Tag Archives: Identity

You need a “jail break”

What an incredible few weeks!  Once my heart recovered from a recent romantic break-up, I (again) began to seek out what God would have me do in 2019.   Twice last year, writing a book was spoken over me.  That resonates deeply with me, but since I’ve never done it before I put it on the “someday” shelf.  But in recent weeks, some things have happened to re-awaken this desire and prompting.  Hmm.  I’d appreciate your prayers on that.

But today, I’m writing for a friend … actually, a few friends.  You know who you are ❤

Dear friend,

We’ve been talking about your jail cell for a long time.  How hard it is to live there, how stifling and oppressive it is.  You want out, but you feel trapped – bound – unable to escape.

You’ve cried yourself to sleep there countless nights.  You ache to breathe the fresh air and wander open spaces you hear visitors talking about.   Oh, the stories they tell!

Your longing to be free (like them) is so strong that on a few occasions, you actually managed to  leave the confines of your small cell and sneak past the guards to catch a glimpse, a rare and intoxicating taste, of the freedom that belongs to those on the other side of the barbed wire fence.  But the Prison Warden and his Oppressors always manage to drag you back to captivity – and the repetitive and increasing punishment for your attempted escapes have eventually trained you to (more or less) resign yourself to your fate.  You have been charged (justly or unjustly) and found guilty.  You were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment.  You are a captive of the Warden, live with it.

M-W1-cellblock of Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut
Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut

And so you have.  You’ve killed your dreams (well, almost).  You’ve even managed to find slivers of contentment in this life of containment and drudgery.

Does that sound familiar?  I bet we’ve all been there … and more truthfully, we all have places in our lives where we are still imprisoned.  Imprisoned to fear of failure, to someone’s disapproval, to being alone, to self-doubt.

You need a jail break!

Friend, there is a way out, and you can leave that jail cell and be forever set free from the torment of the Prison Warden!!!   But to do so (and not be recaptured again) you’ll need a helper and guide – and His name is Jesus!  He’s has helped thousands upon thousands to escape, and He is easily able to do the same for you!!

Are there areas of your life where you still feel stuck or imprisoned?  Of course there are! Welcome to the human race (grin).   But there is hope, so please come back soon for the next post and an introduction to your Escape Guide, Jesus Christ.

=====

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

Spring Cleaning of the Heart

I’ve not been writing much this year – in part because I was unclear if I was to be writing on a particular subject (or using a particular format) like I did in 2018, but also … and perhaps more truthfully, because I was heart weary.

For the first time in many (many!) years, I started dating again. It was delightful, and I’m so grateful for the awakening that took place in my feminine heart during that time. In many ways, I liken it to the re-opening of an old house that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It may look a bit of a mess at first, but as you remove the sheets that covered fine furnishings, polish up the woodwork and light fixtures, etc … your eyes behold a beautiful and inviting home filled with character and memories that welcome you in.

This was my experience. Rooms of my heart have been re-opened, spring-cleaned, and are now ready to welcome the man that has been praying for such a woman as me (just like I’ve been praying for him).

And I learned something amazing about myself through this recent experience of discovering attraction, engaging in vulnerability, lowering the drawbridge of my heart, moderating emotions, engaging in honest communication, and practicing prayerful discernment.

I’m absolutely NOT the woman I was!

That might not mean much to some of you … but if you have read some of my older posts or dared to read my story (see sidebar category), then you know that there was a long season of my life when I was making need-based relationship choices, and those need-based choices nearly were the end of me!

FacelessFather www.puttinghopetowork.com
FacelessFather http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

But this time, I experienced something different!! I experienced dating from the place of emotional health and wholeness!!

I’ve never done that before! Ever! (seriously, ever!!)

“Better late than never’ they say, and at 58 years old I finally dated without handing over my value and worth to be weighed and measured by another person (as I have done countless times in the past). Instead of offering my Identity (worth and value) to a person … my Identity remained nested throughout my river-walk with this gentleman in whom the Lord says I am His beloved, His daughter, His bride.

“I will lift up my eyes [and my heart] to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121: 1-2 (MEV)

What a delight to my soul and spirit!!! To experience the transformation that I have worked so hard for all these years!! Not that I’ve ever run a marathon (and believe you me, I never will!), but I imagine it’s kind of like the difference between training for one, and actually placing in one!

“I Lift My Heart To The Hills” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

God is so good, isn’t He?! If we will just keep with Him, keep surrendering to His gentle regenerating and healing work within us, He is faithful to complete the work He has begun!! Amen and so be it!

If you have had a similar epiphany or experience, I’d love to hear about it. So, I’m sure would others.

=====

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

Who Am I (AYFH wk 34)

Believe it or not, I have enjoyed writing my testimony (categorized under “My Story”) the past few months. Not only has it reconnected me with and given clarity to a calling God gave me years ago, but it has also allowed me to connect with some amazing people!

Through comments as well as private conversations, God has opened doors for me to use my voice and experiences to encourage others who are still walking “through their valley of the shadow of death”.

“What happens to you in life does not change the Word of God; but if you will hold fast to your confession (profession) of the Word, it will change what happens to you in life.”  ~Charles Capps

I recently sat with a friend who wept with longing for the “seemingly accomplished” deliverance she sees in my life and testimony (while she is still in the process of laying hold of hers). She might be surprised to know that I wept into my own pillow that night … because there are still many areas in which I struggle with unfulfilled longings and (yet) unmet needs.

Breath of Heaven - Robed In His Righteousness www.puttinghopetowork.com
Breath of Heaven – Robed In His Righteousness http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Last week I revealed my “Victory Painting”. I think it’s easy (especially, I think, on the heels of my testimony) to look at “Miss Hope” with head bowed down in worship, enrobed in Christ’s Righteousness, being spoken over by the Spirit of God … and think to ourselves …

She made it!
She conquered!
She has arrived! (at the place of rest and rejoicing)

To which I think she might say, “Please don’t look at me that way.”

And to all of you reading this post I also say, “Please don’t look at me that way.”

Meaning please don’t look at me like I’ve now living a life without challenge, without disappointment, without heartache. If you do, not only will you be disappointed when you find out the truth (when you find out that neither my life, nor I (myself) am “all that and a bag of chips”), but it will also short circuit your faith for what God is doing in your life … right now … today!

But neither let us focus on our (neither yours nor mine) shortcomings and current struggle points (or ‘messy spots’).

“Faith is confidence that God’s Word is true, and conviction that acting on that Word will bring His blessing.”   ~Warren W. Wiersby, BE: Mature

Instead, let us look into the mirror of the perfect Word of God, and see ourselves how God sees us. If you are a Christ-follower (have made Jesus the Lord of your life), then guess what … this lovely image of Miss Hope robed in Righteousness, breathed upon by the Breath of God … that’s you too!

Perhaps even more importantly, let us say about ourselves what God says about us! Let us put in the work to “true up” our internal image of our true Identity.  

To the lie that says you are a broken mess and always will be, open your mouth and respond with this:

I am healed and whole in Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).

I am complete in Him Who is the head over all rule and authority—of every angelic and earthly power (Colossians 2:10).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression and will not live in fear (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I am the righteousness of God—I have right standing with Him—in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I have been rescued from the domain and the power of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

My life is rooted in my faith in Christ and I overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done for me (Colossians 2:7).

My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19).

To the lie that says you are fearful and fragmented of mind/spirit, open your mouth and say boldly:

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

The Spirit of God, who is greater than the enemy in the world, lives in me (1 John 4:4).

I am born again—spiritually transformed, renewed and set apart for God’s purpose—through the living and everlasting word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

I have received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my heart enlightened, so that I know the hope of having life in Christ (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I am merciful, I do not judge others, and I forgive quickly. As I do this by God’s grace, He blesses my life (Luke 6:36-38).

The light of God’s truth has shone in my heart and given me knowledge of salvation through Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

I am not ruled by fear because the Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me His power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through me. I have authority and power over the enemy in this world (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).

To the lie that says you are never going to change – never going to gain the victory, open your mouth and shut that voice up by declaring:

I am renewed in the knowledge of God and no longer want to live in my old ways or nature before I accepted Christ (Colossians 3:9-10).

I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ Jesus who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

In Christ, I am dead to sin—my relationship to it is broken—and alive to God—living in unbroken fellowship with Him (Romans 6:11).

As I hear God’s Word, I do what it says and I am blessed in my actions (James 1:22, 25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I have everything I need to live a godly life and am equipped to live in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

“Stand up to your full height; worry can not do for you (grow and mature you) what only faith can do.” ~Jeremy Pearsons

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the head and not the tail, and I only go up and not down in life as I trust and obey God (Deuteronomy 28:13).

I am strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (Colossians 1:11).

I humbly submit myself to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on each day to fulfill God’s plan for my life because I live to please Him (Philippians 3:14).

“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” ~Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified)

And all the people said …… Amen!

=====

All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 18)

She slowly walks up to the front of the room, smiling as she moves past the familiar and unfamiliar faces monitoring her progress. She tries to steady her breathing. Everything rides on this, her entire future! As she turns, the room quiets and all eyes are on her. She silently prays her voice to calm, and then she begins to deliver the most important speech of her 18 year life.

I should know better, for I have been here -in this place- countless times before. Dreaming, pursuing, preparing, envisioning my success.

• The powerful delivery of a presentation or speech
• Hitting my weight loss goal
• Landing that promotion
• Winning back territory from the enemy
• Making the final payment on an old debt
• Arriving at a place of financial security
• Residence in ‘the land overflowing with milk and honey’

At the beginning of the process … the dreaming, pursuing and preparing part … enthusiasm is high. My imagination soars with visions of what life will be like when ______. And usually, if I really pause to examine my thought life, there is an undertone or underlying theme in my visions of victory and success: “Then I’ll be able to rest for a bit.”

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!” ― Jim Henson (The Labyrinth)

And yet time and time again, even though I know full well it’s not true – I continue to set myself up for the inevitable disappointment that will be when reality smacks me in the face and I’m reminded once again that there is always going to be another presentation, another goal, another challenge, … another mountain/valley/ocean to cross over!

Can anyone else relate?

Admittedly, I was in a bit of a funk the end of last year. There was a lot of change taking place in my day-job, and it was quite stressful. And so I did what I always do … or what eventually I always do. I took my battle-weary heart to the Lord, and received HOPE from Him that 2018 would be a year of favor and blessing. That’s why this particular blog series is entitled “2018: A Year For Hope” … because I knew He was instructing me to keep blogging, and I needed a reminder (and anchor) for the HOPE that He had given me in December.

“I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.” ~Psalm 32:8 (The Passion Translation)

In January I spread my wings and took flight on this series, I even began painting again. I had gained a little altitude in February. I soared for a little while in March, until I hit the turbulent winds of April. Some personal disappointments got the better of me and I lost altitude.

Sounds rather like a recurring theme for me, doesn’t it?

Rest and Refresh! Hope! Vision! Expectation! Fearlessness! Boldness! Persistence! Fatigue! Wobbly-ness! (repeat)

And as I’ve been making my way back to the starting place these last 2 weeks, I asked myself “What in the world makes you think life is going to be gumdrops and lollypops when ___ happens! You should know better!”

Sometimes I write my blog posts for you – to encourage you like we were friends sitting across from each other over coffee.

But most times, my write blog posts are for me – something I’m working through and/or need to be reminded of. Yup, I’m a HOPE-filled blogger in desperate need for another shot of HOPE!

And today, the encouragement I’m clinging to comes from the women’s event I attended at my church this past weekend. Through the story of Gideon, our lead Pastor’s wife and guest speaker shared a one-liner that really resonates with me.
“God wants us to be Brave so that He can write our stories.” ~Ginelle Payne

Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Oh yes, that’s right Lord. My story is still being written, by You!

And there is no finish line this side of heaven (because I have an enemy who is always sabotaging me by moving flags and markers, setting traps, etc), and so it is a waste of energy to pine for the day when I can ‘put my feet up and rest a bit’.

Instead, I need to keep coming back (hourly if necessary) to the starting place of Rest & Refreshment so that You can revive my Hope, give me Vision, build my Expectation, make me Fearless, increase my Boldness, with greater Persistence! And when fatigue comes, I would do well to return to the starting place A.S.A.P. rather than waiting for wobbly-ness to set in. (I tend to get into trouble by making poor decisions when I’m wobbly.)

Regarding that enemy – the one who is always sneaking around to steal the Word from me, kill my dreams, and utterly destroy God’s plan for my life? In the words of Jim Henson … let me loudly declare this!

You have no power over me!


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside. Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 17)

I had a dream last night. It was so explicit that I felt, as I have at other times, the dream was given to me for a reason. Perhaps it is for you.

“Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.” ~Rick Warren

Everyone wears masks. Some masks are as simple as answering a no-nonsense “Fine” to the question of “How are you?” instead of giving the long and drawn out honest answer of discouragement and brokenheartedness. Some masks are more complex and worn as a means of self-protection. This was the case in my dream.

She touches up her curls and puts on her mascara. She smiles in the mirror for a final inspection. It will do, she is ready. So is he.

They walk in together, smiling across the foyer to welcoming faces while also being purposeful to stay just far away enough to avoid direct conversation with much of anyone. Too much familiarity puts them at risk of questions they don’t want to answer; and answers most people don’t really want to hear.

There are only a few, a very few, people at this church who know the truth about them. They had expected complete rejection, just like they had experienced at countless churches before this one. But to their surprise, they found understanding and acceptance from people who looked beyond their “differences” and who saw them. Seeking. Hurt. Hungry. And they were welcomed just as they were, just where they were in their journey of learning more about Jesus.

“We all have sin in our lives”, they were told. “My sin might look different than yours, but it doesn’t make it any better or yours any worse. We all fall short – which is exactly why Jesus went to the Cross. To pay the sin debt for all mankind once and for all. If Jesus can be patient with me in my state, who am I to judge you about yours.”

I think it grieves the heart of God when we rank some sins as being worse than others. And let’s face it, we have a very ugly habit of doing so – especially within the walls of the Church. It should not be.

Sadly, I’m old enough to have seen many “messy Christians” (those who didn’t look like or act like they were supposed to) being made to feel so unwelcomed in church that in short order they simply stopped coming altogether. And why? Because they wore jeans or shorts on a Sunday morning? Or they had blue hair? Or they were suspected as gay? Or her belly button showed? Or he had a mouth full of rotten teeth and his breath smelled?

The sin of stealing a few manila folders from the office supply cabinet ranks way below the sin of embezzlement – but both are thievery. Gluttony vs drug addiction. Venomous words vs physical abuse. Somehow, it all too often ends up that the sins that you and I struggle with fall to the lesser end of the ranking system (downgraded with words like “issues” or “struggles”) while someone else’s sins (that are not a temptation to us and therefore with whom we can’t relate) are ranked higher and are undoubtedly more offensive to God.

“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

As I lay in my bed processing, I felt the Lord invite me to look intently at the woman and the man in my dream. From other details of the dream, I knew the secret they worked so hard to keep concealed from general knowledge.

But I didn’t feel like that was what God wanted me to see. He was asking me to look at each person individually. To see beyond their sin-struggle, and to see the person.

“Who are they?” He asked me.

We all wear masks. I get it. I wear them too.

But God sees each of us from behind the masks we wear. He knows us individually, completely, and His blood was shed just as much for the murderer as for the occasional pencil thief.

“Look closer,” He said. “Who are they?”

A son. A daughter. A creation.
His son. His daughter. His creation.

Who Am I
Who Am I

When I started blogging in 2014, I painted a word-picture for the post “WHO AM I”. I think it is fitting for this post as well, (Besides, I ruined my work in process and so I must now start it all over again) because this is at the heart of what I felt God was pointing me to see or observe about these two people in my dream. Their IDENTITY is not based on the type of sin they struggle with. Their IDENTITY is that of a son or daughter. And if they have reached the point of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, their IDENTITY is that of His son or His daughter.

When we accept Jesus as Savior, all our issues don’t magically go away overnight. We all know that! But we have so much more tolerance for some kinds of messiness than other kinds. But if the Father can be lovingly patient with me as I continue to work through my food-issues, and temper-issues, and jealousy-issues … can He not be equally as lovingly patient with someone else as they work through their issues – no matter what those issues are?

“Where is the HOPE for them?” He asked. “If not from you, then from who?”

I realize some might read this post and think I’m being “soft on sin”. I am not. I just don’t see it as my job assignment to be the measurer (is that even a word?) of which sin is worse than another. My Bible says that ALL have fallen short of God’s standards for holiness (Romans 3:23). I believe God is well able to do the work Himself of convicting and developing and maturing us individually, so that we can focus on the work of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.

“Beloved, when you correctly understand your identity in Christ, who you are – and what is yours (the power, the authority, the dignity, the calling) as children of the Living God – it will change the way you think about yourself. And that “right standing” will change the choices you make on a daily basis, and will ultimately change the course of your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren.”

Pretty deep thoughts for a Monday, I know. If this touched your heart in some way, please leave a comment below. And for something a little lighter, follow the link to the first of a 2-series post entitled “Who Am I”. I hope it will encourage you.

 

 


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside.  Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.