“Your busyness is your inability to deal with whatever it is you need to do to heal.”
And there it was. Spoken from a place of compassion, but that truth was like a smack to the face.
Rest is not a punishment.
I am a reformed full calendar junkie.
Admittedly the habit started as an activity duty military spouse when my honey was deployed or away. When the silence and empty left side of the bed was too much.
So I ran myself into exhausted.
Wash, recycle, repeat.
15 years later I was confronted with that rooted, gaping hole.
Just keep treading water.
Look at all those filled up spaces on your calendar! Who cares if your mental, physical, spiritual health is flat lining!
I could write an epic Victorian novel on the toll this pace took on my body. The sickness, the unconfronted trauma, the toxic traits, habits and relationships.
Stop, breath, you’ve got this if you just slow down.
Commit to meeting Jesus at the well and letting Him fill up and cleanse those wounds.
That is where true fulfillment comes from.
Time is not recoverable.
No is not a bad word.
Boundaries are love.
Wouldn’t you rather spend it in such a way that honors the creator and lover of your soul?Imperfections and all♥️
Yes I typed that with the excitement I have felt walking through these first two weeks of January's JOY devotional with you.
I pray you have been blessed on this journey with me. That you've found a stead rhythm that beats to each and every scripture that we walk through together.
A few quick notes of feedback that I've written down as I spend my time in JOY:
*Scripture size. Ya'll! I know your girl will be 42 this year, but this is a bit to tiny and has me questioning my latest eye exam. February will be larger and more comfortable to read.
*Worship play list. I am a mood setter. In most things, but am a but even more so in my quiet time. I often find myself getting up at 5AM just to have that distraction free quiet time, dim lights and music going. My date with ABBA!! It doesn't always look that way, but it makes it sweeter for me when it turns out that way.
~Fear is not my Future- Maverick City, Kirk Franklin, Brandon Lake
~Exodus-Maverick City, Kirk Franklin
~Yeshua/Our God Reigns- Meredith Mauldin, Sean Feucht
~I'm So Blessed- Caine the Band
Ready to get into it?!
Before we dive in, I want to recognize these are sweet gems have gleaned in my time with our Father. And truly that is my hope and prayer for you. Whether you've gotten 5 minutes or an hour to sit during your time, that you hear the Fathers voice and heart for you.
1st-Romans 12:12 Lord we can be confident in our JOY! Because it is a direct link to the hope that is you. I will be patient, and come to you with the troubles of my heart.
2nd- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Joy is a thing we should always carry. Praying should be like breathing, In all things there is something to be thankful and joyful. The one who loves me most was there in all circumstances.
3rd-Psalm 118:24 God you are my creator, the designer of me. Who loves me without limits. I will be confident knowing nothing is a surprise to you. You Lord, provide and sustain. Nothing formed against me shall prosper, because you are the Lord of my heart. in that I will find JOY.
4th-Philippians 4:4 Finding JOY should always be what I choose. Not maybe! There is JOY in you Lord, and you are my JOY.
5th- Galatians 5:22 Lord let these seeds bloom and burst into overflow! Ripe because they have been cultivated from a place that recognizes, honors, and obeys who you are. May these fruits be marked by you Lord.
6th-John 16:24 JOY in abundance and overflow in Jesus name. Covered in joy, flowing with joy!
7th-Romans 15:13 Lord you are our source! My trust lays with you. In that I am complete.
8th- Nehemiah 8:10 Sharing you and your love Lord, fills me up!
9th- 1 Peter 1:8-9 inexpressible JOY! Lord you are the reward. All the reward I will ever need. May this always be a song my heart sings.
10th- James 1:2-4 find JOY in my trials and weakness. Not only does this draw me closer to you, it allows me to become more Christ like. A reflection and image barer. Affirming I can count on you in ALL things.
11th- John 16:22 my JOY can not be taken. I choose! It was given by the greatest giver. How I use it, is up to me.
12th- Psalm 5:11 in you Lord I can rejoice in refuge, protection, and pure JOY! I will be a lover of His name. His word. His joy.
13th- Romans 14:17 the Kingdom of God is:goodness, peace, and joy. All of these gifts left with us along with the Holy Spirit. God your provision is limitless.
14th- Psalm 16:11 God you are my JOY guide. My captain. The one I can trust with this fuel for my soul.
Sisters, I hope as you flip through your bible these next few weeks, that joy jumps out. In Gods word, in your life. that is an overflowing well. A spark, a lamp lighter.
Military, Ministry, and Me
When I was a young girl I was assertive, opinionated, loud, bold, generous, and stubborn. I was assertive in getting things done the way I wanted them done. I was opinionated and shared my opinions about everything with just about everyone. I was loud because I liked noise, whether it was singing, talking, cheering, or even whispering. I was bold for no reason at all and was not afraid to stand alone. I was generous with my time as long as I got something out of it, and it looked like I was being a good person. I was stubborn even to the point of painful and embarrassing consequences. Ask my mother, father, and brothers if I’m still all those things and they will probably say, “YES!” However, I believe I have come a long way from my youthfully ignorant, unashamed risk-taking, and blindly ambitious self. As a middle-30s woman, I identify as a Christian, wife, mother, Soldier, and minister. I have been a Christian over 30 years, a wife of 15 happy years, and a mother to a 13 year old young man. I am also a Soldier who is studying to be a chaplain and a minister to those in my community. As a young girl I felt called into ministry, but I did not know how that would work out with all my wonderful qualities! Or the fact that I grew up in a small, independent, Baptist church. Over the past 30 years God has taught me to trust him and follow him. He has called me to be assertive, opinionated, loud, bold, generous, and stubborn for him and his Word.
At the ripe age of 30 I joined the military (US Army) and trained to be a Religious Affairs Specialist (56M). I worked with the unit chaplain to provide religious support to Soldiers and their families. Being a Soldier in the Unit Ministry Team was fulfilling that calling I heard as a young girl. As a 56M I was able to travel all over Hawaii, Germany, Belgium, England, Israel and many other states and countries – all as an obedience to God’s calling on my life. I joke that “I was suffering for Jesus” in those faraway places. I was able to coordinate many single Soldier and married Soldier training events that all had a focus on being a better human being, a better Soldier, a better communicator, and or a better Christian. I was able to minister casually and informally, as well as directly and officially. The time spent serving Soldiers and their families as a 56M was beneficial, educational, emotional, and spiritual. I served on active duty for over 5 years before recognizing God’s call on me to the chaplaincy. God used multiple people to encourage me in my faith walk and to show me that God could use me to be a spiritual leader, a religious leader. Someone I did not think God called women to be…
I did not feel called to be a pastor of a church. (I also grew up with the teaching that women could not fill that role.) And to clarify, I do not presently feel called to be a senior pastor either! I feel I am called to be a chaplain. A ministry I can provide to Soldiers and their families, and others in my church and local community. God worked on my heart. He also worked on my husband’s, mother’s, father’s, and brothers’ hearts in the area of me (a woman) in ministry, full-time ministry no less! They fully support my calling and ministry opportunities. I have now been able to serve women, children, and the elderly through Bible study, music, and creative activities. I have been able to serve Soldiers and their families (although very restricted due to COVID) through prayer, calls, texts, counseling, and virtual chapel services. Women in ministry no longer seem taboo or “sinful” or out of God’s will. Through experience, prayer, and mentorship I have come to recognize myself as a vessel for God’s use in full-time ministry. God is faithful to call and to equip all those in ministry.
I have come to see, acknowledge, and treasure the women God used to fulfill his ministry on earth. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s revealed Word shows women in ministry action. I was not taught to ignore these women. Please do not misunderstand my previous church leaders or my own story. Women were not the subject of many sermons. Pastors and church leaders just did not highlight, emphasize, or teach the things that women did for God or in Jesus’ ministry. The women that are mentioned in the Bible typically have an active role in the account. A woman is either saying or doing something intentional. She is not a bystander. Not a passive actor. But an Active Intentional Minister (AIM). I have AIMed my own ministry arrows at God’s target for me – Soldiers, their families, and presently some teen girls in the youth group. As I have submitted to God in ministry the target has grown. It was first only for Soldiers and their families. It now includes the teenagers in the youth ministry. God is faithful to provide opportunities for those he calls to serve him.
I am half-way done with my Master of Divinity program at Liberty University. Because of life circumstances, I am finishing my degree online and I am loving it. The freedom of the online program helps me with my family schedule, US Army Reserve training, and ministry. I homeschool my 8th grader and tend my little garden and care for my goats and chickens. With online schooling I am able to get ahead with assignments and be engaged with Soldiers when completing Battle Assembly. The ministry opportunities afforded to me because of online education have strengthened my connections with people and with God. Throughout this season of training, education, and growth I have come to love the time spent in God’s Word.
In the mornings before the sun is up and the busyness begins I talk to God and read his Word. A passage that encourages me in this season of military and ministry is Acts 16, the account of Lydia, a seller of purple. She was a woman of Thyatira who ran a business. Lydia was a woman who knew her trade and her town. She was seeking God and was kind to God’s people. Her name probably meant “bending”, which also refers to “bending a bow” (Is. 66 & Jer. 46). When Lydia bent her ear to the words of the gospel, preached by Paul, her heart was transformed. She already practiced a life of worship to God and now she was a “real” follower of God. Lydia opened her heart and home to others. She ministered to those who came to her home, even Paul and Silas when they left jail. The more I have read about Lydia and the early church, the more I have grown to love her. Lydia’s account includes a simple and beautiful desire for God, acceptance of his message, and obedience to a call. I see myself in Lydia. No doubt she was assertive and bold. She was also generous. I can imagine that she had opinions and shared them, about business, about womanhood, about God and God’s people. Maybe she was loud and or stubborn, but I will not put those characteristics on her. Certainly, a woman of God, a woman of the New Testament was and is not loud or stubborn! Indeed, Lydia is a woman to be admired for her bent ear and generous heart, her obedience to God and bold business, and her hospitality and assertive decisions in life. May I continue to strive to be like Christ, and like Lydia, in my own life in the military and ministry. In the military and in ministry I desire to be bent toward God, just like Lydia. May I aim to be all those wonderfully unique traits for God’s glory.
Servant, leader, leading like Jesus with boots on the ground.
I hope it’s okay that I address you in this way. In this moment I picture having this conversation with you in a coffee shop.
That long awaited conversation. One from someone who held judgment and should have stood beside you in your struggles. One who’s heart aches of the weight you carried your entire life.
I do not speak to lighten the weight of the first sin. But to say “ Mother I weep with you.” A lot has been said of you, placed on your shoulders, manipulated in your name. Last night as I sat with my sisters discussing you in our study, so much more of the story was revealed. So much truth spoken to my heart from scripture I had read countless times.
Let’s start with the fact that you dear sister walked with God. You had a moment so many of us long for. That face to face. That supernatural presence that can not be duplicated. And it was ripped away, in one moment. You mother who never knew pain, hate, anger. Who scripture tells us the deceit you are often blamed for, was not something that was placed in you when God sealed you and your helpmate away in the garden. That the totality of what was done was not revealed until Adam too ate the apple.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
Genesis 3:7 NIV
No one speak of how your first reply to the serpent was “God said not to.”
Eve, I am sorry that we use your sin against you, as we cling daily to our own as if it doesn’t break Gods heart just as much. I am sorry that we forgot the part that even after, God provided and loved you no less.
I reread your testimony. The strength…my God! To pick yourself up and experience an entirely new existence. To bear a child with no one there as you endured the pain. To watch your husband struggle to provide. One moment mother. But yet all
you endured. To then lose a child at the hand of the other. To lose two gifts from God in one moment. Ones you had praised him for not long before.
So here we are. Dear Eve…you may have shown us the first sin, but you also showed us so many more first. Courage, strength, resilience, devotion to name a few. Thank you for carrying so much weight for your daughters.
We have all been there, maybe it’s something you are overjoyed in doing. Others dread it, but know it’s necessary.
The great purge. We see it with the approach of the new year, or the good ol’ “Spring Cleaning” events that all households endure. We vow to make it all sparkle and make room for what’s necessary. Decluttering what’s been collecting dust, motivation to start new again. That feeling of joy we get when the task is complete and an even bigger pat on the back of our old becoming someone else’s new.
Somehow it’s just become a normal thing. We never question the clutter until it becomes oppressive. We keep collecting, purchasing, receiving, and adding until we realize we once again need to make room for the new.
So what does this all have to do with our spiritual health? What if I said to you, that the focus we put in the physical things of this world, is a priority we need to make of the things dwelling in ourselves.
Mark 2:22, NIV: "And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.
The wine will burst the skins...the things we refuse to be rid of, to purge, that are not of God will burst the spirit. Has it set in yet?
Let me ask you with some examples. The relationship that ended suddenly and painfully, the words left unspoken. The feeling of being wronged that you refuse to address. The person or situation that you can’t think of without pain. The identity you refuse to pick up from fear. The ideology you hold onto that is nowhere to be found in scripture, but it continues because “that’s just how it is.”
Are we there yet? Have I stirred something within you? This is not a space where I bring judgment. This is a space I ask you to partner with God. To purge what breaks His heart.
To shake the rotten fruit and dead things that are weighing down the new wine skin given when you became His.
What’s collecting dust in your spirit that you refuse to release? Is there something you stored and collected an abundance of to avoid the calling set upon you? What thoughts have become so oppressive that it feels like there is too much weight to hold it all?
Now let’s just address this very last thing, the most important. Do you trust the garbage man, the people at Goodwill, and the friend who you passed the clutter more easily than God? Why not release the old wine to the one who designed you? You realize this new wine is the purest most delicious thing you will ever consume.
Why not let that anthem be “Fill me up Lord, overflow this wine skin with the well that is you!It’s time to purge. To know Jesus will take that pain no matter how long you have let it fester or how deep you think you’ve buried it. To trust God with the things you are gripping so tight it’s beginning to die.
To let Him renew your mind and unlock chains. To restore a hope that you thought lost. To get to a place where even if pieces of the puzzle are missing, you know that HE stands beside you, and that is enough. Start labeling those spiritual storage bins, and let God clean them out.
~Your sister dancing in the vineyards with arms wide open.
*This post was originally created for Saturated Women of Columbia
Like many who do this blogging thing, I had found myself starting out strong and overly passionate to what I was going to commit and provide.
It happens, we coming flying out the gate, hopes and expectations. Stars in our eyes. This. Is.My.Moment!!
And life happens, and you only get one like, no shares. Disappointment sets in. We get rattled. "Okay Lord, why am I pouring myself into this?" It's for sure not for the random spam entry forms, or the beating myself up because I misspelled something after I hit publish.
Through it all, you still realize the calling. Most of all that God is giving you a voice. And if that voice means you encouraged, or gave hope to one person that day, it was worth it.
It was worth the vulnerability, and transparency.
"But we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession. that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."~ 1 Peter 2:9
I've been blessed to be called into many areas of ministry. Be it the friend, the listener, a wife, mother, student, teacher. Recently it has been writer, pastor, counselor, Changing as I grower deeper with God. Moments of running, and pursing things not meant for me.
There is beauty in the changing and growing. Seeing God work in your life, and give you change in passion and voice.
When I started this blog life was different. So where my passions. Though still there, I have a spark that will not go unheard. So that is where we shift.
As I've walked through cancer, watching my boys grow, learning to live post military life, God has been calling me to something deeper. A ministry that was planted in my heart when I was discipled 10 years ago in a worn Army chapel located in Northern Italy. When someone handed me the keys that began to break chains on who I was in Christ. That freedom of knowing all that God could and would call me to be at any given moment.
So here we are. The place where I share what's given me that freedom. Those truths that I am called when He calls me daughter. That as a women in The Kingdom we have a voice, we are given missions, the "all authority" applies to you as well. So lets honor God together by stepping into being His daughters. Lets dive in the hard places, read His word, and share the heart of discipleship. Where we are, when we feel that tug on our hearts despite what the world says. So lets go, pick up that crown and get ready to make the best kind of trouble.
The Fight of Faith….
Lord when I’m weary
“When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.” Exodus 17:12-13
I want y'all to take a minute, picture the heavy moments of life, the earth shattering moments, the “Lord I’m not going to make it” moments.
Now picture the messengers, the prayer warriors, the life givers, the hope bringers.
Now let me give you a truth, God will put you in, allow situations that are too much, that you will feel weary. But He will never forsake you, not even in those moments.
This beautiful scripture in Exodus is a prime example.If go back in the book of Exodus, this was just one of the many tasks and anointings Moses was given in his relationship with God.
And if we are honest this was probably one of less heavy ones. But God! At the moment of weariness, at the moment of “ God why?!?” He sent help, he sent load bearers, someone to help take up this cross. God didn’t take the assignment away, He sent others to come alongside Moses.
Get. A. Village. Get you some prayer warriors, get you some truth tellers.
All of this are such blessings. I have and am walking through seasons in life where I could not have made it to the other side of the Kingdom mission without my arm lifters.
The ones who bring meals, take kids to school, are on their knees pleading to God on my behalf.
At this point you maybe asking “Denise, where do I start on building this village?”
I can’t give you a perfect formula, but I can give you some insight.
The obvious would be to pray about it. Take some time and right names of people you connect with even on the smallest level.
I also always make it a point to challenge myself to be around those who are nothing like me. We each have something to offer in how God has designed us. Be like minded in Christ, Yes...but our world views are all salted a little differently, and it makes for beautiful flavoring of friendship.
Finally, I seek those that have something I admire. Not in a way that it turns into coveting, but maybe I admire the way she prayers, bakes, or how she has an amazing knack for self care. We are bounded together by learning from on another.
We are reminded over and over again in scripture of communities coming together, surrounding the weakening, providing for one another.
Can I just leave you one more sweet truth? I worry less and surrender to God more when I serve others even in my own pain and trials.
Fight together. Fight in the name of the Kingdom, take up arms and Fight for your sister.
~In God's love, fighting with the village strength of a warrior,
***This work was originally written for a journal of stories for the Saturated Women’s Conference in Columbia, SC
What if I told you that the power Christ gave you, also came with the ability to speak life or death into any situation. I'm not talking nonsense here.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, before the glam and daily preparation, what do you see? What do you say to yourself? If you're anything like the average person, you immediately start to pick yourself apart. Start formulating a plan to live up to that image of yourself you've created. Not of God, but of your own thoughts.
What if you stopped, took a breath, and asked God to show you His view point? I can gaurante without a doubt you would be blown away.
If you want to look at it from another stand point, the world is constantly telling you, who to be and how to be. It’s exhausting.
An heir, beautiful, wonderfully made, gifted, loved, Made in His image. These are all things scripture says about you.
Open your eyes, speak this life over yourself, better still over the ones you love.
We have a chance every day when we open our eyes to view ourselves as beloved.
Most importantly, show me in scripture where it tells us Jesus directs us to tear ourselves down. John never stood in a mirror and counted every dislike about himself. He was busy following Jesus.
Life is fun with a little flare.
But this world will pull you apart till you have nothing nice to say. Imagine the damage it’s doing to your spirit.
Speak Life. Take a breath and let God show you how beautifully you are made.