Closed Door Blessings

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©️heatherdawkins.com

 

Maybe, just maybe, we look at closed doors all wrong.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: ” when God closes one door he opens another.” We just tend to think that it is going to open immediately. Like, right when we want it. We pace and huff and get down in the dumps all while we are claiming to “trust” God. It’s much easier to tell someone else to have faith and wait on God. When we have something occurring in our own lives we see how difficult the waiting can be. But there truly is beauty and growth to be found in the waiting.

 

There IS beauty to be found in the waiting.

 

There is also beauty in the closed doors.

 

You see, when it seems as if no doors are swinging wide open for you and that no clear answers are coming your way, that’s when God is holding those doors shut so that you won’t walk through the wrong one.

 

Yes, HE gives us free will, but I truly believe that when we are HIS he gives us protection as well.

Thank God for the doors that don’t seem to be opening. Be still and know that HE is God and HE is sovereign and HIS ways are so much better.

 

When we jump ahead and try to pull the steering wheel out of his hands, we often cause a wreck.

 

Waiting is hard. I know. I’ve been in a season of waiting myself. I get it. This is for me as much as it is for you. As we wait, let’s be grateful. I’m going to start my gratitude list again. Joy is found in a grateful heart. Maybe you want to join me?

Just start somewhere. Giving Thanks is a command that’s repeated many times in the Bible. It’s not just there to make God feel better. I truly believe that it’s there to remind us that there’s beauty in being thankful and joy comes from a heart of thankfulness.

 

There are blessings to be found in closed doors and in the waiting.

 

Learning to be still & thankful at the same time.

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

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Listen With Your Heart

God simply told me: Comfort Her.

I was disappointed when I realized how much student loan debt I would have if I began college this Fall to pursue a dream. See, I knew that I was supposed to pursue a degree in counseling. I just knew that it was finally going to become a realization. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to burden my family with student loan debt at my age. I’d be in the nursing home before it would be profitable for us.

Fast forward a month. A certain ministry peaked my interest. After researching it I was struck with the fact that what I would be doing would be a form of counseling.

Fast forward a few more days.

My favorite day of the year was today. Special holiday? Birthday? Nope. It was my annual appointment at that place that all of us ladies just LOVE to go. {insert sarcastic laugh}

Not only was it my favorite day, but I had to miss the second week of my BSF (bible study fellowship) group! Ugh.

That waiting room (the second one that they take you to) was packed. I sat down at the back wall that allows me to face the entrance and other people. You know, to people watch.

This young girl came back from the third place we ladies get to go. The area where we get to stand fully clothed with all of our jewelry on and wait for the magic number to appear. She was alone. She was talking on her cell phone to friends.

I thought: “she’s talking on her phone and all of us are sitting here listening or pretending we were not listening.” Why in the world. People these days.

I began to listen. She was sitting on the seat right beside me. I couldn’t help it.

Then it struck me. She was serious when she said she was about to cry. She repeatedly said it. Among other things. She was alone.

I’m a Momma. It’s the best “job” I’ve ever been blessed with. My favorite job. I’m also a little older than I used to be and I hope a little wiser.

I was filling out my forms. Yes, we are so lucky that we get to fill out the same forms every single time. Do they lose them? Asking for a friend.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you that I have never heard God speak audibly. Like I haven’t heard an actual voice with my ears. Did you know that you can listen with your heart?

Then came that nudge. Could not ignore it. Meanwhile, everyone else can hear what’s going on and can tell she’s upset while looking over or not looking over their cell phones. (I’m guilty sometimes too.)

Today I purposely chose not to scroll through my phone and ignore my surroundings. (Don’t pat me on the back. I normally scroll.) I took my Sudoku book to keep me occupied and I worked on an advertisement for the business.

The voice I heard, the voice I always hear, is a whisper in my head and a stirring in my chest. It is a voice that I cannot ignore in good conscience.

God simply told me:

“Comfort Her”.

I thought about it a second… or two.

Instinctively, I reached over and rubbed her right arm. She just looked at me with tears in her eyes and stopped talking on the phone. I asked her name and asked how old she was. Just a baby herself. I stroked her arm while saying: “It’s gonna be okay. It’s all gonna be ok. This baby will be a blessing. You may not have been prepared for this and you may not have expected this, but God knew. And it’s going to be ok.”

That’s all I said. Then I went back to what I was doing. She went to the room to see the doctor. I never saw her again.

Y’all, I did not have those words prepared. You know, just in case this type of incident ever takes place. Nope. Sure didn’t.

Could have heard a pin drop in that room. I swear that either we were invisible or everyone else was blind or had earplugs in. I pray that I always pay attention to the opportunities around me where I can comfort and encourage others.

I’ve been that person that didn’t see. Oh what blessings I must have missed along the way.

This is NOT about me at all. Whatever you take from this blog post, remember that this message is not about ME. It’s about God. It’s a message about the comfort that he gives us. The comfort that God gives us through the obedience of others.

I’m so thankful for the people in my life that have been obedient and brought me His comfort.

She was all alone. In a crowded room. All alone and terrified.

The instructions were simple.

COMFORT HER

Just two words. No more, no less.

God is The God of Comfort.

How does he comfort us?

Through the obedience of His people. Through the hugs, the prayers, the smiles, the words of wisdom. So many ways. He comforts us. And HE cares! So much so that he will whisper little commands to us. Commands that are meant for bringing HIM GLORY.

There are many times in my life that He has asked me to say or do something that at times seemed so tiny to me. But when I obey… WHEN I obey. I don’t always obey or listen. But when I do, I realize the reason.

Listen with your heart. We all have fallen short. We all still fall short. BUT God. But Grace. But…COMFORT HER.

At the same time, God comforted me. Again.

He reminded me. Again. You don’t need a degree to love people. You don’t need a degree to care. You don’t need a degree to counsel and encourage people. You just need to open your eyes and listen with your heart and use your gifts wherever I place you.

Open your eyes. Listen with your heart. Use your gifts wherever God places you.

I pray that you never feel alone. I pray that you know the love of God. I pray that you use your gifts wherever God places you.

Seeking Him,

USE ME BUT

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We say “USE ME” to God. Then we get rattled when he asks us to get up and move.

USE ME GOD… But …. 

Use me how I want to be used.

Heavens no, don’t ask me to do that.

I cannot be inconvenienced.

Use me Lord. But. 

I am not equipped. That would be awkward. Somebody else will do it.

USE ME LORD. SEND ME. What? Me? That might be messy.

USE ME LORD. HERE I AM. SEND ME. Woah. Not there God. That might put me in an uncomfortable position. One that might look strange to everyone else.

Take me deeper. Wait, I didn’t mean that deep.

Lead me where my trust is without borders. Hah. Wait, that means I’m going to really have faith and trust in YOU and YOU alone. And do I really trust in YOU and YOU alone?

We say the words. We sing the songs. We think that we really mean it. Because we sing it and speak it with passion. I mean we really really mean it. Or do we?

When the rubber meets the road, do you really mean it? Do I really mean it?

Do my actions line up with my words? Am I, Are you, really meaning the words that we sing and say?

I want to shine Jesus. Not reflect the world. (And friends I fail. But grace.) And like my Daddy wrote in his bible, “I pray that I am never able to say no to those who need and ask for help.”

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And y’all, that is a dangerous prayer to pray. Don’t pray it if you don’t mean it. Because when you come before God with a heart that truly means it, you will be asked to do some things that aren’t easy. There will be times that you will be inconvenienced.

Use me God. No ifs ands or buts about it. And when I want to run and hide, keep pulling me back to you Father. May I never be able to say no to what you have truly called me to do. Thank you for that stirring in my soul. Thank you for keeping me straight. Thank you for grace. Amen.

Isaiah 6:8 ~ Here am I, send me.

Until Next Time…

SHINE ON,

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Life On Mission

 

      Longing For Home

 

  When on a mission trip in Nola.. I loved it but longed for home. Now that I’m home, I long to be back on mission. Somewhere. I think of the people there every single day. I am a foreigner now when I’m not doing missions.

My home and heart for missions have coincided and it’s like longing for heaven. 

 

  
This world is not my home.. I’m just passing through. And I now long to be on mission and that’s where I feel at home while I’m here, in transition, waiting to pass through to my real home. Heaven.

I feel closer to my true home, Heaven, when I’m actively serving. 

 

  
 Whether it’s using a weed eater or picking up  trash.Whether it’s leading a Dstudy or just taking the time to listen and counsel. That’s missions. That’s my home away from home.
   {Where’s your home away from home?}


    I’ve realized that I can live life every single day on mission. No, really, I can. You can too.
  There have been times in my life that I felt dead. Those were times when I was living life my way. You know what I mean? You get me?



  {Ever wonder why you feel dead? Maybe that’s why.}
  
I feel the most alive when I’m serving or active in missions. Makes sense. Jesus… JESUS came to serve and not to be served. If Jesus came to serve, and He did, then it makes perfect sense that I would feel closest to HIM while serving.
 Living life on mission can be as simple as visiting a loved one who is sad or fixing up a building for a mission project. 
Life on mission will look different for each one of us.
 Life on mission is life on purpose. Life with HIS purpose in mind. Eternal purpose. 

   REFLECTION

~ Do I feel empty?
 
~ Am I living life my way or HIS way?
 
~ Am I serving actively?
 
~ Am I being the hands and feet of Jesus right where I am at?
 
~ Am I ignoring a specific call that God has placed on my life? 


  While we are here, in our home away from home, we can make a difference. An ETERNAL difference. Choosing to live each day following hard after Jesus.
Life on mission.. Life with purpose. 

RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

John 12:26 ~ Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.


Matthew 20:28 ~ just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.


Ephesians 6:7 ~ Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people


Until Next Time,

  

 

 

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Seeing Those Around You

Day 2 of 31 Days of Writing

 

We were heading out for a free day. We had been doing mission work in New Orleans for a few days straight. Looking forward to walking the streets and seeing the sights. Off duty.

A young woman sitting on the steps outside of the church we were staying at. Her hair braided up pretty. “I did it myself” she told me.

Her voice so sweet and childlike.

She asked for some chips or something to eat.

We had no food on us. Not that kind of food anyways.

I couldn’t just walk past her. I stopped and knelt down in front of her and so began a very long conversation.

My daughters and their friend were with me. They all were engaged in the conversation that we were having.

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copyright 2014 heatherdawkins.com

They were present. Real life. Face to Face. Present.

We made a real connection that day. She prayed to ask Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. She smiled for probably the first time in a long time. She was fed and full.

 

John 6:35 (NLT) ~ Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

 

We were just the messengers. Jesus did all of the work. All I know is that if I had passed her by with only a nod at the most, that I would have missed the blessing.

Being Present in Real Life means seeing those around you. Really seeing them.

Being Present means that you might just be inconvenienced.

Being Present means connection.

I’m not the same woman who I was before that mission trip. I don’t want to be the same. I have received the blessing that comes from really being all there.

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copyright 2014 heatherdawkins.com

I’ll never forget Nya. Or her voice. Or her smile. I’ll never forget the beauty of listening to our girls share Jesus with her.

 

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psst… If you are new here, I would love to encourage you with posts from my blog. You can sign up here. Let’s be blog friends. When you click here you will be taken to the intro post and all of the 31 day series is found there at the top of the post. 🙂

Until Next Time,

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The Harvest IS Plentiful

I don’t know about you, but for me, normally when I can’t stand the place I am visiting, I don’t ever want to go back.

Like ever.

For those who don’t know, my family went on a mission trip to New Orleans this summer. People warned me of the smells, and even the fluids that were commonly found on the sidewalks. They warned me of the darkness that seemed to hang over you like a cloud. They hinted at the free-spirited living. The smells didn’t bother me as much as I thought. And I have a sensitive smeller. No, it was the sights that broke my heart.

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From the countless homeless people to the small children roaming the streets, things were different just a few hours away from home sweet home. It didn’t take going thousands of miles away or even crossing oceans to do mission work. I didn’t even have to learn another language. Well, maybe I did. Maybe the new language was to See The Unseen with different eyes. Hearing their stories. Taking time to care. Hold a hand. Say a prayer. Give out a water bottle and a snack. Maybe that is a language. A love language.

Matthew 25:35 (NIV) ~ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.

Matthew 25:40 (NIV) ~ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

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Our team worked together so well. It was a God thing. He definitely put us together. It was a beautiful experience. One that forever changed me. The person that doesn’t need people around. The person that tends to be a loner. The introvert. I learned that community is so very vital. When one falls down…the other helps him up. You know that verse. It is so true.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NLT) ~ If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

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They say that once you go on a mission trip that you get the fever to keep going back. After a solid week of staying in a room with our team of girls and then a whole lot of girls that we did not know, and sharing 2 showers with them and their hair, I was ready to get home. I know that sounds spoiled. Remember my sensitive nose? Smells? Let’s just say Praise Jesus that my buddy had one of those laundry detergent pods. I slept with it on the middle bunk one night. Somebody above me from the other group drank too much water or something before bed, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Praise Jesus for detergent pods and smell good thingamajiggers.

I was so blessed by every single experience that God allowed on the NOLA recon team UNSEEN trip. Yes, even the yucky ones taught me something. Come on, if Jesus traveled from place to place and slept wherever he had to, so could I for one single week. At least we had a bed. Some of the UNSEEN slept on the concrete. Every single night. When I was tempted to complain, I quickly reminded myself of this. So spoiled and so blessed. I don’t deserve anything I have. That woman, that mother, she could very easily be me.

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Then there was Bourbon Street. The Midnight Outreach through The Dream Center reaches out to the women who work in the strip clubs, and the owners and bouncers as well. Whew. Only a few of us went on this mission. Let me clarify that our team stayed out of the clubs, but what we saw on the street was plenty. I only lasted through the orientation and about 30 minutes on the street. At first I felt like a quitter. But then, I accepted that I was obedient to go and I was obedient to bow out when God led me to leave.

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I saw what he wanted me to see. No more. No less. I saw women who had to get all drugged up and drunk to even be able to work. I saw families walking through the street with small children. Children exposed to nudity, sexual innuendo, alcohol, and all of the people who support it. I saw a young boy playing a drum on the sidewalk..on BOURBON Street. Where was his momma? Maybe across the street working in one of the clubs. Maybe standing half naked in the window as if she were for sale. Wait, she was. There were the men working the doors and trying to entice people to come in to their business. There was the man coming out of the strip club and the dancer coming out after him, clearly completely strung out. She would have to be I’m sure of it. She’s a person. With feelings.

Forever changed.

My eyes were opened. I saw the teenage girls talking to the bouncer and then walking in to the strip club. Were they runaways? Were they looking for a job? Did they know that they were about to be forever changed by their choices?

I’m not a crier by nature. I tend to hold it in. Cry in private. Act tough in public.

My tears came like floodwaters escaping through a breached dam. I couldn’t contain the emotions welling up within me. I can only explain it like this: The Holy Spirit within was broken…Jesus in me..I felt what HE must feel when seeing sin. Complete and utter grief. I know what grief feels like. I recently lost my Daddy. These were tears of grief. Heartache for those girls and women. Heartache for the people who treated other people like merchandise. MERCHANDISE! It shouldn’t be so.

Story after story I could share with you. God blessed me so much by allowing me to be a part of that trip. As much as I was ready to get home to Georgia, and even though I told my husband and friends that I had no desire to ever and I mean EVER go back to NOLA, guess what I miss? I miss NOLA. I miss being on that mission trip. Even though I had to wear flip flops in the shower and sleep with a smell good thingy, I miss it.

I don’t know where God will call my family to serve next. We are going to be obedient though. Obedience truly leads to blessing. I can’t wait to serve wherever HE leads us to serve.

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The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few… I promise you, the HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL. Every act of service is important. Don’t think that you can’t do anything because of age or a handicap or even because of finances. Can you pray? That is mission work too!

Matthew 9:37 (NIV) ~ Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

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The mission field is not just overseas. The mission field is in your home, your work, your school, your neighborhood. If you can’t go out of town, don’t use that as an excuse to not serve. Everyone who is a child of God, an authentic believer and follower of CHRIST, is called to serve. I pray that I never forget those whom I met and the stories that I heard while on the New Orleans trip. Even though the stories aren’t always beautiful, there is beauty in remembering the stories.

I leave you with a few questions:

1~ Is there something that I am ignoring and that I need to be obedient to God and respond about in regards to serving?

2~ Is there sin in my life that I need to come clean about? Do I have a relationship with Jesus?

3~ Am I being faithful to God with the gifts that HE has blessed me with? Am I hoarding my talents instead of using them to SHINE Jesus?

4~ Am I expecting everyone else to serve while I sit on the sidelines and cheer?

{If I can pray for you about any of the above questions, please feel free to respond. I would love to pray for you and help you or guide you to someone who can help you.}

Until Next Time,

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Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Picture Perfect

Can I speak bluntly for a moment?

Women need to stop wearing masks and stop assuming that everyone else has it all together. We need to be real and transparent and share the good the bad and the ugly. (No, I don’t mean to rant or tell all.. Face it, nobody wants to hear it all) I’m saying share the real you, not just the “highlight reel” or the “photoshopped version”. And we also need to quit comparing what we assume others are to how we think of ourselves.

None of us are perfect. None of us have it all together. Just because we have a great photo that looks like we do..doesn’t mean it’s real. Or maybe it is at that moment. What about after? Is it always picture perfect?

And I’m not saying that a great photoshopped photo is bad! Trust me.. I love them. I’m just saying that if we want to reach other women for Christ, then we might need to let them see that we don’t have it all together all of the time either.

How can one relate to someone that pretends to be perfect? Nobody is perfect. Nobody has it all together. Why do women,especially, believe the lies that we tell ourselves? Why do we compare our wrong thoughts about ourselves to what we assume to be real about another woman?

What if instead of assuming, and comparing, and being prideful, that we were real?

It is a pride issue ladies.

Call it what it is.

You can’t pull a weed from the top and expect it not to grow back. You have to dig deep and pull the weed out at the root.

And I’m not saying that we should vomit negativity. I’m saying that we need to deal with ourselves. Deep digging. Get real with the root. Take off the masks. Stop assuming. Quit comparing. Walk in faith.

Walk in belief.

The belief that God is enough and that he doesn’t make junk.

The belief that not every other woman has it all together.

Yet, if they do have it more together, then what is their secret?

I’ll tell you the secret. It’s found in Philippians. The secret to contentment is belief and faith in Jesus.

Paul found the secret to being content.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NLT)

The truth is that we are all dealing with our own insecurities. Yet, we don’t have to be in bondage to those insecurities. God doesn’t talk to us the way we talk to ourselves. Why do we?!

Faith is the secret.

Faith that Jesus is enough. That Jesus provides all that we need and at just the right time.

And honestly, we as women, need each other.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT)

Maybe, just maybe, if we would stop assuming and take off the masks, we would see that we are not all that different.

To me picture perfect is showing the real you.

The real you (or ME) that messes up. Fails daily. That Desperately needs Jesus every single second of every day.

Love,

Heather