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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Tips on Becoming Fit

As promised, I’m back with some tips and suggestions to help us all become more physically, mentally, and spiritually fit. 

Physically fit: 

Personally, I love spinflex and spin class & do that 3 times a week. The other 2 days I attend another fitness class and each day I workout at least an hour. That’s one hour of the 24 hours in the day that we are given! One hour. No excuses. This wasn’t always me though. I had to decide to make it a priority.

 If you aren’t physically active at this point, you can take that first step and begin. Just aim for 30 minutes to start with. Thirty minutes of some type of physical exercise. Walking, riding your bike, running, jogging, taking a spin class, kickboxing, or even a sport like basketball. Something is better than nothing. Your goal is to get moving. Then, you can increase intensity and time. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. You do what you can do as you get started. 

Mentally fit: 

Now, in my opinion, physically exercising does make me more mentally fit. When I’m spinning or lifting weights, I’m having to use the mind over matter thing. Sometimes my body wants to stop and I have to tell myself “no mam!” And keep going. 

When I used to run and was training for a half marathon, it definitely pushed me mentally. Any exercise if you do it hard enough, will stretch you mentally. Your body is capable of a lot more than you realize. It’s your mind that has to suck it up and push harder and get stronger.         

Also, surround yourself with things and people who lift you up and encourage you. If you are constantly around negativity it will soon rub off.  If you are the one who is negative, think of how you can change to better yourself and encourage those around you. 

Spiritually fit:

The best moments in my day are first thing in the morning. And I’m NOT A MORNING PERSON. However, those first few moments are just for me and Jesus. I get my coffee, sit down at my kitchen table, open my Bible and journal, and I pray and read and listen. 

Those moments fuel me more than coffee ever could. It’s that intentional time that I spend with my Savior that fills me up. My sustenance for the day.

I encourage you to begin your day with Jesus. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 35. Begin it with him.

With praise and worship music, a devotion, scripture, prayer… However you choose. Spend it with Jesus. 

All three aspects of fitness go hand in hand. 

If I want to serve Jesus like he calls his followers to do, then I’ve got to be physically, mentally, and spiritually in shape. 

If you are already there in all three areas then FABULOUS!!

If you are slightly off balance (most of us are), you can do something about it now. 

Take that first step. Then keep going. Don’t stop. Push yourself to be the best that you can be with HIS help. 

See you back soon with tips and ideas for each of the 3 areas. Maybe some healthy recipes, some ideas for your workouts, and suggestions and tips for studying God’s word. 

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” ~‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Until Next Time,

Heather

Becoming Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually Fit 

31 Days to becoming physically, mentally, and spiritually fit!
⬆️ That’s the title to the series I will be doing here on SHINE ON beginning October 1st, 2015. This is my 2nd year attempting to complete the challenge. I dropped out early last year. I plan on sticking it out this year. Fingers crossed. Here’s to trying!
Most of the time we think of the physical aspect when we hear the word FITNESS. I believe that it’s so important to be physically fit. It’s good for our physical bodies, helps us mentally, and it’s also good for us spiritually. 
You’ve heard the term: My body is a temple. You may laugh when you say it even. But… If you are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, then your body really is a temple.
“We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” ~Ephesians‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭NLT
So, I believe that all three aspects go together when being fit.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” ~‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬
The purpose of this 31 days of writing challenge will be to help us all become more physically, mentally, and spiritually fit! 
I hope you’ll join me! I’ll be giving a few tips on each aspect of fitness as it relates to each of the three mentioned and hopefully you’ll take away something that helps you!
The actual 31 days will not begin until October 1st 2015, but I’ll be doing some preview posts in between to get ready. See you back here soon!

Until Next Time,
Shine On!
Heather

Peeling and Tossing

It struck me, as  I was thinking on The Mended Heart bible study that I’m doing, and I asked God to peel back the layers.  To show me “me” and to unearth the things that I’ve covered up in order to live “normally”. He wants to heal me completely. To peel back each layer and toss away the hidden junk that keeps me stuck. And he wants to do the same for you.
I think I have a fear of failure. Yes. There. I said it. Or maybe it’s called something else. I get these wild ideas and want to do something great and then feel like I can’t. So I don’t. 

I get asked to do something and turn it down because “who me?” Nobody would show up if it’s me. 
May go all the way back to a 5th grade pool party. I really thought that was no biggie. I invited lots of friends and my mom and I made snacks or bought them.. We had it all set up. And one person came with her mom (a new friend to be at a new school that I would be going to come August) and one of my old faithful childhood best friends. Two people. 2. And me and the mom and my momma.
Now don’t go feeling all sorry for me. I’m serious! Because the three of us had a blast! We swam and played and ate. Lots of snacks for us. And if you know me you know I like to eat. 
And maybe I covered up my sadness then too. I’m sure I did. But I’ve never forgotten that only 2 showed up and one because she had to. Haha!
Who knows why.. Could have been that the kids didn’t tell their parents or could’ve been that they just didn’t want to come. Could have been that I didn’t give them enough notice. 
I still had fun. 

But I’ve never forgotten that day. And when I lead a study or have a get together, in the back of my mind is “I wonder if anyone will come?” 

But they did. All those years ago. There were 2. And they made an impact on me. 

So, when I have a dream.. And it seems out of reach … I still have to fight that little voice saying ” nobody will care.. Nobody will read it.. Nobody will come..You don’t matter.”

That’s the voice of the enemy. He loves to take our weak places and magnify them with negative thoughts. 
My God says that I matter. He says that you matter. My God says that even just one person can make a lasting impact. 

He says that if HE puts that dream in my head and heart that HE will strengthen me and equip me to carry it out.


Thoughts to ponder:

What dreams are you shoving away and hiding because of fear?

Who can you impact by simply being there?

What are you afraid to do and will you choose to believe that God equips you?

What might you need to peel and toss? 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ NLT)

One More Thing…

As I continue to ask God to peel back the layers, some of the layers are painful. Some sting a little. But I know it’s for a greater good. To heal. 

I’ve come to realize that covering up things with a bandaid only means that they  will inevitably resurface. 

Got to peel and toss in order to heal. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭23-24‬ NLT)

Until Next Time…

Shine On,

Heather 

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.

Without JESUS

I’ve found that with grief comes moodiness. Some days I’m more irritable than others. Some parts of the day I’m “ok” and at other moments I’m not.

Not many people see those sides of my grief. Or if they do, I don’t even realize it.

Truth is, I don’t know when the low moments will occur. Anything can trigger them. They may last 5 minutes. They may last 5 hours.

I’m learning that it’s part of the process. Riding the waves of grief. Learning to swim in it. Getting better at holding my head above the waters so that I don’t drown in it.

If I drown in it then I’m not shining Jesus like I should.

As the saying goes: “My lifeguard walks on water.”

I’m so thankful for this TRUTH.

Without JESUS I’d surely drown in grief.

I don’t share these truths for pity. I share them so you’ll know that you are not alone. Everyone will experience their own losses.

We are all appointed once to die. Eternal life is a gift promised to all who believe and call upon The Lord to be saved.

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

That’s where my hope rests.
That’s where my source of peace is found.
JESUS.

Without JESUS I’d have no hope.
Without JESUS I’d have no peace.

Grief is real. You never “get over” the loss of those you were closest to. You just don’t. Nor should you. They are a part of you. You just learn to swim in the ocean of grief. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes the water is choppy. You just learn to navigate through and soon it becomes your new normal.

With JESUS it is possible to smile through the tears and shine through the rain.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8, 9 NIV)

Believe me. It’s true. But only WITH JESUS.

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

Striving to SHINE,

Heather

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