My One Word for 2015: Follow

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First of all, I want to wish you all a Blessed New Year. If you are hurting right now, I pray your heavy load will be lifted and you will find peace in Jesus! I wish you all loads of love, peace, and joy in 2015!

Looking back over the past year of writing, I have so much to be grateful for. When I read WordPress’ year-end report for 2014, I was awed to see visitors came here from 93 different countries. Thank you all for taking the time to stop in at my site. Whether you commented or not, I hope you have received hope in Jesus. And thank you for caring thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. They have confirmed to me that God wants me to keep on writing here. May I ask you to pray for me? That I will write only with an eye to His glory and not my own?

My One Word for 2014 was TRUST. As we neared the end of another year, I had to ask, “Lord, have I grown at all in trusting You?” Sometimes I think I do trust Him more to be a loving Father with pure intentions, but I have trouble still with placing my whole heart and life in His hands. I remain a work in progress. One day, when I am with Jesus forever, I will finally come to trust completely – no fears, no hesitations, no reservations. What a glorious day that will be!

As 2014 neared its end, my heart struggled to find a word for 2015. What do I want to focus on? What is lacking in my life? And so many words jumbled together in my mind.

Then I woke up on New Year’s Day facing the uncertainties of what 2015 would bring. I prayed that I would follow Jesus, not always try to run ahead of Him. As I discussed this with my husband, he repeated the phrase we love to remind ourselves of – “I don’t need to understand; I just need to hold Your hand.”

Yes! This is what I need throughout the year. To FOLLOW Jesus! To more and more give up my own way and surrender to His way. To cling to His hand, to not let go to find my own paths.

So easily I make my plan and then ask the Lord to bless it instead of waiting quietly at Jesus’ feet to hear what His plan for my life is and then take His hand and follow.

Then Jesus said to His disciples,
“Whoever wants to be My disciple
must deny themselves and
take up their cross and follow Me.”
Matthew 16:24

So what does the word “FOLLOW” mean for me in 2015?

  1. To surrender to God’s plans and let go of mine. I need to let go of my self-made plans and let Jesus direct me according to His plans for me. To trust Him, to cling to His hand, and follow Him in whichever paths He leads me.
  2. To strive for God’s glory, not mine. I want to let go of selfish desires. I often confuse “selfish” with anything I do for myself. But God’s plan is clearly written in His Word that I should take care of myself. I need to search my heart and sort out what selfish really means. Selfish is anything that elevates myself more than God. Specifically, I want to stop striving for approval and validation from people, longing to be recognized and elevated, and to focus on glorifying God in all I do, say, think, or write.
  3. To focus on the cross Jesus carried for me and be willing to follow His footsteps. To be willing to die to myself out of love for Him and for hurting souls. To accept what happens in my life as guided by His hand of love. To believe that no matter what happens, it is meant to prosper me and mold me more into His image and to His glory.
  4. To swallow Truth and spew out lies. Too easily I am led along by negative voices, either from my own insecurity or from the devil who wants to discourage me. I want to follow God’s Truth with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to keep a tight grasp on who I really am in Him.

Do you have a word you’d like to focus on this year? What does it mean for you?

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“You Lead, I’ll Follow”
By Jamie Grace

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Praying we will hang onto Jesus’ hand
and let Him lead us!

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Bonnie – Faith Barista’s Beloved Brews

My People-Pleasing Addiction: I Want It to Stop

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I beg God about what to write, but when He says, “Just be real and don’t hide what you’re struggling with,” I don’t want to accept His answer.

I sit here stuck because I know what He wants me to write, but I don’t have a clue how to say it. Ok, I’ll try…

I’m a people-pleasing addict and I have a daily struggle with it. My life is too much about trying to please others and to control things that are out of my power instead of about being real, being who I am and who God created me to be, accepting who I am and what God has placed upon me.

I stress myself out far too much about hurting and disappointing people and it’s taking its toll on me. I will stretch myself beyond my limitations just to please someone else with no regard to my own health. I worry. I don’t want them to think I don’t care and that they’re not important to me. But the truth is I’m also worried they might love me less, and I drive myself crazy with it. I further terrorize myself with guilt that I’m not trusting their love enough.

“Something has to change,” I tell my husband for the umpteenth time when I again got sick. “I don’t want anyone to feel hurt, disappointed, or unhappy because of me. I’m always trying to please others.”

“But not yourself…” he replies.

But my mind reasons that I should think of others above myself. But I have that all mixed up. I would be thinking more of others if I took care of myself. When I don’t take care of myself, I’m disregarding the feelings of my loved ones who are pained when I get sick. It tears my heart out when any of them suffer, so I should remember how they must feel when I suffer.

My need to please others results in my becoming a bully of myself, and I know in my heart that God does not want that. But I don’t know how to stop it sometimes. Maybe that’s the problem. I keep trying to stop it instead of admitting I can’t stop it myself. I’m always spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Sliding back into that addiction again and again. I need help from a Higher Power, but I’m afraid to release my own power.

As I lay sick again, God whispered, “Just rest, My child, just rest.” Rest physically for my body but also rest in my spirit. Giving all things into His hands. Relinquishing my power to Him. Free-falling over the cliff into fear and uncertainty, trusting He’ll catch me and carry me on.

We all have an addiction in one way or another that punishes ourselves and detrimentally affects our loved ones who care so much. No matter who we are, we can all learn from AA’s Twelve Steps. Based on these steps, let’s search our hearts:

  1. Do we admit we are powerless in ourselves over _____ addiction? Do we admit our lives are unmanageable?
  2. Do we believe a Power greater than ourselves can restore us?
  3. Do we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him?
  4. Will we search our hearts and do a fearless moral inventory of ourselves?
  5. Do we admit to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs?
  6. Are we entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character? (Jesus says in John 5 – “Do you want to get well?”)
  7. Do we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings?
  8. Do we make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all?
  9. Do we make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others? (Amend means to change and make improvements, not just to say I’m sorry.)
  10. Do we continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it?
  11. Do we seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out?
  12. As we have a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, do we try to carry this message to other _____ addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs?

It’s time for us to take care of ourselves as God wants us to. God is for us, but we can be our worst enemy when we’re wrapped up in our addictions. Let’s let go of our own self-sufficiency and fear to trust anyone else and fall into the hands of a God who loves and has our best interests at heart.

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11

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May we relinquish our control to God
Who has the power of love and grace in His hands!
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Opening Our Clenched Fists to God’s Will

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“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

“There was nothing he wanted to pray less than the Gethsemane prayer. But if Christ had needed to take the harder path for some better purpose, who was he to ask for an easier route?” (The Language of Sparrows
by Rachel Phifer)

The Language of Sparrows is a touching tale of the hope that arises when painful secrets are brought to light. The main character is 15-year-old Sierra, but Nick, a teacher with a heart for at-risk teens, plays a major role in her life. Nick, whose students thrive under his unconventional way of teaching, is on thin ice with the principal who demands a  traditional way of teaching. He eventually gets suspended after protecting Sierra. Now he’s at a deep loss as the principal plans to ask the board to terminate him.

How could Nick give up a career that was his life and passion for 15 years?  As he crouched on his knees, he struggled with the Gethsemane prayer – “Thy will be done.” In anguish of heart, he told God He could have his job. “My hands are empty,” he cried as he reached out his hands as if Jesus needed to see how empty they were. But when he looked, all he saw were his closed fists.

Isn’t this a picture of each of us? We say the words, “Thy will be done,” but we still keep our fists tightly closed around what we love. How do we pry open our hands and empty them into the hands of an Almighty God? How do we entrust all we have into His care? How do we let go and let God?

Nick forced his hands open and groaned, “I don’t know how to let go.” He pressed his forehead to the floor  and prayed over and over, “I will submit. By Your grace, I put it all in Your hands,” until his body and soul relaxed in the palms of a capable God. By grace, he submitted to God’s will, imagining putting his job, his relationship with his father, and April (who could not risk her heart to love again) into God’s hands.

Have you ever had to give up something you loved to do? Something you had a passion for? Something you felt called by God to do?

Christ Jesus gave up so much more than we will ever have to. Picture Him giving up His heavenly throne for a stinky stable to suffer in a sinful world, groveling in the garden of Gethsemane with such agony that His sweat was as great drops of blood, and begging the Father to “let this cup pass from Me.” But He submitted to His Father and a way of unspeakable, excruciating pain and suffering. Why? Because He loved us so much that He was willing to take our place. Because of His loving submission, we by grace can learn to unclench our hands and live out the Gethsemane prayer – “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.”