Stop Holding People Underwater…Watch Them Rise to the Top

23 For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.  (Pr 5:23).

Have you ever tried to hold something under water? Maybe a ball, a person, or something else? Do you know what happens when you let those things go? They rise to the top.

The Lord has been teaching me the power of letting things go in my life. Letting people go mostly, and my idea of what should or shouldn’t be for my life.

In my marriage I used to think it was important to make sure my husband prioritized my needs. I thought it was imperative that before we move forward on things that my needs, wants and desires were heard seen and valued. When you have two people operating like that, you just keep drowning one another.

Instead, I’ve learned the value of letting things go and because of that I’m seeing things in my life rise to the top. My husband has grown so much this year as a leader, provider, father and husband. I think it’s because, on many levels, I finally let him go and started putting his needs before my own.

When my daughter gets older, I can feel already how hard this will be for me, but I’m praying for the same grace to let her go, not control her or metaphorically hold her under water until she sees things my way. I want to watch her rise to the top and if I’ve taught her how to swim, then she should be able to do it on her own.

But how do we do that? How do we let spouses, children, jobs, fears and insecurities go? I think we have to take seriously these words of Jesus and put them into practice daily, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

So maybe letting people and things go is really about learning how to die so that we can place their needs before our own. After all, a dead person doesn’t need that much do they? Except to be watered by the good gardener so that He can grow them into something beautiful.

So friend, if you want your life to be a beautiful garden full of His love to the world try dying and stop making every decision about what’s best for you. Discipline yourself to stop loving yourself first, but instead choose to put others first in your life and stop holding them under water. You’ll find that each decision you make will actually be harder for awhile, because dying to yourself really isn’t all that fun, but in the end it will produce fruit, as you watch the people and things in your life rise to the top instead of being drowned by your own hand.

Father, I want to live as a woman who lets things and people go. Show me what I’ve been holding onto that is unhealthy. Grant us your peace and grace each new day. May our hearts be satisfied in you always, in Jesus name, Amen.

Let God Redirect You

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. …(Pr 4:26).

Yesterday I took my daughter on another walk outside. It was beautiful, and she loved being able to be out; exploring, looking around, trying to get into things. There came a time when she decided to go into our neighbors yard and play with one of their drainage spouts. Obviously, I had to keep redirecting her. That’s hard to do with a 14 month old. She doesn’t understand that playing with something like that isn’t good for her. After all, it’s not even something that belongs to her.

Since the snow was melting all around us, when I tried to redirect her away from the spout she spun herself into a fit and plopped herself right in some fresh mud. I had to pick her up, take her inside and clean her off.

I wonder how many of us have taken hold of things in life that we were never meant to have. God kept redirecting us but we just had to have things our way and in our time. Could it be that what we’ve gained for ourselves might even be something that doesn’t even belong to us? Maybe we went outside of God’s design for sex and so we’re sleeping with someone who isn’t our spouse. It’s quite possible we couldn’t wait for God’s best on a job, marriage, home, friendship, etc. and so we jumped ahead and got ourselves into a bad situation. Now we’re sitting in some fresh mud and we haven’t got the humility to let God pick us up and wash us off.

Have you ever done that? Continued to play in the mud thinking you could fix the issue? Telling yourself that the mud might be hard and difficult but you can make it work? When in reality what we need to do is repent and get ourselves out of the muck and mire that we have spun ourselves in.

Little did my sweet girl know, that I kept redirecting her because I know what’s best for her. God is doing the same for us. Won’t you listen to His voice and follow Him out of the place you’ve put yourself in?

Some of us wonder why we just never seem happy or why life just never seems to “work” for us. Maybe it’s because we’ve put ourselves in a giant mud pit, away from the promises of God and straight into the hands of the devil’s playground. It might seem nice for awhile, but eventually all that mud will start to overtake us, if it hasn’t already.

So friend, won’t you take His hand and walk out of the slimy pits you’ve created for yourself? He has good things for you to enjoy with Him. Let Him redirect you to His very best. You can trust that His heart is for you and His promises are good.

Father, I submit my whole life to you. You are so kind, good, faithful and true. Thank you for your love. It truly is better than life. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you, your grace to me is so good, in Jesus name, Amen.

Take His Hand and Never Let Go

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Pr 3:5–6).

Yesterday it was so nice outside we took a walk as a family before dinner. This was the first time we were able to let our daughter walk beside us. Of course, we held her hands as we walked together. She’s still not skilled enough in the art of walking to know where she’s going or how to walk a straight path on her own.

I think what God is showing me is that I’ll never be skilled enough to walk without Him holding my hand either. Never, ever, will I rise above this need for Him to walk with me, teaching me how to walk a straight path. The truth is, when I think that I don’t need Him, I’ll fall. When I think I’m spiritual enough now to walk on my own without truly listening, waiting and watching for Him I’ll make a mess of my life somewhere along the way.

It wasn’t safe for us to let go of our daughters hand yesterday. Of course, she tries to break herself free because she wants to be independent. She doesn’t understand that she needs us to help guide her as she walks.

I don’t know where you need God to guide you along your journey, but I desperately need Him to hold my hand and guide me.

In the original language the word “submit” in Proverbs 3:6 can also mean, “know.” Friend, know Him, that’s how you understand what path to walk. Know Him and His heart. That’s the only way we’ll ever understand what God has for us. So go ahead, take the first step of knowing Him and grab His hand and never let go.

Father, I need you to guide me. I cannot walk on my own. That has never gone well when I have. Please guide my life. Show me what you have for me and forgive me for my stubborn, prideful heart. I don’t know the path, but I want to know you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Have You Ever Been Fed by God?

The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm…. (Is 51:5).

Everyday I feed my daughter. The truth is, she really can’t feed herself just yet. She doesn’t know how to prepare food. She can only eat a few very soft things on her own, but she certainly can’t feed herself a spoon full of applesauce or a bowl of yogurt.

You see, my daughter needs me to feed her and I will always make sure she gets what she needs. There are times I have to cut her off because eating too much would not be good for her. But I would never let her go without. Even though it takes a lot of time I will always feed her.

Friend, have you ever been fed by the hand of God? Have you ever relied on Him to bring forth the bounty in your life and waited for His arm to bring it forth? I think I’m living in that place in my life right now. It feels so freeing from where I’ve been in previous places in my life. I just couldn’t wait for God’s hand to come and bring me what He desired for me to feast on, so I tried to feed myself. Which either meant that I didn’t receive the right nutrition or I gorged myself on some sort of sinful behavior.

Where is God in the kitchen of your life? Is He just the one that you expect to come and clean up all of your messes after you’ve neglected to wait on the meal that He’s preparing for you? Making a meal takes time. I spend so much time in the kitchen each day preparing three meals for my sweet girl, but I want to make sure she gets the right nutrients and thus far, she’s been very patient because she knows from past experience that I will always feed her. She knows I”m there to help take care of her. She knows from what she’s gone through thus far that I will always make sure she never goes without.

Has God not shown Himself to be just as faithful in our lives? Why then do we think He’s not going to come through? Why do we become like Sarah and Abraham who came up with their own idea of how the promised child from God would come? Friend, we do not have to eat at the first sign of hunger. We can wait, albeit a little hungry for the meal God is preparing for us. As He lifts His arm to offer us a delicious meal we can rejoice in His goodness for our lives.

I’m not sure where you’re lacking patience, but I would encourage you, just as I would encourage myself to keep waiting on God’s best for your life. When it comes from Him you’ll know it is all from His hand.

Lord, thank you for your provision for me and my little family. You are so good. Where would we be without you? What a gift you are to us. Thank you Father for showering us with your grace. We love you and we thank you for who you are to us, in Jesus name, Amen.

Becoming Who He is

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”….(Mt 17:19).

He is the God of second chances. Don’t you just love that?

We see here in the book of Matthew that the disciples were unable to drive out a demon. Jesus tells them it was because of their lack of faith. Yet, later on in the gospels, we see a different story. We see the disciples healing people and exercising their faith in what their Rabbi Jesus told them they could do.

In the first century a disciple was expected to take what they had learned and put it into practice. After all, they didn’t just want to know what their rabbi knew, but they wanted to become what their rabbi was. You see, this Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth was a man who embodied faith in action. He was, by all accounts, the fulfillment of God’s living in word in action. Therefore, His disciples were expected to embody a similar faith as they became like Him.

But what about you and me? Are we becoming like Him? If we are, we’re going to have moments of failure, and moments where we lack faith, but that’s the wonderful thing about the Rabbi we follow. He never gives up on us. He continues to show us how to put faith into action and if we are willing to keep pressing forward in faith, we will see God do through us what He has never done before.

I’ve stopped saying the words, “God could never.” Instead, I’ve learned to tell myself, “God has said, therefore I will _______________…, obey, listen, believe, follow, etc.

Friend, don’t you see, that’s where our Rabbi meets us, not in our never, but in our willingness to embody who He is. It wasn’t by the disciples power that people were healed it was through their faith in Jesus, the Rabbi who they were becoming like that the lame were made well.

So friend, let’s go and embody who our Savior Jesus is to the world. A man of faith who put faith into action. I want to do that, won’t you join me?

Lord, I want to be your Kingdom worker. May my life shine for you. I want to embody who you are so that the world might see, taste and experience your love, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Love the Sheep Before You Love Being a Shepherd

I will not yield my glory to another…..(Is 48:11).

As I’m sitting here, reflecting on the gracious and kind doors God is opening for me, I’m noticing a bit of an issue about where I’m placing my identity. Simply because, I’m starting to care too much about my image. For many years I’ve struggled with that. Thinking that more applause from people means that what I have to offer is more valuable. Yet, I’m not sure that’s ever gone well for anyone, because there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t care for what you have to offer.

For the most part, Jesus lived a very quiet life. He spent the majority of His time doing ministry in tiny towns. He didn’t want to attract a huge following too soon. He had Kingdom work to do which involved loving the least of these, caring for the sick and bringing the good news to everything He met. You’d think if Jesus was a bit more strategic He’d set up HIs ministry primarily in largely populated areas, but the majority of His time was not spent in those places.

I think what God is showing me is that I have to love the sheep more than I love being a shepherd. Did you hear that? The difference is so subtle yet so amazingly different if we truly want to bear His image instead of just put forth an image.

If I love being a shepherd more than I love the sheep then I’ll make my role in the Kingdom all about me. I’ll forget to love them before I can get them to love me. Honestly, I think there are parts of me that is really just unsure of how to love the sheep. I need God’s wisdom and grace in all of that, because my mind has been conditioned for so long to get the sheep to love me.

So friend, today, lets commit our way to loving people, instead of getting them to love us. I don’t want to get that backwards. I did that for way too long. After all, there’s Kingdom work to do, which means that we bear His image, and join with Him in His creative process, not put forth our own. Partnering with Him to bring the good news of Jesus to the sheep. Not try to get the sheep to think that we’re the image and the face of the good news.

Lord, I want to bear your image, which means that I partner with you in the work of creation. I will make myself a living sacrifice before you today. I lay aside my worry and I take up your life. I need more of your life in me. Transform my heart today, I ask, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Lord Delights in You

he rescued me because he delighted in me….(Ps 18:19).

I love watching my daughter do just about anything. It brings me some of the greatest delight in all the world. Knowing that she’s mine just makes my heart swell with inexpressible delight as she meanders her way around the house, learning and growing right before my very eyes. Truth be told, as much as we have difficult moments together, my delight for her never wavers. It just continues to grow.

Beloved, don’t you know that God delights in you as well? You’re not some big disappointment to Him? He’s not waiting and watching for the time to strike to punish you for your bad behavior or lack of perfect faith. He’s a Heavenly Father who takes great delight in you. Yes, you my friend. The Lord delights in you.

I wonder who needs to hear that. Who needs to hear that today, your Heavenly Father wants to dance with you, not stomp on top of you. He wants to sing with you, not shout at you. He wants to hold your hand, not cut it off.

Sometimes I feel like I live in reaction mode with God where I feel like if I don’t live this Christian life just right that God will strike me right away for my bad behavior. I’ll get caught up in my head thinking that maybe each moment of struggle is all my fault and God is punishing me now for it. But why do I view Him as a punishing God when He has only shown Himself to be a good who suffers long with others, practices immense patience and shows boundless mercy? Maybe it’s because my view of Him got caught short somewhere because my experience didn’t match up with what I thought I knew of Him.

It’s quite possible that we are living in a time of correction from the Lord and we need to own that and not get angry with God over it, but we should never see Him in as someone who doesn’t delight in us. Friend, He delights so much in you that the joy He has in His heart towards you is so unimaginably extravagant that you wouldn’t even know how to process it all if He showed you.

So let the Lord delight you in today, just as you delight in your children and loved ones, He too takes great delight in you.

Father, I’m just overcome by the reality that you love me as much as you do. Where I would be without you, I do not know. I believe in faith that you can and you will continue to grow me up in you. I don’t want sin to reign in my any longer. I want Jesus to be my Lord and King forever, Amen.

Keep Praying for Your Loved One to Find Jesus

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them….. (Jn 3:36).

As a kid I used to love going to the fair. I’m not proud of this but there were a few times when I would try to sweet talk my way into a free ride on one of the carnival rides. Sometimes they would say yes and sometimes no. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I thought if I could get into that ride without paying then that would be a great thing.

I wish Heaven worked that way. Where we didn’t need a ticket, but you see, someone had to pay a great price for our entrance into Heaven and He is the Lord Jesus Christ. I fear for those who are not children of God. For those who believe they can sweet talk their way into Heaven.

“I’ve been a good person.”

“Look at all the great things I’ve done.”

Truth is, I pray often for my loved ones who have not bowed their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for their souls to find rest in His eternal life. Because for some, it will be too late, what a devastating and overwhelming reality.

I know you have loved ones too that you pray for daily. Friends and family members who do not know the love of God. People who have not claimed Jesus as Lord and Messiah. I get it, you’ve tried talking to them about it but it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

I want to encourage you today to keep loving, keep praying and keep believing that they will one day see for themselves they cannot sweet talk their way into Heaven. They need to be bought with the precious blood of Christ. They need Jesus, on their behalf to purchase a ticket for them. It seems so simple doesn’t it? But it means that we must let go of ourselves and cry out to Him to save us. It requires us to be humble, choose to walk a different path and pledge our full allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t give up on praying for them. The Lord hears your prayer dear friend. I know you feel discouraged, I do at different times as well. Just keep believing that God can take those things that seem most broken and restore them according to His love. Keep praying, keep sharing and keep loving dear friend. It is our duty as Christians.

One day, I pray that your loved one, just as mine will embrace Him as Lord and Savior and then we will rejoice together of their new birth in Christ. Then, we can enjoy that glorious ride together with the Lord Jesus as He welcomes us into His Kingdom for all time.

Father, I do pray that my loved ones who are far from you might find you. Lord Jesus, help me to love others like you love them. I want my life to be about you and for you. Let it be so, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

God Doesn’t Live in My Chaos

“I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself… (Is 44:24).

The Lord doesn’t need my help. I have to constantly remind myself of that. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself recently about something and it’s really putting me in a place of anxiousness. Friend, you can’t freely live with God and others when you’re in a place of anxiety. Much of this has me wondering if maybe I’m doing too much right now. It’s got me thinking that maybe all this pressure that I feel is really just me running ahead of God and trying to make things happen before they should.

I’ve learned over the years that running ahead of God doesn’t go well. I know better. I really do. Sometimes it’s OK to take a step back and slow down. That’s what I’m telling myself this morning as I re-evaluate my time and weigh it out with the Lord.

I’m seeing anxiety like a little mouse running around the house that I’m trying to chase. It’s like I have to catch it before I can move on, but catching it is exhausting and difficult beyond belief. That’s not where God lives. He’s not like a little mouse we have to chase. He never asks us to live like that. Instead, He’s a presence to be still with each day. He’s a place in time, for all time, that we can find out true joy and rest in. He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s our first, forever and final resting place, even in the here and now.

So friend, if you’re like m e and sometimes you go chasing that little mouse, would you take a step back and simply practice stillness with your Father? God doesn’t live in the chaos, but He lives in being known and the only way to know Him, is to rest in Him in each new day.

Father, I place myself before you today. I know I’ve felt anxious and worried. My heart and mind have felt so under the gun. Forgive me for allowing my thoughts to take me there. Help me now to re-evaluate the things that only you have asked of me. Help me now to be fully present with you today, so that I can love others like you would, in Jesus name, Amen.

A New Name

and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’…(Is 44:5).

Quiroz is a difficult last name for people to say. When I got married, I went from Douglas, an extremely easy name that I never had to help others with to Quiroz, a name that 95% of the time, people have no clue how to say. But to me, on my wedding day, embracing a new name that came with a few challenges didn’t matter because I just couldn’t wait to be my husbands bride. There was something about that day where I just knew that I had a new name and there was no looking back into the old me. I was a Quiroz now and I had a commitment to that name. After all, I had made a covenant with my groom to be faithful to him and to bear his name with joy and pride.

Truly, in Christ, we have been given a new name. That name is “child of God.” Of course, that name comes with its own challenges. Bearing it sometimes means that people won’t understand us. In fact, they might even be opposed to us just simply because of that name. But, there’s no turning back, because you see on your wedding day, the day of your salvation when you made a commitment to the Lord Jesus, everything about you changed and you were brought into a brand new life. A life where this new name that you have been given is a new way forward into your destiny.

Sure, Quiroz is a hard last name for people to say and sometimes child of God can be as well. Especially when bearing that name might cost us something. There have been a few times when staying faithful to my husband has cost me something, but honestly, because of my covenant to him, giving up what I did only helped me gain a better relationship with my husband. Maybe God is asking you to give something up or you might feel like this walk with God keeps costing you something. That’s ok. I think it’s supposed to. After all, we’re becoming a new person with a new name. Which requires us to let go of that old name. Doing that is hard because along with that old name comes a sense of independence that doesn’t work well in our relationship with God and others.

Each day when I wake up I choose once more to be faithful to my husband and to bear his name. Choose today to practice the same faithfulness to God as your bear His name to the world and show them the power of your marriage covenant unto Him.

Lord Jesus, I want to bear your name. Thank you for giving me a new name. I know that sometimes it costs me something to bear you name, but in the end, I know it’s all worth it. Truly, you are such a good husband. I want to choose you every single day, because you choose me each day, in your name I pray, Amen.