What will it take to make me Bold?

 

It is so easy to withdrawal from this adventure called life and tuck yourself away safely in the confines of comfort and routine never venturing outside the box of your false sense of security. That is not where God intends us to anchor down. We were not placed on this earth to be robotic and conforming but to be adventurous and enlightened; to embrace the many little hidden blessings he rains down on us each and everyday. Many of these blessings are not found in the safety zone of our comfort but when we step out into the unknown fields. The more out of control we are the more in control God becomes and we find ourselves in a place of insecure security.

My word for 2017 is BOLD when I first received this word from God I was extremely intimidated. It sounds like such a overwhelming word for a meek and mild soul like me. So often I have question whether God has me confused with another Tracy; one with much more confidence, strength and endurance. How was I going to build myself up to fulfill this word which would require me to overcome so many insecurities and fears.

I decided to retreat to my quiet place armed with a blank canvas and array of paints and ask God to reveal to me what it was he wanted me to know about this word Bold and how He was going to apply this to my life. The message that flowed through the strokes of the paint brush revealed an entirely different perspective to this overwhelming word BOLD!

Believe in my
Overwhelming
Love and
Delight in you
and Boldness will be the result

Wow when you put it like that the word becomes so much less intimidating and more empowering! If I only would grasp the overwhelming love of my father then how could I be anything less than bold. He also gave me this scripture as a visual of this love and delight:

Zephaniah 3:17
“The Lord your God in your midst , the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”

The visual of the almighty God, King of Kings singing and dancing over me definitely makes me feel so less intimidated by my fleshly weaknesses and fears and infuses a power that cannot be denied. If the King of Kings delights in me to the point of singing and dancing over me how could I reflect anything less than the light that is shining down on me! There is no darkness that this earth can produce that can overcome or dim the light of God as it beams down from heaven and shines on those who earnestly seek Him.

In the most intimidating circumstances, I carry a strength a marking that cannot be erased, dimmed, snuffed out! Even though in the flesh I may still have those feelings of intimidation and fear they are but fiery darts from an enemy who carries no weight. They are false illusions intended to distract me from the overwhelming truth of the power I have dwelling in me.

God also revealed three things he wanted to share with me. Key word being share, not teach or show but share with me. They are adventure, intimacy and beauty.

I am making a conscious effort to walk within the boundaries of a love God is trying to reveal to me; but in life and the many twist and turns it brings, it is often hard to believe in his overwhelming love and delight in me and therefore be bold and not retreat. I am grateful that God never gives up on us and His love is eternal and fierce it pierces through the darkest places in our life and reveals the adventure and beauty contained within and therefore changes our perspective and draws us closer to greater intimacy with Christ.

“On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:3

 

Do you find yourself in a dark season of life? In a rut of the same old routine? Does there seem to be no hope, no way out, no light at the end of your long tunnel? Draw closer to the only one who can illuminate your path and infuse your soul with hope. Jesus. Believe in his Overwhelming Love and Delight in you and step boldly forward to the next adventure filled with beauty and intimacy with Christ.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 

Life in full bloom – in honor of my dad Richard Shepherd

Spent the morning weeding and pruning the flower bed. Made me stop and think about how a flower can appear to be dead and no longer vibrant; however when you prune back the dead branches the flower then regains its vibrancy and sometimes even blooms more vibrant than before. This is what God does in our lives if we allow him. He prunes away the dead weight of sin therefore allowing us to bloom to our full potential. As I survey my flower bed I remember the plants I rescued from the throw away bins last year that are now some of my healthiest; fullest; most colorful plants. Really glad I did not shrug them off as hopeless. So excited to think that is how God sees us. With a little pruning our lives like the flowers can bloom. God sees beyond the weeds and dead branches in our lives never giving up on the true beauty he knows we have the potential to achieve. So grateful God doesn’t leave us in the throw away bin!

God who vindicates me


 

Vindicate- (1) To clear of accusations,blame , suspicion or doubt with supporting arguments or proof. (2) to defend maintain or insist on the recognition of (3) to demonstrate or prove the value or validity of; justify (4) to exact revenge for;avenge.

God has vindicated me; making me clear of blame, shame and sin by sacrificing His only son Jesus Christ for my sins past, present and future.

He is my defender! He stands in the gap and covers me with amazing grace !! Insisting others see me as He sees me, through the blood of Jesus;  clean without blemish, His daughter, His bride, His prized possession, the apple of His eye. My past pain, loss, bad choices, rebellion all thrown out! Clean slate. Jesus death gives me the right to accept and receive pardon and not be condemned for my past sins.

He gives this broken, shamed, scared woman who has made bad decisions that have tainted her reputation, value. He says you are forgiven, you are loved, you are important, you were created in MY image! You are well loved and highly favored. You are so valid to me that I justified you and secured your eternal salvation with me! How much more could I do to prove my love for you!!

Revenge is mine says the Lord (Romans 12:19) You need not carry the burden of un-forgiveness or anger; lay it all at my feet. I will make all things as they should be. I will always protect you! I will never leave or forsake you.

God is our vindicator in every aspect of definition. He has it covered. He is the complete and perfect provider of vindication! What an enpowering and comforting thought to truly understand that He has got your back!!

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Does God really give a flip about me?

 

“As the father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I kept My Fathers commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11

This week has been an amazing experience in trusting God and plugging in to his source in all circumstances. Monday morning I received a phone call that after a routine mammogram an “abnormality” had been seen and I would need to come back for more images and further evaluation. The fact that I work at a cancer center only heightened the possibility that this was going to be my diagnosis. I had signed up for a class on the names of God and it was beginning on the evening after receiving that call. As I opened God’s word and begin to dig deeply into Who He really is my spirit began to find calm in the mist of the unknown. At the end of our study for the evening we were ask to write a prayer of praise thanking God for all He had created for our pleasure. I began to write and my spirit smiled as I thanked God for one of my favorite things, sunshine I even drew a sun and colored it bright yellow; I then laughed as I thanked God for my second favorite thing which is chocolate in any form and the way it can also brighten my mood or put a smile on my face. While at work the next day, I turned to find a box of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing and a card on my desk. Upon opening the card I found a big sunshine with a smiley face looking back at me with the words praying for you in this time of “unknown” a tear came to my eye as I felt the very presence of God and the intimate way He was showing me that my heartfelt praise to Him the night before had been a pleasing fragrance to God! What an amazing testimony it became, as I shared the significance of the gift and how it was a message straight from the hand of God with the person who had delivered it!

I wish I could say I never had a doubt or fear from that moment forward, but to be completely transparent my old companion “anxiety” came a knocking. The voice of anxiety wanted me to ponder the possibility of a cancer diagnosis and fear the consequences that would bring. For a moment I did entertain the thoughts but as I felt fear and anxiety creeping through my veins I rebuked those thoughts and began to instead name the blessings that could come from what appears to be a blessing less diagnosis.

•God had brought me to this job 5 short months ago; it gave me health insurance benefits and probably ensured I would do my yearly exam and find the problem before it got any further.

• I would have more empathy for the patients as I walked in their shoes.

•I could use this situation to instill the importance of good health habits and yearly checkups to my daughter.

•God had given me the word “joy” for this year and I was going to learn how to have joy in all circumstances and He was preparing me for my destiny!

I never once thought that this would be anything other than bad news. But one thing I never lost sight of was “who” held my future! I kept my eyes on Jesus and my ears tuned to praise music all of which was powering me through the 4 day wait for the revealing of the unknown!

My heart leaped with joy as they told me it had been a false alarm; the new images cleared things up! Whew! what an intense 4 day journey that had become. I learned so much through this event being allowed in my life. I saw that God had changed me from the inside out and when my old companion anxiety came a knocking it did not find a comfortable place to hang out! Praise God! I also got to experience a very personal very caring God who, as I sought His comfort and guidance, filled me with a joy that made no earthly sense under my current looming circumstances , yet testified to His presence in my life to those around me.

A study of the word Joy revealed the Greek word Chara derived from Chario who’s definition is ” calm delight; gladness a feeling of calm and control no matter the circumstances or your emotional state”

I praise God today for my report of good health! and for sunshine and let’s not forget chocolate!!!

Abiding in the Love of Christ

“ As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now abide in my love” John 15:9

This year for the first time God has given me a word for the year and that word is Joy. In the short amount of time that I have had this word, God has revealed to me such a deep breath taking truth. The only way we can find real genuine joy is to abide in God’s love. God spoke to me in a devotional with these words “Apart from love, our potential for experiencing joy remains flat like a lifeless balloon. LOVE EXHALES THE FULLNESS OF JOY.

God created us with a deep desire and need for love; however, we try to fill our cup with all the wrong things. God is the only source by which our cup can be filled to overflowing! He tells us that if we will seek Him we will find Him. “ And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13 He is not an elusive God who is unreachable; quite the opposite He is a personal God who wants an intimate relationship with us!! When we truly get this concept, this overwhelming, breathtaking love, then and only then, are we free to be all that God created and specifically designed us to be. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” John 8:36

The enemy slithers around us as women all the time spewing his lies and distorting the picture we have of ourselves. He tricks us into basing our self worth on the most trivial things. Take Valentines for an example how much emphasis do we place on how lovable and worthy we are based on whether or not we receive a valentine from that someone special? How often do we feel left out, unloved, unworthy during this time of year? My sweet sisters this is the biggest lie of all.

Know this truth you are worthy and lovable to God. “ For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16 It does not matter where you have been or what you have done His love is unfailing, unending and never runs out. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” John 3:17

I am sure most of you are familiar with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and her encounter with Jesus.  I am today’s version of that woman at the well. I had my innocence taken from me at the age of 5, I was adulterous, I was a divorcee, I was a control freak, I was anxiety ridden and the list could go on. I have seen some dark, dark times in my life; and just like with the woman at the well, Jesus knows all these things about me yet He ask me to sit at His feet and drink from the cup in his hand. Deep, refreshing gulps of his love and grace. Now I, just like the woman at the well, want to run and tell others come let me show you this man Jesus the Messiah; for He knows all that I have done and yet He loves me, He calls me daughter and restores my life with Living water so that I may thirst no more!!!! “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” John 4:14

One of my favorite songs is “The More I Seek You”  It is a song that deeply reflects the love of God and the desire He has for an intimate relationship with each and every one of us. I would like to ask you to do something for me as we prepare to listen to this beautiful song of worship and adoration of the King. Close your eyes. Picture Jesus as He was the man sitting at the well.   The words of the chorus of the song say “ I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hand, lean up against you and breath, feel your heart beat!!!” Truly vision sitting at Jesus feet not in front facing him as if you are at a teaching but sitting with your back pressed up against His legs and leaning into Him; feeling His presence and the love flowing out of His cup. A love that is so overwhelming and all consuming, melting you as it washes over you. Worship the lover of your soul! Allow Him to refresh and restore you tonight. Take a long, deep drink of the living water He has to offer and find fulfillment knowing that you will thirst no more.

Happy Valentines from the lover of your soul, the source of true everlasting love!

 

Welcomed Presence

2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This has always been one of my favorite scriptures, but until recently I had not truly grasp the depths of these words or seen them in action in someone else’s life.

Growing up in the church has afforded me the privilege of hearing all the stories within the Bible more than once. They unfortunately had become just that, stories with life lessons but never truly impacting me to see how they could reproof, instruct or be profitable to my current life; that is until by Bible study last week!


I am going through the study “How Jesus broke the rules to set you free” by Sharon Jaynes with a dear friend and sister in Christ. Our study last week was the story of the “sinful woman” who worshiped at Jesus feet , pouring expensive perfume and wiping His feet with her hair. A story I was very familiar with, but never impacted as much as I was this time around. I was at first taken back by the intense emotion and compassion that my friend spoke in when reflecting on this well-known story; however the more she unveiled her heart the more I began to understand that my friend had experienced this kind of love for Jesus,who had forgiven her sins and set her free from the chains of regret and shame. This story was coming to life right before my eyes in a person that was not some distant figure in a story from long ago, but a real person who had been at the feet of Jesus herself not in the physical sense like in the story, but in a spiritual encounter of total surrender to the only one who could bring her life more abundantly. I felt so exhilarated to be a part of this experience with her! My heart raced a little as I realized the magnitude of what was unfolding before me! This “Bible story” was breathing life into my very soul. I was understanding, for the first time,that this story was an example of the life God desired from ME!

Luke 7: 47 “therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.

These words from the mouth of Jesus pierced me to the core!! I have been forgiven MUCH!!!!! But does my love for Jesus reflect that fact? Am I willing, with total abandonment, to fall at Jesus feet and pour out my very best to the one who has redeemed me? Not worried about what others will think, what the religious rules are but in reckless abandonment surrender to Him, adore Him, praise Him in all I do and say? He deserves no less.

I am that sinful woman; yet God adores me and welcomes me to sit at His feet, to worship at His feet, to bring my best and completely turn my life over to the one who can give me abundant joy!

It all begins with Love. God’s unconditional, immeasurable love for me and my acceptance of this Love which then infuses me with abundant joy that flows from my life and splashed on all that I encounter! Now that is living loved!

her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much.”

Heavenly Father I so want to love you with reckless abandonment! To sit at your feet and worship and adore you for all you have done for me. I am so undeserving of this radical love you pour into my life!!! I am so grateful for the grace and mercy you have shown me. Forgive me for the times that I allow the expectations set by worldly rules to hinder my heart from fully embracing all you so selflessly give!!! I want to make you my number one priority and then everything else will fall into place! Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you! It is in the powerful name of Jesus I pray Amen!!

 

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Eternal Inheritance


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Galatians 4:6-7   And because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his son into your heart, crying out Abba, father!  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 
Jesus sole purpose of being born was to walk in our shoes,setting the perfect example and choosing, from the conception, to walk into his final fate of a brutal death by the worst means possible,crucifixion, all for the sole purpose of taking your place before the world even knew who you were. Before your mother ever laid eyes on you your eternal life had been purchased and left at your place of birth. A gift worth far more than the frankincense and Muir that greeted Jesus at his birth. Better than any inheritance left in a parents will.

Oh how much precious time and energy is wasted on storing up temporary treasures here on earth instead of embracing our rightful place as heirs of eternal life; which cannot be taken away by any earthly means.

1 Peter 1:3-4 ” Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”

Take a moment to grasp the truth of scripture, therefore the truth of who you really are. You are an adopted child in the family of almighty God which entitles you to be the sole heir of eternal life.

Ephesians 1:4-5. Just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

God has placed the ultimate gift under your tree of life; you only need to accepted it.

1 Ephesians 13-14. In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in who also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.

This Christmas season will you unwrap the gift that was so freely given by the birth of a savior in a manger; to the death of a savior on the cross, all planned out for YOU before the foundation of the world. The eternal gift of adoption into the family of God whose house is never full and whose compassion never runs out.

 

 

Shining light on the matter

A definition of Transparency -having a picture or design that is visible when light shines through it.

Transparency is a word that is feared by so many. They see it as the path to isolation and judgment.  Wearing a mask, living a charade; thinking you are the only one with that issue, that pain, that weakness. Making transparency an area where once again the enemy uses the almighty weapon of “fear” to mask the truth and stifle the light, keeping us in the dark unable to see the reality of our condition.

This is a lie straight from the mouth of the enemy into our thoughts and emotions.  Satan does not want you to know the truth about transparency; that by its very definition sheds light on something to show it’s true picture.  The truth about transparency is just the opposite of what we have been tricked into believing.  It will bring freedom to your spirit and also shine light for others to see that they are not alone.  Hope will be born.

God gave me a vision recently on the truth about transparency. He gave me a vision of being in a very deep, very dark, dungeon like hole; feeling dusty, grimy and isolated.  He then whispered, all you need is light on the matter, and as I lit a small match that I found in my pocket I began to see the shadow of others that were there with me; I was not alone.  In fact, as I span the light around this dark dungeon I began to realize there were thousands right there with me.  All of us, trapped by our own demons and feeling alone and lost in this deep dark pit. As the light began to shine and the truth began to be revealed others there with me also lit a match and as the room was illuminated by the accumulation of each individual light we began to realize the truth and see our true condition and realize we were never truly alone.

God’s grace is as vast as the ocean; the supply is never ending.  Once the truth has been revealed and this grace has hit you like a tidal wave with the force to push you out of the pit you found yourself in; the desire to share with others the freedom you have found is overwhelming.  His spirit truly does speak through you into the lives of others!  The more broken your life is the more cracks there are for the light to shine through.

Matthew 10:20 ” For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Over this past year as I have taken steps, mostly through this blog, to become completely transparent several things have transpired in my journey.  I have found that a true freedom has been obtained and the illusion of chains that were holding me down in the pit I found myself in were loosened for good. Within this new freedom and the transparency of my life there has been the breaking of generational curses.  I have found that I am not alone in the mess I have made of my existence but upon my transparency the door was cracked for others to feel bold enough to step toward the light and begin the journey to freedom themselves.

John 3: 19 ” And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

I would be lying if I told you that my transparency did not come with any consequences;  not everyone will see the light as a beacon of hope.  There will be some who reject your truth or try to crucify you for it.  But know you are in great company.  Jesus himself was crucified for speaking the truth and being the light of the world. Yet that did not snuff out the light, it only made it more brightly illuminate the pathway to heaven. The  light of the word cannot be put out.  It is the truth that we walk in when we choose to be transparent and allow the light of the almighty God of the universe, to shine through the broken pieces of our existence.  We then reveal to those we share with, that grace abounds all the more today and everyday. Illuminating the illusions from the enemy; shining light that makes the true picture transparent. Lighting the way to the narrow path that takes us straight to the arms of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 1:12  ” For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”