27 DecSometimes You Win…and Sometimes You Learn

IMG_5041Here we are in the final moments of another year.   It’s always amazing to me when I reach this time of year, because–think about it– a lot goes down in the span of 365 days!

And at this time of year, especially, I take the time to quiet my heart and reflect on my journey–recalling the ups, downs, highs and lows.  This year God once again showed Himself supremely faithful, gracious and merciful to me, making 2017 what I consider to be a truly great year.   I experienced new opportunities, open doors, new levels of favor and increase, divine love and protection, blessings of family and friendship, career growth and much more.  TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

However, as the ebbs and flow of life go, my journey also included challenges, hurts, disappointment and frustration, at times.   The good most certainly outweighed the bad and not-so-good.  But, even more so, I made the decision to frame those hard places as LESSONS instead of LOSSES, granting myself the opportunity to take something worthwhile from even the most painful of situations and refusing to allow them to stifle or limit me from the good that was sure to follow.  (And in complete candor, some of my “lessons” were self-induced or repeated until I was willing to finally follow God’s lead (and abandon my own) to know His best for me.)

Nonetheless, a wiser, stronger, sharper, more grateful and trusting me is the result!  And this is the ‘me’ that looks forward to all that awaits in the year to come.  I’m immensely thankful that God didn’t allow the lessons to get lost in the mire, but instead His grace was sufficient to see me through and onward, upward and forward.  And if you’re thinking, “Well, an actual loss did occur in my life, Dawn”, the good news still is that it doesn’t have to be fatal when you extract the necessary wisdom and insight and lesson from it.  God will faithfully restore what needs to be restored (Joel 2)–while giving you the lessons to grow on.  Allow the lesson and promise of greater to reign greater than the loss.

As we look to the New Year and beyond, let’s prepare our hearts and lives to embrace even greater wins (that’s our destiny in Jesus, after all)…and also prepare for the lessons that will undoubtedly be sprinkled along the way.  You can trust God to reveal His wisdom and counsel to you for every hard thing (and easy thing!) you face.

Winning and learning (never losing, because failure is never final in Jesus-2 Corinthians 2:14) hand-in-hand with the Lord promises to make the days ahead our very best yet.

Blessings for a Happy New Year,

Dawn

 

 

09 MayThe Upside

Life is a gift, without question.  But we’ve all encountered times when it felt less so.  It might have been painful.  Or heartbreaking.  Or a struggle.  Or disillusioning–and just plain hard.  It could have even been a perfect storm of some or all of these combined.  And in those moments, I would venture to guess that it’s not a stretch to consider the downside.  You know the place where pity parties, doldrums, hopelessness, defeat and unchecked emotions gather and set up camp.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus prepared us to handle such times with the following confident reassurance:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Before we’re lured into settling in on the downside, Jesus offers us the upside.  He offers us the understanding that life is not all tulips and ice cream cones and smiley faces and warm hugs.  That, in fact, the human experience will come with times of sorrow and trouble and pain.  BUT when those encounters do come about, we don’t have to fret and run and hide, hoping for the storm to pass over.  Instead, we can do what no one would ever expect, least of all the devil, and that is to be of good cheer–or to be courageous, confident and filled with joy.  Filled.

Then He gives us the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of turning our emotions on their head and choosing the supernatural, upside approach:  it’s. handled.  Yep, Jesus has already handled that issue and situation we’re facing–and any that will rear its head in the days to come.  And He didn’t just handle it, He OVERCAME it (translation: He annihilated it and obtained the complete and total victory over it and its power to harm us.)  Now that’s an upside, if I’ve ever seen one.

So what does it take to actually get there–and abide there?  Begin by allowing these words to sink into your heart so that they will come rushing back to the forefront of your mind (where we wage our greatest battles) and conscience the next time you’re faced with the potential of the downside of life.  Practice responding with your victory mindset and allow Jesus’ victory to become your reality.  Refuse to acknowledge anything other than your supreme advantage in life and your confidence that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Xx,

Dawn

 

 

03 Dec{Dear Lord}: A Prayer of Worship and Thanksgiving

There are seasons in life where I pen my prayers and meditations to God in a journal.  Referring back to them always stirs up new levels of praise and thanksgiving and heartfelt outpouring to God.  And it’s a beautiful reminder of how He faithfully carries me through each season and remains my constant Source of Everything.

I’d like to share one of my journal entries with you and invite you to refer to it, pray it and praise God with it, as you are led to do so.  God is a merciful, loving, gracious, kind Father, Who is easy to approach, appeal to, petition, trust and rely upon.  You can enter His Presence and approach His throne with the careless abandon and liberty that a child possesses when approaching a loving parent.

No formality.  Just intimacy–between you and God.

“Dear Lord, I come to You in an attitude of gratitude for all the amazing ways You continue to pour out Your love on me and manifest Your goodness in my life.  Without You I am nothing.  I’m so thankful that I’m with You, in You and You’re in me.  I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.  I trust my heart–my life–to You afresh and anew.  I know You have a plan for me that’s greater than anything I could ask, dream or think.  Thank You for Your plan and perfect will for me.  Thank You for perfecting all that concerns me and for working out Your plans for my life according to Your promise.  I boldly declare that I am Spirit-led and taught and my emotions do not dictate my life.  I submit my emotions to Your Word and I exalt Your light and truth and grace above and over what feel, see or understand.  I choose JOY.  And I am strong in You and the power of your might.  I will rejoice as I believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Thank You for your strong hand that rests heavily on me for blessing.  I am blessed.  I am free.  I am strong.  I am anointed.  I am Yours–forevermore.”

Xx,

Dawn

 

01 MayGet In On The Best

In life, there’s good. There’s better.  And then….there’s the best.  Contrary to popular belief, navigating to the best life has to offer isn’t mission impossible. Nor does it have to be a path strewn with trial and error.  The happy truth is that there’s a surefire way to get in on the best –God’s best–always.

Keep company with God, get in on the best. ~Psalm 37:4, MSG

Is it any wonder that life’s best is found with with the Creator of all life, Himself?  And God makes it so easy for His children to know and experience the best of life–through our communion and fellowship with Him.  No one wants what’s best for you more than your Heavenly Father.  How can I be so sure?  Because He gave His very best, Jesus, to ensure that you could have a relationship with Him–laden with His love, forgiveness, redemption, security, deliverance, provision, protection and so much more (John 3:16). So now that He’s given you His best, what would keep Him from giving you everything else besides? (Romans 8:32)

Keep company with God.  It might sound too good, too easy, too straightforward, to be true, but the bible guarantees it.  When you give more of your time and attention to God, His thoughts, wisdom, grace, power, correction, guidance, love and peace (to name a few), will begin to naturally shape your life into His perfect will for you, leading you to His best again and again.

Does it mean you’ll never encounter opposition or even the occasional setback? No.  But what it does mean is that when you do, you’ll be in the company of the One Who is committed to seeing you through to victory every time.  With all of this in mind, consider whether your life and priorities could use a slight (or major) shift today to make time with God the priority.

Time with God, in His Word, in prayer, in worship, listening, following, obeying, changing = The Best.  Simple formula; life-changing results.

 

 

30 DecCountdown to 2016: Preparing for Your Best Year Yet

In a little over twenty-four hours, a new year, as in 2016, (somehow it still sounds vaguely futuristic) will be upon us.  If you’re like me, you get the sense that time is flying more rapidly with each passing year–landing me in amazement that yet another New Year is on the horizon.  Amazement and anticipation, to be exact.  So how will you spend the final moments of 2015 and prepare to enter 2016?  Allow me to share my countdown to the New Year that promises to be our best year yet.

1.  Thank God for His abundant goodness and mercy and faithfulness that has brought you to this point.  Give thanks for the gift of life, itself, and for all the ways God’s goodness overflowed into your life and midst during this year.  A thankful heart is a heart poised to enter the New Year–and new seasons that await.

2.  Reflect on the significant moments that you’ve encountered, enjoyed, and even endured this year.  Consider how your decisions, faith, courage, shortcomings, triumphs–and everything in between–created the life you are currently experiencing.  Note the life lessons that will serve as wisdom for the days ahead, then prayerfully focus forward on what you desire for the new year.

3.  Forgive and release any hurts, trespasses, misunderstandings, wrongdoings, etc.  Clear your head and heart to start fresh with a clean slate that won’t keep you bound to the past and its disappointments.

4.  Begin writing down your goals, dreams, desires and prayers for the year ahead.  You can continue to amend and refine them as the year gets underway, but start now with what is biggest in your heart today.

5.  Determine to embrace and actively pursue the new beginnings that await you.  And expect greatness!

Each new day is the first day of the best days of your life.  Therefore, live each with purpose, on purpose, and prepare to experience your best year yet!

Happy New Year!

Dawn

 

 

 

 

06 SepKeep Hope Alive

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so…”.  For the bible tells me so…and for His tangible goodness tells me so.  I experienced that goodness is one of the sweetest ways on last weekend.  How, you may ask?  When God sent a pastor from South Africa across the world to share with our church congregation about the absolute power–and necessity–of a life established in hope.  Pastor McCauley stirred our hearts and minds with a direct word from the Lord–and simply put: we are to be people of hope!

While taking in the sermon, I couldn’t help but recall the similar word from the Lord that He had spoken to me several years earlier.  In His exact words, the Lord said, “hope is in.”  As in hope is for now. For today. For tomorrow. For the future. For all of your life.  It’s not some flimsy, whimsical, wish bone-ish spiritual term with no power behind it.  To the contrary, it’s the building block–the spiritual blueprint–to everything our faith will ever deliver.   (Read the entire Word the Lord gave me then.)

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1

We are people of faith, without question.  But oftentimes, we place so much emphasis on our faith, and we neglect the necessary foundation of hope.  Ask yourself, what are you hoping for?

So what exactly is this hope as God and the bible define it?  I’m glad you asked because it’s totally contrary to the general connotation of an “uncertain”, “well maybe”, “I hope so” rendering.  Instead, bible hope is confident expectation in the Word, promises, provision, goodness, mercy, grace, faithfulness, love…and so on…of God.  It’s a fervor that’s white hot with expectancy–and is not about to be denied.

That’s what God is calling His people to again.  He wants you to pick up those things that you once hoped for–expected–and somehow let fall along the way side. The dreams that disappointment, failure, mistakes, delay, hurt, confusion, or whatever it may be, caused you to let go and stop expecting.  Believing–but not truly expecting.  And that never works.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12, NLT.)

It’s time to restore your hope, excitement, anticipation and expectancy because God is eagerly waiting to move in greater ways in your life.  He has promised that the best is yet to come!  It’s coming, and you need to be focused on it–not the problem, challenge or obstacle.  Expect. Believe.  And Receive.  God is for you, so remember to keep hope alive.

Blessings,

Dawn

14 FebThe Greatest Love of All

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~John 15:13

God is love (1 John 4:8)–and the world has never known a greater love.  What makes God–and therefore His love–so utterly amazing and consuming and life-changing?  Well, consider that God chose to love you and me when we were still steeped in sin–with nothing to offer in return.  He looked beyond our faults and saw our need–for Him, for love.  And He responded.  And what a response it was!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not persish, but have everlasting life.” ~John 3:16

God’s love could easily be summed up in one word: giving.  When He responded to our need for Him and the love He has, He did so by giving His most valuable and precious treasure–His Son, Jesus Christ.  And Jesus would go on to continue the love cycle by giving His life for us in death on the cross.  What a God!  What love!

The love that God gives is perfect love.  It’s unconditional, never-ending, never-failing and will never run out on you.  Human love can be exhausted and run out, but the agape love of God knows no conditions that will cause it to end.  It never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).  And this is the love God calls His children to love with and live by.

So what is our response to this overwhelming truth?  Simply believe the love!  Believe the love that God has for you.  Meditate on it, rehearse it in your heart and mind, then rest in it–because knowing God’s love means knowing the greatest love of all.

17 MayChoose Joy

There’s no question that the good things of God are available to us at all times; they belong to us, as a part of our inheritance.  However…they are not automatic.   And if you’ve ever wondered why something didn’t “just happen”, it’s because nothing “just happens”.  It’s there, yes.  It’s yours, yes.  But there is something you must do to bring it into fulfillment in your life.  You must choose.

The blessing of a joy-filled life is no exception.  We must choose joy.  Let me give you an example from my own life:  Lying in bed early one morning, barely awake, I began to sense this heaviness and dread trying to come over me and my thoughts–all before I had put one foot on the floor! (Can anybody relate?)  Thankfully, I knew enough to recognize that it was the enemy trying to push his agenda on my life for that day, and I refused to play along.  I resisted that spirit (James 4:7) and the oppression and heaviness it was trying to bring left my presence.

Then a wonderful thing happened!  Psalm 30:5 flooded my heart. “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” In those moments, God allowed me to see that joy shows up to greet me each day–to accompany me throughout my day–but I have to choose it.  It’s there.  It’s available.  It’s rightfully mine.  But it is my choice to actively and consciously receive it and embrace it, rather than the dark, oppressive, depressive, sad, or otherwise evil, forces that the enemy may try to bring into my life.  Well, thank God, I chose joy that day.  And although that was years ago, I continue to choose joy–and especially when the enemy tries to attack.

Now to be clear, joy is not happiness.  Happiness depends largely on what happens, but joy is a fruit of our reborn spirits (Galatians 5:22).  It’s a spiritual force!  And like the other fruit of the spirit, it has been deposited into our hearts so that we can live godly, victorious lives in Christ Jesus. In fact, the Scripture reveals that the joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10.)

Maybe you’ve never thought much about joy and its importance in your day -to-day life, but if we “do the math”, spiritually speaking, we’ll quickly see that our joy is invaluable and can’t afford to be neglected.  Why do I say this?  Because our joy is our strength.  And if we don’t have strength, we’ll be weak.  And if we’re weak, we can’t resist the devil.  And if we don’t resist the devil, he won’t flee from us.  And if he doesn’t flee, we won’t win–i.e. we lose.

So now that we know that we have to choose joy, and we know what it is (versus what it isn’t), I want to show you where and how you will find the joy you need.  The answer is found in James 1:2,3.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers tempations; Knowing this….”.

Our joy comes from what we know!  When we know what God has said about our lives and our circumstances, we can have joy knowing that His Word will prevail!  Remember my example from above?  It was what I knew from God’s Word (James 4:7; Psalm 30:5) that enabled me to be strong and choose joy and resist the devil and go free from his attack.

Choose to believe what you know to be true from God’s Word no matter what it may look or feel like in your life.  Choose to have joy–and win every time!

 

 

02 JanHappy New Year? If You Say So.

“If you aren’t saying anything, you’re not creating anything.” –Taffi L. Dollar

“We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, ‘I believed it, so I said it,’ we say what we believe.”–2 Corinthians 4:13, MSG

 

Welcome to the New Year!  By now you’ve probably exchanged more than a few “Happy New Year” salutations, but before we go much further into 2014, let’s make sure we’re really prepared–and equipped–to experience the Happy, Great and Wonderful things we desire.  While the New Year signals new beginnings and, in many cases, renewed focus and heightened expectations, it’s not an automatic trigger for releasing life’s best.  The hands on a clock (or dates on a calendar) won’t do it.  But God has equipped us with something that definitely will: our words.

When you have a dream–a desire, an expectation–in your heart, the bible says the very next step of your faith in action is to speak it forth!  In other words, you have to say something!  Believing in your heart is essential, for sure; it’s first base.  But in order to hit a home run, you’ve got to open up your mouth and declare what you believe according to the promises of God’s Word.  Building up your faith through reading, study and meditation, followed by making faith-filled confessions in line with the Scriptures, will release God’s power into your life and circumstances…ultimately resulting in the manifestation of what you believed.

Your words carry power for good or for evil (Proverbs 18:21), so purpose to put them to work for you, then thank God for the answer until it shows up.   From there, you’ll be on your way to experiencing your best year yet–for the rest of your life.

To get started, check out this list of what I call ‘Power Confessions’ that covers everything from divine health to financial success to divine protection, and much more!  You can print them out and carry them with you and also order the audio CD to plug in whenever and wherever.   I encourage you to share them with others, too.  And for more understanding on faith–and how it’s designed to work in our lives–go here.  Finally, remember, as you’re speaking, you’re creating–so stick with it.

Happy New Year!

 

19 DecLeave the Pressure Behind

To Do Lists.  Shopping.  Errands.  Appointments.  Parties.  Recitals.  Job Responsibilities.  Household Chores.  By now you get the picture.  Life is a busy endeavor and during the holiday season the temptation (and pressure) to “get it all done” can grow by leaps and bounds.  Jesus understood the lure and pull of the outside world on our time, emotions, focus and intimacy with Him, and He gave us an antidote to counter it all.  He gave us the remedy for leaving the pressure behind so that we can actually enjoy our lives and celebrate the true meaning of the Christmas season–Him!

I was gently reminded of this once as I stood alone in my kitchen one night mumbling to myself all of the things I needed to get done the following day.  “I need to pay the power bill.  I need to call So-and-So.  I need to do the laundry.  I need to….”  And on and on it went—until the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and reminded me of the ONE thing I truly needed.

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.  But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.  She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to You that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?  Tell her to come and help me.’  But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-41, NLT)

As the Lord ministered this to me that day, I clearly saw that my first and most essential priority was communing with Him, listening to Him, and from there He would lead me through each day and help me not only accomplish what was set before me, in the power of His grace (His strength and ability), but also teach me how to maintain the proper priorities for what matters most in every moment.  Instead of allowing the ‘urgent’ to be first place, like in the case of Martha’s dinner, I would defer to what He showed me–or what was truly important.  Admittedly, it’s a lesson that bears repeating on occasion, but I’m always grateful to have the course correction when necessary.

Could your priorities use a shift today?  Have you been hurrying around and losing steam with each step?  Is your mind so full of “what’s next” that it’s robbing you of enjoying the present?  If so, I encourage you to settle down, get in a quiet place and allow the Lord’s Presence to strip away the stress and pressure you feel.  He will recharge you and invigorate you to begin again.  And He’ll show you what is important–and what can wait or be dismissed altogether.  Hand-in-hand and step-by-step, The Good Shepherd will lead you and make you to lie down in green pastures and beside peaceful streams (Psalm 23).  He’ll enable you to finally leave the pressure behind.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

Merry CHRISTmas!