Rejoice Always

This is a short and sweet post about rejoicing in the Lord, praying to the Lord, taking thoughts captive and how HIS peace can flood our hearts and minds. I've been clinging to these verses in Philippians 4 for the last month or so, and have continued to memorize them so that they are hidden in my heart. It is so helpful when things get crazy, overwhelming, stress and anxiety start to set in, I automatically turn to reciting these verses, or writing them out. I pray that your heart is encouraged!

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians‬ ‭4:4-6

 

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I sometimes struggle with anxiety, worry, and overwhelm. I say this because maybe you do too and I want you to know you aren’t alone. When this happens for me, I often realize it’s rooted in fear, trying to control things in my own strength and ultimately a lack of trust or hope. I’m reminded of who the object of my hope is >> JESUS. He alone is is our firm, secure, steady hope and the one who is sovereignly in control. 

When anxiety and overwhelm set in, we are told to instead pray about everything- rejoicing, giving thanksgiving, and in that, letting His peace that surpasses understanding to take over. I was reminded at church a few weekends ago that we have to think about what we think about- taking every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."- 2 Corinthians 10:5

We need to think and dwell on things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Friends, this can be and is hard. Daily, it takes being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). I’ve written out Philippians 4:4-9 on a notecard and have carried it with me for the last few weeks to help finish memorizing the last part of the verses and to also continually take my thoughts captive, keep my mind renewed, and let His peace flood my heart and mind. The Lord is near, friends. Turn to Him in prayer, gratitude, rejoicing and surrender, He is our hope, He is in control and loves us more than you even know. 


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”-Philippians‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭

Nothing Will Be Impossible

 “For no word from God will ever fail.” -Luke 1:3

My heart hears those words and knows, that yes with certainty, for nothing will be impossible with God. His word never fails, His promises are true. While we are ever changing, God is unchanging, steady and true. I’ve been studying through Elizabeth and Mary the last two weeks with the Daily Grace Co. Daughters of Grace study and I’m amazed to see their devotion to God, their steadfastness, their trust, their praise, their hope, their belief.  I find myself saying, Lord, help my unbelief! I want to believe with the heart and faith that they believed with. To take God at his word and just as Mary said, “may it be as you have said” (Luke 1:38)... as though she is saying thy will be done, Lord. Yes, I want to respond in that way. Mary glorified and rejoiced in the Lord, hear Heart is filled with worship and overwhelmed with God’s love in her song. She takes up the good news of great joy, prophetic words and again praises and glorifies the Lord, pondering and treasuring these things in her heart (Luke 2:10,17-20).

Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

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“Oh, how we love to see impossible things accomplished! And so does God. Therefore may we continue to persevere, for even if we took our circumstances and cast all the darkness of human doubt upon them and then hastily piled as many difficulties together as we could find against God’s divine work, we could never move beyond the blessedness of His miracle-working power. May we place our faith completely in Him, for He is the God of the impossible. selected” -Excerpt From:“Streams in the Desert.” 

No word from God will ever fail, with God nothing is or ever shall be impossible, He is true to His word and faithful to His promises, and with God all things are possible. We only need simply believe and have faith completely in Him! Even though we are still over a month away from Christmas, I have so enjoyed reading the stories of Mary and Elizabeth. Just as I've prepared my home with Christmas decorations (mostly because of travel for the holidays and wanting to enjoy it!)... I am loving getting to prepare my heart as well. I want this advent season to be filled with simplicity (as much as I can... it will take intention) and celebration of the true meaning, preparing our hearts room for Jesus. What will do you to help make this season simple and filled with the joyful celebration of Jesus?

I'm grateful for this print that is a daily reminder of His truth and of His faithfulness over time, that His word never fails. Scripture on the walls of our homes is the perfect way to write the word in our heart! Trust in the Lord, turn to him in prayer, praising and worship, just as Mary did. 

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Our Engagement Story

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Exactly a year ago, Corey asked me to marry  and I said YES on October 21, 2016. He proposed on a Friday evening at Lakewood Park almost exactly six months after we first met & started dating. It had been raining all day, it was windy and the waves of Lake Erie were crashing over the breakers. Corey still convinced me to take a little trip to Lakewood Park, because it is such a special place for us. Just a few blocks from my apartment, we spent many evenings watching the sunset over Lake Erie, having conversations sharing our hearts, faith, dreams and seeking God's will for our future. Lakewood Park is also the place we had our first kiss, almost the exact same spot he proposed. 

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For the proposal, we were embracing, taking in the captivating waves and weather at the park,  sharing our hearts and next thing I knew, Corey got down on one knee. It feels like a little bit of a blur from there but Corey reminds me that it took me a few minutes to say yes because I was in shock and filled with pure JOY, covering my mouth and proclaiming “oh my goodness” over and over. I of course said YES, the second easiest decision we both have ever made (aside from saying YES and professing our love & faith in, Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior).

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Following the proposal, Corey had made reservations for us to return to the location of our first date at the Black Pig in Ohio City. We had a lovely dinner and celebration, taking in the memories of where it all began. Next, we traveled to Strongsville for an impromptu engagement party and my parent's home. Corey's parents joined us along with my brother and some of his friends, we got to celebrate with some champagne and excitement!

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It's hard to believe that Corey and I met only a year and a half  ago today at a friends wedding after being set up on the dance floor, and now he is my husband (after only 4 months or engagement)! We both praise God for how He so graciously crossed our paths and has moved in our hearts since. There was such a sweet peace and contentment in our hearts that Jesus desired for us to join our lives together in marriage. The ways of the Lord are so loving and faithful, we are so in awe of His loving faithfulness in our sweet love story. Corey is more than I ever could have asked for and beyond all that I have prayed for in a husband, I deeply love him and feel so honored to be his wife! 

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"Your love is devoted
like a ring of solid gold
Like a vow that is tested
like a covenant of old
Your love is enduring
through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon
with mercy for today
Faithful You have been
and faithful you will be
You pledge yourself to me
and it's why I sing
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips
You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
You're making me like you
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt
and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name
and it's why I sing
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips
You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord
and it's why I sing
Your praise will ever be on my lips

-lyrics from "Ever Be" by Bethel Music

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Engagement Photos by Allison Roche of This Lovely Light. You can read a blog post by Allison featuring more pictures from our Engagement photo session here.

 

There are also more Engagement Photos featured on our wedding website found here.

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Besides You I Desire Nothing

I've been quiet on the blog, and even my posts on social media have slowed recently. Starting a new business has been exciting and such a joy, but also has brought on a lot of work and learning that has shifted my attention. BUT this weekend, GOD got my FULL attention as we retreated from everyday life to Beulah Beach for our first Great Lakes Women's retreat. The weekend was truly a blessing, came at the perfect time, and had a theme that my heart was so desperately needing... to Draw Near to God. 

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” -James 4:8

I was asked if I would be willing to do a little teaching for our morning devotional one morning of the retreat. While spending a few months praying over it and taking notes here and there, I didn't actually sit down to write the teaching until about a week before the retreat. I was lead to use some thoughts from a little teaching that I did for our girls group when I was living in Oregon. It was based off of a sermon I had listened to a few years ago on Colossians 1, along with some supporting verses, devotionals and things the Lord kept laying on my heart, all with the main point of drawing near to God. Okay so here goes.... more of my heart & teaching below, as always pray over it & go to scripture first and foremost, I am just a vessel that God is speaking through!

  JESUS & COFFEE. Time in the porch just before sunrise over the lake, spent time praying and reading through my teaching.

 JESUS & COFFEE. Time in the porch just before sunrise over the lake, spent time praying and reading through my teaching.

 

We should desire nothing but the Lord, drawing near to Him, letting Him reclaim the throne in our hearts as He draws near to us.

If only we knew where the father was taking us, we wouldn’t become so preoccupied with such lesser things—there is this struggle with the persistent pursuit of lesser things. I would say that our downfall is to take good things and try to put them above God in order they were never designed to be (at least I know there are certainly times that I do). As woman, I think there is this temptation is to put first place energy to second place pursuits-- whatever that might be: our jobs, relationships, money, husbands (or desire for one), families (or desire for one), [insert any desire...], worry/doubt/fear, clean homes, perfection, doing ALL THE THINGS, that need we sometimes feel to try to "control things" and the list continues! I think there is this tendency in the midst of hustle, grind of every day life to lose sight of what or WHO comes first. There is need for us to humble ourselves, repent in cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts- drawing near, to desire nothing but God, letting him reclaim the throne of our hearts. When we draw near, He draws near to us.

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You. And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:23-26
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In Colossians 1, Paul gives picture of Jesus so big, so bold, so beautiful—the rest of the priorities and things will begin to find there proper place, fading, as we draw near and Jesus reclaims the throne of our hearts.

Colossians 1:15-20 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

In drawing near, we too get to experience the fullness of the Spirit dwelling in us. Walking in step with the Spirit. But first, we have to let the other priorities fade in light of this big, bold, beautiful picture of Jesus-- who HE is and what He has done for us.

Continuing on with James 4:8- Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. We need to have a spirit of repentance, surrender, letting go of expectations, experiencing the refining of our hearts to remove impurities. Sometimes just like printers have to be re-calibrated, we too need to re-calibrate our hearts. Over time if we are not careful, the image of God in us can get slightly distorted, we stop seeing and living clearly.... the purposes we live for begin to wane. Jesus is first, we need to be renewed, our lives are not about us but Jesus— let Jesus sit on the throne of our hearts. We have to be renewed daily to push away the grind of life that has the tendency to become idols or greater things in our life than Jesus. We have to surrender fully to Christ alone, letting go and letting GOD. Removing idols, desire nothing but God.

Morning worship on the beach & sunrise! 

Morning worship on the beach & sunrise! 

Here are a few verses to help re-calibrate and refine our hearts in following Jesus:

Ezekial 36:25-28 25Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.28You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.—letting Jesus reclaim the throne of our hearts

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2

Mark 8:34-36  34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them,"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

Psalm 37:7 Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.

Surrendering your life often means...

  • Following God's lead without knowing where he's sending you;
  • Waiting for God's timing without knowing when it will come;
  • Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide;
  • Trusting God's purpose without understanding the circumstances.
  • You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don't have to always be in charge. Instead of trying harder, you trust

We should humble ourselves, surrender our hearts, desire nothing but the Lord, drawing near to Him, letting Him reclaim the throne in our hearts as He draws near to us.

Giving my morning devotional teaching at the Great Lakes Women's Retreat at Beulah Beach

Giving my morning devotional teaching at the Great Lakes Women's Retreat at Beulah Beach

Lastly I will leave you with and excerpt from Jesus Calling that talks about being in the presence of Jesus, refusing to worry or rush off to the day's activities before spending time with Him. When we draw near, He restores our souls & sense of direction.

“Demonstrate your trust in Me by sitting quietly in My Presence. Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything. This sacred time together strengthens you and prepares you to face whatever the day will bring. By waiting with Me before you begin the day’s activities, you proclaim the reality of My living Presence. This act of faith—waiting before working—is noted in the spirit world, where your demonstration of trust weakens principalities and powers of darkness. The most effective way to resist evil is to draw near Me. When you need to take action, I will guide you clearly through My Spirit and My Word. The world is so complex and overstimulating that you can easily lose your sense of direction. Doing countless unnecessary activities will dissipate your energy. When you spend time with Me, I restore your sense of direction. As you look to Me for guidance, I enable you to do less but accomplish more. -Excerpt From: Young, Sarah. “Jesus Calling.”

Coffe Amor

I recently visited a local cafe, Coffe Amor Rostery & Cafe (pronounced caw'FAY AH'mor). It is about 20 minute drive from where we live and let me tell you, I probably would hang out there every day if I could! The cafe has such a warm, inviting atmosphere- from the people working there, the coffee being served, even down to the cozy places to sit and the inspiring artwork. I had the honor to meet and chat with the owners, Dave and Gabe. It was great to feel so welcomed while also hearing their story and heart behind Coffe Amor. Including the meaning of the name, how it all started, and how God is moving even in this space.

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Dave, the owner, roasts their own coffee in house.... all for a cause. Coffe Amor gives back 10% to those in need locally and abroad. You can read more about their heart on their website: www.coffeamor.com/ and here is another recent article about the cafe: limaohio.com/news/207398/spreading-hope-through-coffee.

I also love how this scripture helps to support the name and mission of the cafe: Above all, see that you love from the heart deeply, always unselfishly seeking the best for one another. "The last two letters of Coffe spells "Fe" which in Spanish means Faith.  Amor, meaning Love, is what drives our company mission: to bring hope to those in need."-from the Coffe Amor website

"Love one another deeply, from the heart." 1 Peter 1:22  
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During my visit, I spent the morning working on things to launch my website including blog content, website layout, logo design and forming my LLC. All very exciting things and the perfect space for me to work and be inspired! I ordered a coconut milk lavendar latte and it was probably the best latte I've ever had!! I love lavendar, so that certainly helped! And since I have intolerances to dairy, soy and almond ... seeing coconut milk on a cafe menu always excites me! 

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Coffe Amor also sells their own coffee that they roast. I purchased a bag of the El Salvador blend and have been absolutely loving it! Most mornings I grind the beans and make a fresh French Press coffee. The coffee is so good, it reminds me of all the amazing coffee I used to have while living in Portland, OR! Coffe Amor also serves a variety of baked goods including Sara's Sweets cupcakes!! They

Be sure to follow them on instagram and facebook here for updates, amazing pictures and postings of upcoming live music:  facebook.com/CoffeAmor1instagram.com/coffeamor/

AND.... If you come to visit me anytime soon.... we are totally going to this cafe!!! <3

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Hope in Disappointment

"We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 
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I was driving to Holy Yoga  (Christ-Centered Yoga) at Blackbird Farms the other morning and was amazed by the thick fog that hung over the corn & soybean fields on my 20 minute drive. I can't remember the last time I had experienced fog like that, maybe on the pacific coast when I was living in Portland, Oregon a few years back. It was not uncommon to experience thick fog there, or even in the city for that matter. But I had never seen it in Lima, after living here for 6 months. I have been going to Holy Yoga at Blackbird Farms for almost two months over the summer. Each morning, week after week, has been filled with sunshine, so that morning was really strange to see the fog and miss the sun. It has been a beautiful space for women to gather together in community, draw closer to Jesus, experience the beautiful summer sunshine & breeze, while practicing yoga.

I listened to worship music as I drove to the class, feeling sort of out of it, my brain and heart feeling in a fog of its own. Needing Jesus, needing coffee, needing rest for my soul after a whirlwind of travel and emotions from the day before. Just before we started our practice, I captured this picture. It was so gorgeous, peaceful, so heavenly feeling, seeing the fog surrounding us. I was feeling particularly tender and sore in my right shoulder, low back and hips, and I was truly amazed to see the way the gentle flow helped to stretch and create space around those tender spots. The prayers to Jesus, and having my heart centered on Him through our practice helped fill my soul in only the way that His living water can. Our teacher Sue, read from 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, the message translation, as I shared at the beginning of this post. We were all in awe with how the Spirit helped guide that scripture and how it connected with the mist and fog that hung over us on our drives and in our practice. Only, to see the foggy weather clear by the end of class with the sun shining. I found myself clinging to those last words... TRUST steadily in God, HOPE UNSWERVINGLY, and LOVE extravagantly. 

 
TRUST steadily in God, HOPE UNSWERVINGLY, and LOVE extravagantly
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 I needed that Hope more than I realized. Just the other day I had asked a friend to send me a few teachings that had been encouraging to her recently. So, I decided to listen to the teaching by Melissa Helser from Bethel Music called, "Engaging Hope in Seasons of Disappointment" on my long drive home Tuesday night. When I first saw the title, I thought 'not sure how or even if this will speak to me... but I like Bethel and Melissa.' Little did I know that the Lord would speak through it very boldly and clearly. I was already feeling a bit emotional as I started to listen to the teaching, and I found the message resonating and connecting with my heart. The tears started flowing as I could relate so much to what Melissa was sharing. She talked about how we can be so out of tune with our own hearts and in that, even far from God because God dwells in our hearts. That by denying our emotions we can lose touch with our own hearts. As a Believer, it is easy to try to hold back emotions so as to avoid looking like we don't truly trust God. She talked about the heaviness of disappointment and the importance to truly feel our emotions and be real with God. The tears coming.... I realized in that moment that I am afraid to HOPE because of the fear of disappointment. It's honest and real.... it's not that I don't trust God.... but sometimes it's just hard to see and believe.

 

I realized I am afraid to HOPE because of the fear of disappointment.

 

Sometimes we put up this front to try to protect our own hearts... not realizing that GOD KNOWS OUR HEARTS. He sees us, He hears us, He knows our prayers, He knows our desires, He knows our struggles. If only we would surrender enough to truly open our hearts and pour out the honest truth of what we are feeling. Melissa talked about Mark 14 in her teaching, how Jesus in the garden, went before God, begging for another way. He knew what was ahead, the denial, the betrayal, the crucifixion. But he still asked God for another way, He was so open and honest, pouring out his heart because he was so in tune with the heart of the Father. We too, can come to God with the same heart of full honesty and surrender. I know that it's okay to be afraid to Hope... as long as I'm honest with God. The key is to not dwell there. To acknowledge, surrender and push forward TRUSTING steadily in God, HOPING unswervingly and LOVING extravagantly. I'm going to cling to the HOPE (even when I can't see)  that God is in control, He is faithful, He is sovereign, He is a loving good, good father and I will trust Him steadily. 

 Surrender at the feet of Jesus &  push forward TRUSTING steadily in God, HOPING unswervingly and LOVING extravagantly.

Here is the link to the teaching I mentioned above!

Thanks to Sue who has led our Holy Yoga classes, she has touched my heart in the most beautiful way this summer! And also thank you to Deb who has allowed us to gather week after week and practice Holy Yoga at Blackbird Farms.  Check out their website here, such a beautiful venue for events and weddings too!

Lastly, I will leave you with the lyrics below, such a beautiful song about surrendering, trusting in God, allowing Him to awake our souls, dancing in diappointment, continuing to worship God, allowing Him to make all things new. Listen to the song here

"Let the heroes rest
Let the striving cease
I lay down my crown
Here at your feet
I will, trust, here in the mystery
I will, trust, in You completely
Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship
Let the weary rise
Lift their eyes to see
Your love crushing every lie
Every doubt and fear
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, You are making all things new"

-Lyrics from "Heroes," by Amanda Cook
 

  

He Perfects

So, we are into the first week after the launch of my website & blog, and to be honest, I am just trying to figure out what this looks like!! Lately, my writing has been confined to the limited characters on Instagram, or free-form journaling in my many journals, or "LONG-winded" texts to friends, endless thoughts & devotional excerpts on my iphone "notes"-- so now I have a space and platform to write, but I'm sort of feeling at a loss. I have so many things on my heart, but where do I start? How many times a week should I post or write on this blog? Leading up to launch, I was writing at least once, if not multiple times a day! So part of this post is to ask.... how often would you like to hear from me? What are the things most weighing on your heart that you'd like to be encouraged about? Truly, I want to know!!! I'm here to serve you and help build a safe space of community and encouragement. Please, please let me know what you think! Reply to this post, send me a message, send me a text, leave a comment! 

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When I quickly decided to launch this blog, I was doing out of obedience to where the Lord was leading me. I shared that when excellence is taken to far it can lead to perfection. In order to prevent, & simplify we must ask the question of "when is 'good enough' good enough?" This convicted and prompted me to move forward with the launch (with little planning) knowing that it was "good enough" and letting the Lord move! 

Tonight my husband and I read from "Grace for the Moment" our devotion that we have started doing in the evenings, "dinner & devotion." It was literally titled "Perfected".... just what I needed! The devotion had scriptures from Hebrews 10 and talked about the way that JESUS PERFECTS, it is not of our doing. 

"For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”" Hebrews 10:14-17

"Underline the word perfect. Note that the word is not better. Not improving. Not on the upswing. God doesn't improve; he perfects. He doesn't enhance; he completes..... Now I realize that there's a sense in which we're imperfect. We still err. We still stumble. We still do exactly what we don't want to do. And that part of us is, according to the verse, "being made holy." But when it comes to our position before God, we're perfect. When he sees each of us, he sees one who has been made perfect through the ONE who is perfect-- Jesus Christ." - Excerpt from 'Grace for the Moment' by Max Lucado

So tonight, I'm really letting that truth sink in. Jesus alone perfects us, we are perfected by Him. There is nothing we can do to add or takeaway. When it comes to anything else and striving for perfection, (our writing, work, relationships, homes, families, etc etc etc) it doesn't matter or even compare to the way the Jesus perfects us and completes us. We are made perfect through the ONE who is perfect. Also notice Hebrews 10:16, which is actually cross referenced from Jeremiah 31:33! The Lord puts the law, HIS WORD, in our hearts, and writes them on our minds. You see, this is also part of the heart refining process, letting God's truth be written on our hearts as we are being made holy, more into His image. Yes, Jesus does the perfecting in our hearts and minds.

So let me ask you this question, where have you taken excellence to far to perfection? And where do you need to let "good enough" be good enough? I am truly stepping into this whole blog thing by Letting Go and LETTING GOD, trusting Him to do the work, let HIM give me the words, this too is a refining process of my own heart!

Ask . Seek . Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” -Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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When we seek, ask, knock in prayer, we can trust that He hears us and answers prayer. When we ASK, it is given & we receive, when we SEEK, we find, when we KNOCK, doors are opened. Now our prayers may not always be answered in the way we want or in the way we thought things would work out, but He certainly hears our prayers and knows what we need before we even ask. Yet, so often we have not because we ask not.  God is all knowing and His knowledge & understanding surpasses our human timelines and knowledge. He truly does answer our prayers in the most beautiful ways, even if His answer is a "no" or "not yet," even still He might have something better in mind. We must diligently seek the Lord, daily, opening our hearts before Him.

“But before we can receive the blessing, we must rely on God’s infinite help. We must be willing to let go, surrendering completely to Him, and cease from our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness. We must be “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) and yet alive in Him. God knows how to lead us to the point of crisis, and He knows how to lead us through it. Is God leading you in this way? Is this the meaning of your mysterious trial, your difficult circumstances, your impossible situation, or that trying place you cannot seem to move past without Him? But do you have enough of Him to win the victory? Then turn to God! Throw yourself helplessly at His feet. Die in His loving arms to your own strength and wisdom, and rise like Jacob into His strength and sufficiency.” -Excerpt from 'Streams in the Desert' by LBE Cowman

I just keep realizing over and over how it's His grace that makes us right, makes us whole, redeems us, and in time of need, equips us and gives us strength. In all circumstances, even when we are weak, we can come to him in prayer, surrendering at his feet, asking, seeking, knocking -- and like Jacob rise into the LORD's strength and sufficiency. He hears our prayers and knows the desires of our hearts. His power alone strengthens us. His grace is sufficient. 

"but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough--always available--regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your]weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. -2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

Rest in this truth tonight, my friends!

 

Launch Day, Sharing My Heart

As you can see, my new website & blog launched today! I can hardly believe it!! This has been a vision for over 3 years and today is the first BIG step into that reality!!! The Lord has directed my steps every step of the way and I'm so grateful! I'm in awe with how he's moved this week leading my vision and bringing the final touches to the website! I'm SO GRATEFUL for all of your excitement, love, prayers & encouragement this week! I pray that the Lord will continue to speak through me and that He might bless you in the process! 

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” -PHILIPPIANS‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭

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Refined Heart Living means to live in such a way to continually be refined in heart and refine others, in order to live better and more boldly for the Lord, our families, friends & customers- those we live with, work with and those we get to love & serve daily.

I want the Refined Heart Blog to be a place where you can sit down and have a cup of coffee. To read the blog and be encouraged either in spirit, in heart or in truth, in life, business or in faith. I want to share my heart, my stories and create a safe space of community while encouraging women and refining hearts to live well - right where they are - for not just the kingdom of God, but for those we get to serve and interact with on a daily basis. It's about offering grace to ourselves & each other, but most importantly, it's about HIS grace poured out, refining us more into His image daily.

I read this quote tonight and couldn't help to praise God for the truth and beauty in this. "There are no good or bad days with God – just grace days. Days where he gives you grace to endure and days where he gives you grace to enjoy." Indeed. "He gives more grace" (James 4:6), "grace upon grace" (John 1:16) in the seemingly 'good or bad,' but really it's His grace that cares for us and carries us through all things.

Also, huge thank you to my new sweet friend @prettysimpleprint who beautifully & elegantly designed my new logo!!! She did it all this week, like within 1 day, and she was incredible to work with, such a sweetheart!!! Check out her page! I've been soaking in all of His goodness & grace today, giving Him all the glory!

Meditation of My Heart

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” -Psalm‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭

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This has been my anthem last few days. I work for the Lord and He has been first place in my mind and my heart. All of this work on my website & Blog is Kingdom work, in my mind, all to please Him and bring Him Glory! I have had clear tangible goals and I have been motivated by the Lord to bring Him glory, walking in obedience to His call. Daily I keep asking the Lord, give me the words! It has all been challenging and refining! But honestly things just keep coming to me, my vision has become more clear because I have been walking in step with Him, all praise to Jesus! 


I truly was a little scared stepping into this whole idea of launching this Friday (aka TODAY, or in the morning at least) but I've been reminded that His perfect love drives out fear. I've continued to press into Him and somehow everything is ready to go, and I'm drawing the line at "good enough," because I truly feel it is & I'm praying it will be a blessing!