Love

Yesterday, as I worshiped in church, I closed my eyes and saw myself in front of God. There was complete love and pleasure in his expression as he looked down on me, “My girl, my beautiful one” he said, a warm smile across his face and his eyes twinkling. I was draped with something, something that covered my sins, my imperfections and my humanity and because of that covering, I was sinless and blameless in God’s eyes.

I needed that reminder. I’ve really been struggling with self-image lately. Unworthiness. I’ve felt undeserving of God’s love and attention and it’s been a struggle to remember that through everything, he adores me and thinks that I am beautiful.

The pastor hit on this as well; why is it so much easier for us to think of God loving others unconditionally, but when we look at God loving US like that, we question it?

The image of God looking at me with such gentleness and love started the tears. I have to admit, I love crying in front of God. It feels good and safe to be vulnerable in front of him like that. But why, when I think of his love for little old me, does it bring me to tears so easily? Why is it so shocking to remember that he is in love with me?

I know my thoughts, I know my actions, I know my disobedience, I feel the disappointment I am to others, I know where I fall short, I know my imperfections. We are our worst critic. That’s probably why. We look at others with rose colored glasses, for the most part. We don’t see what they don’t want to show us. So it’s easier to think that God would love the someone they choose to present to the world.

Close your eyes. Ask God to show you what he thinks of you. Imagine yourself standing in front of him and his eyes, so filled with love and joy as he looks at you, his beloved one. Allow yourself to meditate on his pleasure of you for a moment. Soak it in. Feel it. Enjoy it.

He has a plan. You can’t screw it up. He created you just the way you are and he loves every part of you.

Breathe.

…Breathe…

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Spiritual Marriage

Marriage is just a piece of paper and some meaningful words in front of loved ones. Marriage is standing in front of a group of people, quoting antique vows, and praying you’ll make it through the rough patches. Marriage is a government institute.

It’s no wonder so many marriage, even in the Christian community, fail. We have completely forgotten (or have we ignored?) the spiritual aspect of the marriage covenant.

Have we forgotten that God is the inventor of marriage and therefore HE defines it, not our government or our communities?

Why bother getting married, when we can just live together and become Common-law without the expense of a wedding?

Marriage, in our society, has become nothing more than the wedding. We have lost the fact, not just the theory but the fact, that it is a spiritual binding of spouses to each other, committed to for life through covenant before the Creator of the Earth. Marriage isn’t just a piece of paper that makes taxes or bills or banking or child-bearing easier. Marriage is spiritual bondage.

When you commit to marriage, you are committing “until death do you part” to your initial spouse. When you attempt to break that commitment – because we as humans think we are powerful enough to break something in the spiritual realm – it causes pain, multiple marriage, divorces, restless spirits, destructive sin… A feeling of lack of control. That piece of your spirit that keeps telling you “It doesn’t make sense!” even when it doesn’t make sense that it doesn’t make sense.

We need to start bringing the ‘spirituality’ and the ‘covenant’ back into marriage. Those are two words I never heard related to marriage before I leapt into that relationship. They’re words that need to be explored and applied to marriage. They’re words that need to be taught to our kids. They’re words that need to be taken extremely seriously.

Why do you think we have so many unhappily married people around us? Why do you think that so many people are struggling? Because we have grown into largely viewing marriage as a relationship and nothing more. Just two people who spent lots of money, wore a suite and a dress, and had a great day with their friends.

As the ‘friends’ we have forgotten that the wedding is a solemn ceremony. We’re more focused on our outfits that day or the caterer or the white dress or the decorations. Or thinking of the happily every after we think we’re watching in front of us.

Yes, the wedding is beautiful, the emotions are wonderful, and we are so thrilled our friends have found each other. There’s nothing wrong with this, celebration is necessary! But before we start to think that this is what the day revolves around. Stop. Pray. Realize the seriousness of this commitment. Think of the reality of the God they are standing before.

Bring the spirituality back into the vows that are being said.

God Himself is listening. God Himself is hearing “until death do we part” and God Himself is holding the couple to that covenant.

Until death will my commitment to your marriage be. Until death will I, as your friend, fight for your marriage. Until death will I hold you to your spouse. Through sickness and health, for better or worse, I will encourage you in your covenant to your spouse. Until death.

If marriage is just a piece of paper. If marriage is just something our government defines. If marriage is just a beautiful wedding. It’s no wonder it’s so easy for all of us to give up on.

But if marriage is a covenant, the only way it can be broken is by death. If marriage is a spiritual binding, only God can decide when it’s broken. If marriage is more than just something we do here on our temporary earth, but is also a spiritual event, it is so much bigger than we have been taught.

Dead No More

Have you ever been running towards something, feeling like you’re chasing the dream you’re meant to have, but feeling dead inside? Something just isn’t right. Your heart tells you it’s what you need to do, what you need to have, but there’s a tiny bit inside you that is cringing and you’re not sure why. A few years ago I started running from my marriage. It seemed like the only option for me at the time, the only way out of the drowning feeling I was overcome with. I moved to a new city several hours away and started my own life, pursuing the things that I ‘knew’ would make me happy. By the time two years had passed, I had achieved everything I thought I wanted. But still…something…something was wrong. I felt dead inside. I felt like I wasn’t achieving anything, like my life didn’t have purpose, like I was an empty shell. I had what the world was telling me I needed but I wasn’t satisfied.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… Ephesians 2:1

Through my sins, the multitude of them, I had died. My soul was shriveled and lifeless, even if my body seemed vibrant to those around me. The meaningful part of me, the true Katie, had passed away leaving a wandering and lost shadow of who I had been. God knew though. He was watching and waiting for when the time was right. When I was ready, he opened my eyes and made me see the mess I had left in my wake. Even though I had destroyed my life, he has helped me in the last two years to heal and grow and become a woman that is an even better version of what I was before. He has made me alive again, passionate, enthusiastic, full to the brim of purpose in him. Lately, there has been overwhelming temptation to go back to certain aspects of my previous life. It has been so hard to remember that, even though some of God’s promises have yet to be fulfilled, I am where I should be. Satan has been reminding me of the ‘fun’ I had before and that I am ‘missing out’ on it now. But if I truly believe in the Bible, I should truly believe that I was “dead in my transgressions”. When God took me back and opened my eyes, I felt a physical reaction. I could see clearer, I could hear clearer…it was as if I had stepped out of a fog. So why would I go back to being dead? Why would I purposely and intentionally deny the death I felt then and the life I feel now just for a temporary fix? Temptation does that, it pulls you into a lifestyle that seems fun and exciting or maybe even safe, only to actually kill you slowly and turn you into a hollow version of what you once were. Sometimes temptation makes sense. Sometimes Satan dresses like an angel, a rescuer, that seems like it will pull you out of the mess you’re in. Sometimes people you trust encourage you in the temptation. I believe that we know. Even when we say we haven’t heard from God, we know what he wants us to do. It might not be a huge, bellowing voice, it might just be an unsettled feeling in our spirit, but we know what God really wants from us. And going in another direction, is never worth it. We have to decide. What are you following? Who are you listening to? Who are you obeying? And I’ll be honest. At this point, I am grudgingly being obedient. The temptation seems much more fun and actual makes sense to most people around me. But the point of my life isn’t to make sense to the people around me. It’s to glorify God and to live a life worthy of my calling. By God’s strength, not my own, I refuse to be dead any longer. I refuse to believe the lies, I refuse to deny the full life that God has placed in front of me. So help me God, I will wait for his promises.

It Is Well

“Even so, it is well with my soul.”

Are you able to say this? When you’re in a rough patch, when God isn’t answering your prayers like you thought he would, when life isn’t going smoothly, when you feel like you’re just plowing through…Are you able to say, are you able to remember to say, “Even so, it is well with my soul”?

I’m at a point right now where the struggle seems uphill, in waist high in mud, with little to no relief in sight. I’m feeling like I’ve been called to do something that seems absolutely impossible, that God is holding me to, but my heart is weak. I feel like I’m pushing forward out of obedience, but that is all. Do you ever get like that?

I know this is a stage, a season that will pass and will flow into a place where I feel more heartfelt in what I’m asked to do. But it’s hard going through these places! It’s hard fully relying on God out of blind faith when everything around you is telling you to do something different.

It’s in these places, though, that we need to stubbornly say “Even so, it is well with my soul.” Even when I don’t feel like it, God’s will is well with my soul. Even when it doesn’t make any sense, God’s commands are well with my soul. Even though I can’t see it, God’s plan is well with my soul.

I truly believe that God will bless our obedience in times like these. He hasn’t asked us to take leaps of faith only when it makes sense, he’s just asked us to follow him. So when we do take that leap of faith when it doesn’t make sense, we are saying that we believe that God is real, and that he is all that matters.

By pushing through, past the emotions, past the limited view we have of our lives, and obeying God, we are opening the door for miracles. We are allowing God space to move where we otherwise would have filled the space with our nearsighted plans. We are acknowledging that God has ultimate control as well as acknowledging that we trust him to use that control.

We are proving that we believe the truth of the Bible.

So I am pushing forward. I know that this will pass, that God is working at destroying my mountain and one day I will see what the point of this strain was. And in the meantime I will stubbornly say “Even so, it is well with my soul”.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

The Grace in Struggle

When you see someone in a place in life that they shouldn’t be, do you automatically cringe and think “Wow, that’s not good!”? Say they’re sleeping around, say they’re partying, say they’re running from their marriage…Do you stop to think that where they are is exactly where they need to be?

I don’t believe that any of these circumstances are good, or that God would desire anyone to sleep around or party or run from their marriage. But sometimes doing these things is what it takes for us to be turned into a passionate, devoted and enthusiastic follower of Christ.

What if we viewed these circumstances in our loved ones, or even in strangers around us, as grace filled opportunity for the individuals and their families to see God work miracles?

I have experienced first hand how quickly people give up on others when they turn away from their Christian walk and behavior. To be completely honest, it’s disgusting how quickly we give up on people that are struggling. If they don’t turn their lives around in our timetable or in the way that makes sense to us, we move on and encourage others to move on. It’s completely unbiblical. If only we would have the courage to wait on God’s timing and to remember that there is a plan and purpose for absolutely every single thing, even hurt and pain and detestable actions…if only we would present our requests to God, if only we would fight for those who are struggling, if only we would remember that Satan is already conquered, if only we wouldn’t give up so quickly!

I also know first hand the power of prayer and the completeness of the Grace of God. God’s love covers all sins, brings his people out of the impossibility of their situations and transforms hearts and lives to a point of disbelief. Prayer works! I felt prayer as I was running away from the Lord. I knew when people were praying for me and it made me mad.

Yes, I was living in a horrible lifestyle. My actions were disgusting, my life was very far from where a Christian girl should have been…but I was still exactly where I was meant to be because it was part of God’s plan. I don’t believe that I would have ever been as passionate as I am about God if I hadn’t gone through this rebellious period. I don’t think I would have believed God’s power if I hadn’t seen and felt it first hand.

I wonder what would happen if we refused to give up on those around us that are struggling. If we refused to stop praying for them. If we refused to stop waiting for them to come back to the Lord. If we refused to believe that our prayers are going unanswered.

What would happen if, next time you saw a friend that wasn’t living out their Christian walk, you praised God. Praised God that he is bringing them through this trial in order to show them a miracle. Praised God that he is turning one of his creations into a person that will live passionately for him. Praised God that he is chasing after them. Praised God that he isn’t giving up on them. Praised God that he has the grace to lead them down this ugly path in order to show them how beautiful and powerful he really is.

If we understood how powerful our prayers were, we would never get off of our knees.

-Unknown

Loving Our Husbands to Reflect God

As I was writing the last post, I started thinking: If God is our husband, and we are to love him as though he has nothing to give us, shouldn’t we do the same for our earthly husbands and even other relationships?

What if we loved our husbands regardless of what they gave us in return?

As wives, homemakers, marriage team-mates, we want certain things from our hubbies. We deserve certain things. Our husbands are part of the Team and they need to participate. It’s only fair, it’s only right?

But what if we loved them without conditions, without worrying about what they bring to the table or how much effort they put in?

I think this would not only transform our marriages, but it would transform the world around us.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is he Saviour. Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:22-24

When we married we committed to a covenant. For better or worse, for richer or for poorer, until death do us part. I didn’t actually realize that marriage was a covenant until two years ago. It’s not a contract, but a covenant. Here’s the difference:

A contract is an agreement between parties saying that one party will provide a service if the other party provides a return service. An example of this is your phone company. They provide you with service as long as you provide them with payment.

A covenant is an agreement between parties where, regardless of what they receive in return, they will commit to keeping their end of the deal. Marriage is a covenant saying that, regardless of your husbands behavior, feelings, treatment, you will be his wife through it all. You have committed in covenant that you will be his wife, will love him entirely, until death do you part

Verses like Ephesians 5:22-24 hold us to that covenant by instructing us to be submissive to our husbands. It doesn’t say “If he behaves in a certain way”, it just says to be submissive because our husbands are the head of the family.

What if we worked on transforming our way of thinking, the pattern of thinking that our society has pounded us on the head with, the way of thinking that says “We deserve to be loved in return! We deserve to be shown affection, respect, adoration!”.  What would happen if we started loving our husbands, submitting to them, even when it wasn’t convenient?

It would change the world.

It would reflect our relationship with God.

It would restore marriages.

It would transform our husbands.

It would make us lean on God like we have never leaned on him before!

Isn’t that the point of our lives? The point of marriage? To reflect God’s relationship with us to the world? To show the world that, regardless of our actions, our affections, God loves us and will continually invite us back into relationship with him. He will never give up on us, will never stop waiting for us to turn to him, will never give up on his commitment, his covenant, to us.

If we started loving our husbands and honoring the vows we made with them I believe that we would grow in depth, personally, but also spiritually. We would start to appreciate what God has done for us, the forgiveness he continually gives us, even when it doesn’t make sense at all. We are constantly turning our back on God, sinning in every way, but yet he always forgives us and wants us to return to him. We are constantly insulting God, telling him in different ways that he isn’t good enough for us, that we deserve better. But he still opens his arms to us and welcomes us home. We are constantly taking what God has given us and squandering it on meaningless pursuits…but God waits and watches for our return with eagerness.

Wow!

When we look at our marriages as a reflection of Gods relationship with us, there should be no question in our mind that we need to love our husbands without conditions. It’s the point of marriage. This is when we realize that God is the inventor of marriage and it becomes more meaningful than just some signatures on a marriage certificate and a public display of commitment. And I believe that when we focus on our marriages having this purpose, divorce rates will go down, fulfillment in God alone will be more prominent in our Christian circles, and the world will see who our God really is and they will crave that same relationship with our Savior.

Love God Without Conditions

What if we loved God as though he had already given us everything we wanted?

Sometimes, maybe most of the time, I think we are worshiping and praying because of what we want God to give us and not just because God is God. Do you think you do this? I’d ashamed to admit that I know I do this…

I pray, there are answers, and I praise God. I pray and hear nothing, and I start to pout. Does this sound familiar? I hope I’m not the only one.

God asks us to follow him, to pursue relationship with him, he says that once we do this he will give us the desires of our hearts but he doesn’t say that this should be the point of our pursuit. Actually, I think that we will be surprised at how our hearts desires change once we start chasing after God.

What would happen if we continually humbled ourselves, recognizing that we actually deserve nothing from him, and praised and worshiped him just because he is the Creator, the Beginning and the End, the God over every single thing. Let’s just take a moment to remember who it is we are praying to. Maybe that’s our issue.

Maybe we have gotten so caught up in what God can give us and what he promises us that we have forgotten who it actually is that we are praying to. We live in a world that continually preaches at us about what we deserve, what we are entitled to, how amazing we are. But really, we don’t deserve anything, we aren’t entitled to a thing and we’re really just pieces of dust that are here today and gone tomorrow.

There’s been times where I have been crying, mad and frustrated, and praying “God, I’m doing what you’ve asked me to do!! I don’t know what else I can do, why aren’t things going my way? Why isn’t this happening? Why aren’t you answering?”. That prayer, broken down, shows just how arrogant I really am. Who am I to tell God that I’m “doing all I can do”? Didn’t he sacrifice his Son for me? And I’m complaining about having to…wait for my passport for to long?? Or that my knee isn’t healing fast enough?? Or…or…or…Who am I to ask why things aren’t going my way? Hasn’t he promised to take care of me, to bring me through trials, to provide what I need? And why am I complaining that he isn’t answering me when he has already told me that he will, in his time?

Who am I to demand anything from God?

Who am I to question him?

He loves me, yes. He desires a relationship with me, yes. But all the rest is a bonus. What I need to do is chase after him, work on my relationship with him, worship him, praise him…and expect nothing in return. The point of my life is to glorify him with everything I have, in everything I do, and not to do it expecting a treat in return.

If God, the creator of the stars, the universe, the oceans and the trees, the creator of human anatomy and all it’s complexities, the God that controls the weather with just the sound of his voice…if that God loves me and wants to spend time with me, that should be good enough. Everything else should be viewed as a perk, not a requirement.

This way of thinking is a continual rebalancing. A lifetime work in progress. It’s impossible to think this way for long without slipping back into the attitude of entitlement, whether we mean to or not. We’re human, since the fall of man we have been wired to be selfish. But if we keep being intentional about bringing our thought patterns and prayer lives back to this way of thinking, I believe we will see an amazing change in our relationship with God.

And because of the change we will see in our relationship with God, we will also see changes in ourselves. We still start changing from the inside out. I believe that if we continually make an attempt to worship God selflessly, we will see God move even more mightily around us. I believe that we will feel him near and hear his voice and we will be able to watch him move. On top of this, when we make God himself a priority and not what he can do for us, I believe that people will be attracted to us and we will be able to, and desire to, share our relationship with him with those around us.