I was recently asked to write an article for Share Her Story. This is a website that was created by a group of incredible women, to express through the extraordinary stories of regular women, how incredibly loved and valued they are. Please take time to go check out my latest piece, “Overriding My Passion.” Also, check out and like the new Facebook page for Straighten My Crown! I look forward to discussing it! Love you guys!
In studying Paul’s Prison Epistles, the one concept that impacted me the most was actually something I had heard multiple times, but had never grasped the magnitude of it. In one of the articles I used in my research, the author lists “7 Principles to Lead as Jesus Led”. Seeing this title, I immediately thought, “oh, this is for me!” He pulled from examples throughout the New Testament for each principle. But the one principle that captivated me the most and quite frankly took my breath away, was his first principle listed. “Jesus humbled himself and allowed God to exalt him.” That one statement, though simply put, holds so much extraordinary power behind it. Then he followed with an explanation from Philippians 2:5-11, and reading both the ESV and Message version, I continued to be blown away at this thought.
The Message version of the Bible challenges us to “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.” Think about that for a second. Is that something we can even begin to comprehend? To be honest, I think some of us are narcissistic enough to think we could grasp the depth of that challenge. It goes on to simply explain “He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.” Ok, so lets break that down. Here we have the SON OF GOD…the Son of the most illimitable, unfathomable, immeasurable, incomprehensible, incorruptible and immaculate GOD. He is equal to God…one with God and Jesus does not use that to His advantage. Can we honestly say, we wouldn’t? Go ahead, put yourself in His position for a minute. Here, I tell you what, I will go ahead and put myself out there….I can’t even begin to imagine myself in that position. I will be real, I cannot even begin to grasp that level of humility that Jesus took on, therefore I honestly don’t think I wouldn’t use it to my advantage.
Which brings me to my final point…
You want to understand God’s love for you and how He sees you? God created you, knowing the plan…the calling He had for you. Even in the ugly moments, He saw your purpose, who you were. He did not measure His love for you by those moments, He still looked at you and saw purpose….His purpose. He knew/knows your potential and is constantly presenting you with opportunities to step into them. Your goal is to see everyone, including ourselves from His perspective….from this perspective….a heavenly perspective, which is only revealed through the very nature and heart of God.
So every time He looks at you, He sees not just purpose but His purpose. He always see the positive in you. This is how we have to choose to look at ourselves if we want heavenly perspective. This is who we are….Who’s we are! Does that make sense? In other words, that moment of simultaneously creating you and your purpose for the Kingdom, He defined you!
The past three days, I have been working very hard on sewing my first dress from a pattern I purchased. What I had envisioned and what I created where nowhere near the same. I had envisioned finishing the last stitch and holding up to see something similar to what my master seamstress of a mother had created. It was not. My disappointment was overwhelming. Because I knew the techniques for sewing pillows, clutch purses, hand bags and other things, I thought I could sew a dress.
In that moment, I would have given anything to pick up the phone and call her to receive her guidance and direction on where I had gone wrong with the pattern. I would have asked what techniques and tools I was missing. But I couldn’t. There is a strong chance she would not have the answer now, let alone know who I am. There was a time when my mom sewed almost every dress I wore as a child. They were beautiful. She made dresses for all five of her girls. Nine times out of ten at least two out of the five of us matched or wore the same dresses.
For my sister’s wedding, she made her beautiful wedding dress with amazingly insane bead detail, in addition to some of the difficult bridesmaids dresses. Then in the same summer, she made around 4 more bridesmaids dresses for my other sister’s wedding. She was an amazing seamstress.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
I must say, this past season has been a pretty intense, very tough but absolutely amazing all at the same time. The transition from one season to the next was gut wrenching to be completely honest (which I usually am). It consisted of hearing some difficult things about myself, some untruths about myself and my intentions, even enduring people seriously letting me down, but also experiencing the leadership in my life expose their love, grace and deep desire for me to understand His heart.
I also learned a pretty serious lesson, I needed to wait on God to build a trusted and wise counsel in my life. I needed to stop trying to MAKE friends happen in my life. I needed real friends, that were REAL. I mean, who doesn’t?
So obviously, I was in transition and well…I felt very strongly God was not just moving me into the NEXT thing, He was moving into a NEW thing. That being said, leaving that season, I was SO HUNGRY to know Him on that next level. In 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul explains to a “secret wisdom” to the church of Corinth. I wanted a double dose, triple, no quadruple dose of that “secret wisdom” so badly!
The difficult part was, to know Him on that next level or to pursue that NEW thing, I had to make time with Him…alone. It seemed next to impossible to find time to do so. Being a mom of 3 in a house with one bathroom, I am lucky if I get to go to the bathroom by myself or even take a shower without a child barging to sling the curtain wide open to ask me for more goldfish. Heck, starting just this one blog post has been an act of God in itself, not to mention the other posts. (And I say that in all seriousness) In addition to that, I am currently in seminary and I made the commitment to separate my (seminary) study time from my (God) study time. How in the world was it going to be possible for me to seriously dive in and get to know Him more? Of course, it was clear I needed to get alone.
So then, God stepped in. Here I was already feeling friendless and lonely, craving….practically starving for meaningful, articulated, educated, adult conversation. It was obvious to me, He was bringing me into a season of SOLITUDE! Seriously?!?!
For 4 years or so I was forcing myself into vulnerable situations, trying to friend others, and exposing some of my inner most difficult trials in life. I was just hoping to find that one thing that would truly connect me to her, I had yet to find her. In fact, some of those vulnerable moments came back to haunt me. This was before I understood the power of vulnerability.
Despite how difficult it was for me to muster up the courage to share my past, it may come at a cost. I knew that in order for me to connect, I would have to be seen….really seen. The thing about this was, I discovered that at the core of vulnerability is the possibility shame, fear and struggle for worthiness. Although, it can be the birthplace of joy, love, creativity, mended relationships and more. If I shut vulnerability down, I will be shutting down the chance of all the things it can birth. This was difficult because the cost was causing me to question the love I thought I had, my sense of belonging and feeling worthy of any connection…even with God. I had to continue to be willing and courageous to share this part of me, without any guarantees in return. Psssh….I can honestly say, after the very vulnerable season I was previously in, I really was not motivated to go back. I WELCOMED this season of solitude He had for me. I did not need anyone….I had God. Let’s do this!
So to recap, lets just be real for a minute. I was 50 pounds over weight, exhausted, frustrated, lonely, and really suffering from a negative self image at this point. Being the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, questioning whether I was worthy of pursuing any connection, in addition to the calling I knew I had on my life, and I was wondering why I had not established any deep and meaningful relationships in my church over the past 4 years. I needed a renewal of my heart, my spirit, my soul, and mind….I needed a renewal of my motherhood, my sisterhood. I was determined to FORGE AHEAD! I am tackling this!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:2
So I decided to really break things down. I knew that I have a creative mind, and that I tend to compare myself, my career, my performance (day to day) to other’s. Being creative, I would base my worth on my performance in my career, being a mother, wife, sister, etc. I would even carry it as far to say, I was comparing my calling and my relationship with God to other’s. I was even comparing my quiet time with pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram, of my friend’s tabletop spread at your local coffee shop, or heck their own kitchen/house (which seemed so impossible) along with the perfect cup of cappuccino, a beautifully written leather-bound journal and their highlighted bible. All the while, reviewing in my head (while my “littles” are chasing each other through the house (screaming) with highlighters and permanent markers), “if only I did not have to wait until night to study for school. I could go to bed early, get up early and get my time with Him”. I wanted SO BAD to grow in a deeper relationship with Him but I knew it was not my season for that tabletop spread. I was really in survival mode every single day.
Little did I know…it was not “I” who was tackling this…it was my Father, Who was tackling this. He first gave me a deep desire to tackle my weight issue along with a desire to eat healthy again. I live at the base of a small 1,621 foot mountain. God told me to climb that mountain. So with the cooperation and help of my teenage son (BLESS HIM FATHER) watching my two Littles, I started with running up that mountain everyday. This soon after turned to walking up that mountain everyday…my knees just couldn’t take it. Walking 1 mile, turned to 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 4! The first month was difficult. I wanted to quit, I did not want to go but forced myself. I felt Him pushing me harder and harder the more I did not want to go. It began to get easier and easier. Not because it hurt less or somehow the climb up the mountain became not so steep but because I soon realized He was facilitating time with me. He was creating a uniquely designed and orchestrated time with Him that my heart so desired. This was not one of those beautifully designed, Instragram, tabletop times. It was going to be one of those ugly, sweaty, difficult, grueling and messy times that I may or may not post to Instagram!
Once I identified this, IT WAS ON! I asked Him to do an inner inventory like I had never seen. I wanted more of Him at any cost. He began to speak and I would listen. If I did not hear anything, I would listen harder. This did not make this time easier by any means but I was ready to be pressed and stretched. I wanted to grow. If you’ll do what you can do, He’ll do what you can’t do.
Physical Obedience Brings Spiritual Release!
The first thing I did, was learn how I hear His voice…how to “listen harder”. I even took Havilah Cunnington’s Prophetic Personalities Quiz and Course, which was amazing! Was I a Feeler, Hearer, Knower or Seer? After nailing down that I function in all four spiritual personalities (heh….I have multiple personalities), with my dominate personality being a Knower, I started practicing.
Soon after learning just how I hear Him, He very quickly revealed just how serious my issue of “FEAR OF MAN” was. He told me comparison breaks down creativity or just brings it to a screaming halt and if I did not stop, I would not continue this uniquely designed journey. There was no way I was going to let that happen but I did not fully grasp HOW to have victory over this “fear of man”. With this realization, I then knew, I would stay right where I was in my spiritual growth, if not decline, as long as I did not claim victory over these things. I needed to get a grip….actually, I needed to let go. It was so clear, He told me to let go and let Him, then to show myself some grace and to treat His daughter well. He then put things in the simplest terms for me one day. He simply said, “Your fear of man is the opposite of the fear of Me…completely contrary to what I want for you.” He then asked “Who are you trying to please?” THERE IT WAS!!! I was making it so hard, but it was so simple! I decided right then and there that in everything I do, I would ask “who am I trying to please?” The thing about it is, if I am striving to please Him, I can’t loose. He is Sovereign. He defends me when and if I need defending, loves me when I need loving, straightens me out when I need direction. I just need to yield to Him.
As I continued to walk day after day, rain or shine, mile after mile, tear after tear, He began to unfold so much and renew my mind AND the pounds started coming off. Why do we renew our mind? To know God’s will. We want to know His will because it promises complete fulfillment and effectiveness; and that is what I was after. I wanted nothing more than to be in His will. Only the spirit of God can communicate with your spirit in such a way that it leaves you with identity, intimacy, purpose, love, and grace. Until we get really good at understanding His spirit and how it is talking to our spirit, we will always live from the outside in. I am still learning, still practicing but understanding more and more everyday.
Perfect & Unconditional Love
The neatest thing about all of this is, I now understand truly finding my identity in Him. Through His love for me! I am His masterpiece, His greatest work of art. God does not create crap, He creates beauty. Seeing myself through His eyes gave me the image of who I am. It has taught me how to see others through His eyes. I see my sons and daughter differently. I see my husband differently. Everyone! His heart is for us to see us as He sees us. To see His grace for us.
The Bible teaches that God loves us perfectly or unconditionally. His perfect love is not based on our perfection or anything except Himself. God is Love ( 1 John 4:8). He always loves us, but often we don’t receive His love because of guilt about our past and wrong doings. We are supposed to be conscious and aware of God’s love and put faith in it. I even had the words “The Love I know is unconditional” tattooed on my wrist years ago, yet I was continually questioning if God’s love is perfect and unconditional. All because of one moment when someone I love and respected looked at that tattoo in disdain. When I told them it was referring to God’s love, they gave me a look of disapproval and let me know they thought I was wrong. From then on, because of my fear of man, I was not putting faith in His love for me. WELL…NO MORE! There are not conditions on His perfect love. His love for me is what defines me, not my story. The best part is, I can say with every fiber of my being, I don’t have any regrets…NONE! I have seen so much redemption in my life, I have come to truly love my story. It’s a really good one, but I may be a little bias.
The truth of the matter is, vulnerability is what brings us to connection. Whether it be to other human beings or the Living God. The possibility of pain in the process of connecting is so worth it. Not only do you prosper with new and deeper relationships but you develop and receive a deeper wisdom for love and life. We cannot truly love others until we truly understand not only HOW MUCH we are loved but HOW we are loved. Perfectly and unconditionally.
We all know the story of Job, we heard it growing up in Sunday school. Job looses everything at the hand of satan, with God’s permission. Job goes through a major transformation from a trusting and faithful man of God to growing in complaining and self-righteousness. In this transition, Job makes 3 complaints: 1. Why doesn’t God hear me?, 2. Why is God punishing me?, and 3. Why does God allow the wicked to prosper? So lets address these complaints.
He Hears You!
First, God hears you. Isaiah 30:19 says as soon as He hears our cries, He answers it. We just have to listen.
God Doesn’t Bring The Bad Stuff!
Second, God does not bring the bad stuff into our lives, that’s the enemy’s doing. In the case of Job, the enemy had to get permission to mess with him. Satan made the point with God, that nothing bad ever happens to him. With all of Job’s wealth and blessings, of course he would fear God and be completely devoted to Him. He argued that if some real trials came Job’s way, he would curse God to His face. God, then told the enemy to do what he will to all that Job has but do not lay finger on the man himself. God knew this would be a test of Job’s devotion to Him. The question was, would he turn to God for comfort and direction or turn away in blaming Him, in bitterness, self righteousness, and self pity?
The Wicked Don’t Prosper For Long!
Third, when the wicked prosper to any degree, it is short lived as stated in Job 36:5, “But if they disobey, they’ll be cut down in their prime and never know the first thing about life. Angry people without God pile grievance upon grievance, always blaming others for their troubles. Living it up in sexual excesses, virility wasted, they die young.“ If we are out of His will or in disobedience to Him, then we are out of His umbrella of protection, this is when we hit the storms in our lives. This happens because God will not control human nature. He gave us free will, He will not force our hand. He will invite us into His affections although it is our choice to go there.
In the end, He wants us to stop asking “why?” and start asking “what?” What does He want us to take from this experience? How did we grow? He is looking at the whole picture of eternity and He is not threatened when humanity steps in His way. No matter what, He has a “backup plan” to our poor decisions and He continues on, in His original plan. In the end, it will all work to His glory and our amazing story because He is sovereign.
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
Do you have plans for your life? Are you making the plans or is God? God has plans for you regardless of what you think is supposed to happen. Discovering what God has for you, requires some serious transition and this is not quick, seamless, or easy. Sometimes it is the most intense pain you have ever felt. Often we get so caught up in the pain, that we do not even notice the process, or what it is that God is trying to squeeze out of us. During birth, a mother has contractions and birth pains which prepares her for that last transition and then birth. There is a process.
Have hope! Keep your eyes fixed on Him, and don’t compare your story with the story of others. The game of comparison of someone else’s transition can be grounds for trouble and distract you from your purpose. This is your story, your book, your chapter, unique to you! That is how the Author intended it!
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may do according to all that is written in it. For then, you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8
Drown yourself in the Word. The degree to which you’re in tune with the Holy Spirit is the degree to which a transition is going to be measured. It’s when you are not willing to grow or change that things get even more tough. When you care about the bigger, future picture, and it’s purpose…..the transition will be worth it.
On the other hand, a No from God is a course changer. We are His sons and daughters and God anticipates our needs and knows what is best for you. He is our Father and Fathers sometimes say, “No,” although that no is not a rejection but it is protection. Sometimes you will have to hear no a number of times before you get a yes from God. Don’t get discouraged or distracted! An open door in the middle of a tough season does not necessarily mean it is time to leave. That “NO” you received means that He has something incredible waiting for you but remember good things don’t come easy.
I think it is normal to be hesitant or scared to transition. Transition means change. I just don’t know many people who like change or walk through it without a bit of resistance. Transition is such a struggle because you are in the process of inheriting what God has for you and any inheritance from God is a disinheritance from the enemy…and he doesn’t like that.
Be encouraged. Know that God has a plan for you! The enemy will do everything he can to discourage you, he is very sneaky. He will distort and confuse, all while trying to get us to engage with him. Engaging with the enemy prevents us from getting into position to receive what God has for us. He will use strongholds to separate us from God’s plan for us. In Joshua, he tells of how he was commissioned by God to complete the task began by Moses and lead the people across the Jordan and into the Promise Land. I am sure when God spoke to Joshua he was not only overwhelmed by the presence of God, but the possibly intimidating task of filling the shoes of Moses. I think everyone wants to believe they have a higher calling. Sometimes our vision of that higher calling is not what God intended for us, regardless He does have a more for you. If you listen carefully He has promises for you. Joshua 3:7 God said to Joshua “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” This was not only a promise of God’s presence being with Joshua in this journey and new season but God was empowering Joshua to walk into this position He had for him. He was restoring confidence in Joshua. This is not to be mistaken for pride. Pride comes when you think you know who you are, confidence is knowing who you when God stands with you, when you are in Christ.
Be obedient. Are you standing at the bank of the Jordan? Walk into what He has for you, surrendering all that you have for Him. Joshua’s transition all came down to obedience. Our response to God is rooted in one of two things; fear or love. When we feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit to move, how will we will respond? Don’t think about the how but the why and what. It is a refining process and if you will just hold on tight, the why and what will be revealed. It is important to understand that your “YES!” is the launchpad into that next season, level or chapter of His plan for you. In order to reach the Promise Land Joshua and the Israelites had to cross the Jordan. Now this was during harvest time, as stated in Chapter 3 verse 15 “for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest.” This meant the gentle Jordan was now a raging river, swelled to flood stage, which was definitely uncrossable. Although, when obedience and faith are united they crossed the Jordan, as God held back the waters.
And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” Joshua 3:13
Be confident in God and the promises He has for you. God wants to restore confidence in you. He wants you to believe what He has for you will far surpass anything the world could offer and He will take care of your every need. Joshua stood before Jericho’s walls, when the Commander of the army of the Lord appeared before him. After realizing who he was speaking to he fell to his face and asked “What does the Lord say to His servant?” The Lord told him to take off his sandals because the place he stood was holy. Joshua was obedient and took his sandals off. God replaced what Joshua took off with the Armor of God. Joshua had to change his posture to receive what God had for him. We have to change our posture to receive what God has for us. God gave him the city of Jericho….he didn’t have to take it by his own might. If we just change our posture to receive what He has for us, trusting that all He has for us is nourishing and good, we won’t have to fight our own battles.
For those of you that are saying to yourself, “what if I missed my calling?” It is never too late to regain ground on you journey to His promise for you. As a dear friend and mentor said to me, “God stands outside of time and can redeem every moment.” So, be encouraged, be obedient, and be confident in the plans He has for you!
“We were created with a craving to be pursued, delighted in, and enjoyed, first by God and then by our loved ones. Understanding God’s affection for us is where we begin to live exhilarated by His love.” ~ Mike Bickle
Our need to belong and be significant is not because we are needy. God created us with a specific set of needs to be met, in order for us to feel we are living life to the fullest. When these needs are met, we feel whole and alive. When they are not met, we are simply in survival mode…coping, maintaining sanity, and just existing. There are just some days our crown sits a little crooked.
Sometimes, life just tries to take over, we begin to bump into our own humanity and we feel defeated. Our needs are just not being met. But, what gets us to this point? As a wife, a mom of three beautiful children, a student, a sister, a daughter, a graphic and web designer and more, I wear many hats. Often times when I have stopped leaning into Holy Spirit due to the stress of one of my roles, the enemy takes that opportunity to use those roles to influence who I am. It is usually in those moments that I hear the lies of the enemy; “You’re not a good mom!”, “You are going to fail that exam!”, “Your husband doesn’t find you attractive!”, “You don’t spend enough time with your mom.”
It’s not my kids that make me feel this way. It’s not my teacher or school that makes me feel like I am going to fail, or my husband who makes me feel unattractive or even my mom’s illness that makes me feel guilty. It is where I choose to dine and have my needs met.
I am almost 40 years old and have only, just finally found where my needs are truly met. The only place I can be fulfilled, is in His presence. There are many tables (that may temporarily fill my needs) that I am invited to sit at but He has prepared a table before me, with a smorgasbord of the things in life I need to not just survive, but live. To live out the calling He has for me. To live my life completely and utterly for Him. I may be amongst my enemies but I will plant my heels where they are, take a seat and trust my most gracious Host to provide me with all that I need to feel completely satisfied…to feel significant and like I belong.
I am His daughter…the daughter of the One True King. I am royalty and I DO wear a crown. My crown might be crooked on days, but there is rest for me, in knowing I am His. He never asked us to clean up or straighten our crown when we dine with Him. He will handle the clean up and He will straighten my crown.