The Beauty In Different

 

It’s sad to say, but it’s true.. Too often Christians are known for what we are against.. Not for what we are for. Not all of us.. Not all of the time.. But a lot of the time.

Sometimes people are turned off by the church in general. And hear me when I say that THE CHURCH is not the building. Sometimes it’s because they feel judged by those in the church. Other times it’s because of a past incident in the church where they were treated like an outcast. An outcast. Cast out.. think about it. We, as Authentic Followers of Christ Jesus should not cast someone away just because they are different.

We are called to love like Jesus. Is it always easy? I think you know the answer to that. It is only possible if we let Jesus love through us.

I love my church. One of the reasons I love it is because it is diverse. Diversity is beautiful.. Diversity is a gift.

God made each one of us unique. He didn’t mass produce us in a cookie cutter mold.

 

We are all different. My different is ok. Your different is ok. And the person who walks in and loves Jesus with all their heart and soul and mind but looks different from me or you is OK. Read the above quote again. The one about cookies. 😉

 

Just because someone looks the part on the outside does not.. I repeat does not mean that their heart looks the part.

 

God looks at the heart. Man looks at outward appearances more often than at the heart.

 

Take time to see the beauty in different.

 

If we are authentic Christians then we are called to love like Jesus. Without conditions placed on our love.

 

 

Love God, Love People, Shine JESUS.

 

That is what you will see in my bio on my social media pages, that is what I strive to live daily. It is my anthem. My life’s mission. When I write my book, I am pretty sure that my anthem above will be the subtitle. It is what we are called to do.

Jesus is about relationship not religion. Love not law. Sure, we have standards to live up to. As Christians we should look like Christ to others. On the inside and on the outside reflecting JESUS to the world. Our bodies are HIS temple if we are HIS. Reflecting Jesus to the person in line behind us, to the cashier, to the waiter, to the Physician, to the hard to love people, to every single person in our path. We should reflect God in all that we say and do.

It is all about the heart. I keep thinking of that catchy commercial. The one that says “What’s in YOUR wallet?” You know the one I am referring to? An insurance commercial. Well I keep hearing.. “What’s in YOUR heart?”  

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR HEART?

 

Love or Hate?

Un-forgiveness or a sweet spirit?

Bitterness?

Mercy?

Grace?

Anger?

A Judgemental Spirit?

Malice?

Joy?

Kindness?

Jesus?

 

What is in our heart comes out through our actions and words.

 

But the good news is….GRACE.

 

Oh I need that GRACE because the truth is that I have had all the above in my heart at times. The good and the bad. I need that GRACE that God so freely pours out on me every single day. I need to be pouring out that same grace in turn to others. You do too. We all do. Oh that GRACE. It is so beautiful.

 


 

Judging others because they are a different skin color, have tattoos, have piercings, don’t have tattoos, don’t have piercings, listen to rock christian instead of old hymns, listen to old hymns instead of contemporary christian music. Maybe it is even judging others because they are quiet and reserved or loud and outgoing.. Maybe it is judging someone because of their choice of education or vocation..The list goes on and on. It is not our job to judge. Can we lovingly in a grace laced way speak biblical truth into someone’s life? Sure, if our motives are pure and we have prayed about it and are prompted by The Holy Spirit to do so. It is about the heart.

Love like Jesus.

Don’t assume.

Take time to love.

Heal not hurt.

Look at ourselves before we look at others.

Check our motives.

Keep it shut.

Love not wound.

Heart check time again.

Grace Time. 

Oh that beautiful GRACE.


REFLECTION

~ What’s in my heart?

~ Do I need to declutter and purge some junk that I have been hoarding in my heart?

~ Am I being judgmental and if I am, do I need to rid myself of that way of thinking?

~ Do I truly love others the way that God has commanded me to love?

~ Do I have a relationship with Jesus?

~ Do I look like a Christian on the outside but need to clean up the inside?

~ Do I make others feel welcome in my church or community or place of work or home?

~ Do I shine Jesus?

 


RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 4:23 ~ Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.

1 Samuel 16:7b ~ The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Psalm 51:10 ~ Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Matthew 7:2 ~ For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

 

 

Until Next Time,

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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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Heart Issues

 

heatherdawkins.com
heatherdawkins.com

 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭4‬:‭23-24‬ NIV)

 

My mouth. Sometimes A lot of the time, it would do me good to just count to 10.. Or 10,000. Depends on the moment.

Hear me when I say that I’m a work in progress. Hear me when I say that it is usually with my husband and our daughters. As in, I’m like a babbling brook overflowing with however I feel at the moment.. With the ones who share my space.(anybody else relate?) My tribe. Poor things. They see me when I’m tired. They see me when I’m at my breaking point. Poor things see me and hear me when I’ve had all that I think I can bear. Bless ’em.

Hey. I could turn it around and say that while they see me at my worst, I too, see them at their worst. It’s true.

What is in my heart will overflow out of that leaky faucet of a mouth I tend to have here at home amongst my tribe. My tribe. Home should be our safe place. The safe place.

Whether I’m rambling or not thinking before speaking, or saying what I feel without feeling what I say, it’s a heart issue.

Listen. I know good and well that I’m not the only woman or person that needs to learn to keep my words sweet. Or even just keep my words.. In my mouth.. Zipped up. Words are what gets most of us in trouble.

Just like the way a piano key is pounded or gently tapped or softly pressed, our words have the same effect. The tone we use can change a mood entirely. It’s a choice. Tone. Timing. Temperature. Yes, your words, my words, they even have a temperature!

Hot words –> When angry
Cold words –> When wanting to hurt
Warm words –> To soothe and show love

You get the point.

Words. I love words. Can you take a wild guess at what one of my main love languages is? Yep. You guessed it. Words of Affirmation. I LOVE words. I mean, I’m a writer for goodness sakes. I love words. I love to use them to encourage others. I love to pray. I love to share the gospel through words. Sometimes my words are not encouraging to my little tribe here at home though. 

I should probably work on that with my man. Usually it’s when I’m tired or being selfish that I snap on him. Even if I’m not in the wrong, I still have a choice when using my words.

I should probably work on that with my daughters. They learn what they live. When I find myself getting on to them about their smart mouths or tone with each other, I stop and think for a second. Hey. They get it from us. They get it from me. They learn what they live.

My God is so merciful and gracious and good. I can hardly believe sometimes that HE would choose to love a sinner like me, in spite of me. HE loves me, he knows me, he made me, he loves me in spite of all of my failures and inadequacies.

And if I want to truly SHINE JESUS, my words better reflect JESUS.

Maybe you find yourself feeling the same way at times. Ashamed when you fail. Frustrated because the levy broke and ugly or hurtful words spewed out. Embarrassed because you should have it together by now. But you don’t. And I don’t. HE is not finished with us yet friends. Praise God HE is not finished.

We can fix our leaky faucets. With God. We can be intentional about our choice of words. We can think before we speak, text, tweet, or post. We can listen more than we speak. You know the old two ears one mouth saying, the one about listening twice as much as we speak. We can choose to overlook an offense as the Proverbs tells us. We can do some heart surgery. Inspecting ourselves. Looking deep within. Getting to the root. Immersing ourselves in The WORD of God and in prayer. Communicating with the One who created us.

If the saying “You are who you hang around” is true. And it is. Then maybe we would all do well to “hang around” God more.

No matter the circumstance, we all have a choice in how we react and whether we bridle our tongue or not.

I’m grateful for my God. The One who shows mercy to me when I mess up. And I’m grateful to the ones who remind me of Jesus.. The ones who show me mercy as well.

Maybe it’s time for a heart check.

Is there an area involving words that you need to work on in order to shine Jesus? Do you need to apologize to someone for the way that your mouth may have offended them? Do you need to spend more time with the One who made you? I know my answer to all three questions. Yes.

 

We never know what the future holds. Only God knows. Life can change in a split second. Our words matter. The way we choose to use them matter. 

 

 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ~ Ephesians 4:28,29 (NIV) 

 

 

Until Next Time,

 

 

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heatherdawkins.com

 

Hidden Away No Longer

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{Let me preface this post with this…I originally wrote the main part of this post 2 days before God spoke to me through the obedient vessels who are my sweet sisters in Christ. (they know who they are). If you don’t believe that God still speaks to you through others and by The power of The Holy Spirit, well that’s your opinion. Because I’m here to tell ya that HE STILL DOES. AND, the very SAME POWER that conquered the grave lives in those who know HIM personally. HE still speaks. HE still moves. GOD still answers prayers. HE is the same today as HE was yesterday and tomorrow HE WILL NOT CHANGE. }

I have these dreams. I allow myself to believe that I can achieve them. Then I allow myself to believe that I cannot achieve them.

It’s crazy really.

I have faith. Then I let doubt take over.

I profess that “I’m really gonna do ____ ”
Then I hide the dreams calling. Hidden away for a little bit longer.

And then there’s the things that I don’t know the answers to yet that puzzle me. They freeze me in my tracks at times. When I don’t know exactly what is next and I want to know. What do I do next? I do the next right thing. I do. I go. That is what we are called to do. The next right thing that brings God glory. Doesn’t have to be big. Doesn’t have to stand out.

The thing is, I’m not promised tomorrow. You aren’t either..and if you’ve lost a loved one you know this truth all too well. And if I don’t start acting I may miss out on a blessing that comes with obedience. Not only that, I may miss out on allowing God to use me to be a blessing to someone else. Same goes for you too.

The dreams aren’t really all that far-fetched. I’ve even spoken them out loud. I’ve had others ask when I’m going to _____…

I know I’m supposed to. I know the steps to take.

What’s stopping me?

Me. Just me. I’m stopping me.

AND IT IS TIME TO STOP.


 HIDDEN AWAY NO LONGER

 If I don’t step out in faith and do whatever HE asks of me then I will grieve HIM.  When we know what we are supposed to do and we choose to not obey, we are being disobedient or rebellious. That is sin. Sin grieves The Holy Spirit. I don’t want to grieve him. Grief is a terrible feeling. I want my life to look radical, obedient, and for others to see Jesus when they look at me. {don’t let me fool ya…it is scary just typing that sentence out.}

That is a prayer that I have prayed for many years now. Some days I fail HIM. His mercy remains through it all.

Jesus suffered. Jesus was selfless. Jesus was a servant. So if you choose to pray the same prayer as me, remember what you are praying for and adjust your attitude accordingly. {because I sure have to adjust mine as well}

I long to walk in the path that HE has called me to. I know that HE is calling. He has used sisters in Christ to give me HIS message. There is really nothing more beautiful than being prayed over and feeling The Holy Spirit and hearing HIS message through the obedience of Godly women. 

It really is a true picture of just how much Jesus loves us. That HE cares enough to speak to us if we will just open ourselves up to it. It is a picture of grace and mercy and patience in the way that God will give you the SAME message from more than one person. How generous and patient my God is. He knows I’m a hardheaded soul. But HE loves me. He loves you too.

I’m stepping out of that box sister. You told me that I had to because God told you. I’m stepping out. Trusting HIM to hold my hand and the walls are torn down my sweet friends. Thank you for your obedience. God is so good.

FAITH >FEARS


REFLECTION

What about you?

Have any dreams?

Anything that you feel that you should be doing in order for God to receive the glory?

What’s stopping you?

Do you know Jesus and does HE know you?

Is it time to take that next step of faith?

Is your faith bigger than your fears? 


RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

Luke 11:28 ~ Jesus replied. “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

 

Ephesians 3:20 ~ Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Hebrews 3:19 ~ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


Until Next Time,

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Tuned Out and Tuned In

heatherdawkins.com
heatherdawkins.com

Quiet. Unsettling. Different. I like it.

One week into the social media break and it’s funny how it came after my 31 Days of Being Present in Real Life series. The one that I purposely did NOT complete. Yeah. God does have a sense of humor.

So, here I am. Learning things about myself. Listening so much more to God. The noise is tuned out much better now. More “spiritual whitespace”. And while I am on that subject, I read a book by Bonnie Gray called Finding Spiritual Whitespace a few weeks ago. AH-MAZING. She is a beautiful soul, I can tell by her comments and sweet replies to my comments..It’s so neat how this internet works isn’t it? You can reach through the world-wide web and virtually meet people..but, I am digressing. That book was written from the depths of her soul. She writes so poetically and beautiful and from her heart.


 

I am learning what my version of “spiritual whitespace” looks like in comparison to God’s idea for me. I do want GOD. I want HIM more than the way I used to make time for HIM. I want GOD more than that mindless scrolling through a newsfeed that really  isn’t “news”. I want GOD more than likes or comments or replies or fame or fortune or knowing what everybody is doing. I want GOD more than I want me and more than my idea of wanting God looks like. Then and only then can I be completely at peace.

A soul one with GOD, with nothing in between, is a soul at peace. 

I am learning that obedience truly does lead to blessing. Even when obedience means cutting away some good things in your life. Even when it means removing for a short time something that isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing..just a distracting thing. Because GOD said so.

I am learning that even though I do have a good time of study in the Bible and a quiet time every morning, that God still requires more.

Because my idea of what is enough really isn’t enough at all.


 

I can look back over the past year or so and see where God is working and moving in my life and the life of my family and I am so excited to see what is next! Maybe a little scared too if I am honest. Maybe anxious is a better word. I just feel it in my bones and I am ready and I can’t wait to see what all God shows me and speaks to me through this time with HIM. Sweet time with my Savior and Lord. Tuned in to HIM.

I believe when GOD speaks we better listen. When GOD commands we had better obey. And that….

When GOD whispers, if the noise is too loud, I can’t hear HIM.

 


 RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

James 1:22 (NLT) ~ But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Romans 2:13 (NLT) ~ For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight.


 REFLECTION

~ Is it too loud for me to be able to even hear God? Too much noise?

~ Do I really WANT GOD or just my idea of what wanting God looks like?

~ Am I willing to focus more on God than on other stuff?

~ Is God calling me to fast anything in order to hear HIM more clearly?


 

Until Next Time,

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Welcome To My Monday Morning

(One of my favorite verses. I even wear it daily on a bracelet I had made.)
Romans 12:12 ~ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

As I start my day, I am so blessed to look at this Thankful Tree on my kitchen table and see the leaves of thanks that my family has hung on the limbs. Now… When I first woke up this Monday morning, I wasn’t so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It takes me a few minutes or so to wake up.

Nevertheless …..
Truly a beautiful and refreshing sight to see gratitude in even the smallest things. Makes me want to leave it up all year long. Definitely a tradition that I plan to keep going for years to come.

Traditions are something that I’ve been mulling over for a little while now. For those who are new here, my Daddy died April 1st of this year. Yeah. Man.. Seems surreal to even type that sentence out. We are all still grieving and going through the motions and emotions. Don’t even know what Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years will look like this year.. Except.. Different.

For my mother, it’s even harder. As her daughter, it’s so hard to watch her suffer and being that God gifted me with highly sensitive empathy, I feel the emotions around me times 10. I am a fixer. A doer. Tell me what to do and I’ll try my best to make it better. But, this is something that I can’t make better. For her. For me. For my children or my siblings.

We are all different. Grieving different. And that is OK!

For those of you who have lost a parent or husband or wife, and if you were extremely close to that loved one, you know what I’m saying.

So back to the traditions. Honestly, I don’t know what it will look like. I just know that I want to bring glory to God even in the midst of grief. I know my family has been held in HIS arms for the past 7 months. There’s no doubt that my God has sustained us.

I don’t know how people who don’t know Jesus personally survive.

I know I’m not alone. I know we are not the first family to have been through these kind of hard times.
I know.

I ask you to pray for us. Especially momma. I also ask for ideas and advice on how you may have coped during the holidays while grieving. Seriously.. Share. It may help more people than you know.

Before I go, I want to say a special Thank You to those who have reached out when it wasn’t convenient. To those who have shared their hearts with me about their losses and offered prayer and support. Thank you to those who have encouraged me and been there through it all. You may not even realize that you did anything at all. But you have. Thank you for the prayers most of all.

We know where Daddy is.. So we have peace and comfort and hope. But… Anyone who knows the loss that we feel knows that the grief comes in waves and so if you see someone who is sad or has tears in their eyes or even who is laughing and smiling, know that there is NO TIME LIMIT for grief. There really is no end point honestly. Those who have told you that it ends or goes away.. They either had a different relationship with their lost loved one or they just don’t know what to say. It’s ok. Listen to your heart. I’m listening to mine.

Until Next Time,

Heather

P.S. I am not on social media right now. Sometimes you hear a still small voice during your morning quiet time and you know you must be obedient. I’ll only be on my photography page to post for clients as needed. If anyone needs to reach me you can comment here on the blog, text or call me, email me, or visit 😉 .

I also want to recommend a book that someone I highly admire wrote. I just know that we would be great friends if we lived in the same town! She speaks boldly. She writes her heart out. She doesn’t pussyfoot around. She is Lisa Whittle and the book is : I WANT GOD.
I received the book probably six weeks ago but GOD.. Yes, God knew when exactly I needed to read it. It challenged me and convicted me to seek HIM even more than I already do. Which led to breaking away from social media. My blog will still post to it but I will not be on to check comments, etc. If you want to comment.. Comment here. Love you all! ~HD

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When The Memories Hurt

It’s hard to share personal pieces of my life. There was a time when I was extremely private. I still am even though I share lots of my family and life moments through photos on social media. I share bits and pieces of myself with the world through this space here called Simple Truths. I share in hopes of reaching someone for Christ, and to let you know that you aren’t alone. With that being said, today I am sharing a piece of my heart with you. Raw. Real. Transparent. Not for pity. Only to let whoever needs to hear it know that they are not alone and that there IS HOPE. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for the memories. Sometimes though, they hurt.

Like being punched in the gut. They hurt. Because, I don’t want them to just be MEMORIES. I want to still be making memories with my Daddy.

It’s very selfish. I know.

I should be happy to even have the memories, and I AM. They don’t always hurt. They bring me joy. They comfort me. BUT, sometimes the “wanting to make more memories” hurts.

I am learning to roll with the feelings as they come and go. Like waves in the ocean. I don’t fight them, I just make my way through them.

I have cried more in these past six months than I have my entire 40 years of life.

This is real life. This is a part of life that we can’t avoid. Death. Grief. Loss.

The emotions that come with them are normal as well.

As the holidays approach, the ones that I always spent with my daddy, I can’t predict how I will handle them. As some of you have been there and done that, you know what I mean.

When the memories hurt, I will try to choose joy. When the memories make me ache deep within, I will praise my LORD for the memories and that my Daddy is with HIM and I WILL see him again.

How? Because my Daddy knows Jesus and Jesus knows him. I know Jesus and Jesus knows me. That is how I KNOW that I will see my Daddy again. I know Jesus personally and I KNOW that HIS WORD is true.

John 3:36 ~ Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 6:47 ~ Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.

John 10:27,28 ~ My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

GOD is good all the time and ALL the time GOD IS GOOD. When the memories hurt, GOD is good. When we experience loss, GOD is good. When we don’t understand life, GOD is good. All the time.

Psalm 37:39 ~ The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.

 

 

Until Next Time,

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This world, for followers of Christ, is a pit stop. Just passing through. Heaven is our home. We will face adversity and loss as well as lots of wonderful things on this earth. While we are here we are to bring glory to God and make disciples. Through the good times and also through the difficult times. 

Do you know my Jesus? Is he your Heavenly Father too? Do you think that you have to clean up your act first and then begin your relationship with Christ? You don’t. Jesus wants you just like you are. HE is the only way to heaven. He is the only ONE who can make you righteous. YOU can’t get righteous without HIM. He is the only ONE who can wash your sins as white as snow. Salvation comes from Jesus Christ alone. Life is short. No time like the present to KNOW that you KNOW Jesus and that HE knows you. Jesus is THE source of HOPE.

 

 

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Beach Trip
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Daddy visiting

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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.

And I Am Sure Of This

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And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ~ Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

 

Ever feel like a FAILURE ? An outright no good can’t do it right failure ? (yes, I am aware that I just wrote a run-on sentence )  Yeah? ME TOO. 

Examples of feeling like a FAILURE  (may or may not be MY personal examples..just sayin’) : 

– Trying to be obedient and encouraging and then not being very “encouraging” with your (my) spouse.

– Having a negative attitude.

– Not sticking to what you said you weren’t going to do anymore.

– “Falling off the wagon”

– Not being as successful in your own eyes as you want to be.

– Not shining Jesus.

– Not meeting the expectations that others place on you.

– backsliding

 

You get the point.

 

That is when I am even more grateful for the mercy and grace my Jesus FREELY lavishes on me! Ahhhh! Don’t you agree with me?

SO. DO. NOT. DESERVE. IT.

 

That is BEAUTY my friends. Real life down to earth BEAUTY.

Grace is beauty.

Mercy is beauty.

Forgiveness is beauty.

I’m sure of it.

 

Satan says (I am guessing) : “You have sinned and you fall short. Take your ‘damaged goods’ stamp or sticker or tattoo and give up sister (or brother). Just lay down and have yourself a good ole whiny pity party. Better yet, stay there.”

 

God says (as is written in HIS Word, THE B. I. B. L. E.  and what scriptures say and yes I am paraphrasing,  *scripture reference below)  :“All have sinned and fall short. Accept my GIFT of forgiveness and redemption and walk WITH me. Take your ‘REDEEMED by the blood of JESUS’ stamp and STAND my child. You are loved. You are precious. You are MINE. I am not finished with you yet. Trust me, nothing you have done or will do surprises me.”

 

* For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 3:23,24 (ESV)

 

I don’t know about you, but I prefer God’s truth over Satan’s lies.

 

When you fail, and you will, don’t lay down and roll all around in it. Get up and brush your self off and start over. Stand up.

 

AND I AM SURE OF THIS :

HE IS NOT FINISHED.

HE keeps on keeping on and offers us mercy and grace that is so stinking beautiful. Like rainbows on a cloudy day beautiful.  Like the sunshine peeking out after days and days of thunderstorms beautiful. You get the picture.

It is almost too hard to believe it.

Failure is only failure when you give up. Failure is only failure when you don’t learn something from it. Isn’t that how we learn? By making mistakes? (I am not saying that you should fail on purpose. No, not giving you permission to do that.) Just don’t lose HOPE and do NOT give up. STAND UP and rest in JESUS.

 

You might want to listen to this…

07 Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave :

 

 

Striving to SHINE,

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26 Things To Remember

A list for Mothers or anyone who plays the role of mother.. Or anyone who has a mother. Basically a list for everyone.

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. (Proverbs 23:12 NIV)

#1 – You can be their mother and their friend. As long as they respect you as MOTHER first. Friendship is important too. As long as you are parent first and foremost. {Be sure you read this again.}

#2 – Honesty is always best. I mean, why in the world would you let your child embarrass himself or herself on the American Idol auditions? Yes, tell them you believe in them.. Support them fully.. But don’t lie to your child.

#3 – Just because all the other moms or dads are doing it doesn’t mean you should too. Stand firm. Stand strong. Stick to God’s way.

#4 – Yes, you will hear your child at least Once (unless they mumble it) say that they hate you. Don’t take it personal. You probably said it to your mother too. You didn’t mean it either. But.. Don’t let it slide. Use it as a teaching moment. Love them through it. They don’t really hate you… Even if they don’t realize it yet. Grace.

#5 – Time is the best gift you can give to your kids. Time can’t be replaced.

#6 – When you think your gonna pull your hair out because of the messes and tantrums and did I say messes? Well, those are precious moments that pass by so fast. One day there won’t be messes and toddler tantrums..

#7 – Teens are great. No, really.. They can be.. If you give them your time and pay attention. Teens are mini adults with teen brains trapped in teen bodies and it’s a confusing time for them. Handle with care. I love having teenagers. Even though we still have messes and tantrums. FYI: we were all teens once. Remember this.

#8 – Train your children up to respect others, to forgive, to not judge others, to show grace. Teach them to be kind by modeling kindness. Teach them to love by modeling love. You get the point.

#9 – Understand that your biggest responsibility in terms of “discipling” begins with your children. They were entrusted to you.. How are you doing with that? I know I’m far from perfect in this area.. I fail daily.. Which brings me to..

#10 – When you mess up, and you will, apologize. Yes. Why? Because you are teaching your children to own up and apologize as well. You are showing them humility & allowing them to show you grace.

#11 – Each child is different. Therefore each child expresses love differently. So pay attention to your kids and love them the way that they will feel loved.

#12 – Believe in your children. Don’t force them to fit a mold you have for them. Allow them to be who GOD wants them to be.

#13 – Tell your kids you love them. Show them with your actions. Really listen to them.

#14 – Be dependable. They are gifts.

#15 – Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your kids.

#16 – Keep God first and center.

#17 – Laugh. Often. Even at yourself.

#18 – Take lots of photos! Don’t forget the 2nd, 3rd kid.. Take lots of photos! Memories. You will be glad you did. Did I mention? Time passes so fast.

#19 – Eat a meal at the table together daily.. At least weekly. Without cell phones. It can be take out!

#20 – Unplug. Be all there. You are teaching your kids to do the same. Plus, in a world where talking on the phone is becoming extinct like the pay phone, unplugging forces you to interact and truly communicate. We all need this. I’m just as guilty.

#21 – Love deeply. Forgive freely. Give grace just as God has given grace to you.

#22 – Life is short. Live life to the fullest.

#23 – Whisper more than you raise your voice.

#24 – Let them make mistakes. Life lessons are the best teachers.

#25 – But when they fall, be there to help them up. Not with an “I told you so” either.

#26 Oh and PRAY!! Pray for your children. Pray for their present and for their future. Pray. Pray. Pray. (This should be number 1 but I’m too lazy to change the post now)

This list is in no special order. Just a few things that I’ve learned as a Momma to our 2 blessings. Things that I learned because of my Momma and Daddy. We live what we learn. I know I could have added many more things to the list.. But, I didn’t.

Even if you are an Aunt or an Uncle, or have no children of your own, you still have influence. It truly takes a village.

Happy Mother’s Day early to all of you mothers and mother figures.

Until Next Time,

Heather

P.S. It’s ok if you don’t agree with the list.. If you take one or two things from it that’s great! Definitely not forcing it on you.. Just my views..and things I have learned.

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