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More than I could ask or imagine!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Have you ever been so blessed you just cant stand it? Like the sun on a hot summer day when its brightness is too much to take in, abundant blessings can be hard to absorb. This past Wednesday was a day like that for our family.

On Tuesday, June 9th, the Baltimore Orioles chose our youngest son, Ryan, in the fourth round of the MLB draft. The following day we celebrated his graduation and new baseball career with friends and family, including many of Ryan’s youth baseball All-star teammates and their families. The joy was palpable. It wasn’t just the excitement of the moment but the delight of the Lord that was apparent everywhere you looked; sacrificial love, abundant grace, pure joy and warm fellowship that all reflected the heart of God.

Initially, I saw sacrificial love in Sean, our oldest son, as he played Can Jam with his cousin. Sean stayed home an extra week, postponing his internship, because he wanted to be with his brother to celebrate this special time. Then, God’s abundant grace was evident in the sunshine and warmth, the surprisingly beautiful and delicious food the caterers prepared and the extra games brought by our nephew, which everyone enjoyed immensely.

Moreover, the decorations which were a gift from a friend created such an atmosphere of joy you couldn’t help but smile when looking at the six centerpieces full of baseballs, American flags, Big League Chew, peanuts and Cracker Jacks, not to mention the “home plate” paper cut outs which handsomely anchored each display. Best of all, the warm fellowship we experienced with our friends was such a gift. The whole community was cheering for Ryan and showered their love on him and our family that day. We felt God’s pleasure.

In retrospect, I can hardly absorb the brightness of the blessing, especially against the backdrop of our failings.  God met the needs of our children, filling in the cracks left by imperfect parents, and led them to an abundant life in Him. There were many rough roads, struggles and doubts but to quote Beth Moore, “You cannot amputate your history from your destiny, because that is redemption.” (Esther Study). Boy did we experience redemption this past week! God is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine and He longs to give good gifts to His children.

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Absolute Love

“And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.’” Mark 5:34

Recently God convicted me of having an unclean flow of criticism. He also showed me a dark corner of my heart where unbelief was feeding off my fear of joy and my need for conditional love.   This perverse need is based on pride and rooted in the lie that no one can be trusted, not even God, and I have to earn love and acceptance. If I could only stay hidden and touch Jesus surreptitiously so no one has to know my secret shame then I’ll be okay. What I found was that I am much harder on others and on myself than God would ever be. Jesus performed the only deed that could win my freedom. He is the only One that can make me clean, cutting off the flow of words that cut off fellowship from the very people I love so dearly.

However, we live in a cynical world where we are all susceptible to skepticism, suspicion and fear. The story in Mark 5 reveals the hearts of many women who suffer in shame. They are afraid to speak out loud about their sin for fear of further rejection, not believing that anyone would love them as they are. When this woman reached out to Jesus He asked, “Who touched me?” giving her an opportunity to confess out loud in front of others for the purpose of healing and restoration. In verse 33 she is finally compelled to fall at His feet and tell Him everything. His answer astounds me. He calls her “daughter” and blesses her, not only with healing but also with affection, validation and encouragement. There is not one ounce of criticism in the interaction.

Similar to criticism, people pleasing is a form of manipulation. This past weekend I tried to please others at every turn to earn approval but ended up hurting the ones closest to me with impatience and anger, which caused friction in my marriage. Fortunately, I asked for forgiveness and told my husband that I needed his support and love even more when I was struggling. Then, I released the whole thing to the Lord, stepping out in faith to trust God’s love for me. God forgive me for stealing their joy!

This cycle of criticism and people pleasing is seeded by insecurity and watered by unbelief. In her book, So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore encourages the reader to remember that their security is in Jesus Christ and no one can take it away from them. She actually coaches you to say it out loud. So, taking her advice I said, “Jesus, You are my Rock and my salvation! No one can take me out of Your hands. I will not give my security to any man or woman. It belongs to You and I choose to stand securely in You.”

If you are also touching Jesus in secret I want to encourage you to share with your spouse, a trusted friend or a pastor what Jesus did for you, bringing out into the light for His glory. The only way we can walk in the light is to be transparent. Then we are free to tell our story of healing victory to anyone without shame. Yes, I am a recovering people pleaser with an insatiable appetite for approval whom God has freed. You may be too but we can all fall at His feet and tell him everything in front of everyone without fear of rejection because the truth is He adores you and always will.