How do you start a day that you know is going to be one of the hardest in your life? I wondered this to myself as I lay in bed earlier this week. I knew what was coming and I so desperately wished I could close my eyes and turn back time.
2 weeks ago, our sweet 10 year old dog (who happens to be our only child) was diagnosed with metastasized cancer in his chest and lungs. As the cancer cells took over his lungs, it became harder and harder for him to breathe. We loved him too much to let him suffer and so we made the heart wrenching decision to say goodbye. The night before we were scheduled to take him in, I tossed and turned all night as I listened to his little lungs work hard for air. I knew I was doing the right thing, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. I was heartbroken and I was scared. In my desire for both me and my furbaby to get some rest for the day that lay ahead, I whispered a simple prayer. “God, please bring peace.” Within seconds of that prayer, our faithful father spoke to my spirit “My peace I give you.” This beautiful promise from the book of John comforted my soul, and I was able to get a couple hours sleep.
So that morning, as I lay in bed dreading the day to come, I made a decision that it would be a day of peace. I whispered God’s promise to myself - “My peace I give you,” quietly got out of bed, shut off my phone, and with my loving husband by my side I began to get ready for the day. We took our baby to his favorite park for a slow short stroll. When we first adopted him, our morning walks at this park had seen me practically jogging to keep up with him, but in his condition, our walk was a slow one-foot-in-front-of-the-other stroll. It was peaceful and empty at the park, so we enjoyed every step. Each time I felt sadness and anxiety creep into my soul, I whispered to myself, “My peace I give you.” When we returned home, I put on worship music, straightened up the living room and did the last of the dishes. A clean and organized space feels peaceful to me. I sat down to read comforting scriptures in my Bible and God brought me to Psalm 36:5-6. It says “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.” AND ANIMALS! What a good God to remind me that he loves and cares for ALL of His creation, both human and non. When Cash was first diagnosed I remember God clearly telling me that I needed to trust Him with Cash as much as I trust Him with all the other people I love. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wasn’t certain that God cared that much about dogs; but he took the time to ask me to trust Him with my furbaby and in that, I knew He cared. The rest of the afternoon was spent loving on our boy and quietly shedding tears over what was to come. But in spite of the sadness and heartache I felt, I had a peace that passes all understanding. It was a deep, unexplainable, atmospheric peace.
When we said goodbye to him that afternoon, it was a joyful peaceful passing. After we said goodbye, my husband I took a drive through the beautiful rainy Napa Valley and stopped for hot tea & coffee as we shared favorite memories of our fuzz butt. It was a day filled with peace.
My heart still aches for him every day, but I wanted to share this with you, because I want to remind you how faithful our God is. I want you to know that his promises are true.
I realize that few people reading this will be facing this exact situation right now, but I can guarantee that many of you are facing a tough situation in which you need peace, a peace that passes all understanding. And so, I want to share God’s promise with you - “My peace I give you.” He didn’t just promise it to me, but to all his sons and daughters.
When Jesus makes this statement in the book of John, He is speaking to his disciples whom He has just told He will be leaving. They are distraught, they are scared and they are sad. Jesus knows that there is no peace they will find on earth that will comfort the hurt of their heart and so he promises a peace that cannot be found anywhere expect through Him. It truly passes all understanding. This is such an incredible gift to us. A gift that I never knew I needed until this week. Matthew 7 says “He gives good gifts to His children,” and an unexplainable peace in the midst of heartache is certainly a good gift. I guess above all I want to remind you that you are not alone. There is NOTHING you have to face in this life alone, so stop doing it! We are all guilty of thinking that we can somehow overcome challenges, pain, fear, heartache, and sadness in our own strength; but we can’t. And more importantly we don’t have to! I am sharing my story with you because I want you to know that in the midst of whatever deep heartache you are experiencing you can have peace. I challenge you to ask for it, and watch our God fulfill his promise to you.
“Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”
John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in ME you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When Billy Graham passed away a couple weeks ago, I noticed something different. I noticed that every single post, tweet, quotation shared, and leader who made a statement was REJOICING. I thought about the actors, actresses, and well-known individuals who had passed away over the last year; and in each of those deaths, there had been posts of mourning, tweets of sadness, and a focus on loss. And yet the passing of this man, who was known the world over, was met with joy and rejoicing! I felt it too, picturing the overwhelming fulfillment of being at his Father’s feet and hearing God say “well done my good and faithful servant;” and I wanted it. I want my last day on this earth to be celebrated by everyone I know because they are confident the Father is welcoming me as a good and faithful servant.
Two weekends ago, I had the honor of learning from one of my spiritual mentors, Christine Caine at her Day of Ministry for Women in Ministry. As I looked around the room of 500+ women all in pursuit of serving God with their whole souls, I got excited. WE are the change makers, WE are the ones God has called forth into the desert, WE are the pipeline for the next generation of women, and WE are unafraid to run hard towards it. I’ve felt a shift recently, a breakthrough in the daughters of God. He is calling us to rise up like never before, to fulfill our destiny as leaders, as peacemakers, as women full of grace and grit, as daughters of the almighty king. Proverbs 31:17 says “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”
In Deuteronomy 1, after 40 years of wandering in the desert, getting comfortable at the foot of the mountain and believing that they would never see God’s promises fulfilled, Moses reminds the people of God’s command to them…”You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance.” (vs 6) Perhaps you have stayed long enough at your mountain? A mountain of uncertainty, a mountain of fear, a mountain of feeling unworthy? You have stayed there long enough. Today is the day God is saying break camp and advance! Can you imagine what it would be like if every daughter of God who is sitting at the base of their mountain got up and advanced!? We would overtake the enemy with a force unlike he’s ever seen! Together we would move into the land of God’s promises.
This is my rallying cry - PURSUE HIM! Pursue him with your whole being! Let nothing hold you back! In pursuit of Him there is fulfillment, there is healing, there is joy, there is worth. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16). “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chron. 16:11)
YOU ARE WORTHY.
You are worthy of every calling, every blessing, and every reward He has planned for you.
I stood at the mouth of the precipice suited up, my harness secure. Looking down into the mist of the cave below, I couldn’t see the bottom, all I could see was darkness. I had been excited on our drive out to the cave. We were going to repel down 330 feet into a cave in the middle of New Zealand known as “The Lost World.” I’m an adventurous girl, stuff like this usually doesn’t scare me; but as I stood peering over the ledge that day, I froze. Fear completely consumed my body and my legs began to shake. My mind spun with questions – “What is at the bottom of this cave?” “What if the brake fails and I can’t stop myself?” “What if my rope breaks?” “What if I start dropping too fast?” And most importantly, “what if I step out onto the launch platform and slip off? Will I drop to the bottom?” I stood there for a good 10 minutes, completely paralyzed, squeaking out the words “I don’t think I can do this” to my husband and our patient guide who sat on the narrow plank waiting to begin the repel. They tried coaxing and they trying reassuring, but their words bounced off the ever-growing cyclone of fear in my mind. I managed to ask our guide my most pressing question…”If I step out there and slip off, what will happen?” With that, he slid his body off the plank and immediately the rope locked into place and he hung mid-air while the rope easily held his weight. “The rope is designed with a fail-safe brake, you have to release it to descend down, if you are not releasing it, you can’t move,” he told me. That was all it took. I stepped onto that plank with confidence and began the gentle descent into what truly was an entire underground world. The beauty of this “other world” was breathtaking. The pitch-black cave ceiling was filled with glowworms, the “stars” of this underground universe. We traversed stalactites and stalagmites, mini streams and large deep pools. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Had I never been brave enough to step off that ledge, I would have missed it.
How often do we do this in our faith? We know we need to take a step into something God has asked us to, but we can’t see the bottom (the end). Sometimes it is so scary to us that we become paralyzed with fear. Even if we’ve prepared, and we know we’ve “suited” up through prayer and the Word, when it comes to the point of stepping off that ledge, we freeze. Sometimes our fear is so deep rooted that we spend months, even years afraid to take that step…and we are missing the stunning beauty and powerful experiences that lie on the other side of that step. Here are 3 reasons why I believe we become paralyzed with fear...
1. WE ARE TRYING TO DO IT IN OUR OWN STRENGTH
When it comes to taking steps of faith, I think we often make the mistake of thinking we have to rely on our own knowledge and skill sets to make it happen. God has certainly gifted us with skills that will be helpful in the things he calls us to, but it is literally impossible to complete any task God calls us to without His help. When Esther made the decision to ask the king to save her people (Esther 4), she could have easily decided to rely on her relationship with the King, her skills of persuasion and her knowledge of the palace; but she knew that without God, the likelihood of her being put to death was extremely high. So, with great wisdom she sought God’s favor and direction through prayer and fasting. She did not attempt to take on this great task in her own strength, but relied fully on the strength of the Lord, believing that WITH Him, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
2. WE HAVEN'T BUILT OUR "TRUST/FAITH" MUSCLE
Trust in God isn’t something that happens overnight. We don’t wake up one morning and have the ability to trust Him 100%. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not; and God knows that about us. He knows that we need Him to show us that we can trust him. So trust begins small, just like building muscle. You have to start with a small weight and gradually increase the weight to continue building and growing that muscle. God is gracious to give us “small” things with which we must trust him and as we trust him he begins to grow our trust bigger and bigger until the huge things we must trust him with don’t seem that difficult to do. He will show himself faithful again and again as we step out in faith and trust, but we have to take that first small step to begin the process of building trust.
3. WE'RE LOOKING AT THE UNKNOWN, INSTEAD OF LOOKING INTO THE FACE OF GOD
Maybe you’ve taken the first step off the ledge and began your journey to the unknown, but somewhere in the process, you stopped paying attention to the task at hand. You stopped daily seeking out the face of God and his strength to continue walking you through and you began to look at the circumstances around you and that deep dark bottom again. I think of the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14. Peter was a fisherman, so we can assume he knew the rivers, tides, storms, and waves well. When Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk across the water to him, all was going well until he took his eyes off Jesus. As he began to look at the waves and the storm around him, he began to rely on his “knowledge” of the situation rather than staying focused on the One who had called him out of the boat, the one who He knew he could trust wholeheartedly. When we keep our mind and heart focused on the Father, it keeps us from being distracted by the “what ifs” and the circumstances around us.
Bravery isn’t something we must muster within ourselves, bravery is being confident that He who lives in us and walks beside us is greater than anything in this world. Just like I had to release that brake on my rope to begin my descent, we must release our grip on fear and the unknown and allow God to gently and slowly move us into unfathomable beauty. So be bold and be brave! You are not alone, you are preceded by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
When you think of someone powerful, who do you think of? Is it a politician, a CEO, a Pastor, a teacher? What makes them powerful? Is it their position, their leadership skills, their ethics, their wealth, their influence?
The Bible is filled with stories of incredibly powerful women; both those who lead from the front and those in the background. The Bible bears testimony of women who served God wholeheartedly and took risks that you and I would never dare to attempt. But of all the wonderful girl-power stories in the Bible, Deborah’s stands out to me. Perhaps it’s what missing in her story that makes it so interesting...prior to her appearance in Judges 4, there is no mention of her. We do not know where she came from or how she became the ruler of Israel at the time. While there may have been other women rulers, she is the only one recorded in the Bible, and she was recorded for good reason. This incredible prophetess brought an end to years of oppression and created 40 years of peace for her people!
If you haven't read the story, make it a priority. In my mind Deborah embraces everything I believe a powerful leader should be...in fact, she sets aside her "power" for the power of God. She does nothing without prayer, seeking the face of God and listening. She understood that being powerful doesn't have anything to do with a skill set, training, or wealth. Power comes through humility. Power is being a vessel through which God can move in your life, in your circumstances, and in those around you. Apart from him you can do nothing (John 15:5).
But how did she get there? Here’s what we do know:
Throughout her story, Deborah sought God’s voice and was obedient to do and say the things he told her to. She was confident in what she heard him say and was confident in speaking it out. Would you like to live your life with that kind of confidence? I know I would. So how can we become like Deborah? How can we become women who hear God’s voice clearly and respond in obedience confidently? We must spend time in preparation. It is essential to set aside uninterrupted prayer and conversation time with God. The scripture tells us Deborah went up from her tent to the Palm of Deborah where she ruled. “She WENT” from her place of preparation to the place where she ruled. This is the key to being a woman of God, to being a woman filled with grace, confidence, and power; it’s the time you spend in preparation with the Lord before you go and rule.
Like many of you, I spend a lot of time “doing,” always busy, always excited about what’s next, begging God to tell me what he wants me to do next. Often times I’m so busy actually doing that I don’t take time to prepare. But God won’t give me the “next” thing until I have allowed him to prepare me for it. And preparing to fulfill his will requires spending time with him. How can we fulfill the call of God in our lives if we fail to spend time with the one who calls? If you want to be powerful, spend time at the feet of Jesus, communing with the one who empowers you.
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Have you ever known someone who worked as a waitress? How about someone who worked as a music store clerk? What about a secretary, a security guard, or on a political PR team? Maybe a massage therapist, a speech teacher, a marketing associate, a vineyard worker, a tea house manager, or an entrepreneur? You can probably think of someone who has worked in one of these roles, but what about someone who has worked in all of them? Sound crazy?! Well, it’s not, because it’s me! I’ve worked in all of these roles and more!! I started my first part time job in a music store at the age of 15. My parents wanted me to develop a good work ethic and understand the importance of financial responsibility. I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years, some I loved and some I wasn’t so fond of. Each time I left a job, I was certain that the next one I tried would be the one I loved for the rest of my life…and every time, I was wrong. While some of these jobs played well into my natural abilities, none of them fully fulfilled the gift I was born with.
I discovered my love of and ease of public speaking at the ripe old age of 6 when I was cast as the Velveteen Rabbit in our local children’s theater play. I can still remember the feel of the cold, itchy pink paint on my nose. On my hands and knees (I was a bunny after all) sitting on that stage, a fire was lit in my soul. From that day on, that soul-fulfilling fire was only lit when I was on a stage in front of a crowd. In college, my passion for performing took me into public speaking and collegiate debate. Every time I stood to speak, my heart lit up and my soul knew THIS is what I was created for. Do you know what that feels like? What it feels like when you live in your gift? The crazy part is that even after all the years of feeling that fire, I somehow convinced myself that speaking wasn’t really a gift. That I wasn’t a good “enough” speaker, that I didn’t have “enough” education and that no one would care about what I spoke on.
That is the enemy’s way – to bring doubt, fear, and uncertainty into our gifts. He loves to make us question the value of our giftings, because we are most powerful when we are operating in our God designed gifts!
God in his infinite mercy and grace allowed me to explore other gifts only to continue bringing me back to what I was created for. I shared in an earlier blog post that God has really spoken to me the past couple of years about “enoughness”- the fact that He created me as enough to fulfill his every purpose in me. My gift to speak and write isn’t just something that I happen to be good at and therefore should use for his glory; I was created with these gifts on purpose! So I decided to stop turning my back on this gift. I stopped searching for a “better” gift and my soul has never felt more content. What about you? Are you living in your gift or are you searching for a “better” one?
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Do you like a good story? I sure do. As a child I would stay up late at night in my bed with a flashlight desperate to read just one more chapter before my heavy eyes betrayed me into sleep. As an adult, I will admit I am no different. While my husband happily slumbers beside me, I turn page after page willing myself to stay awake so I can find out what happens next. A good story takes us on a journey. That journey must have ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns before the heroine can fulfill her purpose or discover a new part of her story.
Do you know that you’re part of a story? A story that has been unfolding for thousands of years! The most amazing thing is that the author knew your part of the story from the first day He began writing. You were purposefully created (“created in advance”) for these chapters of the book and NO ONE else is suited to fulfill your role. Although you are but one character in a HUGE story, the story would be incomplete without you! You are in the story for a PURPOSE and it is a GOOD purpose (Eph 2:10).
But what if we’re not living the story in the way we were created to? Can you be living your story one way and then decide to live it another? Absolutely! We’ve seen this happen - A drug addict who gets clean and starts a family, a criminal who turns their life over to Christ and becomes an evangelist, a victim of abuse who is healed and walking in victory! No matter how you are currently living your story, the author has the best and most perfect version written for you, you just need to choose to step into it.
Does it give you comfort to know that the author has already written your part in the story from beginning to end? It certainly gives me comfort. All we need to do is move through our story as the author instructs. There is a lot of stressed relieved when you realize you don’t have to make decisions alone. The author of your story will tell you what to do next if you will simply seek his direction. At any point, you can choose to come back into alignment with the author. You can begin living your story as it was written to be lived – as divine.
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Do you ever find your thoughts spinning out of control? Worries about what will be, or what has already been? I certainly have. At one point in my life, I let my thoughts get so out of control that I spun myself into deep anxiety and depression. My fear of not being perfect left me paralyzed to make any decisions & I wanted nothing more than to take back control and regain my sanity. Praise God I was able to, but it was a process involving 2 years of therapy, medication, and time with the Lord.
My journey of healing put so many things into perspective for me. One of the most important things I learned is that I’m NOT in control – and that’s ok, because I have the Holy Spirit inside me and he IS in control. John 16:13 says “But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears;” and what he hears is the voice of our father in heaven. It brings me so much comfort to know that the father of heaven is speaking directly into my spirit to guide and move me into things that are true. But it is only when I let go and trust Him to lead me that I am moved from the lies in my head to the truths of who I am.
The Holy Spirit inside of us empowers us to be bold, empowers us to love and empowers us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ! (2 Cor. 10:5). We must learn to let go of control and allow the spirit to take control. Whenever I’m feeling anxious now, I quote this 2 Timothy verse to myself over and over in my head until I feel myself relax and regain a “sound-mind.” This verse is worth memorizing and wielding as a sword when your thoughts & worries begin to run away with you. When your mind is sound, there is peace. When your mind is sound, decisions become clear. When your mind is sound, you are a powerful force against the kingdom of darkness.
We all face times in our lives when we are physically, emotionally, and mentally weak. In those times, when we have NOTHING of power, the truths of God become our life force. There have been times that I have felt so weak and so out of control that all I could do was drop to my knees and speak scripture over myself. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” It is quite literally the ONLY thing that can cut through the fog, the muck, the despair, and the pain. Even if you feel like all of your armor has been stripped away, you are NEVER without your sword. But you MUST wield it. You must SPEAK! The bible promises that the Word of God will NEVER return void! (Isaiah 55:11)
We can try and struggle to do it on our own, but we will ultimately fail until we realize that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). With the Holy Spirit inside of you, you can face this week with power, love, and a sound-mind.
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Have you ever felt like you’re not enough of something? Like you’re not perfect? Like you don’t have the skills, abilities, or education to accomplish the dreams that are deep in your heart? I have.
Last January, God brought me to Song of Solomon 4:7, it says “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” I chuckled to myself a bit thinking of all the ways in which I am definitely not flawless. I tend to be impatient, I’m almost always running late, and I certainly do not go to the gym as often as I should. But my viewpoint was wrong. God doesn’t look at those outward things on which we base our judgements, He looks at His spirit reflected inside of us and He sure as heck is flawless! As his daughters and sons, He sees us as absolutely flawless. We are made in His image after all and nothing about Him is flawed. But this is a hard concept to grasp.
Several years ago, my fears of being imperfect and failing brought me to a dark place of depression and anxiety. Not believing the truth about who God says I am, I began to rely on the words I spoke over myself; the doubts, the fears, the worries, all became mantras in my head until I believed every single one of them to be true. AND WORDS ARE POWERFUL. The Bible says the tongue is a fire that sets the whole course of one’s life on fire (James 3:5-6). That fire can fuel you or it can destroy you. Over several years of treatment, counseling and truth, God gently brought me through the process of healing. He began to help me see that I am created to fulfill EVERY SINGLE DREAM, DESIRE, AND CALLING He has placed in my heart. I was created as ENOUGH. With his spirit inside me, there is nothing I am not enough of.
So began the journey of replacing the lies I had spoken over myself with his truths. I put myself through the “I Am” challenge and it has profoundly changed the way I view myself and the beliefs I hold about my limitations. Now, I want to invite you into the challenge. For the next 8 weeks, I will be posting a new “I Am” statement and supporting verse that you can speak over yourself. I encourage you to post it in your home and/or in your car and use that week to daily speak that truth over yourself. I also encourage you to share the images on your social media; you may be surprised by how many people need to read those words of truth.
Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Let’s stop speaking death over ourselves and begin speaking life! Let’s stop believing that we are not enough and start believing that we are flawless! I promise you that if you speak these truths over yourself, even if you don’t believe them at first, God will begin to do a work in you more powerful than you can ever imagine!
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Hi! I'm Dezerai, a woman passionate about living in my purpose, about creating a life on purpose and about challenging you to do the same. I speak, I write, and I hang out with my husky and my handsome husband in the beautiful Napa Valley.