With Hands Lifted Up

There comes a time in every life when we need to sit down and make a conscious decision to surrender. Surrender to what God wants. Humility understands that God’s way is best. He holds our future, and mixes in the miraculous when we let Him “steer our ship.”

I have no ability to produce the miraculous in my life, but miracles abound as I trust Him to provide. While physical healing for me and family members is on the horizon – I am searching, praying, and waiting with hopeful expectation of healing to come. This is the process of prayer and standing on God’s Word, which means praying healing Scripture over our lives. For truly His Word promises to never return empty. The only assurance not given is the “when” or “how.”

Trust me when I say I’m okay with the unknowns – mostly.

Sometimes we need to seek medical attention, and sometimes we are confronted by such statements as, “It’s unclear what this issue is, do your best to rest, or let’s wait and see how this progresses.” Western medicine is remarkable, but they don’t always know what’s going on, and when one’s symptoms don’t align with a prescribed medication, then physicians aren’t necessarily sure about how to proceed – so tests may be ordered, and then a wait-and-see attitude prevails.

Faith is about trusting and believing that no matter the pronouncement, God can and will “make a way where there is no way” (Isaiah 43:19) – just like He did for the children of Israel when He parted the Red Sea. What’s this have to do with surrender? Well surrender is trusting. Surrender means that I’m not in charge, I’m not all powerful, all knowing, or miracle producing.

Proverbs 31 Woman by Nicki Koziarz

The “Red Seas” of life part as a result of trusting the Almighty. When we trust Him to provide in His way, and in His time; we need to remember that God’s view of time is far different than ours. So what do we do? We Surrender. Take all those preconceived notions about how our prayers will be answered, and chuck them. While we wait, when fear and or doubt attempt to encroach on our faith-stand, we have a strategy to remain steadfast. This is typically the juncture where our greatest testing happens.

If we have to ask God’s forgiveness throughout the day for attempting to “handle” the situation in our own strength, if we have to read aloud or silently His Word a thousand times– we will do so and purpose in our heart to love those around us. We will praise Him to redirect our focus. We will do whatever it takes to remain surrendered to His perfect love and will, for we know the “trying of our faith” (James 1:3) produces godly character, and causes us to become stronger in Him.

We serve a God who loves us with His life, He gave His life so that we would have the opportunity to grow into His image, share His love, grace, and Good News – and then spend eternity with Him.

I pray that we will seek, trust, and rely on Him, as we navigate life’s realities. May we call upon the Name of Jesus, which is greater than ALL names, and trust the Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us into All truth and righteousness for His Namesake” (John 16:13).

From my heart to yours,

Jacquie ♥

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Jesus Is Born – An Advent Poem

Light of the World by Mark Keathley for RR article 12.15
Light of the World by Mark Keathley

Joseph and Mary will go to Bethlehem,
The Christ child will be born unto them.

The Angel will appear to shepherds nearby.
“Don’t be afraid,” He’ll say as they sigh.
Good news He’ll bring; the babe will be born,
You’ll know Him – wearing cloth that is torn.

Armies of angels will sing with great praise –
God will be pleased – His Son to raise!
They’ll proclaim peace, their voices ablaze.

The shepherds will tell all that happened,
Joy will fill the people that will listen;
The shepherds will work, and be gladdened.

So in anticipation of His birth, our
Souls alive, for our sins He’ll unearth.
We will sing His praise for hope to come,
Then receive the Savior, and His freedom!

From my heart to yours,

Jacquie ♥

Love is Contentment

Have you noticed how when someone who loves you is near, you are at peace? There’s no reason to worry because you know that you are safe, and no matter what – you will work things through together. This dynamic is even richer as we dwell with the Lord. Time spent quietly, or in singing, or prayer – results in utter contentment.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with” L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Our contentment truly rests upon our choice to love and press into perfect love. Mr. Baum is correct in his assertion that we need not look any farther than where we are. This is not say that living this way is easy, for it’s not. There are those times when we have to discipline our thoughts and make time to be with the only One who can provide the answers we need.

What I love about “happiness being an inside job,” is that I have the power to change my attitude if it is out of alignment with my purpose. As you have probably realized, this is a position of diligence. I need to be aware of my physical, spiritual, and emotional state – I need to check in with myself to see how I’m doing.

  •  Am I feeling agitated, or frustrated?
  • Do I feel out of sync with my schedule, work, family, etc.?
  • Are there unresolved issues?

He will cover you with his feathers under his wings you will find refuge _Image by Sweet to the Soul

These are a few questions that usually reveal what is out of place. I may or may not know the cause of my discontent, but either way, I know the source of serenity. He knows how to direct my path so that if the first place I begin is just regaining my peace, the rest of my concern can be sorted out. This is where I begin to look for His promises and principles to apply to my life. He is only an acknowledgement away. And sometimes as counter-intuitive as it seems on the surface, when I am feeling stuck; I begin rehearsing thanksgiving for what God has done in my life. This is usually enough to get me back on course. A favorite promise of mine is:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 (ESV). I notice that my natural understanding doesn’t account for God’s love, power, and eternal perspective, and without this, I am left in a heap of discontent.

So whatever stands between you and His loving contentment, take action by offering thanks, getting quiet, singing, or beginning your prayer dialogue. Remember God is more concerned with your situation than even you are – for He loves you that much.

What do you do to gain tranquil balance in your life? I’d love to hear from you and agree with you in prayer.

 

From my heart to yours,

Jacquie ♥

Give Me Your Eyes

“Be Careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” Proverbs 4:23 (GNB).

What am I thinking as I encounter those around me? Is there a conscious effort to look past words and appearances, in order to gain insight into the miracle of God’s creation? I pray; “Give me your eyes that I may see those in front of me as you do. Help me to know with a heart of love and compassion the possibilities in each one.”

Each year, looking toward this season of giving thanks, while in the midst of world unrest, feels like a dichotomy. Yet when we seek time with our Savior, He gives us hope through His vision. It seems like no matter what, there will always be people and situations we are thankful for – and those that bring heartache. I find that prayer and standing on God’s promises, along with time spent in silence before Him, provide refreshing life-filled perspectives to live from. I am someone for whom focusing on evil exchanges whether true or fiction is upsetting. While atrocities against humanity are a reality in this world – I have come to the realization that the only sane approach to walking in the midst of all of this, is in love and wisdom.

Relationships can present emotional rubric cube dynamics that can leave me feeling bewildered at times. Yet, as I consider Romans 12:2, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think,” (NLT) – hope springs forth as I am reminded that there is a divine way to look upon the situation. So I ask for guidance, wisdom, and love to pursue reconciliation and restoration. This is a deliberate act on my part, for sadly, it can be all too easy to overlook this step especially in the midst of emotional fire. We have all grown up in environments that have ‘colored’ how we view every aspect of life. We had modeled before us varied ways and approaches for being in different types of relationship and circumstances.

Perspectives by Jacquie Bradford
Check Point:
• How was conflict handled in your home?
• Did you grow up with one or both parents? Perhaps a guardian?
• Was there open communication, or attempts at covering the truth to hold on to some semblance of peace?
• Were family members close or distant – geographically and emotionally?

These items represent a small portion of the influences in our development. And there are many ways of handling these situations with just as many outcomes. The Good News is that the Lord has given His life so that we don’t need to remain stuck in old behavior patterns. He understands what it means to live submitted in one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual characteristics before the Father. We are here to be in relationship with Him, and to serve His purpose for our lives.

What does being in relationship with Him and serving His purpose look like?

For me, I spend the first part of my morning praying, studying, listening and writing. When my schedule doesn’t allow for this, I take advantage of opportunities throughout the day to spend time with the Lord. I ask Him to show me how to encourage those around me, i.e., “Please give me the words and or actions that will encourage those I am with today.” I also set my mind to say “Yes,” to the opportunities I believe He brings before me. I ask Him to help me to see – with His eyes.

Whatever you are working through today, I pray that you will seek Him, and His Word. I ask His Holy Spirit to guide and direct your steps as you seek to do God’s will. May you come to know His love, peace, wisdom, and provision as you surrender your will. I can tell you that working to the best of my ability while trusting Him to add His excellence, has taken undue stress from my life – and that is my hope for you. May you walk in the liberty that comes from applying His truth that is lived out in trust and in love.

From my heart to yours,

Jacquie ♥

What About the Middle?

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” Proverbs 16:9 (ESV).

What does your circle of life look like? As I consider this question, more questions come to mind: is there a jam-packed schedule with barely enough room to breathe, or think? Are there lots of people and activities, or maybe the opposite – is there a great deal of wasted time with no real schedule or purpose? Either way, are you feeling fulfilled? Who or what is in the middle of your life circle?

I have spent days where I didn’t feel I had time to spend with the Lord, and hit the ground running. I have also wasted time and gotten little to nothing accomplished, and probably all places in between. I must say that my favorite dwelling place is the middle of my life circle, that place where peace, love, and wisdom reside. But this my friends, is an act of the will. And even though I am grateful that more often than not, my days begin with Lord, I still have times when I allow myself to think “I’m just too busy to spend time with the Lord this morning.”

Daybreak by Jacquie Bradford rr

The Lord has established my steps at a pace I can live with (mostly). Finishing my degree later in life had the added benefit of life experience. However, there were times when the pace of university courses overcharged my heart. After graduation, I had to make my health a priority—the physical and emotional journey of healing my heart felt tyrannical. My blood pressure shot up like a jack-in-the-box, so I did not have the luxury of pondering my course. It took me about a year and a half to recover. I’m still working on my health, but at a much less demanding stride. Would I change any of the timing of this? My mind screams “Of Course!”

The Center

But I do know that God’s timing is perfect, and I may not have come out of this time alive were it not for Him, and an understanding husband and family. “The greatest trust statement of faith is a life well lived. It is faith fleshed out through risks and sacrifices. It is daring to go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention” Batterson, Draw the Circle, p. 50.

Whether you are aiming for your dreams from the beginning, middle, or later years of life, there is nothing more exhilarating than taking that first step. Whether your life’s circle is packed to the brim – or there’s barely enough activity to keep you conscious; submitting your plans for God to establish is a great start.
Acknowledging our need of Him, seeking His wisdom and counsel will keep us in good stead. I pray that we will take the time to seek God daily for all our needs which includes directing us in activities, goals, and appointments. I pray that He will direct our steps, and that all whom we encounter will be touched by His love and presence – and that we will walk in the peace of knowing we walk with Him, or not at all.

From my heart to yours,

Jacquie ♥

Let His Love Break Through

In this season of giving thanks and counting our blessings, there are dark clouds that hang over many in our midst. There are myriad people being swallowed up in memories of pain. This is how the enemy of our soul invades and terrorizes God’s creation, His precious people, during what should be a time of remembering His divine assistance in our life.

While encircled in the torment of the endless loop of depressive thoughts He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV). Let’s face it, broken memories and relationships equal broken hearts, and the constant spinning of repetitive thoughts are labor and make us feel heavy laden. Jesus understands this torment, and offers rest for our overworked souls.

It is as if He is saying, Come and find your place of healing, come and witness my Son as He salves the heaviness and pain of your broken heart . . .

Church Breaking the Mist mm

This day began with the Scripture, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3 (NIV). No one understands the pain we encounter like Jesus. And He is the only One who can take that hurt and bring healing and wholeness in its place. I pray that whatever is threatening to rob us of the joy of counting our blessings, will be replaced by our willingness to cast our cares on Him, to release us from the bondage of past hurts, wounds, and injustices. These are the very things He died for. I pray we will walk with the knowledge that He knows our grief and sorrow. He is here to break through the mist of agonizing memories, and bring healing and rest.

From my heart to yours,

Jacquie ♥

What’s Holding You Back?

I am thinking of those déjà vu moments when a situation is inexplicably familiar. Sometimes while in prayer I’ll have a sense of a place or circumstance, which is revealed at a later time. I can’t claim to know what this means other than it feels like a milestone, that I was meant to be in this place or that, with this one or that.

Then there are those times when I realize, “This isn’t déjà vu, I’m going around the same mountain again! In other words, I either did not learn this lesson the first time, or I’m in training so that God can refine my character. In this lesson that stretches over the course of my life, I believe grace is extended to those around me – as I do not seem to walk these teaching moments with the same people over and over again. As I move through the well-worn trails of certain character lessons in my life, I try to remind myself not to give up. Let’s face it, the world cannot offer what the Lord has given. John Piper says it this way, “Our victory is that we treasure Christ in a way that exposes the world as unsatisfying.” So we go through these life lessons because they have eternal purpose.

I know that when I stay connected to God, my life is on course no matter how it seems.

Mount Rainier by Jacob Johnson Photography

I Corinthians 15:57, encourages – “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV). Here we see victory assured as we hang close to our source. You probably also noticed that there’s no magic number of times that we stand with the Lord to achieve this wonderful victory. Nope, this my friends is a lifelong process. So don’t become discouraged when something you thought you had mastered, becomes your next lesson to learn. For no matter how much time we need in the growth process of character, He is always patient, loving, and kind.

So let’s stay the course knowing that when we come through our trials and testing, we are more prepared to live not only this life, but the one to come.

From my heart to yours,
Jacquie ♥

Relationships@ Restoration Ranch
Relationships@ Restoration Ranch