Weakness to Strength

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! We probably recognize these lyrics to a popular song, but they speak truth. The battles God allows in our stories serve a higher purpose. When we press in to him in the midst of them we are strengthened. Just as the rest of this verse from Hebrews 11:34 says, “Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle…” 
Lets ponder that last part– THEY BECAME STRONG IN BATTLE. It doesn’t say God lead these great heroes of faith to gain strength before he lead them into battle. It says that it was in the battle that they grew in strength. 
If you are walking through some things today that test your faith, I encourage you to press in and allow God to grow you through it. And if you’ve been through some battles, pause for a moment and look back to who you were before them and who you are now because of them. Then give God praise. It changes our perspective when we recognize we wouldn’t ask for the things we’ve walked through, at the same time we wouldn’t change them because they made us who we are today.

Amy O’Donnell 

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I Will Not Let Go

  
Have you ever been desperate to see God move? Jacob was. He wrestled with God and said he flat out wouldn’t let go until God blessed him according to His promise. He was persistent. 

When it comes to believing God’s promises for your life, you have to be willing to persevere. Time will test your faith. Naysayers will test your resolve. Many factors will war against the promise and you will have times you want to quit. 

May I encourage you not to quit, not to give in to fear or allow time to be your enemy. Instead, turn in desperation to God and tell him, “I’m not letting go until you bless me. Until you fulfill your promise to your servant. I will stand, I will fast, I will pray and press in as long as it takes to see your blessings unfold.”

It is a great mercy to be brought to the point where you’re desperate enough to cry out day and night. There is also great beauty to be found in this place of wrestling with and waiting on God! 

So, dear one, press in and press on. Whatever you do, don’t let go. Don’t give up! He who promised is faithful! 

Agents of Healing

  
Every time we don’t respond with care and compassion to someone who shares with us a painful memory from their life, we’ve allowed a moment where God wants to use us to bring healing to pass us by. 

People don’t need to hear from us that God will redeem it before hearing from us how their story fills us with love for them, how much it saddens our hearts to hear they were wounded, and how sorry we are they had to go through whatever it was they walked through. Then, and only then, should we offer verses or any other form of wisdom or advice if we feel lead.

Let’s be mindful of every day opportunities to be God’s healing agents. And let’s enter in to the place of people’s greatest pain to bring a touch of healing.

All Things Work Together 

  
As I listened to a conference playlist this past week to prepare for a conference I attended over the weekend, I skipped past some of the songs that felt old & done in my mind. Those that seemed less shiny compared to the newer currently more popular worship tunes. It was during one such song at the event that God met me. As I sang, “You work all things together for my good” it was as if a reel started playing in my mind and he said..

Remember that time that happened — I’m going to work it for your good.

Remember that time they said that… That time they did that–I’m going to work every word, all of it, for your good…

And I wept as I heard him assure me with each memory reminder — all of it, all of it, will be turned around for my good. Like he was checking each one off as he went along.

And the same is true for you. His word gives this promise, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”(Romans 8:28)

You can bank on it! He is faithful.

Running Free

 

 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

The other day Kylie rode her bike along with me while I ran. We stayed on the path that leads through our neighborhood for the bulk of our journey. At one point, the path leads by the park and an area people take their dogs to run free. As we passed the dog area, Kylie mentioned how much she enjoys seeing people there with their dogs. I replied back, “Imagine how hard it must be for these dogs with see-through fences along the park area. They can see dogs running in freedom, but they can’t participate themselves.”

After I said it, I thought about all the people who have access to run in freedom, but are bound by fences of hurts, insecurities, fears, habits and hang-ups instead. I thought about how it doesn’t have to be that way. Unlike the dogs, we can open the gate and participate. We have access to Jesus — who came to set the captives free.

Personally, I know what it is to be bound. Fear, insecurity, unforgiveness and anger all had their claws in me at different points in my life. I can say from experience there’s nothing like finding freedom from the things that fenced me in and kept me from experiencing the fullness of life God has for me.

If you are reading this today and you can relate to feeling bound, fenced in, caged in, boxed in (however you want to say it) by anything you know is not God’s best for your life, I encourage you to be brave and do whatever it takes to get free of it. Counseling is a good option. Small groups, men’s groups, women’s groups – anyplace you can be authentic and be loved on, encouraged and prayed for, are places freedom is found. Celebrate Recovery is specifically a small group setting geared toward helping people find freedom from hurts, habits and hang-ups. Sitting in the arms of Jesus, reading his word, meditating on it, being real with him and asking him how he feels for you in response to what you are sharing — are ways to find freedom.

But one thing I know – the key to being set free, is being ready to embrace the process toward letting go of those things that hold you back. You have to want it. Are you ready? If so, I encourage you to take a step toward freedom today!

By Amy O’Donnell

Listen

ListenWhen it comes to communicating with my husband, nothing frustrates me more than having to repeat myself. I love to talk, but I don’t love saying the same things over and over again. I prefer undivided attention and an ear tuned in to what is being said.

Most of the time my husband is great at listening, but every so often, he isn’t. During allergy season his ears occasionally clog up. Sometimes his mind is occupied with everything he is dealing with at work. It’s at times like those when I approach him to talk, that I get irritated and end up saying something like, “When you are ready to listen and give me your undivided attention, let me know!” Secretly, in my mind I’m also thinking something along the lines of, “God help us if he should ever lose some of his ability to hear.” I can see the headlines saying, ‘Woman Snapped When Slightly Hard of Hearing Husband Sent Her Over-the-Edge When He Didn’t Hear Her Speaking to Him’. I’m exaggerating (a little) but truth be told, I like to be heard. In my mind, if it’s important enough to be said, it deserves a listening ear.

In my quiet time recently, as I was writing out my prayers, I took a moment to ask God if he had anything for me. I heard the word, LISTEN, and wrote it down. Over the next few days in my pause and listen time, I heard God say it again, LISTEN. I thought –is that not what I’m doing? I asked if you have anything for me, God! Finally, I said, “help me to understand what you mean when you say, ‘Listen’.”

I didn’t hear an audible answer, but an understanding came to my spirit as it dawned on me my prayers were continuing for something he said was already done, with no real change to how I was asking. He was telling me to listen, as in – ‘It is finished. It’s done. It’s complete’. When I realized what he was saying, my prayers changed from me asking for something he said was already done to me thanking him for what is coming and ushering it in from that perspective. It also dawned on me as I sought understanding that the way I would walk out what I was asking for, was by listening.

As I thought on these things a verse came to mind that I love, Isaiah 30:21, which says,

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

God was saying listen to me now, “It’s done.” And listen to me then, “My way is the only way. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit. Stay tuned in.”

How easy it is to spend time with God daily and miss what he’s telling me. My mind wanders during our time to everything I have on my plate, my prayers often steamroll over his whispers, and my fears drown out his voice. Sometimes my ears are clogged — and I just miss it. Honestly, I am guilty of the same thing that frustrates me when I see it in my husband, and not just with God, but with him as well. I am thankful for the reminder to slow down and LISTEN, placing value on the words being spoken to me and the speakers of them.

Let’s pray: Father God, help me to listen to what the spirit whispers to me during our time together. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see what you have for me as I read and meditate on your word. I desire to hear your voice behind me saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” I don’t want to miss your promptings. My greatest desire is to follow your lead and live in close fellowship with you. Help me to slow down and tune in to those around me as well. Not just focusing on what I want to say, but hearing also what they have to say. Help me to be understanding when others are preoccupied and have other things on their minds. In Jesus name, amen.

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