistent with the heart of both Jennifer and her husband, who chose to expose every piece of their love story in this new book. It is not glamorous, but it is genuine. It is in the imperfection of her life that she reveals the glory of her Creator. “He never stopped pursuing me and He never stopped loving me.” It would be difficult for anyone to admit their faults in marital disagreements, but to list all of your faults in a public forum, typed and printed, and then to place your smiling face on the cover to encourage that same transparency in others? As Annie F. Downs would say, “that is brave.

The book is set up for discussion or introspection or both. Each small chapter has two to four questions afterward that you can meditate on and respond to. Personally, I couldn’t stop reading the book and devoured the first 27 chapters in one day! The next day, I took my time with the last three, as they were especially deep and thought-provoking for me.

I’ve only been married two years longer than she has, but in our deepest hearts, all women have the same needs and longings for intimacy. “You desire to be fully known and loved.”
I was privileged to attend a live event for her book release where she had a panel that shared the time with her about what it means to be unveiled. You can click on that YouTube video here.
Here are a few gems.
“What I have learned is that being unveiled is about letting your walls down so that God and others can get to know the REAL you, imperfections and all. It is about offering yourself in love.”
“What I discovered was freedom. Freedom from fear and freedom from pain.”

“When we embrace true intimacy with God and others, it leads to reconciliation.”

I finished this book with a hunger and a longing in my heart for a deeper level of intimacy with God. The questions left me pondering areas in my life where I’m hiding, holding back, keeping secrets and ultimately locking myself in a lonely place. Outwardly, I find all sorts of ways to distract from that pain, but it’s only when it’s brought to the surface that the healing will happen.

The message of Unveiled Wife is based on 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)

If you have ever struggled with feelings of failure, unmet expectations, or feeling unloved, there is something in here for you. I would also encourage you to check out her youtube channel where she goes through her “Wife after God” devotional. She has one video for each chapter-meant to take a month to complete.
Here is one video, from Chapter 8. It deals with your worth.

I hope you will know how much God loves you and longs for you to be absolutely filled and to know Him in your deepest places. That you will trust Him and become brave enough to be unveiled with Him.

Tammy
The Unveiled Wife Book giveaway

Clean on the Outside

Clean on the Outside

This winter has been non-typical for my region. At over 4,000 feet elevation, we’re accustomed to snow in January and February, but have instead received rain. My white vehicle, alas, does not fare well in the weather and looks dirty soon after a storm.
While filling up the tank, I washed the windshield recently. Though I took all the pollen and dust off, the windshield still looked dirty.
I took some of the brown paper towels at the pump, dipped one in the solution, and began to clean the inside of my windshield. I quickly dried with the other towels to prevent streaks. When I had finished, the view was so clear it looked like there was nothing between me and the outside!
My light brown paper towel, however, was an ugly shade of dark grey.

800px-Windshield_Wiper_3

It occurred to me that we can be like that in our own lives. Though we appear to have it all together and polished and washed, we are still holding on to things inside that prevent us from seeing clearly.

In Matthew 23, Jesus came down pretty hard on the Pharisees who were very “spiritual”—but it was all pretentious. They wanted people to see them as great religious men, but their motives were impure and prideful.
You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean too.
(and down a couple lines)
painted tomb

You are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside, your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

If we don’t have our hearts right with each other, then we don’t have any room for God to work in our hearts.

If we claim to love God and yet spread hurt, negativity and bitterness to those around us, then what testimony do we have?
Wounded hearts need healing, or they will spread the woundedness.

King David, in Psalm 51, pleads from a position of remorse. He has just been confronted for his wickedness regarding Bathsheba and her husband. Starting in verse seven, he says

 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
  you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
I believe that when we allow God to come in and cleanse us from those frustrated thoughts that pose a threat to our peace, that He restores us to Him.
When we are repentant and remorseful, we recognize that we are imperfect and are less likely to hold the imperfections of others against them. This is the first step in loving them.
I don’t want to be a painted tomb full of dead bones and impurity, but instead a beacon of hope and love. That I would be like a kerosene lamp that God is shining from and bringing light.
If the inside of the glass is dirty, the light will not be as effective.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
(Psalm 51:16-17 NLT)

Will you join me in offering your heart to God? He can clean our hearts from within and cause us to be filled with His love and goodness.

Tammy

Fighting The Good Fight

Fighting The Good Fight

Some statistics show that only around 8% of people that make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goal. That seems very discouraging to me and I wonder why that is sometimes. What I’m really pondering are the positive and negative consequences of reaching our goals. Fads versus lifestyle changes… One of my ideals would be to be able to just say no to sugar. But if you know me, you know how much I love ice cream and cookies. And that this goal seems nearly impossible – it would definitely be a fad.

I started to think about how people can often be so glorified for having some awe inspiring testimony, like overcoming cancer, losing a ton of weight, finally kicking the drug habit, or being a hardcore rock star then finding Jesus and becoming a worship leader. What about the guy who’s been a steady Eddy his whole life? Or the mom who has made many a sacrifice for her children and spends an hour a day in prayer? The person who lives upright and has been rock solid always. I don’t hear those stories as much.

Deuteronomy31-8

This line of thinking makes me ponder on the story of the prodigal son; the lost son of whom Jesus shares about. The son I most often think of is the guy that squanders his inheritance, comes crawling back, and is welcomed by a feast rather than a shaming environment. And then there’s the son who has been there all along and experiences jealously and resentment when his dad starts throwing a big bash for the bratty brother. The dad still loves them both in the midst of the tainted history and temper tantrums. Can you relate to either brother, or maybe both? Whichever end of this spectrum you may be in, or if you’re somewhere in between, take heart and be glad. God loves us, each and everyone. He wants to bless us with parties and long-term, ongoing abundance, even through trials.

I can definitely relate to both brothers. When I came to accept that alcohol and drugs really had created damage in my life, I had to look at not only all the negative consequences that had occurred, but also at all the positive consequences that did NOT occur. It was very revealing to me to think of the things I might have done with my life if I hadn’t been so consumed with the party lifestyle.

So I bring this all the way back around to what’s going on with me today. I was researching natural ways to treat an under-active thyroid, and the results are very similar to natural treatments for many other sicknesses: cut out gluten, take the right vitamins, eliminate processed foods and sugars, eat healthy fat, exercise, practice relaxation techniques, etc. There are very few people I know that really practice ‘clean eating’. It’s a battle in our culture and society. But I think about them and the positive consequences they experience like satisfaction with their bodies, higher energy, less illness. And then I think about all the negative consequences they might NOT be experiencing, like hypothyroidism and having to take hormones – and the list could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at my issue at hand.

3John1-2

So I want to strive to be the steady Eddy this go around. The other brother that’s sticking around and intentionally hanging out with God, my Father (hopefully without too many temper tantrums). And making healthy choices all the way around that include nourishing my spirit through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation,
and nourishing the body through cleaner (I can’t imagine not eating ice cream) eating, relaxation, and exercise. The body, mind, spirit connection is far beyond what we’ll ever completely comprehend and I could write another blog just sharing my thoughts on that. But I’ll leave you with one last thought: may we glorify God through each decision we make today and enjoy the positive consequences and be grateful for not suffering through negative consequences that haven’t happened.

How about you? Do you feel like the older brother? The younger brother? Both?

Kristine