I was thinking about something while leaving Orange Theory Fitness. On the final leg of our 25-minute cardio circuit, we were challenged to go a “bonus” round. Now let me pause for a little background… I’ve never played an organized sport in my life. So I’ve never been athletically benched, disqualified or beat. Conversely, I’ve never experienced team-victory, triumph or comeback. (That’s why none of my posts are about my “athleticism.” LOL!) Back to today…For the bonus-challenge, I was gonna pass, figuring, “Who’d care anyway? It’s just me against myself.” When I heard on the mic, from across the gym, my name: “Good, Heather!” And with that, I kept going. All Nicole said was my name. That’s all it took to not quit. God knows your name. He’s in the stands with millions of angels and biblical giants, believing in you. And the lap in your life where you want to quit, you won’t, because you’ll hear God say your name in your soul: “Go [insert name, here]!!” In life, we don’t quit until we finish the race…the Bible tells us so! So keep going – keep running – keep your eyes on the finish line. And keep your ears attune to your biggest Fan (GOD!!) saying your name.
In the last two weeks, we’ve lost two great guys to drug addiction. It breaks my heart–I feel like my heart’s producing its own set of tears and shedding them. One addict lost is one too many. Addicts are not “at the end of the road,” they aren’t “at the point of no return.” They are on the same ground below the cross as me – in the same need of a Savior. I have not battled the addiction of drugs, but I battle. We all battle. Some of you understand the addiction temptation. It starts off like a worm of “want” inside of you, then grows into a small, untameable animal of temptation, eventually giving way to an all-consuming beast of addiction. Is there ANYTHING that can conquer the beast of addiction that starts off like a worm of temptation? Yes. But it’s not a thing. It’s a who. With Christ in my heart, I have a way out of my addiction. There are a few all-truth, God-breathed verses that validate this assertion: “I can do ALL things THROUGH Christ WHO strengthens me,” “because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” and “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.” Porn, drugs, alcohol, infidelity, food, stealing, hording, spending, etc. are real temptations that can become real addictions that are really hard to fight. But if Jesus is in your heart, VICTORY is within your grasp. If you need help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I can recommend some places. Don’t give up. Do go on.
When I was 8 years old, I wrote a suicide note (of sorts) and mailed it to my grandma. Thus began my journey with the mental struggle. Depression, anxiety, bipolarity, OCD, and the like, are legit. They are struggles in the mind–not to be distinguished from struggles in other organs of a human. Through all these years, here’s two things I’ve learned: with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26); and apart from God, I can do nothing (John 15:5). These two verses are my foundation–holding up a life, well-lived, despite the mental struggle. God is sovereign, He doesn’t screw up. So when He created me, He knew what He was doing. He knew I would have what I have. We’re all born with a weakness, and God is aware of each of ours. He doesn’t give a life more than a life can bear with Him. Have a mental struggle? It’s tough. Have God? It’s still tough….but not impossible. Don’t give up–because God has not and will not give up on you. We ALL struggle. If this isn’t your particular struggle, reach out to someone whose it is, let’ em know you prayed for them today. We’re in this together!
Tomorrow evening, Hurricane Matthew will strike our state. On many levels, it’s stressful; and if you’ve ever been through a hurricane, laden with “what if’s.” For me, it presents a simple spiritual test with one question on the paper:
Heather, do you trust me? Circle one: yes no
The bible tells us, “The LORD is my strength and my defense,” “Come to me…my burden is light,” and “I am with you always.” Although I believe God can give us more than we can handle, I don’t think He leaves us hanging with it. I believe that when/if He gives us more than we can handle, WITH Him, we can handle it. Back in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma hit, I was a mom of a baby and a toddler. Raul was out of town. I had my blind mother-in-law and my little brother. I also had no provisions, no electricity, and no water. So if God called prior to Wilma coming, and itemized all the stress I’d endure, I woulda said, “Find someone else, this chic’s not capable.” But that’s why I’m not God. And that’s hurricane relief! We don’t have to measure out how much we can handle. We don’t have to worry about leaning on our own strength. We might think we can’t handle anymore…but that (thankfully!) isn’t our call. In every crisis, when WE think we can’t handle anymore, we just need to rest in God and let Him make the calls. I will never look forward to hurricanes, but this time, I look forward to resting in God. He’s in charge of my life, and the hurricanes. He’s in charge of the beginning and ending of every storm. He knows what lessons we need to learn in them. His hand is upon our lives and His handprint is upon our hearts. Trust Him in the hurricane.
On many famous accounts, God displayed his love in big things: parting a sea in half, ingesting a human in a whale, raising Jesus from a tomb. But is God’s love in small things? Yes. God’s love is often in insignificantly-small people: a deaf man, a paralyzed man, a girl in adultery, a virgin carrying His son. Have we ever realized the insignificance of these people? Rather, do we realize their significance to God? He didn’t pick Hollywood celebrities to perform these mighty miracles. He didn’t pick the ones with the most “likes” and “follows.” Out of 22 miracles Jesus performed, 20 came from insignificant backgrounds. In the world, we often have to be “somebody.” But in Christ, we already are EVERY. THING. You don’t need to beef up, clean up or puff up. You show up. And God loves you from there. I was never popular as a kid. I don’t know what it’s like to be “most likely to succeed” or nominated to prom court. But I do know what it’s like to be recklessly, unconditionally, emphatically loved by God. You may feel small in your corner of the world, but to God? You’re an heir He’s proud to show you off. If you were the only small, insignificant one on Earth, you would have been worth dying on the cross for. You may feel small in your eyes, but you are the biggest focus of His. I hope this encourages someone today.
We’ve all heard the bible story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I’ve heard it many times, too, so I thought I knew it well. Until I heard a teacher highlight this one part: Daniel 3: 26-27, “So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and [they] crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” The part I learned was that we can walk through the fire (OF pain FROM others) but NOT let the world smell the smoke (of their burns) ON us. You and I have had our share of burns from others, haven’t we? Yet, in this story, these guys were in the fire–but when they came THRU it, they didn’t have the smell of smoke on them. I wanna be like that. First of all, I wanna be a girl who gets THRU the fire. Even if it takes everything I got–I wanna be a “comeback girl” from the pain others cause me. Secondly, I will not go through the rest of my life smelling like smoke from the ones who burn me. They don’t deserve that much impact. And it is a poor representation of God, if everywhere I go, I leave a trail of smoke instead of a trail of light. I hope this encourages someone today!
Theatrically speaking, our marriage is a mystery-thriller-comedy. So I thought it might be fun to invite you into our bed for some theater-convo. Over the years, Raul and I have been misunderstood, and we get that. We are not normal. OK, I am not normal. So how have we made it seventeen years? Contrary to the ole’ adage, it’s actually not our opposites that attract–-but our ONE similarity: God. You see, we don’t have the luxury of having similarities. We don’t have the same I.Q., childhood experiences, strengths or weaknesses. We don’t handle conflict the same. We don’t have the same love language. We don’t lead the same, we don’t follow the same. So when alllllllllllllllll these differences are challenged, we HAVE to have something that holds us together. Thank God we have God. For some, opposites may attract, but for us, God is the attraction. For seventeen years, we’ve both loved God; sought Him and hope to one day hear him say, “Well done.” Without our common denomination of God–-our differences would rip us apart. So what will keep Raul and Heather, under one roof, in one bed, for years to come? One God! Thanks for joining us on our bed, we hope this encouraged you.