Everyone and Every Role Has Eternal Significance

Three women sitting together outside.

There are no inconsequential roles or people. We all have the capacity to create a lasting, Christ-centered legacy. To be used by God to change lives and communities.

When our daughter was young, I often felt insignificant. I stayed home, spent most of my time changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, cleaning spilled and splattered food off the tile, and tossing the same toys back in the toy box.

Granted, there were countless precious moments I wouldn’t change for anything. But there were times, like when I overheard my husband telling one of his employees to do important things or watched one of the neighbor women pull into their garage dressed all professional and important, that I felt frumpy and … ordinary.

But then one day, I lifted my eyes off of all my insecurities and onto my Savior and diligently sought His will in the middle of the crazy. As I did, a few beautiful things occurred. First, He showed me, every dish washed, tantrum endured, and room tidied could be an act of worship. Second, He helped me see Him–His plans and heart–in my every day and the eternal value of building into a precious young life. Third, He invited me to step outside of my home and to look around and notice others who were feeling insignificant and discouraged. To speak life and joy into other people’s lives.

This perspective shift led to some of the most amazing, eternal conversations, often with strangers; interactions I believe, in faith, God built upon, maybe for generations to come.

I thought of this, and of the capacity for impact we all hold, as I was reading through Acts 16.

In this chapter, we learn about a woman named Lydia whom Paul, an early church planter, encountered and shared the gospel with. Soon after, she welcomed him into her home, and thus, the first Christian church in Europe began.

Here’s what struck me.

First, she was female, during a time when women weren’t often included in religious discussions. Yet Lydia was not only included, but invited to serve alongside one of the most influential men in Christendom.

Second, she lived in a pagan, primarily Roman and Greek city. Residents worshiped many gods, including the emperor who claimed to be “lord and savior.”

Philippi, where Lydia lived, had a nearly nonexistent Jewish population. It was also on a major trade route, and therefore would’ve received a lot of foot traffic in its market.

Of Lydia, Luke says she was a “worshiper of God.” The original word used here was sebomenē, which referred to Gentile Jewish converts.

My question was, how did this Gentile living in a pagan land learn about Yahweh, the One true God?

Most likely not from one of the few Jews in her area. I suspect she learned about God while selling in the market.

Scripture says she sold purple cloth, which, in ancient times, was purchased by the wealthy. I highly doubt the wealthy did their own shopping.

I suspect Lydia learned about Yahweh from a slave who was simply doing his job. Serving his master, receiving no credit or respect. In fact, others likely looked down upon this slave and treated him rather poorly. He may even have assumed his life didn’t matter. I mean, he was just a servant, buying things for his master with his master’s money.

But this slave, whomever he or she was, became the catalyst to the first church in Europe, as did Lydia, a woman who spent most of her time selling cloth.

All that to say, you’re life matters, whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re at, God has background color splash with words pulled from post.aplan for you. He has someone for you to show love to. Someone for you to encourage. Someone who needs hope and the light of Christ to pierce through their darkness.

No one, and no role, is inconsequential because we belong to an intentional, miracle worker, grace-revealing, life-transforming God

Who might God be calling you to love on today?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

And if you haven’t done so, join Wholly Loved’s Facebook group, a safe, grace-filled place where you can connect with other women seeking to grow in Christ, ask questions and share struggles and celebrations.

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Discovering Who God Created Us to Be

Woman in hat smiling

Our purpose, infused into our hearts before we took our first breath, is universal and will never change–to know God and make Him known. How we express that purpose, however, is unique to all of us. We’ll never truly feel fulfilled until we discover and live out who Christ created us to be. My guest today, author and blogger Robin E. Mason, shares how this has proven true in her life.

What’s in Your Heart

By Robin E. Mason

“What’s wrong with me?”

I asked God that question more than twenty years ago. I had no sense of purpose or identity.

“Sit down.” I could imagine Him answering me. “This is going to take a while.”

And it did. An emotionally excruciating and physically exhausting three years of counseling. I “happened” to choose that spring to work in the yard. And as I dug up rocks to make way for daisies, I felt like the same thing was happening in my soul; God was digging and uprooting years and layers of lies that had burrowed deep in my heart.

Years, a lifetime really, of hearing “You could have done better,” had translated into nothing I did was good enough. The most staggering statement was, “You’re nothing but a failure.” Even though I knew better intellectually, it didn’t even faze me; it was the summation of what I had accepted all my life.

I grew up believing the Bible was absolute Truth. The Bible says I’m to have an “abundant” life. But mine didn’t fit that at all. I suffered depression, worked at jobs that didn’t satisfy me. Believing lies will do that. And no matter how hard I fought to be “better,” I never was.

I was a single mom and I worked to provide for my children. I did what I had to do. The problem was fighting to measure up to someone else’s standard for me, and not Father God’s design.

In a particular counseling session, my pastor held his hands out, cupped as though he held a grapefruit in each. One hand, he said, was Bible Truth. In the other were the lies I had believed. He put one hand on top of the other; the lies say this. Then he switched hands. But the Bible says. He repeated this a few times, and it registered in my broken mind. That was twenty-three years ago.

Long before I asked that fateful question, Father God had been laying groundwork to bring me to that point of recognizing the disparity between my life and His plan. And I’ve watched in the years since then as He unfolds one mercy after another—so that I like myself now, and I can say without vanity that I’m a pretty cool gal! And fun to be around!

Which brings me to my writing. Stories have always been in my head. But I was pushed in other directions, pressure to be something I’m not—someone else’s ideal of success. The stories were there; I just didn’t know I was meant to write them. But as I was struggling through the anguish of counseling I began writing—almost as a Divine form of therapy.

And for all I’ve put my hands to over the years—the temp assignments, jobs that were just awful, so many I’ve lost count—nothing has “fit” like my writing. Once I got swept up in that first storyline, I knew. This was, and is, and has always been, that desire of my heart. The words. They speak to me. They reach into me. Whether fiction or His Word.

What’s in my heart? Stories that speak to the sense of identity. Stories that help others know who they are, and to embrace and live in that knowledge. Stories that reach into the heart of others, who, like me, don’t know and aren’t living the life God intended.

Take a look inside your heart. What secret dreams are hidden in your there? How can you begin the journey to live in the fullness of Father God’s plan and purpose for you?

Get to Know Robin!

Robin's author photoMs. Mason writes stories of identity conflict. Her characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, her stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. “I know, I write from experience.”

Ms. Mason has seven novels, Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy, in the unsavory heritage series, and The Long Shadows of Summer, The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, The Silent Song of Winter, and The Whispering Winds of Spring in her Seasons series. All of Ms. Mason’s books are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She is working on a on One for the Price of Two, the first story in her new series, FourSquare, to release next year.

Visit her online HERE.

Check out her new cover of her debut novel, Tessa:

When you pretend to be something you’re not, it always finds you out.

One mother. Two daughters. One favorite. One not.

When Cassie Barclay is presented with an opportunity – or is it a curse – she jumpsCover image for Tessa at the chance. She takes on a new life, her sister’s life, and although at first, it holds appeal and promise, she soon realizes sometimes the fairy tale is tainted.

Staying True to Your Purpose

johnstudy1

Do you ever feel like God is calling you to do things that guarantee you to a life of obscurity? Financial struggle? Does it feel like His call–to die to yourself, to do what’s right whenever everyone else is conniving to get ahead–places you at a disadvantage?

Many of us know intellectually that God’s way is best and that serving Him in whatever capacity truly will be the most fulfilling thing we could ever do, so what keeps us from resting in that?

profileTempted: When the World Fights Against Your Purpose

Julie Arduini

I’m so thankful to be part of Jennifer Slattery’s study on John the Baptist. He’s an inspiring person to me because he had a pioneer spirit, something I can relate to. When I’ve been mentored, the Biblical example given to me was John the Baptist. The hard part? He was beheaded.

His death wasn’t fair. Not the manner in which it was executed, not the frivolous way it was ordered. But his life exemplified what the royal court couldn’t comprehend—he stood strong against temptation and stayed obedient to the call on his life.

That encourages me. As an author and speaker passionate about encouraging others to find freedom through surrender in Christ, the world’s chaos sometimes overwhelms me . Most of my work is through writing, and I create contemporary romances so readers can find hope and encouragement in their reading. I enjoy putting flawed characters together and, through surrender and faith in Christ, transform them.

This year I took an even bigger step of faith and created my own imprint. I re-published my first contemporary romance, ENTRUSTED, and published the sequel, ENTANGLED. I poured 16 hour days into formatting, creating book covers, and watching videos to learn everything. I made myself sick from not drinking enough nor sleeping well. When the books released, I had such a sense of accomplishment.

Then the temptation kicked in.

After the books were active on Amazon, I needed to continue to promote them. As I did, I noticed that other romances, the kind that mirrored Fifty Shades of Grey that would turn me 100 shades of red, got a lot of attention.

traffic-sign-416439_1920And sales.

I can’t even look at the covers but I’d see the hundreds of stars next to reviews or the bestseller status. Me? I’m trying to get readers to know my work exists, let alone have anyone buy enough to make any splash in the world as an author.

Slowly, the sneaky thoughts dropped in.

All the attention is on ero*-ick!-a.

Who cares about clean romances with a message of hope?

Do you know how piddly your royalties are compared to the others?

You could write under a false name and no one will know.

I’d love to tell you that I immediately cast those thoughts away in the name of my Best Friend, but no, I entertained them. I thought about money I’m not making against time I’ve spent. It didn’t seem fair when the “other” writers were doing so well.

That’s when it hit me.

John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, physically and spiritually. He didn’t cater to anyone. He let Herod know his marriage to Herodias was wrong because she was basically his sister-in-law. Telling the truth, doing the right thing, was his death sentence.

And his legacy.

I resolved to do the same. The moment I confessed my tempting thoughts to Jesus and focused on staying true to God’s call, I had peace. Did everything change? Not quickly. My royalties are still small, especially against time spent. But I’m starting to see favor. People are starting to find me that aren’t related or friends. They are leaving reviews, strong ones that speak louder than any promoting I could do.

John the Baptist was a strange man by the world’s standards, but he was obedient to the end. This pioneer is encouraged by his testimony. I hope you are, too.

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Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and follow her on Amazon.

entangled2_editedEntangledSurrendering the Past

Book #2, Surrendering Time Series

“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.”

Carla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son’s father is back in their lives.

Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He’s the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will’s ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He’s bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.

Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?

Buy it HERE. Buy book one HERE

 

 

Let’s talk about this. We all have a purpose, a role God has assigned specifically for us–one we are uniquely able to fulfill. From the time we are born until the time He takes us home, He is lovingly and patiently molding and equipping us to fulfill that role. But in our comparison-based and social-media saturated culture, it’s easy to allow the noise all around us obscure or even devalue our purpose. When that happens, we can begin to feel defeated and insignificant.

It’s really a matter of focus. When defining ourselves, evaluating our to-do lists and accomplishments, and prioritizing our time, who will we listen to, our rapidly imploding culture or that gentle yet steady voice of our Savior that guides us toward His very best.

The choice is ours.

At Wholly Loved Ministries, we want to help you zero in on God’s voice and learn to clearly discern His will, because we know none of us will find fulfillment until we are doing that which we were created to do. Join us for one of our upcoming conferences.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this! I think we all face struggles similar to what Julie expressed. I have to believe John did for sure. He was an amazing man of God, but he was also human. What do you think helped him to remain so steadfast to his calling? Have you felt God call you to something difficult, and if so, how did you respond? What do you think we can do, in the day-to-day, to tune out all the cultural noise and stifle our tendency to compare ourselves and our lives with one another so we can focus fully on God’s will for us?Share your thoughts in the comments below, at Living by Grace on Facebook, or in our online For the Love Bible study, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

 

Unpack Your Talents

“To not use a talent to the best of your ability is to stifle the thing that makes you most special. It is like plucking the wings off a butterfly.” ~Fennel Hudson, A Writer’s Year — Fennel’s Journal, No. 3

VanessaI met Vanessa Fortenberry at last year’s Catch the Wave Christian Writers Conference in Atlanta. As one of the presenters, she shared a devotion I found so encouraging, the moment the main session completed, I made a beeline for her, and having barely made self-introductions, blurted out, “Would you be willing to share the message you just gave with my blog readers?”

She said yes and here we are. She is such a lovely woman of Christ, I know you’ll be as blessed by her insight as I was, and am.

Unpacking Your Talents by Vanessa Fortenberry  

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving

one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 NASB). 

A few years ago, I received an email message from a former chorus student I taught in elementary school some 14 years previously. In college and pursuing a career in music as a singer/songwriter, this young woman took the time to thank me for instilling in her a foundation and love of music.

Grateful for this young woman’s message, I felt compelled to give all the glory and praise to God. Through God’s grace, He

Photo by PublicDomainPictures taken from pixabay.com

Photo by PublicDomainPictures taken from pixabay.com

afforded me the talents to inspire and serve this young woman and I hope countless other students. Matthew 25:15 says God gives us all talents or gifts according to our ability.

Fennel Hudson from A Writer’s YearFennel’s Journal – No. 3 is quoted as saying, “To not use a talent to the best of your ability is to stifle the thing that makes you most special. It is like plucking the wings off a butterfly.”

What special gifts do you possess? Perhaps, you are guilty of plucking the wings off a butterfly, as Fennel Hudson stated. On the other hand, you may feel you have no unique gifts to offer. In reality, we all possess a natural aptitude or skill or the ability to do something well. Once we recognize these abilities or talents, it is essential for us to plant the seeds, toil them, nurture them, and most vital, to harvest the fruits of our labor.

To start, what does your behavior say about your confidence level regarding your talents and abilities? Do you question your abilities? Maybe, you believe you lack the needed skills to accomplish your dreams. Let go of negative attitudes and study your craft (or calling) to enhance your skills. Often times, we do not generate enough effort into improving our talents. Move forward, nurture and grow your God given talents today. The gift is yours! However, it takes determination, diligence, dedication, and self-discipline to develop your gifts. No matter your talent: homemaker, musician, writer, artist, actor, chef, baker, secretary, teacher, preacher, doctor, nurse, entertainer, salesperson, etc., commit yourself to do whatever it takes and for however long it takes to reach your desired goals.

When utilizing our talents, God considers us good stewards. In addition, God wants us to give Him praise for our gifts. He also wants us to serve Him, but not through our own accord; rather with the strength supplied by Him. (1 Peter 4:11) Furthermore, we should know one thing about our abilities and our gifts; they are not for us! God so graciously gave us these gifts to serve others.

Unpack your talents today to serve others and to glorify God and serve Him!

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’” ~ Emma Bombeck

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An inspirational author and speaker, Vanessa Fortenberry penned the children’s verse story, Mama, I Want to See God. Vanessa is also a contributor to the book, Relief Notes: Encouraging Letters for Tough Times written by the Christian Authors Guild. She also writes, “Connecting Readers to the Word,” a monthly e-newsletter. Vanessa savors the moments she spends with her family and friends. She is most relaxed when in her kitchen baking delicious desserts for her loved ones. You can visit her at www.vanessafortenberry.com, Twitter, or Facebook.

CoverHer book, Mama, I Want to See God:

Wanting to connect more with God, a child asks his mother countless questions in this rhyming verse book. In answer, the mother’s tender and patient responses model God’s love. At the story’s end, Mother has answered all of the questions, allowing the child a true connection with God.

Buy it HERE!

 

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. When was the last time you paused to pray about your unique gifting and passions and how God might want to use them to further His kingdom? Are you doing that? Are you using every gift God has given you to its maximum capacity? Are you intentionally developing that gift? Where might God want to take you, in regard to your gifting or calling, in the next year? With 2015 coming to an end, now’s a great time to prayerfully plan 2016. Share your thoughts, dreams, and experiences with us here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook, because we can all learn from each other!

Focusing on and Living Your Purpose

Created a new verse picKnowing why we are here changes everything… if that reason is true, valid, and big enough to carry all the muck. I was thinking about this very thing yesterday, as I pushed through some physical challenges. Thinking how all this gunk, (and we’ve all got our gunk) would feel utterly pointless and defeating, if not for my mission in Christ.

Knowing–and living–our purpose changes everything. Today my sweet friend and Author photoone of my most cherished critique partners Marji Lane shares her thoughts on this liberating and life-infusing subject this morning.

The Purpose of Our Lives by Marji Lane

I saw a tweet the other day that apparently quoted the Dali Lama. According to the tweeter, the purpose of our lives is to be happy.

Really? What a self-absorbed, empty life that is. It’s all about me being happy. That means whatever it takes to make ME happy, that’s what I should do because my purpose is to enjoy happiness.

Yikes. No wonder folks are so messed up.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know wrong ones when I see them. I don’t care how often-quoted or sincere a person is; wrong is just wrong.

Purpose for our lives goes back to creation. Why were humans made in the first place?

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” Genesis 1:26. And in the third chapter, in the midst of the first sin, the man and the woman “heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day …. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

Sounds like Adam and Eve had a habit of walking with God in the cool of the evening. So much so, that when they weren’t there, He called out to them. (Not that He didn’t know what was going on.) All this leads me to believe they were created to be the Lord’s companions. That identifies where I should be putting my effort now.

I need to make sure I cultivate that ongoing relationship with my Heavenly Father.Draw Near verse pic

In addition, Christ gave instruction to share the good news of His gift of eternal life. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” Matthew 28:19.

Another purpose for my being here is to share the amazing love and grace of the Father, the sacrifice of Christ, and the good news of our adoption into God’s family. I find this purpose difficult to act on. I’m not naturally an evangelist – I don’t have that gift of the Spirit. Yet, regardless of how comfortable I feel doing it, I am still called to share.

I do have one other purpose, one that falls more fully into my forte. Whereas I don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism, I do have the gift of exhortation. The apostle Paul, through the Holy Spirit’s prompting, urges us to encourage one another in Christ and build up His Body, the Church. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) I am called to find ways to support other believers, to strengthen them as they act in accord with the Lord’s work and will. My words need to be full of grace and love, with the intent to renew the spirits of my brothers and sisters. Especially when they are struggling for the cause of Christ.

This certainly gives more depth and satisfaction than to simply “be happy.” And all of my actions should fulfill my purposes.

  • Learn about the Father through scripture and spend time with Him in prayer, listening to the Spirit’s urging to follow as closely to Him as I can.
  • Sharing the truth that I’ve learned with hurting people who desperately need to know of the hope and love they can have through Christ’s sacrifice.
  • Encouraging other believers with my words and actions—”Speak to one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Ephesians 5:19—in order to strengthen the body of Christ.

Looking at these in a nutshell, I see I’m not in the center of any of them. My desires are focused on others and on the Lord. That type of focus brings true satisfaction and joy. Especially when the quest for joy isn’t the point of what I’m doing.

Your turn: How do you define your purpose?

Marji Laine is a homeschooling mom with teenage twins left in the nest. An independent author with her debut novel, GRIME BEAT, just released, she spends her non-writing times transporting to and from volleyball, teaching writing classes at a local coop, and directing the children’s music program at her church. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

imgresGrime Beat:

Her best friend missing, every cell in Dani Foster’s body screams something is wrong.

Crime scene cleaning is the perfect job for relocated Dani Foster. But her orders to maintain a low profile and stay out of trouble mean little when her friend goes missing. Suspicions point to the handsome crime scene specialist, Jay Hunter, but he’s also the only person willing to help Dani. Dare she trust him even when lies seem to surround him?

Dani amuses Jay. Her penchant for speaking and acting without regard to the consequences land her in the funniest situations. But her latest moves have thrust her into serious danger. As he learns more about her circumstances, the stakes rise until her very life is on the line. He has no time or inclination for romance, but this girl needs him, and she seems to have no one else. How can he turn his back?

This is the first episode of this Christian Mystery and Romance series set in Dallas, Texas. Dani’s troubles and Jay’s attraction are only just beginning!

Buy it HERE!

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Have you discovered your purpose? The reason you’re here? Are you living it? What things tend to distract you from living out your purpose? What activities or verses help you to remain diligent and focused on your purpose? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And before you go… have you signed up for my (and 7 other authors) free quarterly newsletter? If not, wanna? You’ll receive free serial story segments, recipes, devotions, and more!

(Check out our last edition HERE!)

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Must We Love Ourselves to Love Others?

loveLove. Such a confusing, abstract emotion. It’s something we “fall into” and “out of”,  something we chase after…

There’s a notion that says “You must love yourself in order to love others.”

Is this true? Biblical?

I’m no theologian, but I can’t locate a verse that says this. In fact, again and again, God tells us to take the position of a servant, and to honor others above ourselves.

To die to ourselves so we can live for God.

It’s hard to die to something you love.

Perhaps biblical love isn’t so much an emotion as it is an action.

Consider 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

For you see, emotions wane. Therefore, true love must be a choice and an action, the moment-by-moment discipline of laying ourselves aside so that God can love others through us.

The Bible says we love because God first loved us. Therefore, our love comes not from us but from Him. It is when we completely surrender ourselves to God that we are fulfilled. That is when we begin to live lives of passion and purpose, of courage and impact.

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Learning to love is receiving and giving the love only God can give.

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Consider insecurity and fear of rejection and all those negative emotions that supposedly stem from a lack of self-love. What if the opposite is true? What if those emotions stem from love of self and a desire to protect self.
We protect that which we love.

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But when we die to ourselves, there is but one focus, what God would do throughAshleywithElSalvadororphan us. 

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And that is the most freeing occurrence we can experience.

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Let me provide an example. I have a less than glamorous past, and for years, I vehemently longed to hide that past. This fear kept me from embracing God’s call to write for many years. I told Him again and again, “I’ll only write if you protect me from exposure.”

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I’m sure you can imagine God’s response. He knew His grace is best seen when revealed through an imperfect sinner.

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But still I fought Him. I was afraid to tell my story for fear of what others would think and for fear of losing friends. Until I started hanging out with at risk teens and the homeless. Suddenly, I wanted for them to see Jesus and what He could do so badly, I no longer cared about embarrassing or shaming myself. My fear and insecurity went away because I found something more important–the saving of another life.

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The results were glorious, inspiring, fulfilling, because the more I died to myself and lived for God, the more I experienced His all-consuming love pour through me.

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You cannot be fearful, prideful, envious, and insecure when God’s Spirit invades your core. It’s impossible.

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So what does this all mean?

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1. If you want to experience an abundant, joy-filled, peace-saturated life, ask God to help you die to yourself–your fears, desires, pride, insecurities. All of it. Then ask Him to replace those things with His all-consuming love as you follow after Him with surrendered obedience.

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2. Parents, if you want your children to rise above the toxicity of their clique-infested schools, if you want for them to grab hold of a purpose that will propel them forward with a God-given passion, teach them to see others through God-sized lenses and to get involved in His mission. Then sit back and watch them thrive.

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livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Looking back on your journey, when have you felt most fulfilled? What do you think of my take on love? Consider a time when you’ve felt God’s love coursing through you. What were you doing? What did His love motivate you to do?
Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Livng by Grace on Facebook.

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And congrats to Lillianne Kohler! You won a copy of Cara Putman’s novel, Shadowed by Grace! I’ll be contacting you soon to get that book to you.

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Other posts you might enjoy:

What’s Next???

About two years ago, while listening to a radio program on empty-nesting, it hit me–my husband and I only had five years before our daughter left for college. Five years to ground her in faith, five years to train responsibility, diligence, and all those other necessary traits she’ll need to succeed as an adult.

Five years to sit with her on the couch listening to her retell her day’s events.

And now we have three. It’s frightening and exciting. I dream of who she might become yet cling to the baby-girl she once was. Oy, no wonder we moms struggle with empty nesting! Parenting is a tough, beyond-full-time job. With all we must do on a daily basis from our child’s birth to college launch, it’s easy to lose sight of who we are. How can we find purpose when our primary role–the one that’s occupied the majority of our time for 18 years–changes?

I’m not there yet, so I can’t really speak with authority on this subject, but my friend, Eileen Rife, author of Second Chance, can. Today, she wants to help moms like me embrace each phase of our lives with hope, purpose, and vigor. (And she’s giving away a free copy of her novel! Woo-hoo! Details included at the end of this post.)

Three Ways to Prepare for Empty-nesting by Eileen Rife

Transitions in life require adjustment. Never is that more true than when the last child leaves home. Often parents, especially moms, wonder, Are my best days over? What’s next for me?

These are good questions that can lead to action steps. So, what can you do to prepare for the empty nest?

Foster a healthy, growing relationship with your husband.

This is vital, so that when you enter the empty nest season, you won’t be sitting across the table from your husband, thinking, Who is this guy? Investing in your marriage now will pay off down the road. I encourage couples to pencil in a weekly date night on the calendar, even if it simply means putting the kids to bed early and sitting on the sofa together with a bowl of popcorn.

My new release Second Chance highlights this throughout the story as Mave moves from suspicion about her husband, Jerry, to determination to love him. This tension plays out in often humorous ways, and one of them involves popcorn!

Develop a friendship with two or three trusted women.

Allow these gals to speak into your life as you grow older. In Second Chance, Mave doesn’t always appreciate what her friend, Trish, has to share. In fact, at times she’s downright jealous of the woman. But when all’s said and done, she respects her and values her input.

Know that God has a purpose for you in every season of life.

Begin now to foster your own interests apart from your family. Mine is writing, and the Lord has used this platform in my life to do what He’s put in my heart: Share His love and forgiveness with others. You may have to search for your purpose, but it’s there—some cause or people group that you’re passionate about. Mave discovers her purpose unexpectedly, but she then takes steps to pursue fulfilling that purpose.

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Eileen Rife is the author of Second Chance, the poignant story of middle age, surprising friendships, and unexpected places. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the States and overseas. http://www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com, www.guardyourmarriage.com

Eileen’s giving away a copy of her latest release, Second Chance. There are five ways to be entered into the drawing. Leave a comment, join our discussion on Living by Grace, share this post on FB, tweet this link, or subscribe to this blog. Do all five and you’ll be entered five times. 🙂 But remember to let me know if you FB share or tweet this link.

Let’s talk about this!

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about finding ourselves beneath our many hats.

Second Chances

Mave wants the life back in her marriage. Dareece just wants a life. Could they be the answer to each other’s dream? Mave Robertson, a recent empty nester, wants the fire back in her marriage, but her husband, Jerry, remains aloof. Is he having an affair? A midlife crisis? When a neighbor suggests she “get a life,” Mave accepts the challenge and volunteers at an inner-city teen ministry where she is thrown into a culture of drugs, gangs, and unwed teen moms. She soon discovers someone she can help, but might he also be the cure for both her stale marriage and her crumbling relationship with her father? Dareece Jackson, a teen from the projects, wants something in Mave’s purse…and he’ll stop at nothing to get it. A poignant story of middle age, surprising friendships, and unexpected places. Includes Bonus Feature: The 21-Day Romance Challenge.

“Gently unfolds the truth that sometimes the best is yet to come, from unexpected people, and places, and hearts.”-Sandra Byrd, author of To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.

“Transcends race and reaches the extremes-from suburbia to the ghetto, from guilt over a loved one’s murder to a marriage gone dull. With a dash of humor for balance, Second Chance will speak to your heart, no matter your station in life.”-April W. Gardner, author of the Creek Country Saga; Sr. Editor of the literary site, Clash of the Titles.

“Transports readers into the worlds of two very diverse characters. With laughter, tears, and sighs, you’ll enjoy every turn of the page.”-Fay Lamb, author of Because of Me, Treble Heart Books.

“Approaches real-life issues with the gritty realism needed in today’s market. Refreshing and thought-provoking.”-Jennifer Slattery of Novel Reviews and Clash of the Titles.

“Lovingly crafted imagery and dialog will carry you into the lives of two families and show you what forgiveness really looks like.”-Lisa Lickel, author of Meander Scar.

More Resources:

Guideposts: Finding Hope in an Empty Nest

Empty Nest: Moms of Faith