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I THANK GOD FOR YOU!

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I recently ran across a letter I wrote to our daughter Danielle a few days after she entered rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, 3 years ago. It’s not very pleasant; in fact it is pretty painful thinking back to that time.

The letter reads:

11-19-14 Wednesday – Day 2

Danielle,

I love you my girl. Dad read me the letter he wrote you, so I know he told you about my tears as we left you at The Arbor... and my convo with our dear friends, the Evans, last night. The entire family really does adore you and KNOWS God has a good plan in store for your life! They would love to have you anytime, if God leads you in that direction.

Today, I woke up, and in regular fashion, turned over in bed and began thanking God for the things I DO have. On that list was: “I thank you God that I do have a daughter who loves you, who loves her family, who loves others deeply, and who desires to get well.”

I DO thank God he blessed me with you as my daughter.

Then I had a whole group of women come over and decorate our home for Christmas. It was bitter – sweet... putting up yours and Caleb’s stockings was hard, since neither of you will be here this year. But once again I stopped and thanked God that I will get to celebrate an eternity of Christmases with Caleb; and am grateful for you and your willingness to do the hard work you are doing, to get the tools you will need to live your life with success for the rest of your life; and prayerfully there will be many more Christmases to celebrate together.

My emotions have been a bit all over the place because I haven’t had much time to process since Shine, and the whirlwind of activity getting you ready to go to the Arbor, dad coming home from Africa, decorating for Christmas... but I will get to chill a little in these next few days so I know I’ll be fine. We have walked through a lot in these last few years... I am learning to trust God more and more, no matter what, even when I don’t understand or like what is taking place.

What I DO know, is that God is a redeeming God and ALL we walk through has a purpose. And when we place the crap we’re walking through in his hands – he has a magnificent way of making something beautiful out of it.

I know our stories are not the same in any way but I do look forward to processing with you because there are things I think I can relate to.  And I know God allowed me to be your mother and you to be my daughter for a reason.  I am looking forward to discovering those reasons together.

I thank God for YOU!

With so much love, MOM

Life seems to unfold a bit imperfectly... However, the imperfect allows our hearts to express gratitude to God for his faithfulness to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) And to fully accept & love those God has placed in our lives. (Romans 15:7)

Danielle has now been sober 3 years and leads Celebrate Recovery for young people. I love that girl!

This Thanksgiving season, regardless of what state your relationships are in, no matter who is near or far, take a few moments and thank God for these precious ones who are Heaven sent gifts! And may I strongly urge you to thank them as well! It will melt pain and bring fresh life to hearts longing to be held.

Philippians 1:3 – I thank my God every time I remember you.

-Laura

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Secure

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Imagine with me, if you will, that you are a young woman, engaged to be married to the man of your dreams. Wedding plans are in motion. You have the most amazing dress picked out. All of your family is excitedly talking about coming together to celebrate you and cheer you on as you step into your future, and then… WHAM! An angel of God appears out of nowhere and tells you,

“Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you” (Luke 1:28, MSG).

At this point, I imagine you’d probably be feeling a little complimented and at the same time, a little thrown off your game. Perhaps you’d even feel slightly frightened and more than a wee bit curious.

Let’s play this scenario out a little farther. The angel continues speaking to you, and the next thing he says is,  

“You have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:29-33).

Surprise!! You’ve never even been with your husband, or any other man, and you’re going to have a baby!! How would you respond? How would you feel?

After the shock, my first thought might be concern for what my fiancé would think. I’d likely ask myself what the family would think. I’d wonder if I was even going to fit into that dress. And what, I’d ponder, would people say about me?

What a difficult situation to navigate through.

This is exactly the situation Mary found herself in before Jesus was born. Her response is a golden reminder to us of what it looks like to walk in the security that can only be found in our relationship with God regardless of our circumstances. In Luke 1:38 a, she said,

“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true”

Mary modeled a sense of security based on her personal relationship with God and her trust in his character.  Like Mary, we too can walk in confidence regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, the status of our emotions, or the opinions or accomplishments of the people around us. Security in Christ comes as we recognize and internalize that we are God’s beloved daughters. We are the apples of his eye. And he is head over heels in love with us. That love chases all our fears away as 1 John 4:18 (AMPC) says,

“There is no fear in love…but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!”

Beloved, my prayer for you is that you will live securely anchored in God’s love for you. May you head out each day with your head held high. Knowing he is with you. He is for you. He is on your side, and every promise available in Christ is yes and amen for your life!

Let’s take a look at living anchored securely in Christ:

1.     Read the account of Mary’s story in Luke 1. What stands out to you most about Mary’s confidence in God and trust in his plans for her life?

2.     In what areas do you find it difficult for your sense of security to stem from your position of being anchored in Christ rather than what others think of you?

For further reflection:

1.     This week make a plan to do something that you have to totally rely on God to do and will get you one step closer to being more secure in Christ, more free, more confident.

2.     Take 30 minutes of self-care time; put on your favorite, fun worship song in your living room or bedroom (somewhere private). Dance with Jesus and feel another level of freedom and security in HIM. Dance with HIM and for HIM; no one is watching! Get your journal out and write down the transformation that came forth in your heart and mind. Remember that moment when you feel insecurity trying to creep in your life. Remember how Jesus has made you not only free in HIM, but SECURE in HIM.

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Significant

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We are hardwired with a longing to rule and reign and take dominion, to lead, to build, and with a desire to make a lasting impact with our lives. These are good, God given things, but our lives get slightly wacky when we seek to fill those innate desires in unhealthy ways.

Women throughout time have fought this battle for significance. Women like Eve, who had everything she could possibly desire and yet, when tempted, still chose to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden. Women like Sarai, who were on the receiving end of a promise from God, yet took matters into her own hands with her maidservant Hagar to get ahead of God’s plan. In so doing, a child entered into the world who wasn’t heir to the promise and a whole host of struggles followed suit. Women like Esther who was whisked away to royalty and could have placed her identity in her title, her beauty and the beauty of her surroundings, and yet was called to possibly lay it all down by risking her own life to bravely save her people. Women like Leah, who was less loved than her sister, Rachel, and given to her husband in marriage by trickery from her Father. And Rachel, the more loved of the two was desired by Jacob, the husband she shared with her sister, but she struggled with an inability to bear children while her sister popped them out like Pez candies.

I don’t know about you, but I can relate. No matter how much we achieve and attain or how far we go in life it seems that search for more is always there. If we are not seeking to fulfill that longing to feel like we matter and make a difference by finding our identities in Christ alone, then we are sure to seek it out in something else. And this world is full of things vying to deliver what only staying connected to God can. John 15:5 reminds us there is only one sure way to live lives that impact this world greatly. Jesus himself spoke these words:

"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing.”

That longing we have in our hearts for significance is a wiring only working from a place of staying connected to Christ can fulfill. When we live joined with him, anchored as His Beloved, we experience abundant lives. Separated, we can’t produce anything of lasting value. Let’s put our anchors down deep in his love for us and trust him to work in and through us to live impactful lives!

Let’s dig deeper into this battle for significance:

  1. Where are you tempted to find your identity?
  2. What around you is most tempting when it comes to taking matters into your own hands in order to feel significant?
  3. What makes you feel threatened on your journey to living a significant life?
  4. As a child, did you feel significant in your family? What words were spoken over you then and how does that shape your understanding of your significance now and the way you seek to fulfill that need in your life today.

For further reflection:

Read the stories of Eve (Genesis 2 & 3), Sarai (whose name was later changed to Sarah) (Genesis 15, 16, & 17), Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29 & 30). For each reading, write out in your journal your thoughts on their personal struggles to find significance. How do you see yourself in their stories? How might you have done things differently? How does seeing God’s redemptive love woven through out give you hope that even if you have made mistakes, he can redeem it? Lastly, ask God to show you from these readings any areas you might need to make adjustments in, in order to stay living from a place of being anchored in him.

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It Happened Again

It happened again... that instant heart to heart connection with our Polish friends of over 10 years, as we arrived in my motherland. I was trying to figure out why I experienced an immediate feeling of, “Ahhh, I’m with family”. In that moment I couldn’t explain it; it was just there.

Why? How could this happen with people who live half way across the earth from one another, who don’t speak the same language, and don’t communicate or see each other very often? I don’t know, but it did. It never takes long for me and Asia, to pick up where we left off, talk (unfortunately through an interpreter whom you pray is interpreting correctly) about everything from kids, to hormones, to church life and crazy husband stories.

We laugh. We cry. We understand.

Right then, I recognized that I am a part of a much bigger space in time... a part of the divine... I am part of a very holy encounter. Tears fill my eyes, “God, please help me encourage your beloved daughters to press onward in your strength. Join our hearts in such a way that your plan is accomplished.

Use me Jesus.

Speak through Rob as he trains these pastors. Give us sweet moments together each day. Let your kingdom come in this land so desperate for your revolutionary grace. Help our friends know they are a part of history in the making... of your heavenly descent upon Poland.”

My heart was yearning to know what this thing that happened again is.

While we were there, Shoreline Poland fiercely served their nation with two conferences in two days that would make your head spin, with the amount of time, energy and excellence they sacrificially gave to see them come to pass.

The pastors’ conference was incomparable. I have never seen my husband so on point... speaking words, like apples of gold in settings of silver... like an arrow hitting a bulls eye. His authenticity and wisdom was a deep nourishing meal to the leadership soul of these brave pioneers in their land. I could see light bulbs going off in their minds, hope filling their hearts, ideas stirring within. These pastors were cheering each other on like never before. I knew Poland would never be the same.

SHINE – well it was simply drenched with beauty from beginning to end... fantastic worship, teaching and preaching... elements of humor, surprise, and gifts... yummy food, photo ops, shopping, parties and of course confetti. Girls are so much fun!!

And God...

who can grasp his ways? He once again opened the eyes of his daughters to understand how valuable and powerful they are. We reached out to him with unfiltered devotion. Girls were hugging, giggling, weeping, celebrating and enjoying each other. The day was pure wonder.

Then came Sunday and there it was again – that same glorious connection with these wonderful people. We may as well have been in Austin, in our church building. There was a commonality, a comfortability. We lifted our voices in adoration to God together. I applauded them for all they are doing to plow forward in the midst of a nation that is blind to true relationship with Jesus. I expressed the joy we feel just getting to be with them. And again Rob shared with passion and clarity a message of grace, hope and change. Lives were touched, healed & saved. Afterwards, we talked strategy and enjoyed a sweet time of food and fellowship. Then it was time to pack up & say our goodbyes...

I didn’t want to go.

Back at the hotel the tears fell once again... for a good while.

What is it – this thing that keeps happening again and again?

What is this feeling of family... of deep connection... of the divine?

It could only be one thing.

It was love.

Love happened again.

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