Change

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Photo by G. Stecanella

I sat reading a magazine in the lobby of our local hospital, waiting to have my labs drawn. Over the intercom, a page rang out “Code blue emergency room. Pediatrics. Room 1.”

I didn’t pay much attention the first time it aired but the second and then the third announcement made me stop.

Code blue indicates a person stopped breathing. In this case, a child. Something was seriously wrong.

A child stopped breathing.

What came to mind next, lives were about to change – the child, their parents, family, friends.

If the child survives, life continues and there is a memory of the time spent in the emergency room. Stories will be crafted about the day and for a time the family will hold each other a little longer, take more time saying goodnight, and keep a closer eye.

But if…

If this little one slips away then life temporarily halts. The memories bring with them questions: did I do enough, should I have done things differently, why didn’t I say more – share more – love more?

In time, the stories will bring joy and laughter. But, the journey to get to a place of peace will be hard and paved with blame, regret, and shame.

Our lives can change in an instant.

A young woman attends a party. She dances in celebration with her friends, consumes a little too much alcohol, and then starts her drive home. At the bottom of the hill, she loses control and wraps her car around a large oak tree. Life shifts for her, the two girlfriends riding in the car, and their families.

Recently married, the young couple was excited to find out they were expecting. They shared the news with family and friends and started preparing for their daughter. Contractions started far too early. Their baby was stillborn. Their dreams distorted forever.

A small lump – no breast cancer. An asthma attack – no heart disease. A missed event – God’s divine intervention. Who we are, how we see ourselves, how we see the world – all changed by the situations we encounter.

Our lives are filled with moments that alter us. Some are devastating, others filled with joy, but all have the ability to transform.

The question is what do you do after – after the achievement, after the loss, after the change?

We have two options.

Option one; we blame our circumstances on Jesus. We know in our heads that Jesus loves us but if we are honest, we question if He really likes us. Because if He really liked us, cared for us – our children wouldn’t suffer, our lives wouldn’t be so difficult, our bodies wouldn’t fail. We become hardened, bitter, and our faith is clouded by our inability to see God’s grace enveloping our disappointments.

Our second option; surrender. Surrender to God’s plan, regardless of the outcome for our children, our situations, our health. Choose to trust God with all of it.

Cody Carnes, in his song Run to the Father, writes,

I run to the Father, I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father again and again and again and again

What a wonderful reminder, we can run straight to God. We can fall into His open arms of love and grace. We can let him change our hearts, feed our souls, and use the situation to make us more like Him.

We can choose to believe that God uses everything we encounter for our good.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Do you find yourself dealing with change? Are you facing a mountain you aren’t certain you can climb? Are transitions, challenges, doubts knocking on your door?

Sisters, don’t lose heart. Resist the urge to blame God. Run to your Father. Rest in His truth.

He has a plan to prosper you.

He has a plan for your future.

BeLOVED, trust God!

Signature - Allison

Life’s Delays – God’s Faithfulness

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Photo by M. Ferrero

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a friend’s wedding.

The ceremony was conducted at the edge of a bluff overlooking a beautiful valley. The valley was a patchwork of grass, tilled fields, and orchards. The bluff edge encircled the valley, offering protection for the farmers nestled on the valley floor.

The bride and groom were beautiful – antique white lace gown, burgundy wool tuxedo.

Flower girls ran around the grounds, baskets in hand – rose petals spilling onto the grass, their lacy dresses swirled in the wind.

The wedding party attentively welcomed family and friends.

I sat in a folding chair near the aisle in order to catch a glimpse of the bride and her father. Her excitement spilled over, tears cascading down her cheeks, she kept her gaze forward, looking at her husband to be.

The couple wrote the vows they would share. The groom spoke about his love for his bride and vowed to care for her forevermore. The bride wiped her tears, looked at her tiny vow book, and shared her heart.

You see, the man that stood before her had been the focus of her prays for more than 12 years. She had begged God to bring her a faithful, Jesus – loving man that she could share life’s journey.

Over those years, she encountered men she thought were right. But, the relationships proved unfulfilling and they would end.

She began to doubt that she would ever find someone.

She began to question God’s will for her life; she wanted so badly to be married. She reached the point where doubt, frustration, and fear where replacing her trust and faith.

God was not responding.

Her pleas were met with His silence yet her unmet longing lingered. Expanding to fill the quietness of her days and her dreams at night.

Twelve years and then…

Our delays are a mismatch between our personal desires and expectations and God’s purpose and timing for our lives. When this mismatch continues for months, years, decades our humanness cries out and in our disappointment and frustration, we blame.

We blame ourselves for not being good enough, smart enough, attractive enough…

We blame God for not meeting our needs, for not loving us, for not showing up…

So what do we do when our prayers go seemingly unanswered? How do we continue to believe, trust, move forward?

First, continue to pray.

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,

Never stop praying.

New Living Translation (NLT)

We can be confident that God hears our prayers. He is attentive to our pleas.

Keep praying, keep sharing your requests, but be prepared that His response may be different than the desires of our heart.

My young friend prayed for years for a husband – her prayers were answered with a resounding wait.

I know women that desperately wanted to have children, they prayed for a dying spouse, they asked for that promotion – God said no.

Keep praying sisters, but understand God’s answer may not align with your wants.

Next, be willing to accept God’s answer.

The Apostol Paul asked for healing, God responded I’m enough, focus on me and my power.

(7b) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (9) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:7b-9 New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s request was denied by God. He would live with his ailment, his thorn in the flesh. Paul did not blame, become angry, or fall into self-pity. He embraced his situation and recognized that God is still near even in the midst of his weakness.

Finally, remember that God uses the answered prays, the times of waiting, and the no’s to mature us, to transform us.

God consistently answers our prayers; He is faithful. His response may differ from what we think we want or truly need. But He is not deaf to your pleas; He hasn’t abandoned us.

He uses each situation to change our hearts, to transform our minds, to prepare us for His purpose and plans. He is using our circumstances to mature us, to demonstrate His power, and to touch those lives that intersect ours.

(3) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. (4) And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (5) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:2-5 (NLT)

If you find yourself wondering if God hears your prayers.

If you wonder if He is even listening.

I encourage you to let go. Surrender your desires, your plans, and your expectations to the creator of the universe. You can be confident that He hears you, He has a plan, your prayers will be answered.

Keep praying, keep believing, be faithful.

God’s response may take years, it may not align with your plans, loved ones may not receive healing, dreams may not be recognized, but you can be confident that God’s plan will far exceed your greatest expectations.

You are loved.

You are not alone.

God hears you.

You are God’s BeLOVED!

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

A Common Heart, Mind, Spirit

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Photo by C. Steinwender

My life is blessed by a small group of amazing women. Some I’ve known for 30+ years, others are recent additions. All special and unique in their gifts and the love we share. All I call sisters.

These women come from varying backgrounds, are in different stages of life, some married, others widowed but all are lovers of Jesus. All offer unconditional love, life-sustaining support, and much-needed accountability.

During a recent illness, this group of women provided tangible support. Meals arrived at the door. The garden watered daily and weeds pulled. Our dog taken on long walks, river swims, and amazing car adventures.

The support would just show up. I never had to ask, they knew me well enough to know the needs. They knew how to intersect the discouragement, the pain, the frustration lifting my spirits and giving me the needed time to heal.

My sisters, biological and chosen, fill me in a way that my husband can’t. Don’t get me wrong my husband is an extremely loving and empathetic man, reared by a single mom and surrounded by older sisters. He knows women and he knows me.

But, there is something powerful about the love and relationship of sisters. We share a common heart, a common mind, a common spirit that feeds the soul.

As a child and young woman, I learned that you don’t ask for help. It may not come or if it does – it may not be helpful. I practiced not showing weakness or vulnerability – exhibiting either may make you susceptible to ridicule or worse unwanted intimacy with others.

A wall was a safe barrier protecting me from a world I did not fully understand and could not control.

But what I learned as a child, what I practiced as a young woman, I soon recognized didn’t actually work. Instead of filling me, the resulting isolation caused the wall to grow higher, stronger, impenetrable.

I am learning that our journey on this earth was never meant to do alone. This journey takes the nurturing love of true relationships. Found in the arms of our spouse, the loving words of our biological sisters and brothers, the accountability of our grafted siblings, the protection of community.

Solomon, in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, writes about trying to navigate life alone. He shares in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12a,

(9) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: (10) If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.

New International Version (NIV)

As women, as humans, we were not made to do life alone. We function best when surrounded by those willing to walk with us through the challenges we encounter, the joys we experience, the pain we face. We need each other; we need sisters.

Solomon also adds in Ecclesiastes 4:12b,

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

NIV

Another way to state this verse, relationships founded in Jesus are not quickly broken.

We must learn that true relationships, lasting unions are ones that include the author of relationship – Jesus.

With Him, our relationships stand strong, stand against the erosion of time, stand uncompromised.

Sisters, I encourage you to look around your world and find a woman that needs a sister.

Take a few minutes to acknowledge her, see her – not the image she projects but the one buried under the burden of the day.

Take a few minutes to listen, absent your cell phone or your personal agenda, really listen and then respond from your heart.

Look around ladies, we need each other. We need to encourage each other, pray for one another, and serve the often unspoken needs of our sisters.

A friend (a sister) loves at all times…

Proverbs 17:17

Blessing His BeLoved,

Signature - Allison


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Mistaken Identity

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Photo by J. Beales

My husband, Mac, has been interested in learning more about his ancestry for several years. His father died when he was a baby. So, he never had a chance to know him or hear his stories.

His mother didn’t share what she knew; she rarely spoke of his father. Whether it was self-protection or lack of knowledge, he could never decipher.

Yet, he wanted to learn more about his background and the history that shaped his life.

For his birthday, I purchased a DNA kit and database membership from one of the many DNA analysis companies. He read the disclaimers and instructions, collected his sample, and shipped it off.

Soon he would receive his analysis opening the door to his past. Painting the picture he hoped would fill in the empty spaces left by his father’s passing and his mother’s silence.

Several weeks after sending the sample, an email arrived. The big day had come; all that he had been told about his family would soon be confirmed. The door unlocked to unknown uncles, aunts, and cousins. The doors opened to undiscovered truths surrounding the family stories, so much anticipation and now…

He worked for months putting together his family tree. Discovering distant cousins, clearing up misinformation, and yes finding some answers to the missing pieces left from the family legends.

Then one afternoon he walked into my office and announced, very confidently, that he was going to start researching my side of the family tree. He needed to do this because his tree would not be complete unless he included my family. Yes, he is a sweetheart!

So this is where this beautiful “in search of family” story takes an interesting twist.

My family was small, mom, dad, brother, and sister. That’s all, well unless you count fur and feather babies. Then my family exponentially multiplies.

My parents were oddly quiet about our family history. I knew my mom had a sister but that was it. My father had dark skin and we were told our grandfather was Chinese, grandmother African American, and great grandmother Native American. My mother was light-skinned, creole (African American and French). That’s what we knew – that was the history. So, how I had defined myself, the image I created, was based on this small amount of information.

A few weeks after announcing he was going to start working on my family tree, Mac came back to my office. This time not looking as confident as previous, he shared that he had found birth information for my maternal grandparents, aunt, her husband, and family. I was so excited but was a little confused, he didn’t seem excited. So I asked, “you don’t seem excited – what’s up”? His response – “your mother is not creole and I started looking into your father’s history. Dad isn’t part Native American”.

So, the stories told and what was found through birth records and census data did not match. The history I had constructed as a young woman, my family identity all became obsolete with a simple search through an ancestry database.

I have to admit I was surprised, confused, and a little frustrated by this information. Mac double-checked his findings several times making certain there were no mistakes. The evidence is certain, I am not who I thought I was!

What do you do when your personal identity and definition no longer match the truth?

What happens when how you define yourself, the identity placed on you by the world and God’s definition becomes a clear mismatch? Whose identity and definition do we adopt, who do you trust?

We tend to define ourselves by our family history, the stories we are told, and as we grow up, we refine those definitions by our current life experiences, what we have accomplished, what we have acquired, our education, our titles – married, single, mom, MD, Ph.D.

The world will categorize us by our ethnicity, our economic status, by our beliefs, by our preferences.

But God…

Well, He uses a completely different approach to defining His creation, giving us identity.

God defines us by what He was willing to sacrifice. He defines us by remembering His son Jesus hanging on a cross, dying for us.

(18) For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. (19) It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (20) God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days, he has been revealed for your sake.

1 Peter 1:18-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

God defines us as priceless and valuable.

Sisters, we often tell ourselves we are what we do, what we accomplish, what we have.

The world will affirm that we are better if we have more, do more, but will also challenge us by categorizing us into simple buckets by race and status. Both of these approaches leave us with a mistaken identity.

We are more because Jesus is more.

Colossians 3:1-4 reassures us we are new creations, we have new lives, new identities when we come to trust in Jesus.

(1) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (3) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory… (10) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

New International Version (NIV)

We have our identity wrapped in the likeness of Jesus. He tells us that when we place our trust in Him; we take on His image, our true identity. We become complete in Him.

Beloved, I encourage you don’t be deceived by the image you have created in your head. Please don’t rely on family history, personal accomplishments, or the world’s influence to define you, to define your value.

Please rely on the unshakable, unchanging truth from God,

(21) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, (22) throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. (23) Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. (24) Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)

You are a new creation.

Created to be like God.

Created to be His image bearer.

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison


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Unclaimed, Unopened, Often Ignored

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Photo by J. Tinneberg

The box sat outside her front door. Tucked neatly in the corner of the doorway. A potted plant pulled close to distract others attention. Yet, in view by those walking by.

I passed her doorway daily and after a week, then two, now going on three – the box remained, half-hidden yet visible.

The amazing thing, she was home! She walked through that door daily. Yet, the box sat untouched, perhaps even unnoticed.

Week 3 came and passed and finally one afternoon while passing the doorway I noticed the box was gone!

She had finally opened the door and claimed her treasure.

We all have unclaimed, unopened, often ignored treasures waiting in our lives.

The taken-for-granted hug from our spouse, a friend, a stranger sensing our needs – a treasure ignored.

An unaccepted offer of help when our days are packed to the brim and spilling over – a treasure unopened.

The disregarded plea for forgiveness – a treasure unclaimed.

It took her more than 3-weeks before she noticed the box at her doorstep. Her busy distracted life kept her from seeing, from acting, from receiving.

There are times in our lives when our relationship with Jesus can feel like a box sitting on an unattended doorstep. We are busy people, life gets complicated, time gets tight. Yet, Jesus waits patiently for us to notice the gifts He offers – unconditional love, undeserved grace, and amazing mercy.

Unintentionally, we can treat his gifts as misplaced boxes, placing them in the corner of our closets, in the shadows of our basements. We walk around them, occasionally pushing them aside to make room for our own dreams, our own desires, our own plans.

Eventually, we forget they are even there.

Unless we are willing to receive and open Jesus’ gifts, we are destined to stumble through our lives wondering if this life is as good as it gets. We are destined to a life that disappoints; a life that is never complete.

His precious gifts sit in a box, a gift unopened, while we search for more.

In the book of Revelations, John writes to a church that had become satisfied in their personal riches, comfortable in their self-sufficiency. Yet, they ignored God’s invitation for relationship. They had lost their passion for Him.

John writes,

Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.

Revelation 3:20 Living Bible (TLB)

We must be careful that we don’t become so comfortable with the routine of our lives, so overwhelmed by the burdens we carry, prideful of our personal accomplishments, or complacent by the head knowledge we have about Jesus, that we stop searching for Him.

We stop longing for relationship and intimacy.

Jesus stands at the doors of our hearts and knocks. He will never demand that we open the door. He will never force us to open the box and receive His gifts.

He will wait, letting us go about our daily activities until finally we pay attention and turn to Him.

Sisters, I encourage you to take the time to open your hearts and claim the treasures Jesus has for you, a gift freely given.

Please remember,

He loves you.

You are his daughter.

You are his BeLOVED.

Blessings,

Signature - Allison


I would love to hear from you. Please go to Leave a Comment at the top of this post.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

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Photo by A. McCormick

I’ve shared in previous posts that I am an avid gardener. Although I often question my sanity when faced with the ever-changing weather of Central Oregon.

My very favorite thing about gardening and being in nature is observing God’s amazing creativity.

His infinite imagination and attention to the finest details of His masterpiece.

Last week, I passed a neighbor’s garden and picked a few dried poppy seedpods.

Have you ever taken a few minutes to look closely?

It’s fascinating!

The pods are teacup shaped, each wearing a little top hat, completely enclosed. All around the rim of the pod are small needle-sized holes.

When you shake a dry pod, the seeds inside sprinkle onto your hand, like black pepper sprinkled on scrambled eggs.

The pod’s design is so intricate, so delicate, and obviously specific to holding the seeds in place until the perfect time of release – a gentle wind that spreads them across the yard and neighboring fields.

God’s creative beauty on grand display.

He didn’t only expend His creative power on nature; He turned the same mastery to the formation of His sons and daughters.

In Psalm 139:14 we are reminded,

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

New International Version (NIV)

We (you) are fearfully and wonderfully made.

As women, we face the ever-present clamor to conform to the world’s unrealistic and ever-changing standard.

We place unreasonable burdens on ourselves that drive us to perfectionism, hyper-busyness, and desperate overachievement. All done in the name of being a capable/accomplished multi-tasking woman.

Family and friends, although many times unknowingly, challenge us to perform – to meet their constantly shifting needs. Be the nurturing loving mom, the supportive daughter, the available best friend, the drop it all and meet the needs of all those around us woman.

Yet in the quietness of our hearts, we struggle because these activities don’t fill our need to be valued or help us define our purpose. In fact, the constant movement and activity bring exhaustion, isolation, doubt, and fear.

If we are fearfully and wonderfully made, why do we struggle with aligning our perspectives, our actions, and beliefs with God’s truth?

Why are our hearts dry and searching?

Why do doubts and fear chase us?

The Bible shares a story in the book of John that may help bring light to this struggle.

(24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

John 12:24-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

When we struggle with mistaken identity and misaligned perspective, we must consider that it could be caused by an unwillingness to die to self. An unwillingness to relinquish control of our lives. An unwillingness to surrender our plans and desires.

Jennie Allen in her book, Restless – Because You Were Made for More shares,

The kind of life you want lies on the other side of death.

I never noticed the hope in it until my heart was completely his (God). Before we begin to dream, there is one foundation that must exist: surrender.

Sisters, it’s not about what we do. It’s not about our performance. The answer to the dilemma rests in our willingness to surrender to the God that created us. And if we are honest with ourselves, surrender is not something we like or want to do.

Jennie Allen goes on to share,

Our mattering doesn’t depend on a stellar performance. We matter because we are children of the living, breathing, reigning God of the universe. We matter because we were bought with the blood of the son of our Father God. He set us in our spots and in our time. He numbered our days and counts our hair. And we matter because he says we matter.

We have value because we were given breath by God.

We have value because Jesus sacrificed the glory of heaven and surrendered His life – dying for us.

We have value because the Holy Spirit indwells us.

We have value because Jesus gives us purpose – being His audible voice, His hands and feet.

When you sense anxiety or the desire to perform, the pull to be more, do more, or give more – stop.

Stop and consider how does what I’m feeling align with Jesus’ truth about me.

Stop and remember that you are fearfully and wonderful made.

 

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison


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Photo by C. Ardeleanu

Broken Pieces Made Whole

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Photo by Unknown

Last week my husband, our 10-year-old fur-baby, and I visited the Oregon Coast.

During our trip, we stopped at a local glass blowing shop and we had a chance to watch the creation of a glass float.

It’s a fascinating process.

Raw materials, shards of color glass and molten glass, molded together – refined by the fire and placed under the pressure of the artist’s tools to mold the glass into the desired shape.

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Photo by K. Lyons

Then the moment came, the artist literally blew life into the molten glass. Allowing it to expand, taking on its final shape.

The finished float was heated with a torch to polish its surface and placed in an oven to slowly cool overnight.

The process had taken bits and pieces (from a naïve perspective items that would have seemed worthless) and made them whole.

The finished float was beautiful.

Luke shares a story about a “notorious” woman whose life had been shattered by her habitual sin. Luke 7:36 – 50 says,

(36) One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house [in the region of Galilee] and reclined at the table. (37) Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume; (38) and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume. (39) Now when [Simon] the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a [notorious] sinner [an outcast, devoted to sin].”

(40) Jesus, answering, said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Teacher, say it.” (41) “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. (42) When they had no means of repaying [the debts], he freely forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” (43) Simon answered, “The one, I take it, for whom he forgave more.” Jesus said to him, “You have decided correctly.” (44) Then turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house [but you failed to extend to Me the usual courtesies shown to a guest]; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair [demonstrating her love]. (45) You gave Me no [welcoming] kiss, but from the moment I came in, she has not ceased to kiss My feet. (46) You did not [even] anoint My head with [ordinary] oil, but she has anointed My feet with [costly and rare] perfume. (47) Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (48) Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (49) Those who were reclining at the table with Him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (50) Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith [in Me] has saved you; go in peace [free from the distress experienced because of sin].”

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Luke’s account of this woman is all we will find in the Bible. Yet, her story powerfully depicts God’s response to human brokenness.

The woman had a reputation – shards of brokenness, a social outcast, a person that had devoted her life to sin.

She heard about Jesus and when given the chance, sought Him out, knelt at His feet, and surrendered her past.

Through her tears and a selfless act of love, she demonstrated her repentant heart. A simple act of humility changed the course of this unnamed woman’s life.

She was transformed by an encounter with Jesus and in return, Jesus forgave her and set her free.

Before Christ, our lives are filled with shards of brokenness, our pride, self-righteousness, anger, and sin.

Yet Jesus waits patiently for us to come to Him and in that instant and for the rest of our lives, our creator refines us, molds us, and polishes us into the image of Himself.

We are transformed, broken pieces made whole.

BeLOVED, you can be confident that regardless of your sin, the struggles you may face, the pain you may be experiencing, Jesus is available to make your broken pieces whole.

Trust Him.

Rest in Him.

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison


To share your thoughts, go to Leave A Comment at the top of this post.

Take a few minutes and checkout the new devotion on the Devotion page.

Holy Moments

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Photo by Morgan

A stillness fell over the room. The type of quiet that forces you to take notice.

The music played gently in the background and the early morning light cut through the window leaving a shadow across the small wooden table and her favorite cup of tea.

The children were hanging on to the last remnants of their dreams, the dog was curled at her feet, and her husband was buried under his grandmother’s quilt.

She sat motionless, fixed on an indescribable peace. A sweetness, a warmth that enveloped her.

A holy moment; a moment where she could feel Jesus’ presence.

A moment she knew that she was loved like a father loves his daughter – loved unconditionally, effortlessly, intentionally.

Our lives can get so complicated. They can become busier than we planned. They can become out of control; keeping us from the most important thing, time alone with Jesus. Sitting in His presence, lounging at His feet, spending time getting to know Him, loving Him, surrendering to Him.

Holy moments are found in the stillness of our minds, in the quieting of our hearts, in the intentional discipline of seeking God.

Tim Hansel shares,

God has spoken very boldly about his desire to be a presence in our lives. If I want to heal the ache and loneliness in my own life, one of the things I need to do is get away, alone with God. . . In the silence, God will speak to you most powerfully. Too often his words to us get muffled, lost, or covered by the crowd of many noises both inside and outside of us. We must have a quiet heart in order to hear God’s distinctive message to us.

In Luke 10:38-42 we are told about Martha and Mary.

 (38) As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. (39) She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. (40) But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

(41) “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, (42) but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 Martha was the doer, serving Jesus and His disciples, making certain the meal was ready, and all the many details were addressed.

Mary’s desire was to sit at Jesus’ feet. She took this precious time to be still, to grow in intimacy and knowledge of this man Jesus. She chose not to get distracted by the busyness of His visit, the preparation, her sister’s call to do more. She made the choice to be present, to quiet her heart, to focus on God.

Seeking God in a busy world requires some intentionality, a little planning, and perseverance. But Jesus says in Luke 10:42B,

Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Jesus confirms that Mary had it right. His desire for our lives is time spent in His presence, at his feet, in relationship with Him.

But how do we make time?

What do we do while in His presence?

What are Jesus’ promises for our time together?

Making Time

Jesus himself was the best example of making time for God. He was often found stealing away to a quiet place to pray and worship.

Luke 5:16 shares,

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

We need to get away from the distractions to a quiet (lonely) place. A place that allows us to focus; a comfy chair in the early morning before the family places their daily demands. A Walk in the neighborhood or hike in the woods, just you and Jesus. A late evening encounter, the day is done and you can rest in your Father’s arms.

You may only have 5 minutes, take the time. Jesus waits to meet with you.

Make time, BeLOVED, for your savior – daily – intentionally – consistently.

In His Presence

Three things we can focus on while we are in the presence of God; prayer, praise, and pondering His goodness.

Colossians 4:2 tells us,

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

We can use our time alone with God to pray, talk with Him about every aspect of our lives – not just our needs (He already knows all) but also our dreams, share those tiny things that bring us joy.

Psalm 117:1-2 gives us another hint at what we should focus on during our time with the Lord,

Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Take time to praise God for all He has done and continues to do for you. The Lord loves to hear the praises of His people. Listen to worship music, sing or pray in the quiet of your mind, sing or pray at the top of your lungs – don’t forget to praise!

Pondering God, reflecting on His character and nature, allows us to grow our knowledge and understanding of the person of Jesus. Reading the Bible, a daily devotion, journaling are all excellent ways to reflect on God.

His Promise

James 4:8 shares God’s promise for our time with Him.

 Come close to God, and God will come close to you…

Our time with God brings intimacy and builds our relationship with our loving Father. Our faith and trust grow, burdens shift, pain takes on a new perspective, and our lives are transformed.

Sisters, I know many of you are going through difficult times. Times that cause you to fear, question, and challenges your faith. Times where you think I don’t have time to be still, I’m just hanging on!

I encourage you, even in desperate times, to make time to be with Jesus. Because it is during these times – we need to focus on Him even more. We need to sit in His presence, lounge at His feet, spend time getting to know Him, loving Him, surrendering to Him.

(31) Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ (32) For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (33) But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

(34) “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:31-34 Amplified Bible (AMP)

BeLOVED, don’t get lost in the busyness and the distractions of this world. Spend time with the One that can meet your inner longings, your deep loneliness, and your unimaginable losses. 

Nestle into your favorite chair, settle into the corner of a coffee shop or a bookstore, walk a quiet path – spend time with your creator.

In return, He will reveal Himself, His passions, His purpose for your life and you will find yourself resting in a holy moment.

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

FULLY KNOWN

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Photo by J. Applegate


Guest Blog by Stacia Cruz

Sometimes I go by a different name. That may sound crazy but it’s true! If I’m placing an order at Starbucks I give the barista my daughter’s name instead of my own. Her name is easier to write and pronounce. But I can only do this because this barista doesn’t know me.

God is all-knowing which means He knows me personally and intimately. There is nothing about me that is hidden from Him. God knows all of my thoughts, words, and actions from the past, present, and even the future.

I am reminded of the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. We read in John 4,

Usually, women came to the well in the morning or evening when it was cool. This particular woman was drawing water by herself at noon. The shame she felt over her lifestyle choices compelled her to try and hide from others.

There are struggles we as women experience that can lead to feeling shame: being a working mom when our friends are not, money struggles, a mental health issue or an addiction. As a mom, I know well the feeling of shame when I respond to my kids in impulsive anger. Thankfully God is fully aware of who we are and accepts us anyway!

In this encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus began to show her His full knowledge of who she was. When this woman told Jesus that she didn’t have a husband He replied,

(17) You are right when you say you have no husband. (18) The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.

Although Jesus shared how much He knew about her He did not shame her. Instead, He responded with love and acceptance. Once this woman came face to face with Jesus, she was moved to share about Him with others. Later in the chapter we read,

(39) Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

With God we are fully known, perfectly loved and completely accepted no matter what!

Nothing is hidden from Him.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 139 of how intimately God knows us,

(1) “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. (2) You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (3) You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Remember today that you are fully known and loved. Take comfort in the fact that you are His precious daughter free of all shame. No matter what you’re struggling with, God is here to give you freedom.

In His love,

Stacia


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Stacia Cruz

About the Author

Stacia and her husband Ryan have been married for 15 years. They have 3 children: ages 12, 8, and 5.

Stacia oversees the women’s ministry events for New Hope Church. Her desire is that women grow in their relationship with God while building connection with one another.

She is passionate about God’s word and loves to challenge woman to think about who they are in Him.


Please visit the DEVOTION page to read Stacia’s devotion.

If you would like to share a comment, please go to Leave A Comment at the top of this page.

Follow the Light

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Photo by A. Burden

I am an avid gardener, although every year I ask myself “why.” I live in Central Oregon and our weather can be very challenging, 90°+ during the day and low 40s – high 30s at night. Clear skies in the morning and by mid-day a rainstorm. We have crazy, unpredictable, ever-changing weather.

This year was particularly hard. I started confident – planted early, everything was growing really well. Until late June and the thunderstorms rolled in. One particular storm dropped significant rain, which then turned to pea-size hail and the garden was nearly destroyed. Leaves were shred, tender sprouts were crushed and any blossoms formed were gone. It was the worst hailstorm I had experienced in Central Oregon.

However, one thing withstood the assault of the pounding hail, our sunflowers. The leaves were a little pitted but they stood strong, towering over the rest of what was once the garden.

I like sunflowers. There is something about their big bright flowers that make me smile. They make me feel like an accomplished gardener. Although in reality, they will grow anywhere and require no maintenance. Sunflowers, the variety, size, and colors just  make me happy!

You may already know this little fact, but the young flowers follow the light. In the morning, they face East soaking in the sun’s rays and by evening they have turned West – it is fascinating to watch!

The sunflower’s behavior is one we should all consider mimicking – following the light.

When life is peaceful, prosperous, and easy – follow the light!

When life is a struggle and complicated – follow the light!

When your children make the wrong choices, the dog is sick, and you and your husband/friend/business partner are at odds – follow the light!

When the diagnosis comes back positive – follow the light!

The sunflower has no other option, it was created to follow, innately equipped to follow.

Humans, not so much. We have a choice to follow, free will, and we are innately equipped to wander.

So, what does it mean to follow the light?

In John 8:12 we learn,

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

New International Version (NIV)

True light comes from a single source, Jesus. He will provide direction for our lives and in the midst of our sin and disobedience offers light to show us the way to repentance and restoration.

As we build a relationship with Him, we begin to reflect His light in our own lives. We enjoy learning about Him, following His truth, thinking more about the needs of others than our own wants, and holding on to Him in the face of disappointment and despair.

Our lives are transformed.

Matthew 5:16 tells us,

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

NIV

Our transformed life, the light that shines in us, can then be used to tell the world about God, His love, and His amazing grace. We do this by the way we live our lives, share our talents and skills, and communicate our story.

Our light draws others to Jesus.

But we know that as humans, we sin and often choose to ignore God’s instruction. We choose to ignore the light of His truth.

Matthew 6:22-23 challenges us,

(22) The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. (23) But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

NIV

We turn our faces away from God and follow our own path. Darkness surrounds us; lust, pride, self-righteousness – our sins.

Yet, He waits patiently for us to acknowledge our sinfulness and return. Be restored by His light.

There will come a day when we will experience His eternal light. Living in His presence in our heavenly home. This is not something we earn or win as a prize for living the best life. It is freely given to those who trust in Him.

Revelations 22:5 paints a picture of our future,

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.

NIV

There will be no more need to strive or struggle, we will rest in the warm glow of Jesus’ love.

Our faces will search for His and just like the sunflower, we will move in cadence with Jesus. Following Him from East to West, across the heavens for eternity.

We will have consistently, obediently, humbly followed His light.

Ladies, we can live confidentially. Jesus is our light. As we trust Him, we reflect His light to a broken and hurting world, and then we will rest in Him eternally.

Follow the light dear sisters.

Follow it when you don’t think you can persist. Follow the light when you are fearful and living with regret. Follow it when the darkness of heartbreak, longing and, shame work to control your mind.

BeLOVED, follow the light!

Blessings,

Signature - Allison


If you would like to share your thoughts, please go to the top of the page and click on “Leave a Comment“.

Visit the new devotion post, Adam and Eve – Wandering Costs, on the Devotion page.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17