Beloved, Beautiful, Loved Daughter

Beloved Beautiful Loved DaughterI wrote this post several years ago and just found it sitting in my drafts. I am posting it for you to read and hope you enjoy it and it speaks to your heart!–Amy

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Typically, my time with God each morning ends with me writing out my prayers in my journal. However, a few days ago, I felt lead to spend my prayer time a little differently. On this particular morning, instead of me pouring out my words to Him, I put on my worship music and asked God to speak His words to my heart. As I sat there, pen in hand and journal waiting, His words to me began to flow. As I wrote one word down, another would come, and another, until the words stopped and then a sweet message poured out – a love poem from the Father to His Daughter.

I am normally very private with my quiet time moments with God, but this message and these words spoken to me represent what I believe is his heart for each of his girls. He is so faithful to redeem and restore our lives, our hurts, and our broken dreams – to love us back to a place of wholeness in Him.  And so today, I would like to share these sweet words with you, and I hope they will minister to your heart in ways that only God’s love can…..

God first whispered these words to me, “I love you. My Daughter. Princess. Queen. Redeemed. Restored. Full of Hope. Springs of Peace. Righteous. Whole. Pure. Devoted. Loved Beyond Measure. Breath of Fresh Air. Wellsprings of Life. Restorer of Order. Shield. Called. Passionate. I am yours. You are mine.”

Then He poured out this sweet poem:

Beloved,

Beautiful,

Loved Daughter.

I am sorry for your hurts.

I am sorry for your pain.

I was there

In your midst;

Holding You,

Rocking You,

Cradling You,

Whispering to You,

Devoted Daughter.

In your sorrow,

I brought joy.

In your anguish,

I brought strength.

In your despair,

I called your name.

I am Yours;

You are mine.

Beloved,

Beautiful,

Loved Daughter.

I pray these words will minister to your heart today and remind you, you are loved.

Amy O’Donnell

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Unforced Rhythms

Have you ever picked up something only to find that it is too hard to carry? I do every time I think I am strong enough to carry one of my kids up to bed. All of them, my youngest included, are too old, too big, and too tall for me to be able to handle in any graceful way. In the recent times I have had to carry them, I may have gotten them upstairs & into bed, but I was beat… worn out, breathing heavy and weary by the time I was done. I accomplished the task, but at a cost to me. Whereas David seems able to just whisk them up and walk smoothly up the stairs, place them in their beds, and come down effortlessly. You can probably look at me and tell I was not designed to carry great weight over long distances. I am not strong enough!

 Some of us can relate to seasons where we have lived our lives that way – trying to carry loads we weren’t made to carry. Maybe we buckled under the weight of trying to measure up; to be successful in the eyes of the world. Or perhaps we bent under the strain of our past hurts and injustices, because they became so much a part of our identity, we didn’t know who we would be with out them. Or maybe we toed the line; in an effort to be a “Super Christian”.

 Jesus knew we would struggle in these areas, and He wants more for our lives. He wants us to learn from his example of what a successful life living for God looks like. In Matthew 11:28 (MSG), He said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 

Come… Walk with me… Work with me… Watch how I do it…  These are all action oriented statements. Christ wants us to lead active, productive lives, but it’s action from a place of resting in Him, fueled by His grace to live a life that brings glory to God. When we surrender our lives to God in this way, He is able to accomplish more of eternal value in us and through us than we could ever do on our own; our lives are no longer about keeping score or a test of how much we can carry or accomplish in our strength, but instead our lives become a testimony of how much he can accomplish through us as we rest in Him.

 My prayer for you today is that you will lay down anything you are carrying that is ill-fitting, anything that is causing you to stay trapped in the past, or is keeping you from being able to surrender to the life God wants you to live. And in exchange for what you lay at the feet of Jesus, I pray you will embrace the life, blessings and all things he has in store for you… serving, loving, and leaving a Godly legacy. There is no greater adventure, no greater sense of fulfillment than that which comes by living a surrendered, God-fueled life!

 Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved

What a Gift!!

Two weeks ago we had our Shoreline Women Collide Retreat. Friday night was spectacular. After it was over, I was wired and tired, and I stayed up a little too late after the evening ended. I had to get back to the Shoreline South building early Saturday morning, and so before I drifted off for a quick few hours of sleep, I set my alarm to be sure I’d get up on time. Saturday morning rolled around, and I did something I never do. I turned my alarm off in my sleep. I don’t even remember it going off. All I remember is waking up in a panic, realizing it was almost time for me to leave the house, and I wasn’t even out of bed yet!! Now, I am a girly girl, so I knew I was in trouble. So I quickly hopped up and got to it, only to get hit a few minutes later with texts from others already on their way saying IH 35 was at a complete standstill. The dark side of me was happy that everyone would be late also. But the more level headed side knew I just had to get there in time to be available to help set things up for Saturday to be a great day. David and I checked the routes, and I headed toward the toll road instead of IH35, which is the opposite direction I normally drive in the mornings. The toll road is east of my house, and as you know, the sun rises in the east. As I eased up to the stop sign leaving my neighborhood, I saw one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. I was captivated by the beauty of it, so many colors and textures, and I knew – this was for me – a special God touch of love as I started the day. It was like God was saying, “I am with you, and everything is going to be okay.” And, it was – I made it in plenty of time for things to run smoothly.  I didn’t do anything special that morning to earn such a display.  It was a God gift, and it made my day.

This past week, I was again reminded of God’s love and grace in a special way. I had gotten upset with David and lost my temper. I even threw my nail file at him during the heat of the moment. The next day, I felt so guilty. I asked for David’s and God’s forgiveness and felt better, but through out the day David was being so sweet, and the guilt tried to creep back in. For a minute, I went there, but then I heard a little Holy Spirit whisper, “What are you doing? You’re forgiven, all of your sins – past, present and future. Jesus bore them on the cross.” And I knew, it was for me. It was as if God was saying again, “I am here I am with you and everything is going to be alright.” Another God gift, unearned, unmerited – my burden lifted.

In each of those two situations, God’s gift of grace shined through. He didn’t pull away when I was rushing before Collide and mumbling under my breath, or when I was feeling guilty about fighting with David. He simply met me where I was in the moment; and He loved me there. Grace came to my rescue. What a gift! It reminds me of Ephesians 2:8-9, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’

Maybe you are feeling panicked about something today, or feeling like you have messed up,  or perhaps you are feeling like you need a special God touch today; a reminder of His love and grace. My prayer for you is that you will have eyes to see his love on display in the world and people around you and ears to hear his whispers as he calls your name and speaks words of love and grace to your heart. He is for you, He is with you, and He loves you beyond measure; rest in the beauty of His love and grace today.

Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved.

Lovingly Hemmed In

There is a sweet little boy who rides home from school with Brendan on Wednesdays to come to church with us on Wednesday nights. He has been coming with us off and on for two years now. He calls us mom and dad, and loves to feel like a part of our family, and that’s probably because his own family is broken. I don’t know all the details, but I know he neither lives with his mother nor his father. And I sense (you know how we mom’s sense things, even in our children who aren’t really our children), that he has been through a lot in his 10 years. The first time he came to communion service he cried during worship, and since then he has cried many times as others lift their hands and sing. I asked him one time why he cries, and he said I just feel so loved. This past Wednesday night he was with us again after several weeks of being unable to come. He was so distant, the light not on in his eyes. He sat alone, not singing and blankly staring; just two seats down from me until I called him next to me and put my arm around him. As he sat with me, he pulled his shirt up over his head to hide his face. I had no doubt the tears began to pour down his cheeks as I held him in my arm.

Until he moved next to me, he was right there; just two seats away, but he didn’t reach out. Right there in the presence of God, yet feeling separate. As I think on his story, I can’t help but wonder how many of us can relate? I would venture to guess all of us at times have felt unloved, unworthy, ashamed, hurt or alone, and instead of reaching out to God or others, we felt the need to isolate ourselves or cover up our pain; all the while sitting there and wondering, “Does anyone see me, does anyone care?”

If you can relate right now, I have good news for you. God always sees; God always cares. No matter where you are or what you are going through, God is with you.

Psalm 139:1-5 in the NIV says:
1O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in-behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

The last verse above, Psalm 139:5 in the Message, explains beautifully what it means to be hemmed in-
5I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too–
your reassuring presence, coming and going.

I want to encourage you – whatever you are walking through; you don’t have to walk through it alone. As the verses above beautifully depict, God says I’m right here – let me help you. Don’t try to hold this in – let me heal you. I’m walking beside – let me hold you. I have placed loving people around you – let my love flow through them to you.

My prayer for you today is that you will open up to Him. Talk to him as your Papa, your Abba, your Daddy, acknowledging his presence ever around you. I pray you will let his love heal you… let his love flood those dark places and hurt places and shine light in where the sun hasn’t shined in so long. I also pray that you will reach out to the people he has placed around you in your church family and allow Him to love you through them.

Today is a new day – a day of healing, a day of hope for you – a day to be set free and begin to walk in freedom.

Love,

Amy O’Donnell