Hope Notes

Hello and Welcome!

I’m excited to tell you that the Hearts Encouraged Blog is one year old this month! Big deal, right? It is for you! When there’s a birthday, there’s usually presents. What better way to celebrate this birthday than with a free book for you, my subscribers. I know! You weren’t expecting it, but you deserve it. I’m giving away a wonderful book by Beth Moore called Audacious. If you would like to receive this book, you can email me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com and let me know your preferred delivery method of either UPS or in person. If you choose UPS, I’ll need your address but be assured I will not share with any other party. Thank you so much for being a faithful subscriber! I thank God for each of you! Now, on to the post… 

Never-lost-hope-2636197_640
If I told you that hope is to your heart and soul like water and oxygen are to your body, would you believe me? That statement might seem a little over the top until you talk to people who have experienced profound circumstances. They will share they persevered because they chose to hope. Hope is powerful.

Did you know that hope is now highly regarded by health providers? Clinical teams identify hope as a crucial element for patients living with acute and chronic health issues. Whether it’s depression, cancer, post-traumatic stress syndrome, loss of limb, heart disease, bipolar disorder, or addiction--hope is an element with significant impact causing some people to achieve a level of wellness not thought possible considering their health issue.1 Moving beyond health events that negatively impact life, there are weather events, accidents, fire, death, and more that can devastate our lives. In these situations, still hope survives. When the media chooses to highlight a story of hope within devastating circumstances, we need to see it, hear it.  We need to know that in tragedy hope can rise up, lift up, and thrive in spite of the suffering and harm. Hope gives life meaning and purpose. Hope is a force that enables you to overcome and take those first steps after a significant life event.

Hope v despair

There have been a few times in my life when I thought I could not possibly ignite the dying embers of hope within me. I felt depleted, utterly discouraged, and on the verge of letting my hope slip away. My face to the ground, my body limp without the strength to pull myself up one more time, and my heart so broken the pain was palpable. During a significant health event, if it hadn’t been for my dear friend, Annette, sending me the verse below I might have relinquished hope.

…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

When hope is ebbing away you can cry out to the Lord to give you hope, provide a reason to hope, and the strength of heart and mind to hope! The apostle Paul’s prayer for the people is a prayer for you as well:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Evergreen tree with light

In this season on your life you may not find this post that pertinent or even beneficial. For this I'm glad. However, maybe there's someone else who could receive benefit or this post is something you tuck away for that day, may it never come, when you need it. When lift hits you hard you may not have the strength or time to dig through the Bible for hope statements and verses that will empower and sustain you. By creating Hope Statements , you arm yourself with the word of God so you can stand when trials and troubles comes. I created the following Hope Statements from verses in the Psalms, the gospel of John. and Philippians to get me through days of difficulty. Along with these declarations of hope, I use quotes to help me remember the truth of how God relates to me and His concern over my life. Do you have a favorite verse that lifts you up and reminds you that your hope is well founded because you're God’s child and He is for you? Why don’t you consider creating a statement of hope that is meaningful to you. You can place these Hope Statements in your phone for quick access when you need a boost, a reminder. You are not alone. You have a reason to hope.

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Safety, Security

Lord, you are my refuge, a safe harbor in times of trouble. I know you and trust in you. You have never forsaken those who seek you. You have not and will not abandon me. Lord, I believe you delight in me and take great care of me.  (Psalm 9:9-10, Psalm 37:23-24, Psalm 18:19 –paraphrased)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Exerting My Faith

I will choose joy! I believe you hear the prayers of those who pray for me, Lord. I believe the Holy Spirit is helping me as I take this difficult path. What is happening to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope for courage to reflect my faith in you, Lord, as I remain steadfast in this circumstance.   (Philippians 1:19-20 – paraphrased)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!   (Psalm 42: 5 NLT)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – God Knows Me, Knows My Needs

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. Because You know me, I wait in hope for you, Lord; You are my help and my shield. In you, Lord, my heart rejoices for I trust in your holy name. God, may your unfailing love rest upon me and those I care about even as I put my hope in you.    (John 10:27-28 – NIV paraphrased)

Hope is the positive mode of awaiting the future. –Emil Brunner

If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work. –Jacques Cousteau

Patience is the art of hoping. –Vauvenargues

References

1 Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J.R., Holleran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., et al. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60 (4), 570-585. Retrieved from teachingpsychology.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/hope-theory.pdf


Paths and Plans

Fall is here! It’s all about pumpkins, cricket symphonies, and squirrels preparing for that other season. What do you enjoy about the fall season? God’s creative splendor is extravagantly displayed this time of year and it’s the reason people travel to enjoy the change of the leaves. I suppose if you were to take a drive you would set your itinerary for the very best views of the fall colors. Take a moment and imagine you’re on that drive right now. There, up ahead, you see the bountiful mix of red, yellow, orange coming into your sight. The bold color of orange is ever so prominent, but wait. Oh no, those aren’t leaves. It’s the dreaded construction sign. It’s a DETOUR.

Detour signs

Have you ever eagerly anticipated taking a detour? What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you face one? Is it, Great! Looking forward to this. Fantastic! Love the detour. Or, are you like me and your response is, Oh no! What if we reassigned our concept of a detour to a positive category in our brain? Can we change our gut reaction to a detour? More importantly, why should we? A detour may be God’s call for our attention and a reroute to the better way. His way.

I think we can all agree that usually a detour leads you into unknown territory. When you have to take a detour, it makes you wake up and take notice. A detour requires your attention because it’s not the same well-worn path you’re used to taking, and it gives you a different view from what you’re used to seeing. There’s no doubt that a detour can be stressful and create anxiety when you believe there’s only one way to get where you want to go and the way appears to be blocked. You have plans for the day, for your life. God has plans, too. Sometimes your plan and His plan run a parallel course and sometimes it doesn’t. When God is directing you and me toward an alternative route, it’s a call to adjust our vision and plan.

Road Closed

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” The Lord proclaimed through Jeremiah that He has plans for His people and you’re one of those people. The onset of a detour may be specifically directed at impacting your life alone, or so your life can directly impact someone else. The most difficult part of accepting a detour on your life path is surrendering your plans for the sake of the unknown or alternative path God is presenting. My own life has been filled with multiple detours as I was going on the way to fulfilling my plans. I know the exasperation and frustration that comes with a detour. I haven’t forgotten the heartache that set in as I realized what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. Infertility was not a detour that I found acceptable. I had a hard time accepting that I didn’t get to control that situation. A decade later, I experienced the overpowering waves of fear as I wondered what the future held considering what was happening in the present. A health issue was changing my life--the present was hard to handle and the future looked even bleaker.

Was I without children in my life? Definitely not. God brought children into my life just in a different way than I anticipated. Did my health issue turn my life upside down? Yes, it changed me. My eyes were opened and my heart was transformed. God brought new friends into my life that were willing to set aside their own plans to meet my needs when I couldn’t do that on my own. Such wonderful, faithful servants of God represented the love of Christ for me as they served and loved me in the midst of my difficulties. Moreover, I learned something I couldn’t have learned without going through that experience. Both of those events fall into a category I call detours.

  Detours are part of our life story  

   We have access to power and strength through Christ  

I write the previous sentence with a deep conviction and belief. I rely on the fact that when trouble presents as a detour in my life then I will also be presented with a path leading directly to God. God never fails. Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message):

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 

There really is far more going on than meets the eye during our difficulties. The detour that causes my life path to intersect with another’s life path is a chance to lovingly serve and meet needs beyond my own. There is little more moving than the sight and experience of humanity coming together and prevailing in times of trouble. Today, there’s no shortage of opportunities. Never underestimate your impact on the life of someone else. One deliberate act of kindness, one random act of love has significance because it’s from you. 

Road through forest

Availability

So, how available am I to God’s call to a detour? Wait. Let me check my calendar. At home, my paper calendar governs my personal hours while my Outlook calendar controls my work day. I’m a pro at maximizing the hours in a single day and most of those hours are already dedicated, promised to something or someone. Obviously, living in this manner makes a detour an annoyance, a roadblock, or an obstacle for me. This is how I miss IT.

What’s IT?

The IT is the blessing I can give or a blessing I could receive. The IT is an encounter with the Holy Spirit. The IT is a call to stop, look, and listen for the Lord. Who schedules a chance to bless or be blessed? Who schedules an encounter with God? These things happen to you on your way or in the midst of your doing. Detours are filled with ITs that impact your life and allow you to impact others. It goes back to availability.

Detours will always be part of my story and I might as well expect and welcome each one. Some of these will bless me, others will bring me into the welcoming, loving presence of Jesus, and some detours will be opportunities to reflect the love of Christ as my life path crosses theirs. I’m choosing to be available and surrender my plans so I can experience the Lord’s plan for my life! Are you willing to be available? Are you willing to go off schedule, get off track to participate with God’s plan? It’s worth experiencing. Is there someone who may need the encouragement contained in this post? Feel free to share!

Blessings,

Terri


Unity - It Starts In Me

Hello and Welcome!

Today's post is at the request of my dear friend, Coleen, who asked me to write on the Lord’s Prayer. I say this prayer each Sunday and it’s one of the special times in the service where I join my voice with others who believe that God is our Father in heaven. Though I recite it, I’m not sure I’ve ever thoughtfully contemplated this Jesus-given prayer and how it’s actively manifesting in my life. I hope to encourage you to consider the Lord’s prayer as a call to unity on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord's PrayerWhen I pray God’s will be done, what am I asking for?

What is the Lord’s will?

…a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation,

tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and

in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Unity.

Unity is what the apostle John saw in his vision and recorded in Revelation--difference brought together – one voice – worshiping the Lord. Can you imagine it? It’s the very reason Christ died so we could be one with the Father. Jesus gave this powerful prayer to the apostles who took to heart the message of unity and we see it manifested in their writings.

…be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble… – 1 Peter 3:8

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of

peace. There is one body and one Spirit… 

-- Ephesians 4:3 (written by Paul)

When I speak the Lord’s Prayer, either aloud or in my heart, I’m saying I want what the Father wants. I want the unity of heaven to be present on earth and I’m willing to make every effort to be in unity with God’s people. Perhaps you're wondering how I've come to see unity in the Lord's prayer. I discovered this view in the two verses following the Lord's prayer. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus is recorded as providing what seems like an explanation for one specific line of the prayer. 

For if you forgive men when they sin against you,

your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive men their sins,

your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:14-15)

Forgiveness-1767432_640Forgiveness--not just for me but expected from me.

I pray this prayer every Sunday asking God to forgive me of my sins. And believe me, I’m fully aware of how I’ve put myself first, judged that person’s action, complained about this and griped about that. Oh, how I want to be given that forgiveness! But when I utter the words as we have forgiven those who sin against us I sense the enthusiasm and emotion diminishing in my heart. I’m so intensely eager to get what I need, but am I willing to give away what I’ve been given?

Forgiveness is one of the stepping stones leading to unity. Jesus deliberately and intentionally focused the apostles’ attention to this element of the prayer. How could the apostles effectively share the hope of Christ if they could not birth a desire for unity in their heart especially toward those who would reject them, despise them, and slander them.

Unity is hard. I don’t get to control someone else’s heart and mind. I can’t make that other person want unity. But I get to work the soil of my heart so that it's rich with forgiveness so to grow a desire to be in unity with those around me. As we cannot be united with God without his forgiveness, in the same way we cannot truly live in unity without forgiveness toward each other.

Unity

In Donald S. Whitney’s book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, he believes the Lord’s prayer is followed by the verses on forgiveness because “…a forgiving spirit characterizes those who have been forgiven.” What if my heart and mind dwelt on this image: I, Terri, in the presence of the Father with the full realization of what Christ has done for me and given to me. Hope, love, peace, mercy, grace, eternity with Him. None of it possible without Christ’s sacrifice. Shouldn’t this realization provoke a profound desire within me to forgive anyone of their hurtful acts toward me? It should. The Lord’s prayer brings me back to an awareness that I must make forgiveness the priority over my pride and my hurt. Jesus places such a strong emphasis on forgiveness because of this fact: my lack of forgiveness tremendously affects my relationship with Him. If my relationship with Him is my focus, then I can choose forgiveness knowing my Lord will heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon my heart.

When I let the Lord’s Prayer dwell and root in my heart, I can generously offer forgiveness as is required of me. As I forgive others, the prayer becomes an action and I have fulfilled my promise to the Lord.

I'll close with this verse in Romans because I believe it echoes the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live

in harmony with each other, according to the command of Christ Jesus,

so you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

with a united mind and voice. –Romans 15:5 (HCSB)

As always, I welcome your comments or emails on how the Lord's prayer is manifested in your life.

Blessings to you,

Terri

 

References:  Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald S. Whitney, NavPress 2001.


Rest Moments - Part II

Hello and welcome to Rest Moments Part II.  This post will provide the action steps on how to incorporate those oh so important rest moments into your day. In Part I I shared the example of Jesus taking himself away from the people and distractions to enter a spiritual rest with the Father. Resting in the Lord provides restoration, creates equilibrium when you set yourself aside in stillness and with trust. There will always be a demand for your time and energy and you won't live well if you consistently ignore the deep need of your soul to connect with the Lord. 

Daily, God tenderly calls you into rest moments—sacred, precious moments of being in His presence. With every rest moment, you are investing in your soul health and your relationship with God  The benefit of resting in the Lord, is that your heart and soul will shine with joy, peace, kindness, gentleness and much more. 

Rest moments are…

…planned or spontaneous times when you seek out God to enjoy His so very near presence. Jeremiah 29:15 -- when you seek Him you will find Him.

… meant to refresh, restore, and fill you. Psalm 23 – He leads you beside quiet waters and restores your soul.

…a communion with God. Psalm 16 – The Lord counsels you, instructs you and is at your side.

Sky and still water“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his  shoulders.”  

--Deuteronomy 33:12

Deuteronomy 33:12 was a blessing given to the tribe of Benjamin. Read the above verse once more and let the words establish an image in your mind. Imagine how close God must be in proximity for His beloved to rest between His shoulders. This blessing wasn't only for the tribe of Benjamin. It's extended to you and me because the Lord continually proclaims His love for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus. You are the beloved of the Lord and you are the one the Lord loves and shields. He is your security, your shield, and you are never alone. Believing His blessing promise can profoundly affect how you live day by day, hour to hour, moment to moment. As the world takes and empties you to the point even your reserves are critically diminished, it is your Heavenly Father that fills your heart and soul with the spiritual nourishment you need to thrive.

“I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. 

He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold;

I will never be shaken.”  --Psalm 62:1-2

Quality Not Quantity

Quality rest generally requires some sort of withdrawal. The idea of finding time or a place to withdraw may seem incredibly difficult. Some of you are living complex and complicated lives. Everybody wants or needs a piece of you. The idea that God, too, wants a piece of you and your time may be just too much. For those reasons, I emphasize small steps or, just one step. God’s rest is not meant to be another thing on your to-do list. His rest will enable you to do that to-do list! Quality not quantity is the key. If you commit the time wholly to Him, then He will meet you there. It might be difficult at first to set yourself apart, but stick with it! Over time, you might find yourself adding an additional minute upon minute. 

A quality three minutes in a rest moment is more beneficial than 10 minutes where you fight mental distractions and feel guilty for not doing what you think you should be doing. Important point: Rest moments are exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Rest moments comprise a segment of time in your life where you enter into God presence with your authentic self, in humbleness, with receptivity, availability, and an awareness of His nearness and your need for Him. 

Following are some ideas on how to identify opportunities for rest moments, what to do in rest moments, and assessing the impact of incorporating these moments into your day and week.

Water drops

Assess the Ebb and Flow of your Routines

Every household has an ebb and flow with peak times of activity as well as low levels of noise and movement. Take an assessment of the rhythms of your household, work week, and weekends or days off. Pinpoint the segments of time in your day or week where rest moments could fit in. Your assessment is meant to identify the rhythm of your life that will allow rest moments to occur in small increments of time throughout a 24-hour period. Even a few minutes can be as refreshing as a more lengthy period of rest with God. Following are a few questions to assist you with your assessment.

  • Is there a time of day or night that you see a natural opening for designated rest moments?
  • What time of day do you feel would be the best for you to create rest moments if there are no natural opportunities?
  • What changes in your routine or the routine of your household could create an opportunity for rest moments?
  • Is there unnecessary clutter in your life—activities, relationships, responsibilities that don’t fit with how you want to live well and thrive? Sometimes we fail to recognize a need for change because unconsciously we are afraid of the void that will be left if we disengage from or discontinue activities, relationships, or responsibilities. If something does not contribute to your living well or to thriving, then a reassessment should be considered.
  • Are you a slave to the schedule of your life? Are there any commitments that need to be re-negotiated as it concerns the time commitment? Are there commitments that need to be ended? The quality of your commitment is more important than the quantitative factor associated with that commitment. In other words, what are you bringing to the commitment? Is it a a joyful desire to serve or are you fulfilling an obligation with a sub-par attitude?

Once you've reviewed the possibilities of injecting rest moments into your day and/or week, you can determine the  

Still Water 1

Unusual Opportunities for Rest Moments

As I mentioned earlier, the when and how and for how long becomes less important when your heart and mind are open, receptive, and still during those moments. Following are some examples of unique opportunities to be at rest (in a sense) in His presence.

  • Washing your hands – as you stand at the sink let the water run over your hands and slow your mind, call out to God.
  • As you wait for a meeting to start – surrender your attitude, your feelings to God.
  • As you walk to a meeting (separate yourself a bit from the crowd) – express gratitude to the Lord.
  • As you walk to and from your car to work.
  • In an elevator.
  • One minute, eyes closed, heart and hands open anywhere.
  • In the shower or bath – breathe in God, focus on Him (not your to do list).
  • Walking the dog – as you walk converse with God and when your pet stops to sniff, use the moment to be still in heart and mind. Breathe in God.
  • Before getting out of bed to start your day – thank God for He’ll show the way through it.
  • Before you crawl into bed – stand at the bedside close your eyes and draw near to God.
  • Linger in your car just before you go to enter your work environment.
  • If you take a lunch, find a spot that allows for you to be in quiet or solitude even if only for 5 minutes.

Assess the Outcome of Rest Moments

If you’ve made a commitment to enter into rest moments, then you want to assess the outcome or the result of having made that commitment. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel an increased sense of calm or peace?
  • Do you feel your mind is less tense, less judgmental, or less critical?
  • Do you see yourself being kinder, more patience?
  • Do you feel the rest moments have contributed to you living well, living better than you did before you engaged in the rest moments?
  • Reflect on how you’ve handled situations now as compared to before you engaged in rest moments.
  • Reflect on what benefits you have gained as a result of communing with God, coming into His presence throughout your day.
  • What have been the obstacles to entering into rest moments? How can these be resolved?

I pray you will experience the blessing promise in Deuteronomy 33:12 and discover and experience a deepening of your relationship with God because of your intentional choice to rest and connect with Him on a daily basis. 

If you are interested in reading Part I, its found in the August Archive or in the Spiritual Rest category! Be encouraged! As always your comments and feedback are important to me so please share. Blessings, Terri

 


Rest Moments

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m trying to get out of the house to run errands when my phone buzzes with a new message. I’m tempted to ignore it because I don’t recognize the number but my curiosity goads me and this is what I read, I’m on my way and will be stopping by your house -Jesus

Unbelievable, right? Never say never but it’s highly unlikely that Jesus is going to text me, or you. But you better believe he’s speaking to us—straight through to the center of our hearts and He's calling us into His rest.

What are we missing when we fail to stop and rest in the

presence of our precious Savior and Friend?

Back in Jesus’ day, he would drop in or stop by and we find in Luke 10:38-42 that he does just that when he came to the town where Martha lived. Imagine with me this scene that you know so well. Jesus knocks on Martha’s door. As he’s invited in, Jesus finds a place to sit or recline and within moments Mary positions herself at Jesus’ feet. Mary’s so close, gazing at his face while listening with rapt attention. What is it that’s captured Mary’s focus? Is Jesus teaching, laughing, sharing a story of healing, or reminiscing?

Imagine this scene from Martha’s point of view. She sees Mary has intentionally chosen to be at His feet, oblivious to the preparations needed for their guests. Martha’s frustrated, jealous or both and she tells Jesus that Mary is ignoring the greater priority. Do you wonder if there was an awkward silence after her remark? Did Jesus let the words hang in the air? Jesus responds to Martha assuring her that He sees what she is doing, He sees what Mary is doing, and Mary’s not to do what Martha’s doing. Jesus simplifies Martha’s priority list with gentle instruction that she should have chosen as Mary did—resting in the Lord’s presence. Mary recognized the greater priority. She ceased activity, moved as close to the Lord as she was able, and was at rest with Him.

What could be more restorative than resting in the Lord’s presence who Himself is at rest?

 

Lady-and-dog-1827593_640 (1)
Stop    Cease    Be Still    Rest

Today, our culture underestimates the essential benefits of being at rest which is defined as freedom from activity or labor and a peace of mind and spirit.1 Here’s a few reasons why rest should move to the top of your to-do-list.

Rest is restorative, refreshing, healing, and renewing.

Rest is essential for your central nervous system allowing it power-down to return to balance. Physical rest assists in the recovery of hormonal, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems.2

Spiritual rest is found in God’s presence.

If you’ve forgotten, God is the first author of rest. He created with power and wisdom all things in six days and then declared a rest. God set the universe in motion but He ceased all activity. Jesus also intentionally ceased activity and withdrew to be alone in order to come into his Father’s presence. Our Father and His Son have set forth the example of rest while we often choose to do anything but that. There will always be something that needs your attention but you get to set the priority it has in your life.

 

Messy life

Jesus practiced what he commanded and the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John provide the examples.3 Why did Jesus choose to cease activity to draw near to God? Put yourself in his shoes and imagine the stressors Jesus experienced from sun up to sun down, day after day. When did He sleep? When did He eat? The people always present were seeking, demanding, following, and pursuing. There’s no doubt that Jesus experienced hunger and thirst as well as emotional and physical strain. Jesus felt the sadness that accompanies loss, exasperation with the disciples, anger with religious leaders, and an indescribable burden of anticipating his death. Because of the stress and demands, Jesus desired and needed to come into his Father’s presence to receive, replenish, and refresh. If the Son of God felt it necessary to draw near to his Father, how much more do we need to set ourselves apart and enter the Lord’s rest?

Jesus invites you to experience a rest like no other for this specific reason: The Lord promises His presence is the answer when your life causes you to be weary and burdened.  He will lead you to the spiritual rest your soul desperately needs.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

                                     –Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible

Jesus is giving an invitation so what do you think? Intrigued? Skeptical? Is there anything preventing you from accepting it? Letting yourself enter the Lord’s rest means you’re willing to immerse yourself into a profound sense of comfort, security, grace, and love. The Lord’s rest brings you near to Him and there is assurance, healing, and recovery from the onslaught of the world’s demands. There is so much to be gained by accepting His invitation to rest. There was something indescribable about Jesus’ presence that brought Mary to sit at His feet and you can experience it as well.

  REST -- Restoration, Equilibrium, Stillness, and Trust

Resting 2

So, what small steps do you need to take to establish a practice of withdrawing from the world? You might consider starting with small adjustments in your daily or weekly schedule. What time of day or night is best to set yourself apart to enter rest and nearness to the Lord? There are any number of ways to capture a rest minute or more with God. This week take a survey of how you prioritize the To Do’s in your life. Once you’ve identified all the things and people that need your attention, then you’ll want to do a review of your life hours. Capture what you do on at least two or three days including a Saturday or Sunday. You might be surprised at what you discover. You can even do this as a family but I would first start with yourself. In the example below I have created a generalized life hour review for a usual Monday.

Example of a Monday:   Get ready for work- 1 hr; Feed/Walk/Medicate Shyla- 45 min; Drive to work- 20 min; Work- 8.5 hr; Drive home- 25 min; Take Shyla to Therapy- 40 min; Exercise- 35 min; Feed/Walk/Medicate Shyla- 1 hr; Fix/eat Dinner- 45 min; Chores- 40 min; Get ready for bed- 45 min = 14.40 hours

The life hour review is meant to bring your awareness to where you invest your energy and time. What are you doing each day and how much time does it take? What have become the priorities in your day or week? Consider how has this changed over the last year, the last six months. If you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel or a roller-coaster, then this review may be very helpful  in identifying the issue. In my next post, I’ll give you how-to tips and suggest ways to insert Rest Moments throughout your day!

Thanks for reading!  I've made some changes to make it easier for you to email me at heartsencouragedministry.com directly from the post. Also, when you open your email and click the heartsencouraged.com link it will send you directly to the blog and you can see everything else that it has to offer. Your feedback and comments are precious to me as I want be your strongest encourager. I'm very interested in knowing any specific areas where you need encouragement. Fondly, Terri

References

1 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rest

2 Fernandez-Mendoza, J. & Vogntzas, A. N. (2013). Insomnia and it’s impact on physical and mental health. Current Psychiatry Rep, 15 (12) 1-14. Doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0418-8.

3 Matthew 11:28-30


Release Your Creative Self

Hello and Welcome!

Today I’m starting with a question. What do you create? I certainly hope you didn’t just say to yourself “I can’t create anything” because that would be utterly incorrect. I think you create lots of things but you’re not giving yourself the credit for it. For instance, I create a mess in the kitchen when I attempt to create a meal from nothing to something that ultimately gets fed to the dog. I create frustration for my husband when I spend more than $35 for a cut and color combo. I create peace of mind when I finally get all of the clutter cleared away at home and it stays that way for at least half a day. Get the idea? These are examples of why you can’t say you don’t “create”. We create things, feelings, thoughts, problems, and more. This post is meant to challenge you to consider a broader meaning of the words create and creativity and to help you consider the many ways you can impact those around you with your creative self.

ColorWhen you take the stuff of life and rearrange it so that it matters, so that it does good things, you’re acting creatively. –Vinita Hampton Wright, The Soul Tells the Story (2005)

You are gifted by God to do good works—creative works that bring joy, laughter, calm, peace, beauty, fun, imagination, kindness into the world, your neighborhood, your community, your work, and your family (Ephesians 2:10). Most of the time we don’t think about the reality or the impact of what we create. Whatever we create inevitably has positive and negative effects as well as implications. We get to control when we create and what we create and this is highly influenced by the circumstances and people in our lives. We are at our creative best when (1) we surround ourselves with people who will positively impact our creative self and (2) when we offer our creative self to positively impact another soul.

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. –Henry Van Dyke

Be Bold, Use It!

So how do we surround ourselves with people who will help our creativity shine? You might be amazed by the fact that you are already surrounded. How so? Take an inventory of your friends. How do their gifts manifest? What do you perceive to be the creative gift of each one? Does it complement your creativity? If you aren’t certain of or aware of their “creativity”, then perhaps you should inquire. You might be surprised at their answer when you ask. Often, we are drawn to people who inspire us or have talents and gifts that complement our own.

Cute sheetRecently, I was in South Carolina having dinner with some lovely ladies. During our pre-dinner conversation, Susan brought out samples of her quilting and then unveiled these gorgeous applique buttons she made for an upcoming conference. There were no two alike. Each specially designed button (for lack of a better word) would go on the name tag of each woman to make her feel very special. When I saw the variety of colors and patterns, I started to envision these buttons as flowers without the stems. I wanted to snatch a few and create a mixed media piece right there on the spot! I felt inspired, not to duplicate her work, but to use it in a different way that she intended to use it.

During that fun evening, I listened to the conversation and compliments of each woman concerning the fabric buttons and I became acutely aware of their creative gifts. All together in that living room I saw each one’s creative contribution: the painter, the photographer, the quilter, the writer. And not just in South Carolina. This holds true for my friends in Ohio: the gardener, the photographer, the encourager, the writer, the teacher, the kindness gifter, the hostess, the cook. Unconsciously, I have surrounded myself with creative friends who inspire and bring out my creative self.

If you don’t mind, let’s get slightly silly for a moment. I have placed a quote below this paragraph and I want you to replace the word kindness with your create endeavor. It doesn’t matter how often you create or your level of expertise, or even if you question whether you think it counts as creativity. Just replace the word “kindness” with your creative act.

MonarchIf you were arrested for kindness, would there be enough evidence to convict you? –Unknown

 

 

Well? Would there be enough evidence? For me, yes to writing; no to mixed media. If there isn’t enough evidence, what’s the issue? No time to create? No quiet to create? No zone or space to create? Maybe it’s perfectionism or fear of looking foolish. I only mention these because those are my roadblocks. Look at me--I’m posting on a blog and ten months ago I didn’t even know how to create a blog like this! There’s no time like today to give your soul the chance to express itself with abandon. Utter abandon!

We are meant to offer our creative self to beautifully impact another soul. You are a creative gift from God to the souls that enter your life. It’s your smile. It’s your kindness. It’s your quiet comfort. It’s your funny self bringing laughter into a heart that needs it more than you know. Perhaps you’ve not considered that you are the creation, beautifully gifted to impact every soul that crosses your path. You are—ask God and He’ll show you.

 

For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

 

We have different gifts according to the grace given us. (Romans 12:6)

 

Crayons

Never forget that God has “laid hands” on your soul gifting you with creativity. God gifts each one of us through the power of the Holy Spirit and these are meant to be shared so share abundantly!

Share this post with your friends and those who need encouragement to not give up on their creative endeavors. Be brave and use your gifts!

Fondly, Terri


Courageous

Hello and Welcome!

I am so thankful for the privilege of sharing encouragement with you through this blog. Today's post presents a focus on the tremendous courage that we display to others as we live through the difficulties and troubles that manifest in our life. And, this post is a tribute to my dear friend, Chris, who is now with the Lord.

In the last few weeks, I have either witnessed or learned of women who have deliberately chosen courage and perseverance over despair and hopelessness.  All too often it seems we are faced with situations that cause us to have to choose one of those paths. As a few of you know, we sent our dear friend, Chris, on her way to be with Jesus. Chris was a warrior and faced the battle with cancer as any warrior would—fiercely steadfast in her faith in God and His sovereign purpose for her life. At Chris’ memorial service, her pink ribbon sister, Colleen, spoke with admiration of Chris. And, Colleen shared she is continuing to fight on behalf of Chris determined to defeat her own cancer. This is a woman who, in all likelihood, knew no one else at the service and determined to courageously share.

Courage 1You know women who are facing overwhelming circumstances or changes in their life and we can’t help but be affected. Too often we may feel inadequate to provide the words, the hope, or any other measure of comfort that we know is so obviously needed. Women are caregivers and it’s in our nature to want to make whole the brokenness, heal the wounded heart, and soothe the discomfort. But deep down we see how inadequate our resources are and we know what we offer isn’t sufficient to mend, let alone heal.

As a nurse, I know I can’t put a band-aid on a physical wound and expect healing to occur if I haven’t addressed the skin infection. In the same way, I know what I have to offer those who are hurting is no better than a band-aid—it touches the surface but it can’t impact the deep sadness and loss. It sounds arrogant and even prideful that I want to be the source of comfort for those hurting but that’s why I became a nurse—to impact, in whatever way I can, the health of those God brings across my path. So, I feel that frustration within, and I ask God, “What can I do?”.

Prayer 1I “do” what God expects me to do. Pray. And pray more. I lay before Him the names of those hearts that on my own and I ask God to provide what only He can. I earnestly believe He sees each one of us and He knows us as no one else does and I believe He is able to comfort, heal, provide a miracle and more for His precious children. While I’m sad that my prayer list grows as I add one more name after another, I’m thankful that not one of those women (and men) are unknown to God. We must never forget prayer is a powerful action fueled by your belief in God’s ability to provide according to His will.

During an incredibly challenging time in my life, the words Paul wrote in Philippians 1:19-20 (NLT) became very dear to me and continue to be a source of strength.

For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better.

Do you sense the power of this statement and prayer from Paul? Here is the phrase that impacts me the most, “I will never be ashamed”. Paul was referring to his imprisonment but that prison couldn’t contain Paul’s impact as he continued to share and model Christ. Colleen, Deb, Lysa, Kelly, David, Scott—these people, like Paul, live without shame because they live to honor Christ in the face of the challenges. As for Chris, her life continues to bring honor to Christ and she left behind a model of courage. I think Proverbs 31:31 best states the life of Chris, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (If you knew her, I’m certain you agree!)

Courage 2I end this post with two power encouragement points:

First, when you feel inadequate to offer what is needed by those we love, your prayer is a powerful act that makes you a co-warrior with those who are courageously facing their challenges.

Second, your faith in God and your trust in His plan for your life models courage to those who watch as you walk through your challenges and difficulty. You don’t have to “do” courageous. It will show as you trust God as your Strength and Jesus as your Savior.

Thank you so much for reading. If you would like to receive the blog posts on a regular basis, please scroll to the top of the page and in the right sidebar you can subscribe. Once you subscribe you'll receive a confirmation notice from Feedblitz. Please post your comments to the blog as I love to hear from you! Or, you can email me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com.  Fondly, Terri


Sacred Space Within You and Around You

Hello and Welcome!

In my last post on Meditative Gardens I shared the idea of sacred space as a physical space and as an internal state. Today's post shares in depth why sacred space is an important aspect as you spend time with God. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome! 

Sacred space is the term I use to define the three-dimensional realm where God meets with you and me. Sacred is defined as something that is consecrated, holy and the term space refers to that within me and around me. Sacred space can be established as a physical setting, as a state of mind, and within our heart. It’s probably not hard to image establishing a physical setting as a sacred space but what about the creation of sacred space within one’s heart and mind? Think about sacred space within yourself as an act of worship where you center your heart and mind on God for receptivity to His presence and message. You set all other things aside in heart and mind through separation from distraction, centering your focus on the Lord, and humbling yourself as you ask the Lord to meet you. Let’s look at two Biblical examples related to the concept of sacred space—Moses and Jesus.

Desert In the book of Exodus, you will find references to two tents of meeting. The Tent of Meeting, also known as the Tabernacle, was in the middle of camp and contained, among other items, the Ark of the Covenant. The Tabernacle was where God met with His people and within it the priest performed their assigned holy tasks. The second tent of meeting is described in Exodus 33:7-11. Here we find that Moses set up a tent some distance away outside the Israelite camp. Moses would enter this tent to inquire of the Lord and this was the physical space where he met with God separating himself from the buzz and busyness of the camp. While in the tent, Moses would probably assume a posture of humbleness, bowing low or kneeling with his face to the ground to reframe his view of himself. Though he was the leader of the Israelites, he was a servant before God.

The second example of a physical setting established as sacred space is found in Luke 22:39-46. Jesus takes his disciples to the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, specifically to the garden of Gethsemane. In verse 39 of the NIV, it states that Jesus went, as usual, to the Mount of Olives. The phrase as usual caused me to wonder what drew Jesus to that space. Was it a place of solitude? Did it remind him of the garden, a sacred space, his Father established in Eden? Because of my own love of nature, I can easily grasp how the garden of Gethsemane may have represented a sacred space for Jesus to meet with the Father. In the same way, Moses separated himself from the camp, Jesus removed himself from the disciples so he could establish a sacred space and come before his Father. Both set their focus on God and humbled themselves before Him.  Tulip pathWhile the physical aspect of sacred space is important it can be irrelevant if there has not been adequate preparation of our heart and mind. Why is this preparation significant? It’s because my heart, your heart has replaced the former temple. In 1 Corinthians 3:17, the apostle Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God. As a believer saved by Jesus Christ, your body is now a temple for the Holy Spirit. You have become the Tabernacle—the dwelling place of God. The former Tabernacle of the Old Testament has been replaced and now God meets within your heart and soul. Take a moment and let that truth sink in. Have you ever thought of your heart as a tent of meeting or as the garden—the sacred space within?

Preparing your heart as an internal sacred space requires intentionality and dedication.  Separation, focus, and humbleness are among the key elements. As you come before God, dedicate and consecrate your heart and mind to Him alone, and choose to be fully present without pretense. Next, you should come in authenticity. Come just as you are before God with sin and weaknesses. You are offering yourself to God with an open, surrendered heart along with a thoughtful, curious, and reverent state of mind. You come without an agenda, making your heart and mind, ears and eyes sensitive to perceiving God’s voice. As you develop your practice of entering sacred space, you will find a rhythm and a desire to return to your “tent of meeting”. God delights in you and wants you to experience His presence.

I encourage you to give the following questions serious thought. What if you could live so that you enter each day expecting surprises, refusing to follow the easiest route, letting go of control, and laughing at the future? What if you choose to be receptive to God’s prompts and direction without having all the details or any details? The questions are important. God ordained all the days of your life. He knows every day you will live (Psalm 139:16). Who better to guide you, direct you, give strength in your weakness, and sustain your hope? How will you receive all this and more? It is within sacred space. Personally, I love to think of my heart as a garden. Genesis says God met with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and I call that the very first sacred space! As God met with them so He meets with me in the garden of my heart. God and I together have worked the garden of my heart, removing the thorns, tangles, and dead things. God has and continues to bring healing and His love grows the fruit of the Spirit within me.


Icon Hearts Encouraged

Designating Fixed Sacred Space

Selecting a fixed physical location for sacred space depends on what you want to do in that space. Here are some things to think about as you plan.

  • Is the space just for you or may others in your life use it too?
  • Do you want the space to be readily visible as a reminder or do you want it to be private?
  • Will you bring the items you need to the sacred space each time you go there, or do you want the space set up so you pop in and everything you need is already present?
  • If the space is for prayer and meditation and your house is never quiet, then you may want to consider creating a quiet zone or quiet time. If that’s impossible, then what about a space in your garden, sitting in your car, or a walk-in closet. What about noise-cancelling headphones? Sound crazy? Not when you consider the benefits you will experience by setting yourself apart to be in the presence of God. Don’t stop at the first or second roadblock. This is important.
  • If the space is for worship, do you need space to move around? Do you care if anyone hears you worship?
  • Some Don’ts:  don’t let your sacred space be a distraction; don’t clutter, simplify; don’t forget your focus: God.

Examples of Simple Sacred Spaces Inside and Outside

  Sacred Space 2Meditative garden 6 edit Bench
Creating Flexible Sacred Space

Anywhere, anytime is the key to flexible sacred space.

Maybe there isn’t any one place or any specific time that you can designate as sacred space. The maybes are endless. No problem. Select a container, fill it with the items you need for prayer, worship, or communion with God. Grab and go.

Sacred space can be created within you in spite of not having a dedicated physical space for meeting with God. You are sacred to God and He dwells within you. The act of stopping activity, separating yourself from distraction, and deliberately, authentically presenting yourself to God creates a sacred space. Following are a couple ideas of when or where sacred space can happen. For instance, at work I have to park in a multi-story parking garage. I take a few moments before exiting my car to be with God in that quiet space. Another example is the elevator at work. I have capitalized on alone time in the elevator as a moment to come before God with thanksgiving, gratitude, or requests for help during my day. You might be amazed at those unique moments where you find yourself alone in the busiest of environments. Speak to God aloud or in your mind and intentionally dedicate the moment being fully present to engage with the Lord. Hopefully these example shows you how you can get creative with sacred space! 

Let me know how you create sacred space within and around you! I'm certain you have wonderful ideas and you may inspire another reader. If you're not already a subscriber just click on the "Subscribe" button  in the right sidebar and Feedblitz will send you an confirmation. Make sure you confirm your subscription and then you'll automatically receive the posts. 

Blessings to you!  Terri


What Happens in the Garden?

Hello and Welcome!

I can't wait to share this post because I love nature. I hope you'll discover something new as you read and use it to positively impact your life!

Do you know what happens to you when you sit, work, or play in your garden? Healing. Nature’s effect on your body is being recognized as an important component of the healing process. There is a response by your body to the exposure of fresh air, the sounds of nature, the colors and complexity of plants and trees, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the energy of the earth. How much exposure are you getting?

CyprusDeviation from nature is deviation from happiness –Samuel Johnson

There is a growing body of research that suggests the level of your exposure to nature, being connected to it, is directly related to your attitude, stress recovery, nervous system function, immune response, psychological wellness, and more. Studies have found that hospital patients can better envision the possibility of wellness when they have opportunities to visit a garden within the hospital and see the plants thriving, strong and alive. This powerful visual moves patients to believe that they, whether in part or in whole, are healing and can thrive in spite of the health issue they are experiencing. There is a new understanding that the longer we are separated from nature the more we are negatively impacted in nearly every dimension of health. You and I are connected to nature because we are an essential element of it. You and I are meant to experience nature as a healing gift by the One who created every intricate detail. It’s time to increase your exposure and experience the benefits!

Sacred Space 2Keep close to Nature’s heart. Break clear away, once in awhile, and

climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. 

Wash your spirit clean.  –John Muir

There is something significant about separating ourselves from the noise and the energy of the city, our household, and our work. Busyness encapsulates us. Stress entangles us. Pressures drive us. We allow ourselves to be enslaved to doing and forget to be. Nature doesn’t beckon us to come do—it invites us to be with it, in it, and part of it. I believe we forget that nature is a gift from God to us and for us. Nature is alive, it renews, it feeds us, it shelters us, and it teaches us. For these reasons and more, we begin the grasp the impact of nature on our health—physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

Consider the artist who creates a piece with the hope that it will reveal the artist’s soul and message. In the same way, God speaks to you and me through the magnificent elements of nature. And when you read the Bible you find example after example of God using nature to communicate a message to His people.

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. –Luke 5:16

When was the last time you withdrew from everything that demanded your attention? When was the last time you separated yourself from the busyness, the noise, and the stress? It's meaningful to me that Jesus chose often to withdraw to pray. Withdrawing had to have been necessary with so many needing him, pressuring him, insulting him, hunting him. There are times when you and I experience such things in varying degrees. Take a moment and think about who needs you, what pressures you, what or who stresses you, and what hurts you endure. It's these things that make it especially necessary to withdraw and be in the presence of Jesus who very much knows what you live through every day. It makes sense that placing yourself in a place of quiet, separated from everything that distracts, is how you will deeply connect with the Holy Spirit. Intentionally seeking a quietness of heart and mind in an environment such as a garden, meditative space, or a place of sacred space is an invitation from your soul to the Lord. When we seek to find God, we will find Him, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV). Where better to find God than in His creative playground—nature!

Garden BenchThe Meditative Garden

Have you ever considered creating a meditative garden? It can be a beautiful way to meet the needs of your soul, mind, and body and create a place of sacred space to meet with God. Your meditative garden is your space so it should reflect your personality and be creatively designed so it will draw you there. There are plenty of resources on the internet to guide you. The garden should impact at least one dominant sense whether its smell, vision, touch, taste, or hearing. By creating the garden around your dominant sense, it will be a place of calm and of peace. For those of us that don’t have the space, the time, the energy to an outdoor garden space, you can create a small indoor garden space in your home. Indoor houseplants, small table gardens, or fairy gardens are great examples of bringing the outdoor inside. By adding candles or essential oils, a meaningful piece of art, poems, scripture cards, photos, music of nature such as bird songs or soothing rhythms, a comfortable chair, or a table fountain you can create a special space to withdraw.

A meditative garden is one way to create a physical sacred space—a place to go, setting all other things aside in heart and mind to center your focus on the Lord. In my next post I will describe how we can create sacred space around us and within us. I hope this post encourages you to set aside time to place yourself in nature. If you have a meditative garden or have ideas for our readers on how to get one started, please share by posting a comment on this blog. You can email me directly at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks for reading -- Terri

References:

Health, healing and recovery: Therapeutic landscapes and the everyday lives of breast cancer survivors. Social Science & Medicine (English, Wilson, Keller-Olaman, 2008)

How to Deeply Connect Your Body with Nature. www.spiritualityhealth.com/blog/bess-oconnor/how-deeply-connect-your-body-nature

Does Nature Make Us Happy? Connections with nature are linked to happiness and ecological sustainability. (Price-Mitchell, 2014). www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201403/does-nature-make-us-happy

Patient’s recovery experiences of indoor plants and views of nature in a rehabilitation center. Work. (Raanaas, Patil, Alve, 2016)

Nature is the Best Medicine. The Environmental Magazine: Green Living with the Earth in Mind. (Johnson, 2007)

 


Your Brand of Beauty

Hello! So thankful for your continued support of Hearts Encouarged. I hope this post on beauty is a blessing to you. You are of such importance to God and I pray your trust and hope in Him flourishes as He reveals his unfailing love and enduring faithfulness to you.  Fondly, Terri

What brand do you support? Nike? Michael Kors? Disney? Samsung? Apple? Most of us advertise on behalf of our favorite brand because it’s on our clothes, phones, and accessories. We spend money on a specific brand because something about it causes us to find it reliable, to be of high quality, or it meets the level of excellence we need to support our activities. Now, having brought this to your attention I’d like you to consider that you, too, have a brand. Surprised? I’m serious--you are sharing your brand every day. Your brand is based on your interactions with people, your attitude, your responses, and acts--what you do and how you get things done. People perceive you in a specific way and that’s your brand.

Purple flowerThere is an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful.

–Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

When I read this quote from Lysa’s book Uninvited, I loved it. Those words emphasizes that you and I possess a unique brand of beauty that impacts anyone who crosses our life path. These words inspire me, lift my spirit, give me a reminder that I don’t need to assimilate to the pattern of the world. I have a beauty given to me by the One who created me. And, I sustain and enhance that beauty as I apply the beauty regimen God has designed for me. Surprised, again? God has a beauty regimen? Read on my beautiful friend!  “I praise you because I am remarkably and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well....” (Psalm 139:14.) There’s more. You have this undeniable beauty that causes you to shine like a star in the universe when you refrain from arguing and complaining (Phil 2:14). When you choose and use the wisdom of God, a garland of grace adorns your head, a crown of beauty (Proverbs 4:9). When you interact with or respond to another soul from a heart filled with gentleness and a quiet spirit, you display an imperishable quality (1 Peter 3:4). The woman who places her hope in God beautifies herself in this way (1 Peter 3:5). This is your brand. This is my brand. Or, it could be.

Here’s one more verse about beauty and I think it’s hilarious. When I read it I started laughing because the image was so prominent in my mind. A beautiful woman who rejects good sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout (Proverbs 11:22). Can you picture it? The outer beauty of a woman is nothing more than a trinket in a pig’s snout when there’s nothing of beauty on the inside of that woman.

Poppy fieldWe hunger for beauty because it is a beautiful God whom we serve.

–Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand

Beauty brings us into places of healing, as well as into God’s presence.

– Jane Rubietta, Between Two Gardens

Yellow flowers

I believe the world is looking for beauty within people because their souls are starving for authentic relationships. Most people don’t know why they feel unsatisfied. And, they try to meet the need of their soul in various ways. God is beauty and we exhibit an aspect of that beauty when we extend the love of Jesus. You and I can bring healing with our words, a look, an act of kindness. The apostle Peter calls you and I to maintain an intense love for each other and to serve each other with the gifts we have received from God. Your gifts make up your brand. You, my friend, are known as a woman who…. Read that last sentence again and finish it in your own words. You get to develop your brand. It forms by following the example of Jesus and the examples of beauty in the bible. What do you think about giving some attention to your brand and considering how people perceive you? Whether you know it or not, people have assigned you a brand. You are known for a brand as it pertains to your work relationships, your leadership, your friendships, your servant attitude, and your display of Christ-like qualities. There’s no time like now to embark on a beautification of your heart! This is an opportunity to do a self-assessment for the purpose of sharing with the world your exact brand of beautiful that brings glory to God. Below are some starter questions to begin the assessment process. After the self-assessment, review the verses I provided above that highlight some of the ways inner beauty can be expressed and positively impact those near to you. Next, identify an area where your beauty can be more fully manifested. Fervently pray for what you need so you may experience the change you would like to occur. Here’s an example from my self-assessment. In my zealousness to advocate for the staff at work to ensure they are treated with respect, I may speak harsh statements about those who are not interacting with the staff respectfully. While my motives seem to be well-intended, those harsh statements show judgment and a lack of grace. My words reflect my perceived brand—harsh and judging. But, that’s not really my brand. I’m an advocate and I have a heart that cares about injustice. However, it doesn’t really matter who I think I am when the perception by others is different. As a result of this assessment, I need to find a better way to communicate to the staff my position of advocacy for them while remaining non-judgmental toward other involved parties.

Here are a few assessment questions to get you started! Ask yourself:

  • What would my closest friends say if I asked them what they would call “my brand of beauty”?
  • What beauty do I reflect from my heart, my personality, or my passions?
  • Do my words reflect the beauty of God within my heart?
  • Do my actions reflect the love of Jesus?
  • Does my attitude reflect a servant attitude much like Jesus during his time on earth?
  • How do I approach problems or issues? Do I currently display my brand of beauty in such moments? If not, what changes can I make?

I hope you found this post encouraging and enlightening. You and I are beautiful to God because Christ makes it so with his righteousness and with his sacrificial cleansing of our sin. The presence of the Holy Spirit within your heart gifts to you an inner beauty that cannot be exhibited without the Spirit. 

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts via the comment link. You can reach me directly at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com. Subscribe to this blog by going to the sidebar and entering your email. You'll get a confirmation from Feedblitz and then you're on the mailing list. Thanks for reading and share with a friend. Fondly, Terri

Rubber-duck-1401225_640