Help My Unbelief

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I thought I had gotten through this brokenness. I thought I had released this to God for the last time. But alas…..I find myself holding onto broken dreams, dashed hopes, and doubt. Again. I despise this place. And I am frustrated with myself for falling back into the darkness when I know how beautiful life is in the light.

From the outside, I’m sure things look as they always do. I still get up each morning and go about my day. I still serve in the ministries God has given me. I still laugh and love, and find joy in my life. And I am grateful….eternally grateful for this beautiful life God has given me.

But my heart.

My heart aches for the child I do not have.

Does it negate all the blessings in my life when I continue to desire the one I do not have? Does this make me ungrateful or discontent?

Does it taint my prayers with a tinge of doubt? Because surely, if God heard my prayers, He would answer…….

But we remain childless…..despite the desires of our hearts to be parents. Despite all the requests by us and others for this blessing. The answer has not come.

I recently read a blog by a great Christian author about unanswered prayer. I desperately hoped this blog would help me understand how to move forward when prayers go unanswered for months, years, or lifetimes. But the blog ended with an answered prayer and happily ever after. YAY God. And YAY for those for whom the prayer was answered.

But what about the prayers that remain unanswered? The healing, the salvation, the child, the job, the marriage that never comes to pass? What do we do with those prayers….and what do we do with the brokenness they leave behind? I am struggling with this ya’ll. I really do believe God is who He says He is. And I know He loves Todd and me beyond all we can imagine. And I know His plan is good and perfect. But as much as I believe, I am begging Him to help my unbelief.

Because if I am not careful, I will view my lack of children as a chink in God’s armor. Making Him imperfect, impotent, untrustworthy, or uninterested. And this, my friends, is dangerous ground. Because God is none of those things and allowing myself to believe He is will slowly chip away at my faith. So like the father in Mark 5:24, I am asking God to help me overcome my unbelief.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 5:23-24

Father God, we come before you today in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Father, Thank you that you can handle our doubt and our questions. Thank you that you love us enough to meet us right where we are. Lord, you are good, even when we don’t understand. You are good, even when life looks different than we planned. God, I know you hear the prayers of your people. Today I pray on behalf of myself and others who have continually lifted prayers in your holy name.   Prayers that from our finite human perspective have gone unanswered. I pray you would touch our hearts today Father. Help our unbelief. Bind up our broken hearts and encourage us in our walk so that we may draw nearer to you through this and not drift away. We love you, Jesus and we trust your perfect plan. In Your name, Amen.

I’m Ok, I live here

I was about seven years old, playing in our front yard when I decided it would be fun to pretend to be a hitchhiker. Mind you, back then, hitchhiking wasn’t necessarily ‘cool’ but it did lead one to imagine the neat places, people, and things a person who hitchhiked across the country might see. And I was bored.

So I moseyed on down to the well traveled country road that ran in front of our house and threw out my upturned thumb in the universal ‘hitch a ride’ stance.   I was thinking how cool I must look, all well traveled and confident, just another world traveler waiting on my next ride. (Oh my mercy, what an imagination….)

But then a truck stopped. And the man driving the truck opened the door. And he asked me if I needed a ride

I. FROZE.

My legs would not work. And even though my brain was screaming “I’m OK – I live here!” My normally chatty mouth WOULD not, COULD not make any words come out. So I stood there with my mouth agape, and my body trembling until he closed the door and finally sped away.

Go ahead, breathe a collective sigh of relief that my recklessness did not get me kidnapped or killed.

Honestly, when I think about this story from my now adult perspective, I find myself realizing that not too much has changed.

Even in my ‘grown up’ state, I am still prone to wander, sometimes fascinated and drawn by the siren call of the world. At times, boredom can still motivate me to do not so smart things that put me in danger of being swept away by the first wave that crashes into my little world.

((SIGH.))

You see, I really do believe that God is who He says He is. I believe He is the way, the truth, and the life. And I rejoice in these truths. Really, I do. But sometimes.

Sometimes, I take my eye off the prize.

Like Peter stepping out of the boat to go to Christ in Matthew 14. He WALKED ON WATER YA’LL!!! Because his focus was on THE ONE who gives us the power to do so. But the very second Peter took his eyes off Christ, he became afraid and beginning to sink, he cried “Lord, save me!”

Don’t miss this next part of the scripture ya’ll: “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” (emphasis mine)

Immediately. WOW.

When I wander, when I do not so smart stuff, when I am sinking in deep water, and when fear stops me in my tracks, the moment I cry out to God, He reaches out His hand and catches me.

My heart is so full with this truth. I think I’ll rest here awhile. Will you join me?

Father God, thank You for Your great love for us. Thank you that You hear the cries of Your people. Thank you Lord, that no matter how hopeless things seem, You are our hope. Thank you that no matter how far away we wander, You lovingly bring us back into Your fold. Help us to keep our focus on You, Father. And in those times that we lose our focus, help us be quick to return it to You. We love You and we praise You, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31

Grace

I fail people constantly in ways I don’t even understand.

My words are too few. My words are too many. I don’t give enough. I try to give too much.

It’s exhausting and I am weary.

I am weary of the practice of people pleasing. I am exhausted from acting like I have it all together even as the plates I have spinning in the air come crashing down around me. Plates full of people, feelings, responsibilities, and other assorted life stuff that needs my attention. I don’t know if anyone else struggles like this because frankly, I have been afraid to ask. I mean, really, who wants to talk about their failures? Who wants to share their fears about not being good enough? I don’t.

But I think I am supposed to. Because perhaps if I do, then someone else will, and then someone else will, and then, perhaps all of us doing this life thing together will start being real. We’ll stop hiding behind the façade of perfection and begin giving and extending grace.

So, Here is Nichole, removing the façade.

I question myself a lot. In my mind, my failures outweigh my successes. I take thoughtless words spoken by people and allow them to replace the truth in my life. I listen to the lies satan whispers in my ears telling me that I am the same selfish, unkind, unloving person I used to be. I allow a bad day or a bad moment to convince me I am none of the things I want to be. It’s no wonder I find myself weary and exhausted.

I want to break this cycle. I want to live in the freedom of God’s truth about who I am and not be deceived into believing things contrary to His truth.

The truth is that God has begun a good work in me. He is molding me, shaping me, and refining me. Because of who He is and who I am to Him, I am holy, chosen, and dearly loved. I am not perfect. I am a work in progress. I gratefully accept His grace as it covers my shortcomings. And I am trying to start extending that grace to myself. I am focusing on not allowing the approval of man take priority over the approval of my God.

I am trying to figure out how to be ok with failing people by not meeting their expectations of who they think I should be. I am trying to be okay with letting people down when they hold me to unrealistic standards and I am trying to extend those people grace even when they withhold grace from me.  I am trying not to let my failures define me and I am hopeful that those plates I have dropped will find themselves whole again, filled to overflowing with hope, grace, love, and acceptance.

“….being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Father God, thank you for who you are and thank you for your great love for us. We thank you for the good work you have begun in us, and that you will continue that work to completion. Help us to encourage one another and build each other up. Let us extend grace to one another and to ourselves. May our thoughts, words, and actions honor you. Because of you, Lord, we are holy, chosen, and dearly loved. May Yours be the only favor we seek. In Christ’s name, Amen.

 

Fragile

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Years ago, a friend of mine bared his soul to me and told me he no longer ‘felt’ God. I remember thinking…how can you NOT feel God? I mean, His presence is everywhere, right?

How naïve I was and how heartbroken I have been.

Because just recently, I couldn’t ‘feel’ God either. Yes, I know many of you are already judging me in your mind….”Well, Nichole, you can’t live by what you feel, and it doesn’t matter if you can feel God or not. He is there.” Thank you for that, but trust me, it DOES matter. Because feeling His presence in my life has gotten me through some of the most painful things I have ever experienced. And NOT feeling His presence has left me feeling broken, lost, and fragile.

I tried to teach myself to row a boat once. It was a complete disaster. I got in the row boat, and it floated toward the middle of the pond. After reading awhile and soaking up some sun, I decided it was time to go back to shore. So I rowed, and I rowed, and I rowed. But I didn’t move towards the shore, I was only rowing myself in circles. Round, and round, and round. I could see the shore, but I couldn’t feel the land under my feet. Lately my life has resembled this experience, and I want (NEED) to feel land again.

I know I have mentioned it before, but this past year has been very difficult for me. I have been sick (like, don’t leave my house kinda sick) for almost 6 of the last 12 months. What’s worse is I thought I was better. Things seemed to be moving in the right direction, and then BAM, I am sick again and this time it is not just my body that is sick, it is my heart as well. I have spent the last month crying, screaming, ignoring, and withdrawing from God. Because I am angry….I am hurt….. I am frustrated….and… I am SICK OF BEING SICK. So there you have it.

I knew I was withdrawing from God.When I prayed, my prayers sounded hollow and forced.When I read my Bible, the words seemed like they were written for someone else.Someone more committed, more church-ey, and definitely more godly than I.And NO ONE knew.Not ONE person.Except perhaps my husband.Because I am a master at hiding my pain and I know all the right words to say and how to turn the conversation back to them when people ask me about me.My pain and frustration ran deep, and I held on to them both like trophies, stubbornly refusing to let them go, to surrender them to the only One who can heal and restore me.But yesterday, something shifted.I heard song that God used to break through the shell I had placed around my heart.

“Jesus, please come please come today hear me heal me be near me I pray I have fallen so far flat on my face I’m in need of your grace today I stumble and fall but in spite of it all your love always stays the same Hallelujah Hallelujah”Heather Williams – Hallelujah

How awesome my God is, to use this song to speak to my very soul.To remind me that He loves me and even though I stand in the middle of a raging storm, He is with me, He has not left me, He has not forsaken me and His love never fails….even when I do.I have heard many times as of late that you are either drawing close to God or you are drifting away.There is so much truth in this statement, truth that I never understood until now.Ya’ll life is tough and I know there are so many struggling with BIG stuff.Things that wreck everything in your life and make you question God.Rest assured, He can handle the questions, and He will answer in ways only He can.May I remind you today that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and while this may sound like a cliché, I invite you to trust Him on this and see what mighty work He does in you and through you.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Father God, forgive me for not trusting You with my pain. Help me to remember Your grace is sufficient in all things. Lord, forgive me for trying to do this alone, and forgive me for withdrawing from You when I should have been drawing nearer. You are my God and I am overwhelmed with how You love me and draw me closer to You. I thank You Father for Your truth and I ask You to use my pain for Your glory. In Christ’s name, Amen.

The Truth About Pain

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“More than anything else, I learned to stop filling the gaps of my faith with religion.” Angie Smith – Chasing God

This quote hit me between the eyes this morning….probably because I have done it…I have tried to fill the gaps in my faith with religion.I have tried to justify my existence by existing solely for myself because existing for something bigger than me scared the heck out of me.  There were times I was so confused about who God is that I was tempted to deny Him altogether.  And even when I acknowledged His existence, I couldn’t imagine Him loving the broken vessel that is me.  And if I am honest about it, sometimes I still have trouble believing His unending, unconditional love applies to me….Because I am a mess ya’ll…and a HOT mess at that.

I won’t bore you with the details of my mess.  I am sure there are many of you who are dealing with things much worse than anything I have ever experienced.  And if you’re like me, when someone starts whining about their paper cut while you’re standing in front of them with a gunshot wound, it just doesn’t seem right, somehow. So, here we are, in the midst of my mess (and yours too, I’m sure) wondering where to go from here. I am going to be real with you….although there is a part of me screaming “WALK AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD!” and my palms are sweating, and my stomach aches, I am going to be real, because there is an even greater part of me that believes the world needs more real. We need to know we are not alone in our messes and that someone else experiences pain and tries to hide it from the world.

So here goes:

There are places within me that seem broken beyond repair.  There are cracks in my heart that run deeper than even I can measure.  There are nights I lie in bed on a pillow soaked with my own tears and there are days I cry with such harsh, gut wrenching sobs, my voice is hoarse for hours afterward.  I share these things because I believe there are others who speak with broken hearts and tear stained voices.  But somewhere along the way, we have convinced ourselves it is not OK to not be OK.  We feel we have to lie about our pain and go about our business as if everything is fine.  Ya’ll, WHY have we bought into this lie??? Is it because we want people to believe our lives are fairy tales? Do we see pain as weakness?  Or is it just too painful to talk about our pain?? I think it is a combination of all of these.

I know I hide my pain from pretty much every person who knows me, with very few exceptions.  On those rare occasions I choose to share, I almost feel like it causes me more pain to put myself out there.  I am very much in the habit of holing up when I am hurting.  Kind of like a wounded animal.  I hunker down with my God, my Bible, and my tissues.  While I see nothing wrong with hunkering down with God, I am convicted that sometimes I use Him as an excuse to hide.  I mean really, who is going to argue with you when you decline due to “spending time with Jesus”? 🙂

This last year has been tough for me, ya’ll, and just when I think I am on the other side of it, it gets even tougher.  But here is what I am learning.

God loves me….Every broken, messy, part of me.  And when I let Him, He begins to mend those broken places within me and He shines His light through those cracks in my heart.  He holds every tear I cry and He hears every gut wrenching sob that escapes me.  He even sends His people to minister to me through my pain and I am learning to let them in, little by little, bit by bit.

So for those of you who are hurting, let God do His work in you and heal your brokenness.  For those of you He sends to minister to us broken vessels, thank you, and please don’t give up on us even when we decline to “spend time with Jesus.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Father God, thank You for Your unending, unconditional love. Thank You for healing our brokenness and mending the cracks in our hearts. Thank you Lord, that even when I feel alone, You are with me. I love You and I praise You in the midst of every storm. In Christ’s name, Amen

Trading in my labels

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Not good enough. Unkind. Fat. Ugly. Liar. Drunk. Promiscuous. Unlovable. Selfish. Loner.

These are just a few of the labels I have worn over the years. The unbearable weight of them managed to crush my spirit and convince me I would never be more than I was.

As a result, I spent most of my life chasing after success. Thinking when I climbed high enough up that ladder, I would finally be somebody.

Many years ago, I found myself in my corner office in NYC, looking out onto the Statue of Liberty, thinking…FINALLY – this small town girl from South Georgia has made it. Leaving the office late that night, as I waited for a cab in the pouring rain, I felt that familiar emptiness creep into my heart, stealing any joy I may have felt over my worldly success. Fast forward a few years and many promotions, paychecks, and heartaches later, and you find me sitting on the balcony of a luxury apartment in South Florida, feeling more isolated and alone than ever. As I cried out to God, asking Him what He wanted from me…..He spoke into my heart these simple words: “Be still, and know that I am God.” I knew this was a verse from the Bible, so I looked it up. The NASB version of this scripture says “Cease striving, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10) If you’re like me, you have probably read this verse many times….and in so doing, you’re convinced there is nothing new here. But, please bear with me as I share with you what God showed me by speaking this verse into my heart.

God was charging me to put down all my idols…..my job, my paychecks, my title, my friends, my material goods, my boyfriend…..and recognize Him for who He is. There is a promise in this scripture, that when I cease striving (to be successful, have a perfect life, be the perfect person) and let Him be God, giving Him his rightful place in my life, I can be still and allow His grace, peace, and love to replace all those labels that crush my spirit and draw me away from God’s best for me.

Are you allowing the labels whispered into your ear by the enemy of your soul to crush your spirit and keep you enslaved by lies? May I encourage you today to BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD? Rest your weary soul in His embrace, renew your spirit with His grace, and energize your life with His great love. We can live free from our labels because of the work Christ did on the cross.

REDEEMED, FORGIVEN, NEW, CHOSEN, HOLY, LOVED.

These are my new labels…I’d love nothing more than you share them with you.

Father God, we come before you today in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Lord, thank you for your redeeming love. Thank you God, that when we remove the idols from our lives and allow you Your rightful place, Your grace, peace, and love will fill all of our empty spaces. Father, I pray you would give rest to the weary and strength to the powerless. I pray that as we seek You, we will find You and as we retire our old, spirit crushing labels, You will replace them with Your life giving love. We praise You for who You are Lord, and thank you for who we are to You. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Flowers on Mother’s Day

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I woke up dreading the day…..not a great start, I know. But Mother’s Day is tough for this non-Mama and as much as I want to wake up praising the Lord EVERY day, some days are tough….like Mother’s Day.

But I got up, got myself ready, checked a few emails, read a sweet text message from a fellow non-Mama and was on my way. Riding to church with another sweet friend and her family kept my mind occupied so I didn’t even have time to think about anything but driving and enjoying their company.

I got to church and grabbed my stuff and began to ready myself for the day….breathe in, breathe out….

Before I even made it to the door, I saw one of my precious girls hurrying across the parking lot with flowers….UGH….it’s beginning already, I thought.

But God forgive my wretched soul, this sweet girl was calling my name and as she approached me, she handed me the flowers and a card. “These are for you, Mrs. Nichole.” I hugged her so tight, I’m pretty sure I fractured one of her ribs. Ya’ll, it was all I could do to hold it together.

But hold it together, I did. I walked into church and found my fabulous husband with a smile and a hug just for me and as I stepped from his embrace, I turned to find one of my favorite boys at my side….and then he hugged me and said “Happy Mother’s Day Mrs. Nichole.” I hugged him so tight his face turned red. Another one of my sweet boys gave me a necklace he made out of a beautiful sparkly rock….and I hugged HIM so hard he started to cough.

It was all I could do to hold it together.

But hold it together, I did. I made through Sunday school as we taught about idols (Ok, God, I get it) and I sang my heart out during worship. But once the songs were done, I started to fall apart a little…because I knew the ever alienating “stand up if you’re a Mother” call was coming. Breathe in, breathe out.

It was all I could do to hold it together.

But hold it together, I did. I made it through the handout of the special mother gifts, and I sang my heart out some more. Then I was handed one of the special gifts for Mother’s….by someone who knows I have no children. As I tried to give it back, he looked me in the eyes and said, “You are a spiritual Mama.” Ya’ll, by this point I was hanging on by a thread…..like there was a dam of tears waiting to burst forth at any second. But I managed to hold it together. Until now.

As I sit here thinking about all the amazing things God did in my life yesterday, I am OVERWHELMED. On a day I dread EVERY year, a day I wish I could just stay in bed, God blessed me. He surrounded me with people who love me. And He answered the prayers of all of you who were praying for me.

I shared my struggle about this day with you, so I felt I should also share my blessing.  And thank you, each of you who prayed for me, loved on me, and encouraged me yesterday.

And thank you, Lord, for your sovereignty, Your love, and Your perfect plans. Amen.

Mother’s Day for the Childless

I write this post in protest.

So much so I am tempted to lock myself in the closet or get lost in the woods where I have no access to writing materials. But then God would just have me write this post in my head and it would continue to prick me in the brain until I put it on paper. So, here I am, writing this post in protest.

 

I would like to preface this by saying that this is in no way meant to disrespect you or insinuate that celebrating Mother’s Day is wrong. PLEASE celebrate your blessings and allow them to celebrate you! I ADORE my sweet Mama and you can bet I am praising God for giving me such an amazing woman for my Mama! Happy Mother’s Day , Mama!!  🙂

 

This is just one childless Mama heart sharing her pain.

 

There are some times in my life that I have wanted to disappear….like POOF! Gone into thin air. One of those times is Mother’s Day….especially Mother’s Day in public.

I can almost hear the breaking of my wanna be Mama heart when it seems like every woman within a 150 mile radius is standing up to receive their special Mama recognition while I remain seated. Again. Childless another year.

Measurements of time are tough for women who are trying to get pregnant…especially those of us who have been trying for awhile. While our Mama friends measure their lives and their years by what their children are accomplishing, we measure our time by the occasions on which our childlessness is most evident. For example, I will be 40 on May 21st. I have been trying to get pregnant for almost 5 years now. 40 is considered an ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE (who comes up with this stuff??) and it just keeps getting more advanced from here. Tick tock. Tick tock.

While I realize it is tough for people to know what to say to people like me, I would like to remind us all that sometimes silence is golden. I really don’t need to be reminded that I am getting older (no one is more aware than I), I do not need advice on how to make babies (Todd and I are pretty sure we’ve got that one down pat), and I certainly do not need to hear about so and so and the time it took them 2 months to get pregnant and they thought they would just DIE from all the waiting.

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t tell me you ‘just know’ we will have children one day…Seriously, ya’ll…..the only time this is acceptable is if God has personally come down and had a conversation with you about how He will be giving us children.

I really do not know what God’s plan is for Todd and me. He may plan to give us more babies than we can hold at one time, but it may also be that we will have none. I need to be ok with this. Wait, no. I don’t just need to be ok with this, I need to be praising Him for this. But how? or better yet, WHY praise God for the dreams that haven’t come true?

Because if I believe my God is who He says He is, then I have to TRUST that His will and His purpose in our lives is better than anything we could plan on our own. While I TRUST Him, I am asking Him to help me rejoice, pray and give thanks in all things…..even those things I do not understand.

WHEW!!!! This is a process ya’ll. I want to sit beside you on Mother’s Day and praise God for your children while I praise Him for my lack thereof. But please forgive me if Mother’s Day is still tough for me and all the other childless Mama hearts out there. It’s not that we aren’t happy for you, it’s just that we’re trying to find our place on a day that celebrates a dream that may never come true for us.

Father God, thank you for your sovereignty. Thank you that you have a plan for each and every one of our lives. Help us Lord, to trust your plan even (especially) when it doesn’t look the way we thought it would. On the days that are hard, Lord, I pray we would praise you through the pain and I pray we will allow you to use our pain for You glory. May we encourage one another as we go through trials, being obedient to share what You have laid upon our hearts….even if it is in protest. 🙂 I love you Lord, and I ask you to continue to walk with us through our stories, and I pray that You will be honored and glorified as You do your perfect work in us and through us. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Alone in a Crowd

I almost always feel alone in a crowd. I have been this way most of my life and more often than not, I’m ok with it. But there are times that feeling alone makes me question everything about myself…and I mean EVERYTHING! Too loud? Too quiet? Too short? Too boring? Too happy? Too sad? Too rich? Not rich enough? Am I over dressed? Underdressed? Does this dress make my butt look fat? GEESH!!!

Yes, I know, they are all ridiculous questions, but they run through my mind more often than I care to admit.

I often feel like an island….and not one of those exotic beautiful islands, ya’ll, I’m talking about the barren, uninhabitable ones. It’s enough to make a girl want to give up on socializing all together.

I have talked to a lot of women lately who are tired of shallow relationships. We’re done with trying to be people we are not in order to fit into a certain group and we’re totally OVER finding out the hard way that someone is not trust worthy. Good grief, ya’ll….we make it so hard. We complicate the relationships in our lives to the point that they cannot withstand the pressure and before you know it, another one bites the dust.

Truth be told, I have very few women in my life who make an effort to nurture our friendship. (side note – I am OVERWHELMINGLY thankful for the few who do!!)  It’s sad, but true. When I say nurture, I don’t mean those half ditch efforts to say Hi for the 30 seconds it takes us to cross paths in public, I don’t mean a text message every 2-3 months, and I sure don’t mean the gossip sessions many love to pass off as ‘prayer requests.’ Nope, I am talking about the real deal, ya’ll. Nurture is defined as follows: To support and encourage, as during a period of training and development. WOW – Support and encouragement. Wouldn’t you love to be consistently supported and encouraged through this training and development we call “Life?” Me too, sisters, me too!

So how do we do this? How do we nurture our relationships and how do we give the love, honor and friendship we ourselves long to have? We invest our most precious commodities, ya’ll….our time and our love.

Scary stuff, huh? Yes, but it is worth it. Because it is what God has commanded and because He commanded it, He WILL honor it when we obey.

“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17

Father God, thank you for your love that empowers us to love one another. Thank you for the relationships you have placed in our lives and for those that have yet to form. I pray over each of them, Father and I pray they would be honoring to you. Help us to nurture one another, and build deeper relationships. Let us not be satisfied with imitation friendships that have no depth or honor and empower us to give up the relationships in our lives that do not bring you glory. God, I know this will not be a popular post or prayer by the world’s standards, but I pray you will use it to make a difference for eternity. We love you, Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Unlovable Me

What if we really treated others like we want to be treated? What if we really loved them like we love ourselves?

I find myself heartbroken and frustrated over the divisions I see in so many relationships around me. We take the smallest things and make them into mountains no human can ever scale. Someone looks at us sideways, talks differently, dresses differently, or worships differently; and we jump at the opportunity to rip them to shreds with our poison tongues.

 

No wonder the world calls us hypocrites……we can’t even love on one another, let alone those outside our “Christian circle”

When we refuse to see beyond ourselves, we miss the opportunities God gives us to minister to and encourage one another. God tells us what He expects of us and His instruction is very clear:

“and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Ya’ll….I am going to be very real with you. I am writing this because God has convicted me that I fall terribly short when it comes to loving others.

I try to love people, but have mercy, some people are just hard to love.

Of course when I started whining to God about how “I’m tired of trying to love on so and so” and “I don’t feel like loving on people today,” He showed me:

I am one of those hard to love people.

UGH. It’s true.

And you know what else God is showing me? He doesn’t command me to love people when I feel like it, or when they do things I approve of, or when they deserve it. The commandment to love others is not conditional.

Let’s not miss this.

God’s commandment to love others is not conditional.

It is not dependant on how we feel or whether someone deserves it.

It is dependent upon God and the love He has shown us and commanded us to show others.

Here is my challenge for us.

LOVE on someone you find difficult to love. Reconcile a relationship that you have allowed to falter. Encourage someone who needs encouragement. Pray for the people God has placed upon your heart today.

Be proof that God’s love is true and that His grace can really change a heart.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 4:12-14

Father God, forgive us where we have placed ourselves and our opinions above Your truth. Help us to see people as you see them, let us see beyond the surface and minister to their hearts. God, help us to live lives that honor You. Help us to love like you love and where we have hardened our hearts, soften them and draw us closer to You. Use us as instruments of peace and do not allow us to be used for division. We love you, Lord, because You first loved us. Thank You for all that You have done and that which You have yet to do. In Christ’s name, Amen.