Devotional 1: The Woman Caught In Adultery

Then the scribes and pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?” “This they said, testing Him, that they might having something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first”. And again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
            She said, “no one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Then Jesus  spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:3-12

I read this account so many times in the wake of my adultery. What grace, mercy, kindness, gentleness, masculinity,  protection, power, control, patience, trust, wisdom, truth, what justice Jesus Christ extends in this passage! There is so much to pull from this scripture, but in my recovery process, I would often rehearse Jesus speaking this directly to me. It wasn’t hard for me to relate to“being the midst,” because there were times that I was completely exposed and vulnerable, standing in front of pointing fingers, expecting the worst reprimanding and highest law. But just as in this biblical situation, Jesus never responded to me that way. He held my face in His hands and spoke words of truth, protection, and healing. He used others to do it, and He also spoke it audibly to me. He is the great shepherd; when He finds one of his sheep that has been lost, what does he do? Luke 15:15 says, “And when he finds [the lost sheep], he joyfully puts it on his shoulders.”

What? He doesn’t beat it all the way home and say, “Bad sheep! How dare you get lost, you knew better than to wander away!” No, with joy, love and trust, comforting the sheep safely on His shoulders, He says,  “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

That is powerfully healing! Read this again and again. Let this sink deep into your bones and let its truth reverberate in your being. This is how The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit see you. This is what they have revealed about themselves to you. They have no greater joy than to see you walking in the truth (3 John 1:4). The truth is that you are forgiven, loved, accepted and pleasing to God.

Did you notice that He did not require an account or repentance from the woman thrown in the midst? He did not address her as or see her as, the woman caught in adultery. He saw the act as sin, something that every other person standing there was guilty of in their own way.  Jesus simply comforted her by saying; I do not accuse you. He called her sin, sin, and told her to keep moving forward and not to do that anymore.  It is my heart’s cry to send that same message to you as you read this book.  This thing, this adultery, is what you did; it is not who you are. Jesus sees you as who you really are. Righteous, pure, and spotless in Him. It goes against all of our feelings and it goes against the judgements of others. It takes faith to believe it is true and to line yourself up to it, but cling to its truth as much as you are able and ask God to help you with your unbelief regarding it.

He simply says; go and sin no more. He still calls it what it is: sin. David said in Psalm 51, “Against you [God], you only, have I sinned.” This was after David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband sent into battle, knowing that he would be killed. But God forgives us when we ask, when we turn away from walking in the direction of sin, and turn to Him again. His Holy Spirit was left here for us as a counselor, comforter and a keeper of what God has entrusted to us until the day of redemption.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I choose every day to believe this is true, to cling to Jesus, and to walk in truth. As I have done that, He pulls off the grave clothes of my sin and lets me dance in freedom. God does a thorough job of cleansing and healing our wounds. He always wants us to heal and is always ready to reveal deeper things about Himself through our situations. He is the great physician and the lover of our souls, and He knows every hair on your head. Put your head in His kind hands, and lay in the lap of His love and freedom.

Let’s Pray!

 Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank you for your unfailing love to me. Thank you that it is your kindness that leads to repentance, and that your mercy is new every morning. Thank you that you are so slow to anger, but so rich in mercy. Thank you that you trust me to make the right decisions and the right choices. Thank you that you have plans to prosper me and not harm me. Thank you that you have a future and a hope for me. Thank you that you want to use me in the lives of others to lead them into truth by your Holy Spirit. Thank you that you love me with an everlasting love, that you will build and rebuild me. Thank you that you never tire of or give up on me; you are always waiting with your arms open and expectant. Thank you that there is rejoicing in heaven when one of your children repents. Thank you that what the enemy intended for evil can be turned for good by your supernatural power and that you cause all things to work for good for those who love you and who are called according to your purpose. Thank you that if I suffer while I do good, it is used for your purposes. Thank you that there is now therefore no condemnation in Christ Jesus! Thank you that I can walk in right standing with you, by what Jesus has accomplished on the Cross. Be glorified and magnified through my life, Amen.

Thank you for reading<3 You can read more in my new book: That’s Not Who You Are, available on Amazon

Autism, Birthdays, Mistakes and Inhalers

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My son is autistic. It has been one heck of a ride! Mostly the ride has been within myself, learning to accept, be flexible and be open to a new normal. It has taken almost fourteen years and I have by no means arrived.

 Having a birthday party for him was something I swore off a few years ago…and Oh Buddy, how I did swear!! One does not always know what is going on in that beautiful mind and if you go left when he wants to go right, watch out!  I couldn’t take any more tantrums in front of friends, leaving his friends sitting at the table because they ate their cake before he had the first bite or rude comments about the presents he didn’t like and the list is endless.  It is just too stressful….for me. Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is but I think I have a better grasp on my humanity and what I am able handle peacefully.

He started planning his party 2 months ago. I see him maturing in many ways. He has no problem communicating his need for more freedom and less parental control. I didn’t handle that very well when our oldest son communicated the same things to us at the same age, but I see my error in that now. I want to help raise confident, think for your self, respectful and God fearing men-so I can appreciate his hormones and intrinsic make up better than I used to appreciate his brothers’!

No person on earth has more tested, tried, exasperated or challenged this writer, than this particular son. He makes me want to hit the escape button on my emotional hand held and I sometimes  ponder if space from each other would’n’t be a good idea. I don’t know the answer to that but I do know, he is exposing many things within myself.

As I grow deeper in union with Christ, I have found this to be true. That the people and the situations in our lives that are cataclysmic to us in someway, are the very doors of hope that God has purposed. That can look a lot of ways, can’t it? It can look like the accident,the unplanned pregnancy, the lost dreams, the divorce, the illicit relationship, the addiction or the communication break down, just to name a few. God is standing there, purposing good through it, what ever it is. His hope and future for our good, in the pressure, in the refining and in the heat.  When you are aware of it, your eyes are opened! He wants to do something in us and through us. Ultimately, He wants us to so know how loved, accepted, forgiven and pleasing we are to Him- so that knowledge is given freely to others no matter how they behave, acknowledge or appreciate us.

I am getting ready for a big Aromatherapy event this weekend and in my busyness,  I made a mistake while blending some inhalers. I see that I am maturing a bit too. I just looked at the cartridges and asked, what shall I do with you now? Ginger, Lavender, Frankincense and Bergamot…. the blend lent itself to calming anxiety and reducing stress…perfect! I will give one to each of the special boys who are coming to the birthday party tonight and give one to my son and myself! A mistake turned into a blessing! That is what they are all intended to be. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone who surrounds us as well.

Thank you for reading, I really do appreciate it. I am right here walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today.

Failure

Do you remember in the movie City Slickers when the character, Ed, said his best and worst day were the same day? I relate to that in this way; that the things in my life that could have potentially destroyed me, have been the very things that have given me grit and determination to change.  Those times have been the catalyst to eventually propel me into my best self and my best potential.

I have found that the humility I have learned in failure has been fertile ground for authenticity and given me a more meaningful way to relate to others.

I am sitting here this morning in my quiet place. The corner space in my room, next to a window that has been designated for prayer and meditation. I am reading Psalm 91, H.C.G Moule and Beth Moore. As I feel a cool, gentle breeze touching my shoulder after a humid, sticky night, I find that I am in very good company.  The words  that I am reading were written by people  who have a deep understanding of failure. The constant theme is; what is impossible with man, is possible with God.

It is not only that God loves,  knows and relates to us, in real time, through Jesus Christ…which is pretty mind blowing.   It is that He can still prove inexhaustible and victorious in our mortal flesh today! It is also that, He and He alone, can set us free from the slavery of sin. And it is further, that because He has set His love upon us He will deliver us. 

I am sitting here right now, drinking in His love and mercy. His absolute encouragement  and inspiration toward me to lift my eyes up to the mountains from where my help comes from. The awesome overwhelmedness that He is a master at taking ashes and creating beautiful things out them.  He really wants to do that for me and for you today and every day!

Thank you God that the things that the devil meant to destroy me have been turned for good in your hand. Thank you God for your Holy Spirit that leads me in to all truth and uses my life to help other’s with their’s. I am overwhelmed as I sit in your presence. I thank you for the other’s who have gone before me and have transparently encouraged me by their trials, struggles and failures. As difficult as the road has been, I thank you that you did not allow me to become hardened. You kept my heart soft and vulnerable, so that you could continue to teach me and I could continue to encourage others with the comfort I have received.  And I thank you that you, and you alone, can grow the most beautiful creations out of seemingly impossible conditions. 

 

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I am walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today.

My Search For Significance 2

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I told you last week I wanted to do a series on my journey through the last year. Last year at this time I had come clean with  a gigantic failure. Now my failure was noticeable to others. We all have failures, but they are not all noticeable to others. My  husband  and I had many failures that lead up to my “huge” failure and they mostly went unnoticed to others but were destroying my wholeness, our marriage and our family.

Noticeable failure, I have found, can bring enormous amounts of guilt and shame. The shame wants to suffocate you. It wants to keep you in a bondage not unlike the one you just came out of. It took an amazing amount of mental assent to the truth, like non-stop 24/7 self- talk, filling my mind with the truth. I took about 3 months off, as much as I could, just to fill my mind with the truth. Any little rejection from any person would throw me right back into a pit, so I was very self-guarded and did not go out very often. I was acutely aware that I couldn’t stay in that place of hiding, so I was cautious but I also needed to be safe in the loving arms of Jesus to be restored.

Christine Caine said; “shame always wants to re capture you at the point (where you still see baggage dragging) and wants to take you hostage.” I wrote that quote along with now hundreds of quotes and scripture onto art paper and started “postering” our home with them. I would walk around and read them out loud! I was most literally “Not conforming  to this world  but being transformed by the renewing of my mind.” Romans 12:2

I do not know how a person could get out of destructive habits any other way. I do not know how you could mix “a little bit of truth” in with a world that is swallowing it up faster than you can take it in and be transformed. I think that is why it says; “do not conform to the world.” All those “little failures” I spoke of earlier, were seemingly small. Ever so slightly, I was getting loose with my boundaries. They did not start as big leaps into uncharted territory. Mary Kassian says “it comes by creeps, not leaps” and that is So very true! Conforming to the world, it’s desires, it’s pleasure…the “I deserve it” mentality wraps itself around you and the tune turns up the volume in your mind until you are singing along. Breaking these habits takes radical, violent action- it will not happen passively.

I spent another 3-6 months testing the waters of the outside world with my new legs and a growing inner strength. That would only come after significant time reading the Bible, praying and singing. I have taken up the guitar in the last few years and it has been a comfort to me as well as a positive challenge. As I said in my last blog I would repeat these truths; “Julia, you are deeply loved, completely forgiven, totally accepted and fully pleasing to God.” (Search for Significance). One day, after a dear friend read John 8 to me, it was as if I was there with Jesus and He was saying to me, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more- I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jesus, the savior of the world, told me “neither do I condemn you.”, I couldn’t have a higher authority than that and I continue to keep my eyes completely focused on Him.

I am personally aware how our destructive behaviors can really damage others and I have lamented over these. I first had to walk along side my husband ,who I have hurt the most and who has had supernatural love toward me, so I have seen the pain I have caused first hand. I am not minimizing this aspect of failure at all, but when it comes down to it, all that a person can do is ask for forgiveness and pray fervently that God uses it all for good. I am unable to be responsible for how other people choose to respond but I do hold it close and pray every day for reconciliation in every relationship.

If we keep listening to shame in our failures, no matter “how big or how small”, they will remind us how long we have been carrying them and tell us “you will never be rid of this.” But God wants us to be FREE, He came to set us free from this world and to live with Him and have life more abundantly. He is cheering us on and giving us the strength to “run the race with endurance.” Hebrews 12:1

Believing this is all true, is radical! I have been on this journey and I want to encourage you on yours. My hope is that I reach a light to those struggling in a similar situation and walk the path with you so you are not alone. ❤

A Life That Matters…..

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(Photo, Gabrielle Allman)

As I said in an earlier blog, Christmas time, although promoted as a warm, cozy, relational time, can be a time of anxiety and loneliness for many.

Those feelings beg me to ask, is my life a life that matters? If I do not feel what I am doing matters, I do not feel that my life matters. My friend, Lyndell Hetrick Holtz, wrote about this on her Heart Mender’s Blog-  I Too Want a Life that Matterscheck it out! She has a very  concise  way of facing life’s hard things. She  often says; “Face it, Feel it, Free it”!

I gain great comfort in that when I consider the only way to any healing is to face the issue or failure head on. We tend to avoid  hard things because we think it is easier to do so. We do it in little ways or it can become Excessive Avoidance Disorder– and our culture is heaped in it. We avoid doing hard things, keeping commitments, and putting the work in first and it is destructive.

If we want to have holistic health, it is going to take more than swallowing a vitamin every now and then. It is going to take facing our dilemma,  whether we caused it or some one else did. Feel the pain of it, express it out loud, or write down your thoughts in a journal. And then open your hands and release it. I will stand where ever I am, lift my hands to God and tell Him all of my concerns. I will tell Him, I have no power over this, only the power to release it to you. And then I will say, I trust you are working all these things for good in my life and I release this to you. It is weighing me down, I feel insignificant, I feel like I am not seeing any benefit to getting up and doing what is right every day. Many times I will write that down and put it on my cupboard, to remind my self that it is not my burden.

To live a life that matters, we need to be different than the masses. Routines are awesome. Habits will work for our good or our detriment! If I get up every morning and pray and exercise, that is going to lead me to a different destination than having a cigarette with my coffee and do nut!! (You may chuckle, but this was my early life!!) Holistic health will effect all of your life and the little things you change will have an everlasting impact! If a plane takes off and it is even a little bit off it’s course, in the end of that trajectory, it is not going to land at it’s destination!

If you are sad, lonely and really struggling today, please consider what I have said. I want to help you with the help I have received. Check out Lyndell’s blog and other encouraging people like Rick Warren and Dr. John Townsend. You do not have to stay where you are! How do you want to have a life that matters? What do you want your destination to be?

We are right here with you cheering you on!! Head into the weekend, with a renewed sense of your life mattering. Lay aside the pressure from culture and  glean the true meaning of Christmas in the Gospels of, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John! We want to hear from you today:-)