Beloved, Press On

Positive perspective during a time of pandemic

Uncertain times can invoke a vast array of emotions and unmask flaws buried deep in our hearts that we thought we’d long ago dealt with.  The other day I shared a post on my social media accounts about perspective.  I shared how I’ve decided to shift mine amid the pandemic we are all walking through presently.

After a day of getting on my own nerves because of all the complaining I was doing Father God got a hold to me.  I don’t know about y’all but often times Papa has to speak very plainly to me.  He told me in no uncertain terms to quit complaining.  I must admit I was in fact getting on my own nerves.

I heard it said recently that we aren’t “stuck at home” rather we are “safe at home.”  Although the social distancing can be inconvenient, perhaps even saddening at times, we can choose to have a positive perspective despite what we are presently facing.  When I heard the aforementioned statement I decided to zip it, stop my complaining and shift my perspective.

As the Father is revealing my heart to me areas I need to work on with the power of the Holy Spirit are becoming evident.  So, I choose to see this season as a blessing.  A gift of a slow down I undoubtedly would not have taken on my own.  A gift of time to have more intimacy with Papa, to press deeper into Him and to be refined more so I can have His heart + character.  A gift of family often neglected or overlooked with busyness.  A gift of more meaningful friendships + precious moments I may not have enjoyed otherwise that I’ll treasure a lifetime.

In this season friends, I’ve decided to choose happy.  To be intentional.  To look beyond myself and how this pandemic is affecting me + ask Father God how I can bless someone else, or lighten their load.  To practice more gratitude because despite basically being laid off I have much to grateful for ~ food to eat, dishes to wash, a soft bed to sleep in, a safe place to lay my head, the health of my friends & family and so much more.

There’s a song by Bryan & Katie Torwalt called Prophesy Your Promise that has been deeply ministering to me lately.  Give it a listen and meditate on the words.

Beloved, trust Him in the process.  Press on.  He isn’t done with you yet.

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Don’t Forget to Remember

When life throws curve ball after curve ball, worship Him through it.

When uncertainty surrounds you, remember the waves & wind still know His name.

When it feels as though the accuser is breathing down your neck, fast & pray.

When you know not what else to do, call on His name.  The name above all names!

When the storm rages on, remember you know the One who can calm the sea.

When you don’t see the fruit and change doesn’t seem to come, recognize that some things you won’t see this side of heaven.

When all your strength is gone and you feel you have nothing left, surrender at His feet.

When you have more bills than money, know that He cares for you and is the Ultimate Provider.

When you feel all hope is gone, crawl into Papa’s lap and receive His abounding peace.

When you pray and His answer isn’t what you expected, bless His holy name.

But more than anything, keep your focus fixed on the One with eyes like fire.  He is the Author & Finisher of your faith.  He alone is worthy of your attention.

 

Waiting Heart

There is purpose in the waiting.  I regularly have to remind myself of this in the season the Father has me in.  (See my last post for more about that.)  The temptation to jump ahead of God has been real y’all!  I see needs in my local church that I have the God given gifts to fill, and every time I have prayed & asked if I’m supposed to step up and fill the need God has said no.  Just yesterday He encouraged me to continue to wait upon Him.  I know that I know that there are things He wants me to learn in this waiting, and I pray I learn them so as to not have to go around this mountain again.  The challenge in all this is two-fold.  First, for me to be patient and stay in step with Holy Spirit.  “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” Psalm 25:5.  The second is to wait with a right heart attitude.  “’The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’  25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” Lamentations 3:24-26.  I can chose to wait patiently for what the Father is preparing me for, or I can murmur and complain about where He has me.  Our heart posture while we wait matters!  Outwardly we could be giving an appearance of obedience, but inwardly we could be kicking and screaming in our spirit (kicking at the goads so to speak).  This is partial obedience because we have not surrendered our heart’s desire for the will of the Father.  Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  10 ‘I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds’.”

For a while it has been a desire of my heart to travel and teach God’s word to single moms, and women in general.  A couple of years ago some amazing opportunities seemed to be coming my way, and I remember thinking, “This is it!  He’s doing it.  He’s giving me this desire of my heart.”  Then as quick as the opportunity came it went.  What looked like it was beginning to blossom died.  At that moment I had a choice to make.  I could get bitter at God that He allowed the fruition of a dream come so close to being fulfilled only to let it die, or I could accept that His will for me is good and perfect.  Why am I sharing this? Because someone needs to know that just because God hasn’t moved how you thought He was doesn’t mean He isn’t holding you in the palm of His hand. 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”  If you love the Lord this promise is for you!  Trust that the Potter knows what He is doing and that He’s preparing something better. Trust.  Wait patiently with a completely surrendered heart.

Father, thank you that You are on this journey to eternity with us.  Please help us to wait on You with completely surrendered hearts!  Lord, help us learn the lessons that we will need to have mastered before You bring us to what You have next.  Help us to be completely submitted to You and Your will.  Father, when it doesn’t look like we thought it would let us not fall into the temptation to remove You from the throne of our heart and place our will or ourselves there.  Lord, even when we don’t understand we declare that we will praise You anyway for You are worthy!

Growing While Hidden

It’s been a while.  Where have I been you ask? Since I last posted after the 2018 National Life of a Single Mom Conference in Houston life took a drastic turn.  August, 2018 began a season of illness battling diverticulitis.  Four hospitalizations and a major surgery later and my physical body was on the mend.  Now that my physical body was healed I just knew that the Lord was going to release me to hit the ground running, but to my surprise that was not the case.

While I was praying one day about going back to leading two single moms groups, serving on worship team, etc. the Father clearly told me that I needed to “return to my First Love”.  It was a call to return to deeper devotion to Him.  Little did I know the lessons I was about to learn and am still learning.  As the Father revealed my heart to me, it felt as though I’d been stripped of everything.  Who was I if I was not a worship leader?  What would I do if I wasn’t preaching His Word to single mommas?  Simply, put I was about to be reminded that I am but one thing…a daughter of the One True King.

I soon found out what it felt like to be hidden and boy was I not ready for how He revealed my heart to me.  Truthfully, I’d gotten so accustomed to being seen because the gifts, talents and abilities He’s given me just happen to allow me to grace His alter.  As I embarked on this journey I’ve been on for nearly a year now I never could have imaged the things my heart held that He has graciously pulled out and so patiently held my hand while making the necessary adjustments.  One revelation that rocked me is discovering just how much of my identity and value I found in what I did for the Kingdom.  Is there anything wrong with serving? No, but there is something inherently wrong with finding my worth in what God allows me to do rather than in who He says I am.   So, as I continue to pursue learning more about who the Father says that I am, I rest in the assurance of those truths.  When I stand on that firm foundation and the lies of the enemy come like a flood I’m better quipped to refute them.

Here are some of the truths Holy Spirit has shown me as I’ve been studying Ephesians 1 and 2 (and other scriptures as notated)…

~I am a saint who was blood bought.

~I am blessed because Abba works ALL things for my good. (Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.)

~I am chosen, a royal priesthood is my community.

~I am holy, sanctified and blameless before Him.

~I am adopted by the One True King, the Living God Almighty.

~I am redeemed through the work of the cross.

~I am forgiven.

~I’ve been gifted grace.

~I have a purpose because God has plans for me. (Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me  to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.)

~I am an heir of the Father.

~I have hope and it does not disappoint! (Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.)

~He saved me because He loves me.

~I have authority.

~I am seated in heavenly places with Yeshua.

~I have wisdom and revelation through the Father.

These are only some of the truths the Father says about us as His children.  I encourage you to go study the Bible and discover (or rediscover) your identity in Christ.  It has been a sweet and challenging season, but I’m so excited about the growth I’m experiencing at the hands of the Father.  More to come.

Fear, Anxiety & Single Moms Conference

Wow! Wow! Wow!  That’s all I can say about my time spent in Houston this past weekend at the 2018 National TLSM Single Moms Conference.  As hundreds of single moms, single mom supporters, volunteers, and ministry leaders converged upon Houston’s First Baptist Church on Friday afternoon you could feel the excitement.  There was an expectation in the air.  As the worship team took the alter the roof of the church could have come off as praises to the Father went up with so much passion and energy.

First up was none other than Mercy Lokulutu.  She brought a dynamic and challenging yet encouraging word on being rooted in Christ.  As she touched upon fear and anxiety I began to feel the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart.  Mercy did an alter call and, if I’m being candid, I almost let pride keep me from going to the alter.  I’m so glad I defied the accusser and went down to receive prayer.  You see what many of you don’t know, and what I’ve never shared on this blog is that for many years, often silently, I have battled both fear and anxiety.  Indeed, one of the first scriptures I memorized as a young Christian was 2 Timothy 1:7, “God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of sound mind.”  I don’t know if you’ve ever fought those things, but boy does my heart go out to you if you have.  Know that there is no shame in admitting that is an area you struggle and that there is freedom in Jesus.  For years I was bound by shame embarrassed that I didn’t have it all together.  The truth is no one does.  None of us ever arrive and are all a continual construction zone being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

Friday night ended with a Mexican Fiesta after party complete with a mariachi band. Saturday was jammed pack with keynote sessions featuring Karol Ladd and Jennifer Maggio, breakout sessions and getting to chat with so many mommas that came to my vendor booth. Thank you all to who came by to say hello and drink an Arnold Palmer with me!  You all have forever imprinted my life and I’m so humbled to have been a part.

 

 

The 3rd Day

Luke 24 (NASB) – But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

When Jesus laid hanging on that cross at Calvary the accuser thought he had defeated the Messiah, and indeed the world. What the accuser didn’t know is that the prophecy of Yeshua rising on the third day would indeed be fulfilled.  On Friday, the enemy thought he had won, oh but then came Sunday and the resurrection of the Son of Yahweh.  The enemy must have rejoiced for those few days.  Thinking he’d overcome the world.  To some onlookers they may have thought Yeshua had been defeated.  They didn’t have the benefit we do of knowing how it all ends with victory for the Kingdom.

I don’t know where you’re at today, but what I do know is there is NO PRICE Yeshua didn’t pay on that rugged tree.  Maybe you’re looking at your life or a situation and it appears hopeless.  As you gaze with your natural eyes defeat seems so apparent.  Oh beloved, what the accuser meant for your harm Yeshua is going to use for your good.  Let’s look at the example of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”  What the enemy meant for Joseph’s harm (being sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, being imprisoned) Yahweh used for good.    He wants to use your current less than desirable situation to bring you from the prison to the palace just as He did for Joseph.  We are reminded that Yahweh is no respecter of person in Acts 10:34, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘I truly understand that God is not one to show favoritism.’ ”  If He did it for Joseph, He can do it for you too if you would but believe and surrender.  The Father always wants to make lemonade out of our lemons, but sometimes this doesn’t come as quickly as it could because there are times we’re determined to sit and keep on tasting those lemons.  What does tasting those lemons look like?  It looks like hanging on to bitterness because someone hurt you.  It looks like refusing to forgive someone because you never got the apology you felt you were owed.  It looks like refusing to be a peacemaker with that person you’ve held a grudge against for so long you have forgotten why you had a grudge in the first place.  It looks like you leaving and going to another church because the Pastor did what he should do and rebuked you for your sin.  Quit minimizing what Yeshua did on the cross by sucking on those lemons and surrender those hurts at the foot of the cross & leave them there.  He gave His very life for it.

Path to Healing

Peace in the storm.  We hear about this concept usually when life has thrown us a sucker punch and the very air we breathe has been knocked out of us.  When the unexpected and upsetting occurs we are reminded that Yahweh is our peace in the storm.  I know He is mine.

Can I be transparent?  Life has been some serious hills and valleys the last few months.  Health issues, friends who are like family moving states away, turmoil in some relationships, loss of loved ones and a car accident to top it all off.  Through it all the Father has made His presence evident!  He’s giving doctors wisdom to figure out what’s been going on with my body.  He’s given man wisdom to make phone apps that allow video texting so I can still see my friend despite her living 8 hours away.  Yahweh is walking me through forgiving those who have hurt me.  He is so faithful!

One of the recent events of life that has really taken the wind out of me is the loss of my grandmother, Maria Guadalupe “Lupita” Lopez.  All of my life she has lived 12 hours away from me making visits difficult at times.  And though I may have only seen her once a year or once every other year we had a special bond.  Despite her speaking as much English as I do Spanish she always, always found a way to show me how much she loved me.  She used to always tell me I looked like a porcelain baby doll.  I’ll always remember her as a woman of incredible faith who was a prayer warrior.  Kind, gentle, caring…that was my Grandma Lupita.

Since Grandma Lupita entered into eternal rest, I’ve been grief stricken.  I’m happy for her, but boy am I sad for me.  Yeah, I know she’s in a better place. Yeah, I know heaven is where we all desire to go, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss her.  Grief is such a funny thing.  One day I want to spend time with people and the next I’d prefer to be alone with my family.  One day I rejoice because I know she is with her King and the next I cry because she is no longer on this Earth.  Grief has no rhyme or reason.  It can hit you at the most unexpected of times and come in like a flood.

As I process my own grief, I’ve thought back on how I have walked with those who are grieving.  I don’t think I’ve always said or done the right thing, but what could I do or say to make their pain any better?  I don’t know.  In Romans 12:15 the Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  I pray that’s the kind of person I am.  I never want to overlook someone’s pain, or not celebrate another’s reason to rejoice.

Father, let is be said of each of us that we lived this scripture out.  Oh Lord, let love be the center of all we do.  Give us grace to forgive when we’ve been hurt.  Remind us daily that we need to extend the same grace and mercy You extend to us everyday to others.

Guest Post: The Price of Love

Check out my guest post on my sweet friend’s blog!

Leah Lively

A Louisiana sister is posting on the blog today! I am so thankful God took me by complete surprise by sending me on a road trip with this complete stranger.  He knew I needed this soul-filled lady in my life.  Check her blog out over at julie https://julianaboudreaux.wordpress.com

Juliana Boudreaux is passionate about helping single moms learn and embrace who they are in Christ.  She is an author of the new book, Quiet My Soul: Devotionals for the Single Mom, available on Amazon.  Juliana is a speaker, worship leader, Bible teacher, and single mom ministry leader & advocate.  She currently leads two single moms Bible studies and has been involved in single moms’ ministry for almost a decade.  Juliana is also CEO and Owner of E320 Design and Apparel, an online Christian themed t-shirt shop. She enjoys doing crafts and bringing new life to old things.  She, her husband and their children…

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What Are Single Moms Saying About My New Devotional?

Wondering what single moms are saying my new book, Quiet My Soul – Devotionals for the Single Mom?

Here’s a testimony from one single momma:

“This devotional has been such an encouragement to me that I decided to turn one of its lessons into a family Bible study lesson. Thank you Juliana Boudreaux for being an encouraging light to my ENTIRE family!! If you haven’t gotten this devotional yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??” -Danielle J.

Don’t wait any longer to get your copy! Available on Amazon here.

Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

The other day I went to the local dollar store to pickup some last minute gift bags.  I was super pleased when I sound an adorable set of 3 for the bargain price of $1.00. One of the bags was cute with a plaid design and said “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  Perhaps when you hear that pharse it brings a certain Christmas song to mind, but what God quickened in my spirit as I read that bag is that the holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year for everybody.  During the holidays this year the Father has called to my mind so many people I personally know who have lost a loved one this year, or who continue to grieve a loved one or a broken marriage.

Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.  My prayer is that I don’t get so caught up in enjoying Christmas with my own family that I forget the many who are weeping during this time.  As we go about our family traditions let’s stop and pray for those who are having their first holiday without their precious loved one.  Let’s take a break from the busyness of the mad dash to get it all done and reach out to those around us who are hurting.  God’s word says that the world will know we are Christians by our love.  We need to ask ourselves how we are putting love on display not only throughout the holidays but everyday.

To the man or woman mourning the loss of a spouse and longing for just one more time to hear their voice or be in their arms, you are not forgotten.  To the child remembering a parent, you are not alone.  To the parent weeping for your child, God is with you.  To the single parent doing the job of two parents, God sees you.  To all those who are separated from a loved one due to deployment or incarcertion, don’t lose hope.  God is near to each of you (Psalm 34:18).

My prayer for all those that feel like this may not be the most wonderful time of the year is that Father God would give you beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3), and that you would crawl into the loving arms of the Father and find comfort there (Matthew 5:4).  God bless you and keep you always.