Rainbows and Promises

I will put my rainbow in the clouds to be a sign of my promise to the earth.  Genesis 9:13

You are blessed for believing that the Lord would keep his promise to you.  Luke 1:45

Logan asked me “Mom, does God change clothes?” I said, Logan, let’s ask God that question. So he paused and then shook his head and said yes.  I asked him, what does God wear?  He said “Rainbows…rainbow shirts, colors, so He matches His hair and His face is rainbows too!  Everything is rainbows on Him.”- 4 yrs old

The brightness all around Him looked like a rainbow in the clouds. It was like the Lord’s glory. When I saw it, I immediately bowed down, and I heard someone speaking. Ezekiel 1:28

Landan was nervous walking up to his new intermediate school.  He would soon be looking on the list in the hallway to see his classroom pod color and his teachers he had been assigned for the new school year.  His only request was please God, no yellow pod.

His eyes scrolled down the list and immediately his smile turned to a frown.  He walked to the classroom and met his new teachers and somehow managed to keep it together and say hello to them.   He held back the tears until it was just the two of us in the car on the drive home.

Landan burst out as soon as he was in the car. “But WHY Mom?  WHY did God put me in the yellow pod? I just wrote him a letter before we left the house and put in my prayer box that said “God, can I improve on my spelling and can I have the best pod that you think is best for me and for me to have a good year and to make good grades? And also for my parents I thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you.” (I just went to look in his prayer box just now as I am writing this to get his exact words and as I am reading his letter, it brings sweet smiles to my face reading his sincere words.  He was 11 years old at the time)

So Mom, why would He give me the meanest teachers?  Tears streamed down his face.  I said, “oh, sweetie. I do not know, maybe you are meant to be a light to your teachers this year.” He shook his head as if he understood, then turned his head and looked out the window.  He said, “Mom, look, it’s a rainbow in the sky.  I think God is telling me it’s going to be ok.”

My Mom has been asking and believing for complete healing in her body for many years.  She has asked others to join with her to pray.  She has had arthritis, fibromyalgia, many aches and pains all over her body and she has had enough! Several months ago a man that was praying over her said, “I see you running through a field of wildflowers- pain free!” So my Mom has been holding on to that promise.  This past weekend she said I feel that God is healing me. I believe. Then she was given a word. You are blessed because you believe that what the Lord said He would do. Because of your faithfulness, your reward is full. She was given the scripture from Luke 1:45.

I remembered a billboard I had seen with a little girl on her mom’s back that read, “Thanks for giving me my Mom back.” I held onto that sign as a promise that God would heal and restore my Mom’s health and she would be able to walk, run, and play without pain. She is so young and has lots of life to live and her desire is to run free and play with her children and grandchildren.  We believe she is on the road to her healing!!

Our family recently went floating down the Brazos River in Rainbow, Texas.  I began to think of all the many promises that Jesus has given us.  Began thanking him for those we have seen come to pass in our lives and also in Embrace Grace.  He kept recalling something I had promised Him over 5 years ago.

I call it the Promise of a Lifetime.  Mainly because that was the song playing by Switchfoot when I was on my knees in my closet begging Jesus to let me live to see my children grow up and to be healed from blood clots in my legs.  I remember telling Him, Jesus I will do anything! Anything you ask me to do for you… I will do it!! Just please let me live…

Soon after, He began showing us the plans He had in store for us with Embrace Grace.  All it took was willing hearts. During that season we saw more rainbows in the sky than I have ever seen before.  It gave me hope.  A hope for a bright future.  He healed my body of the blood clots and gave me a promise of a lifetime.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a dream that you dream of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly. Someday I’ll wish upon a star, wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where trouble melts like lemon drops, High above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me. … Well I see trees of green and red roses too. I’ll watch them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself what a wonderful world. Well I see skies of blue and clouds of white and the brightness of day. I like the dark and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.  The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people passing by. I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do? They’re really saying I love you. I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than we’ll know. And I think to myself what a wonderful world. – Over the Rainbow

Rainbow Gardening– grab some colored sprinkles

When to Plant: Any season, but rainbows grow best just after a storm.

Where to Plant: In the light of the Son

How to Plant: Assume a kneeling position close to the earth.  Dig a hole deep enough to hold the cause of your dark clouds.  Place the cause and  your seeds in the soil, cover with the earth, then rise and stomp with both feet.  Walk away in faith.

Harvest: When needed most.

A rainbow is a perfect picture of God’s grace!

What promises are you holding onto that have yet to be fulfilled? Maybe you too are seeking healing in your body or your child’s body, or searching for an answer, or believing for a certain “something” to come to pass.  Don’t stop believing.  Have faith that what the Lord has promised will come to pass in His timing.

I am thankful for the rainbows and clouds in our daily life.  It draws us closer to Jesus as we trust in Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5

 Written by Salina Duffy

Why I Serve

Why do I feel called to lead?

Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to help people (I know God put that desire within me even when I was little). I never wanted to be the star or center of attention, more like a lovely wallpaper. Perhaps I just disqualified myself from leadership, because I believed the lies that I was “too quiet,” “too shy,” and “not confident enough.” My teenage pregnancy only magnified the lie that I was not confident enough to be of any “good” influence or encouragement to anyone in my adult life. When I began learning, in depth, the magnitude of God’s grace and love for me, when I began denouncing the lies I’d always believed, and embracing this better version of myself, this version God had always longed for me to discover (even as a little girl), I knew that I did not have to accomplish my heart’s desire of helping, leading, or being an example to others all on my own. On my own I am not enough; with God directing, shaping, molding, and guiding my living, He is more than enough for me, and more than enough to use me to reach others. I am not to learn and discover His wonder, glory, and love just to keep it to myself, nor do I want to. He is far too magnificent to contain all of his greatness within my own heart and mind. There are far too many hurting people to sit idly, withholding from them a joy, peace, and love like they’ve never known. On a daily basis, thinking of one hurting person or 20, whether they’re 6 years old or 56, my heart intensely pulses, feeling like it might explode with desire, for them to know who they could be — who He has specifically created them to be. I don’t care whether I am to be the knee cap, pinky toe, or the gallbladder of the body of Christ, but to live in a way of leadership wherever and however He has called me to, I will do with excellence, character, and love.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:4-8 (NLT)

Why am I called to serve?
The Hebrew word for serve, (because I’m a word nerd) is avad (ah-vod). This word in Hebrew also means to cultivate. If I am called to lead, to share with others all that God is capable of doing in their lives, then I am called to serve them in such a way that they begin to see their own true value, that can only come from a God so loving, because this is serving Him. I am called to serve because they deserve to feel the worth that comes from a living example of Jesus on this earth — to experience a taste of how much He loves them. Jesus went around healing people, washing their feet, and this was not so He could feel good about himself (He’s the son of God! He obviously was really great!), but he wanted to show them love. He cultivated confidence and value in those he encountered, because he served them with this great love, this great love that showed its magnitude ultimately through death. Such an act of sacrifice was the greatest, and I am called to do all I can to express this sacrifice to others, even if it only skims the surface in comparison, so that they may come to know the greatest lover Himself. There is a joy that accompanies serving my Jesus through serving others. I love to watch people morph right before my eyes, into this changed, better version of their self, upon experiencing the salvation, grace, and love of Jesus. Through a single act of serving another, whether it’s being a listening ear or helping wash their dishes that have been piling up for days, the joy that comes to them because they feel valued, is enough, because I am serving for Jesus. And should those acts go unnoticed by humans, they are not for not. They are still a form of worshipping my savior, and He has surely done plenty by giving me life, to deserve the service, anyway. I am making one more baby step toward completing His design for my life — to serve Him, to echo His love, because He died for me in the name of the most awesome love!
Some of my favorite verses about leadership and serving:
Romans 12:4-8 (from above)
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
You know that Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you, dear bothers and sisters, to submit your lives to them and others like them who serve with such devotion. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16 (NLT)

Don’t lord it over people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for
“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:3-7 (NLT)

Crown or Cross?

I’m preparing for a getaway with our Embrace Grace leaders. It’s the first time we have come together outside of our normal routine classes, and are spending a whole weekend bonding with each other, and spending time with Jesus. We have 4 Oaks Ministries coming to minister to us and to grow as a team at a beautiful ranch in Bells, TX – I’m SO excited what God will do in our hearts!

This week I asked some of our leaders what it meant to them to be a leader in Embrace Grace …. and then I reworded it to “What does it mean to you to be a servant in Embrace Grace.”

Leadership is being a servant. 

Over the last 4 years, I’ve noticed different patterns in myself for leadership. I’m doing constant “heart check’s” and evaluating that my heart is pure and humble. I always know that if I stop and notice that God has put the brakes on opening doors for this ministry, the first thing I do is check my heart.

Am I serving for the approval of man … or am I serving as a form of worship to my King? Am I serving humbly … or am I serving loudly? Is this the “Amy show?” … or is this all about Him? Am I serving for a crown … or am I serving for a cross? 

There are a few times within the last 4 years that I did a heart check and I had the wrong answers for above. As soon as I recognized this flaw within my heart, my heart check turned to a reality check and I asked God to forgive me. It would be almost instantly, the doors would start flinging open for the ministry again. Blessings would pour in – favor on our team and who we are ministering to – the broken hearted.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of making things about me in home, work or ministry: I changed 5 diapers yesterday and you only changed 3, it’s your turn.  I always to take the trash out in this family, why doesn’t someone else do it? I’m going to take the up-front parking spot today because I never get it. My boss never even said “thank you” for me working late the other night. I’m not going to wipe the tables after class because that is for the newer leaders that have not led as much as I have. I only want to help these girls in the class because the other ones are just too different than me. Or the worst ministry-killer ….

No one even notices everything I do around here, if it wasn’t for me, this place would be nothing.

Really, if you notice that all your thoughts involve, “Me, Me, Me” or “I, I, I” – then you know that a heart check is needed. 

We have the ultimate example of a humble servant. Jesus was the Son of God, came down to earth in an earthly body, and ultimately died the worst death … all for me.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Philippians 2:5-8 MSG

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.” Matthew 16:24 MSG

The ultimate form of being a humble servant, besides laying down His life, was when Jesus, my King, got down on His knees and washed His disciples feet. It was a bold display of being a servant. And He didn’t just leave it there. He could have just washed their feet and it would have been a major lesson for us all … but He took it a step further. He then told them to wash each other’s feet. This is a big display of love. Loving and serving each other, is a form of love and worship to Jesus … even our spouses and children … even the people in our life that are different than us … even the people that you might think are “annoying” … even the people that are hard to love.

Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.” John 13:12-17 MSG

I asked the Embrace Grace leaders to send me a few reasons why they serve … a few stood out to me:

We are called to serve, to lead and to be a beacon of light to the lost. It’s not about pushing or shoving anyone in a certain direction. It’s living every day as a living example of the amazing journey and triumphs of those who obey and follow God and what He does for those who passionately believe in Him. To show that if you walk in His light what you actually can have! Its not about what you receive it’s about what you give & being a living every day example of God’s everlasting, never ending and always faithful love. I release my pride I’m a living sacrifice. To all the lost, broken and weary; you can call ME your friend. Dylan

 Jesus has just put a love in my heart for people who are hurting and people who need to know Him – reasons He came in the first place!  Sharing who Jesus is and what He has done and can do, is one of the greatest joys in life to me.  From the very moment I heard about Embrace Grace, I was taken back by how much it is a representation of Him on earth.  I love that Embrace Grace is paving the way for The Church to respond to teenage pregnancy in a way that is full of grace, compassion and hope and free from judgment – the way Jesus would respond if age were still walking around among us! I am grateful to help serve the girls of Embrace because to me it awesome to be small part of a ministry God uses to change the course of so many girls’ lives right along with the lives of their babies.  I love seeing the girls “get it” and seeing them grow spiritually.  In the process, He continues to change me and and grow me, too! – Michele

I want my life to be a real example of Hope, to show God’s Love and to encourage. I want to full fill God’s purposes for my life and share my testimony. – Wendy

Can we all do a “heart check”? (and I’m doing it too with you) …

Jesus, search my heart and make it clean. Show me any depravity and pride I have hidden in there. Are my intentions in serving, humble? Am I serving to be noticed and recognized? Am I serving in a way that even if no one was around and no one was watching, and it was just me and you, I would still serve unto you and not unto man? Pluck anything out of my heart that is not of you – show me how to love like you have loved me. Forgive me for making it about me when I would have nothing without you. I love you. 

Love, your faithful and humble servant, Amy. 

“Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” – Jesus. {Matthew 25:40}

Written by Amy Ford

Run the Race

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14

I love to run!  I have ran in almost a dozen organized races and I love it! I am not the best runner but I decided my personal motto for all of my runs are  … “slow and steady wins the race.”

I just try to pace myself and just finish. When I am running, God speaks to me and I feel close to Him. Something he showed me on my hardest run to date, which was a 10k, was that my spiritual walk is a lot like running in a race.  When you run in a race, you are running towards the finish line. As a Christian, we are also running towards the finish line: the day we meet Jesus.

When we are running, we can’t compare ourselves to the person on our right and left.  They may get ahead or behind, but I don’t know how hard they have trained, worked, or sweat to be where they are at.  I just have to run MY race.  Always try my very best. Other people’s results and time do not matter. All that matters is MY time at the end of the race.

At the end of our spiritual race, we are accountable for ourselves only.

Sometimes I sign up for running events with friends.  It’s always more fun to have a buddy with you when you do things, isn’t it? At times, they will cheer me on throughout the race and push me to keep going when I start to get tired.  I love encouraging them too.  Just like our spiritual race, God places people in our lives that will pull us, push us, help pick us back up, and encourage us. That makes life more enjoyable!  When you run in an organized race, they place volunteers throughout the run to cheer you on and make sure you are doing ok.  In life, if we have people cheering us on and checking in on us, it makes it so much easier, doesn’t it?

To be able to run well, you have to have fuel:  food and water. Just like our spiritual run, we have to feed ourselves with spiritual food (the Word of God) if we want the strength to finish. It is impossible to finish your race without fuel.

Sometimes when you’re running, you can get an injury. If you keep running on that injury, it will get worse. You can’t ignore it, you have to slow down and take care of yourself. Just like life, if you are hurt, you have to get healing. If you ignore pain and hurt, and keep running anyway, that pain will only get worse. Or if you just throw on a brace, it is only a temporary fix. The root of the injury has to be addressed and healed.  If I absolutely cannot run at any point in a race, and have a serious injury of any sort, there will be someone that will come to my rescue that has been trained to help. They will carry me or take me to safety in a stretcher.

In life, we can go through really hard things, like death for example.  In devastating times like that, God will come to your rescue and literally carry you for a season if needed.  He will always rescue you.  If you fall down in a race, you will get trampled, and once your down it’s a lot harder to get back up.  In life we will get knocked down, but the key is just to get back up and try again.

Also I noticed that sin can be like a bad limp or broken body part. Have you ever noticed if you have something broken on your body, how it affects your entire body? It could be your pinky toe, the tiniest body part, but yet your whole body just feels like it is aching and you just can’t stop thinking about that toe. Have you ever noticed how the tiniest of sins, can consume your life? You might try to ignore it at first, but eventually it just catches up to you. It holds you back from the finish line. Having a pure heart and going to God with our sins, asking for forgiveness and repenting keeps our body/minds/hearts working in the best condition spiritually so we can hear God well. The better we hear God, the more focused on the prize we become.

I challenge you today to evaluate your race. Are you running slow and steady or do you feel more like you can barely catch your breath and keep up? Do you have an injury that needs healing? Do you have something broken that needs to be dealt with? 

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NLT

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus  went through – all that bloodshed.  So don’t feel sorry for yourselves.” Hebrews 12:1-4, The Message

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT

Written by Jennifer Bellamy

Guard your Heart

I saw this quote online over the weekend and LOVED it:

There are people who can walk away from you, and hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you, let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you; or staying attached to you. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who left. – {Bishop TD Jakes}

I’ve had some relationships end abruptly in the past. They would end over misunderstandings or miscommunications. Some of them I would spin my wheels trying to fix it. I’d bend over backwards trying to explain myself … trying to clarify my intentions, my heart. And no matter how many times I would spin these wheels of mine … somehow a few weeks or months later, i would find myself doing it all over again.

Finally when I stepped back from the situation and looked in … I saw everything a little different. I could see God was trying to close a door that for some reason, I kept trying to keep it open. Maybe I was scared of losing that friendship? Maybe I just didn’t like to not have peace and so I would constantly be trying to make everything ok … when really the other person always assumed the worst in me. Have you ever felt like someone was LOOKING for a flaw in you?

God brings us relationships that are just for a season and some that are for a lifetime. If you feel like you are trying to talk someone into loving you, spending time with you, STOP. Let them go. Why put your heart through the rejection? God might be trying to end it …

Do you feel like your life cycle is on repeat? You keep finding yourself stuck in this same situation over and over where you are trying to keep a relationship together by a thread? Do you think this person is God’s best for you? 

Sometimes you gotta let people go so that God can bring you His best for you. Guard your heart from the people that hurt you over and over.

Your destiny is never tied to anyone who left. 

Written by Amy Ford

My Hope is in God

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death , I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

I was seventeen years old, and comfort was exactly what I needed.

At eleven years old my parents were divorced. For the next several years I didn’t have a relationship with my father and I became very close to one of my brothers, Keelyn.  He was five years older than me, and I adored him with everything in me. For as long as I could remember he was my protector. I looked up to him so much, but the problem was he was always in some sort of trouble and was a drug dealer. To be honest, he was the one that needed protecting because he was in and out of PRISON for years. Because I looked up to him so much, I followed closely in his footsteps and by the time I was fourteen, I had already tried my first cigarette and joint.   That year my world crashed even more … my brother that I loved so much, died tragically in a car accident when he was 19.

I couldn’t deal with the pain I had so deep in my heart, I turned to anything that could numb it.

At fifteen I was drinking so heavily that I frequently had alcohol poisoning. By sixteen, I was as wild as they come. My friends and I partied every weekend; we were babies but we always found ourselves at some club in Dallas. I had no business acting as if I was a grown woman, but I didn’t care. After all, this was all that I knew, yeah I had heard about God and knew that He was real, but I had no idea how my actions would affect my entire life. I was young, WILD, and free.

That same year I was introduced to my baby daddy (now husband), and I could not have been crazier about him. After six months of dating I found out I was pregnant. By this point in my life I was so numb to my feelings that I didn’t even know how to accept this. On one hand there was a part of me that felt good to know that this little baby would love me … but on the other hand I really just had no clue what it meant to be a mother – especially being 16 years old.  Oh and you probably guessed it, me and my boyfriend were not doing well anymore.  We broke up when I was 2 months pregnant and I felt completely alone.  I had a crazy pregnancy dealing with going back and forth with him as well as dealing with one of his ex girlfriends that tried to harass me. I felt so lost and helpless.

Two weeks before my son was born, me and my baby daddy got married. I thought we could try to make everything work as a family but just 4 weeks after my son was born, my husband “casually” mentioned that he was leaving in two weeks for the Marines boot camp and that he had actually enlisted 8 months before but never told me. My world stopped. How can so many bad things keep happening? I felt like I was being punished for all of the decisions I had made and everything was just starting to catch up to me.

A lot of stuff happened during this marriage – trying to make things work. We even have another sweet baby girl now. I can see that he has changed so much and God showed me so much through all of the hard times. He helped me to forgive and look forward it was as if God whispered to me “Rachael, he’s my son, just as you are my daughter, and I want you two to love each other. Love him for who he IS …  not for who he was and focus on ME and your marriage.”

My heart was changed and so was my life.

We all live in North Carolina now and it is if I can see my husband in a light that I never have before. He isn’t perfect, but he is exactly what we need. He has changed, and it is nothing short of what I had secretly prayed for so long. I am now almost three years into my marriage, and, although the first year and a half was going to be the death of me (or so I thought), I am now happier than ever. I feel so close to God – I had him to lean on Him and he was there for me the whole time. My whole life. I can now say, without a doubt in my mind, that with God all things are possible. I have lived my life out of God’s will and trying to live MY way, and never again will I choose to go against what the Lord says. His way is SO much better and His way gives me so much peace in my life. God not only saved my life from a lifetime of emptiness, He has blessed me with 2 beautiful children and an awesome husband.

No matter what I go through in life, I am not going to fear – He is ALWAYS right there with me.  My hope is in God … forever.

Written by Rachael Collins

Free to be ME!

Today is a day of Celebration!  It’s a day where America celebrates our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.   Let Freedom and Liberty Ring!

You may be celebrating this day with friends and family at the lake, or the beach, or watching a parade, or having a picnic, or maybe you have a day off from work. You may be planning to watch a spectacular firework display and oohh and ahhh at all the amazing colors in the sky.  Yes, today is a day worth celebrating for sure.

A few years ago on the 4th of July the meaning of Freedom took on a whole new perspective for me.  I began to see things differently.

When I was six years old I remember hearing a gentle whisper at church (when I was in the bathroom of all places).  It was just me and God in the bathroom stall.  I was so little and I know that it was God speaking to me, even at such an early age.  But, I began to listen to the louder voices that told me you really did not just hear that, you are just imagining that, you can not possibly do what you think you just heard, you are just a kid, who will listen to you?

I listened to those voices and agreed with them for a long time. I began getting older and seeking my independence from my Mom, and others that I had normally looked up to.  Wanting to do things my way, when I wanted it, how I wanted it, my way, my way. I really felt that I could do all this, this thing called life, all on my own, that I did not need others in my life to tell me what to do.  I was big enough right?  I was old enough to make my own decisions.  I walked in a season of rebellion, not even really wanting to listen to God and what He wanted and desired for my life.

Wow, was I ever mistaken.  I discovered that not only did I need my Mom in such a big way, I had a dependence for Jesus in my life that I had not experienced before.  Sure I had believed in Jesus and said my prayers, but I did not know how dependent upon Him I truly needed to be. I began to really depend upon His way, His truth, His will, His timing, His choices for my life.

You see, Jesus always gives us a free will and our own choice. He will not force himself upon us.  He will wait until we are ready to depend upon Him.  When He whispered that secret to me when I was just a little girl, He gave me a choice to believe the truth, or choose to suppress it so far down inside of me that it was forgotten for many, many years.  I believed the lies that I had heard.

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Now I am choosing to believe the truth.  He has gently been reminding me of those whispers and I am trusting Him and believe that He is strong enough for me.  That it is not in my own strength that I can accomplish what He is asking me to do.

 God arms me with strength, His perfect way sets me free. 2 Samuel 22:33

But, it is when I place my hand in His hand and say Jesus I can not do this alone.  I am fully dependent upon you.  I need you Jesus to come to my rescue. You will deliver.

Sometimes I believe that I can do anything yet other times I think I’ve got nothing good to bring. But you look at my heart and tell me that I’ve got all you seek. I’m free to be me and you’re free to be you- Free to be me by Francesca Battistelli

We are:

Free to live

Free to give

Free to love

Free to be me, the girl that Jesus created me to be.

May this 4th of July be a sign of declaration of your DEPENDENCE upon Jesus.  He paid the ultimate price for you. To give you freedom. When the fireworks display a beautiful spectacle with a vibrant array of colors in the night sky, may you experience the true meaning of freedom in a whole new way. This land was made for you and me

 You are free to be you!


Jesus take my hand. Show me what to do. I know you understand what I am going through.  

I will trust you.

Written by Salina Duffy