After the Diagnosis

By: Dianna Salciccioli
Posted: October 23, 2014

Steve felt a different something in his shoulder, every time he swung the golf club. Hmmm….a pulled muscle, maybe some nerve damage? Making a Doctor’s appointment seemed wise. After some testing the doctor asked Steve and his wife to step into his office. The diagnosis? Lou Gehrig’s disease!  Stunning, shocking, unbelievable. 

Annie Goodman in her blog, so, i have cancer, describes her diagnosis this way. “I’m 30 years old and about to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I get dressed, cry a lot, and head into the radiologist’s office. That’s when it’s confirmed: I am 30 years old and have breast cancer. I made an appt to meet with the surgeon first thing the next morning. I am warned I will need surgery and chemotherapy. I start making the calls and sending the emails. I try to remain calm. It’s not easy." 

A diagnosis changes your life in moment! Feelings of denial, anger, fear, stress, anxiety, sadness, and grief can easily set in. Questions inevitably swirl around in your head. 

What does that future hold?  

How am I going to get throught this?

Can my family handle this and how?  

A life altering diagnosis can leave you feeling numb. You may even have trouble thinking, eating, and sleeping.  

Without a faith and trust in a God who loves you, a diagnosis will wreak havoc in your spirit and emotions. Turning to Him with your fears will bring a supernatural peace and trust that He has you in the palm of His hand. Beliveing and knowing God is in this journey with you is vital for your peace of mind. Scripture tells us, “He will never leave you or forsake you.”  Never. Steve is my friend and as I read his blog he passionately shares how “close” God has been to him, how peaceful he has been amidst the challenge. This is a supernatural work God will do in all of us when a life altering diagnosis has been rendered.

 As a lifecoach, I want to share some very practical steps to equip you to navigate through the diagnosis. 

--Actively communicate with family and friends. Agree on a mode of communication to share updates on your treatment and needs. Create an important team of support and then help them understand what “walking with you” needs to look like.  We all have unique ways of dealing with challenges of this nature.  Help those who love you have the steps to be successful in supporting you.

--Try to keep life “as normal as possible”.  Even though there will be fresh challenges on the road ahead, try to keep your healthy life rhythms flowing as best you can.  Good food, exercise, time spent with the Lord, solid rest, and life-giving relationships will have a profound impact on this season of your life.

--Do your best to stay organized.  Keep all key numbers, appointments, and information in a safe place. Sometimes we can become overwhelmed and become scattered. This will create undue stress which you simply do need in this season.

Remember~ you are not defined by your diagnosis. You are still the wonderful person you have always been but your story has a new and unknown chapter. Take time to connect with others who have “walked a mile in your shoes.”  Laugh with them, cry with them, and link arms as you walk out this new season in your life.

And let this echo in your spirit like a resounding battle cry--

 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of it, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

--Dianna

Dianna Salciccioli co-founded and leads alongside her husband Greg, at Coachwell, Inc.- Coaching & Consulting Company. Dianna's been a pastor’s wife, pregnancy resource director, teacher’s aide, youth pastor’s assistant, and coach in her life but her highest calling is being a quality wife to her precious husband, as well as a hands on mom to her incredible sons!  Over the past five years she's been blessed to add to her “roles” that of mother- in- law to two of the greatest young women she knows! This year, Dianna's role grew to grandma and her heart swells at the thought! Follow Dianna on her blog.

It started with a letter and a sweater

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: October 20, 2014

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. 3 They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. 4 You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. 5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! 6 Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. 7 As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! 8 I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!                                       Psalm 119:1-8 (NLT)

I watched through the day as sunbeams moved across the waiting room like solar spotlights, settling along the length of a piece of furniture, highlighting its occupant’s emotions. The day had passed and I was alone in the hospital waiting room. I’d read and reread my sister-in-law’s letter. Her words were written in red.

 

“I want you to know I’m secure and very peaceful with you being here waiting on me to wake up. So while you’re in the waiting room, you show someone your heart and make their wait a little more peaceful.”

My thumb ran imaginary creases across the folds of the letter. Rather than waiting on a call, I made my way to the recovery room and slipped past the nurse’s station. The chorus of beeps and bleeps emitting from machines guided me to Sonja’s lone bed. 

“Sonja, I’m here.” I watched her fingers pull lightly against the sheets. “Kristianne, I knew you’d come. I kept calling for you but I knew you’d come. I’m so cold.”

I pillaged every piece of wheeled furniture around me for a blanket with no success. My eyes fell to my bag and a wrinkled cardigan sweater. I picked it up and laid it weave-like under and over the tubes that disappeared within the sheets, and into my precious sister-in-law.

I didn’t know it at the time but what started with a letter, a sweater, and my two sisters-in law and sister, diagnosed with cancer; began my Bible studies and ministry, Compassion That Compels.

BAG: Anyone who has walked through cancer or alongside a cancer overcomer has at one time stuffed their clothes into an oversized plastic bag, closely resembling a reusable cold bag.

JESUS CALLING DEVOTIONAL: God’s word reminds you, a cancer overcomer, that you are first an overcomer in Christ.

JOURNAL: To record those thoughts just between you and God.

SCRIPTURE TEA: Because hospital coffee at 6 pm is often thick as glue.

REUSABLE CUP OR MUG: For when even coffee glue can’t be found.

NOTEBOOK & PEN: To phonetically write down all those big, Latin sounding words that confirm this won’t go away with antibiotics and wish you’d paid more attention in science class.

SCRIPTURE CANDY SOFT MINTS: During treatment your mouth is always dry or suddenly becomes dry when you see a doctor approaching with your chart in hand.

SMALL THROW: To cover you with His love and besides, if you’re not freezing, the person next to you probably is.

CHICK-FIL-A CARD: Just to get away from a hospital cafeteria to a land flowing with sweet tea and nugget sauce.

I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth; hide not Your commandments from me.      Psalm 119:19 AMP

This life is just a waiting room. So while you’re in the waiting room, do what Sonja wanted everyone to do -- show your heart.

Agape,
Kristianne

  

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

 

Am I Compelled by Compassion?

By: Mark Whittington
Posted: October 16, 2014

For well over a year now my wife has had the special privilege of being part of a ministry to those whose life journey has been invaded by the terrible disease known as cancer.   The ministry is simply called “Compassion That Compels.”  This ministry and its founder, Kristianne Stewart have been such an amazing blessing to my wife that I couldn’t help but express, in at least a limited way, what I believe is at the root of all this. 

It’s the compassion!  But do you know what that word really means?

Now I am not a language scholar but stick with me for just a few minutes. In the Latin, the word compassion literally means “to suffer together.”  This word is connected with the Greek word where we get our word sympathy.  When we read the word compassion in the New Testament it gets even more interesting.  When Jesus saw the multitude on the seashore he had compassion for them (Mark 6:34; Matthew 9:36).  When the Samaritan saw the man who had been beaten and left along the road side he had compassion for him (Luke 10:33).  So what does that mean?

The word that the Gospel writers use comes from the Greek word ‘splanchnon’ which (please pardon the image here) literally referred to one’s bowels.  Are you serious?  What in the world does that have to do with compassion?  You see, for those who were touched by Jesus in that multitude or listening to Him talk about the Good Samaritan, the source location of their emotions was not in the heart like we think of it today.  It was in; you guessed it, the bowels.

Now before you get totally grossedout we do have a modern day figure of speech that will help us make the connection.  How do we sometimes refer to an emotion or feeling that is strong or extreme in nature?  We call it a ‘gut feeling.’  What do we call someone who exhibits great courage in the face of great struggle?  Wesay, “He’s got a lot of guts.”  How do we describe it when something affects us with great emotional strain?  We feel like we have been ‘hit in the gut.’  Do you get the picture?

When Jesus saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd He not only felt their pain, HE CARRIED THEIR PAIN

He felt their need in the very depths of His being.  He could do this because He was completely God yet completely human.  And this is the compassion that not only compelled Him to feed the hungry and heal the sick but it is the compassion that compelled Him to carry the weight of the sin of the world in His body on the cross so that we could have a personal relationship with Him right now and a relationship with His Father in Heaven forever (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1Peter 2:24).

So what is Compassion That Compels?  Is it just a pretty tote bag?  Is it just a warm blanket and an inspirational devotional book?  Is it just a box of mints and a journal to write down all those big medical words that make no sense at all?  No, not really.  Now don’t misunderstand me; that bag and its contents have been and continue to be a blessing to women going through what may be the most difficult time in their lives.  But it’s so much more!  The compassion that compels these ‘givers of grace’ is a willingness “to suffer together” with others who are experiencing life at its worst.  It doesn’t mean that they have all the answers or they can make it all better.  But day after day they are willing to feel the pain of those in need in the very depths of their being.  This compassion is what causes the suffering of others to break their hearts and make them feel it in their gut…just like Jesus did.

How do I know all of this?  I know this because my wife who is a cancer overcomer has received it.  I know this because I have had the blessing of seeing this compassion in action from bags being packed to circles of prayer while the chemotherapy slowly drips in.  I know this because I have seen through them the Light of Jesus dispel the darkness that cancer so quickly brings into a life.  Yes, the pain is real, but Iam also thoroughly convinced that the compassion that Kristianne and her army of ‘Compassionistas’ give away every day is also very, very real.  For this and so much more I am grateful, and I would offer a challenge to anyone reading this to simply ask yourself one question: 

“Am I compelled by compassion?”

 

--Mark Whittington

Mark has the incredible, undeserved privilege of being a born again follower of Jesus Christ; the happiest man on earth because he's married to Michele; and the father of Noah (16), Grace (14), and Melody (11) who are the three most amazing kids in the world! Mark has served in various ministry positions from volunteer intern to senior pastor in several churches across the state of Alabama since 1988.  "It is my heart’s desire and my greatest joy to share the Good News of Jesus and to love others just like He has loved me – anywhere, any time, and at any cost."

 

Never Say This to a Cancer Patient

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: October 13, 2014


I get it.  Cancer is one of those words.

No one likes to hear it whether it's about yourself, a loved one, or a complete stranger.  And no one knows quite what to say in response to it. For that reason, I dreaded telling people I was battling cancer.  It was one thing to tell those closest to me who walked the journey with me in faith. It was another thing altogether to tell my child's teacher or the neighbor I ran into at the grocery store.
My announcement of the “C” word was always met with awkward moments of silence. I’m sure that was a result of the other person's mind racing to come up with just the right thing to say.  I’ll let you in on a little secret...there really isn't a right thing to say to someone facing cancer.  Offer hope,  offer encouragement,  offer prayer,  but don't try to find the right thing to say,  because you probably won't.

There are,  however,  some wrong things to say when someone tells you they are facing cancer.  The most shocking response I received was when I told someone I hardly knew that I had been going through chemotherapy.  After I explained a rather discouraging visit with my doctor, the person replied, "Well, I guess we never know when it's our time to go..."

What?!?!  For the record, that is the WRONG thing to say! I would think that would be obvious. Others are not so obvious.

Like this oldie, but goodie: God won't give us more than we can handle.

It’s meant to be encouraging, I know. I've even said it on occasion when trying to lift someone’s spirits.  But we all need to stop saying it. Why?

Because it's simply not true.

God does give us more than we can handle.

Did God allow Satan to ransack Job's life, stripping from him everything he held dear (including his own health), because He thought Job could "handle it"? Job sure didn't think so!

“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?" Job 3:11

Job was in so much anguish, he wished he had never been born. He had reached his breaking point. God had given him more than he could handle.

Even the Apostle Paul begged God to remove him from a difficult circumstance.  In 2 Corinthians, he wrote:

"I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me"  2 Corinthians 12:7, 8

We don't know the details of Paul's circumstances, but we know that they overwhelmed him. So much so that he pleaded with God to remove him from it. But God didn’t. Instead He answered Paul,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9).

God didn't tell Paul to buck up and get a grip.  He didn't assure Paul that he could handle it. Instead, He reminded Paul that he didn’t have to do it in his own strength. Because God knows when we come to the end of ourselves, that's when we find Him.  And when we find Him, there is grace.

When we receive news that knocks the breath from our lungs....grace.

When our bodies are weak and exhausted...grace.

When we think we can't take another doctor's visit, or more discouraging news...grace.

When we can’t find the strength to do the day-to-day tasks that still need doing, despite our lack of energy or motivation....grace.


My friend, Madi Walker, says it so beautifully in her song  "His Grace"...

When I'm broken, and when I'm fighting...

When the news I hear tomorrow could be frightening...

When I'm scared, when I'm unprepared...

When time goes faster than I'd like it...

His grace is enough for me

His mercy, His mercy is all I need

When my tired heart is heavy,

When I fall onto my knees,

His grace is enough for me.

So we should really stop telling each another that God won’t give us more than we can handle,  because when we say that we’re really saying we don’t need to rely on God.  We can take care of it. More importantly, we need to stop living like we can take care of it on our own. 

The truth is God does give us more than we can handle.  But when we come to the end of ourselves, when we’ve exhausted all of our own strength, God is there.  And when we let go and fall into His grace, He picks us up and carries us through in His strength.

Are you facing circumstances today that are beyond your own strength?  Don’t worry my friend, you don’t have to handle it on your own.  Lean in to God’s grace and receive His strength today.

There is Grace,

 


Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

 

 

 

Discouragement is a Bully

By: Monica Steely
Posted: October 9, 2014

Discouragement is a bully.

It comes at you on the playground as you're running and laughing and enjoying the swings and delivers a sucker punch that brings you to a heap on the ground gasping for breath and crying silently.

Discouragement is a bully.

It interrupts the moments of contentedness and peace and just when you're feeling like the vision is actually a possibility, it throws a ball directly at your head and it knocks you to the ground and impairs your vision.

Discouragement is a bully.

It yells obscenities at you, tells you you're ugly and not good enough and confirms your deepest fears. It preys on those fears and taunts you with them and convinces you it's best just to quit -- quit showing up, quit working hard, quit trying.

Discouragement is a bully, and I just realized it today.

When I was a child and in a heap of tears over bullying taunts and jabs, my parents would gather me up and pray for me. And then they would encourage me to pray too; not just for myself, but for the bully. Not that the bully would receive vengeance, but to pray for love. For peace. That the bully's heart would change.

All the things I didn't want to pray, they told me to focus on.

Discouragement is a bully, but the rescuer is prayer.

The bully showed up unexpectedly yesterday, picking up on me nonstop. Suddenly, everything I saw and read and heard confirmed the bully's lies. I locked myself in the bathroom more than twice to silently cry and was ready to give it all up -- the dreams, the visions, the joy, all of it.

The ball the bully threw knocked me out cold and I just couldn't see anymore.

I believed his lies and I am ticked off today that I fell for it.

Because in my heart of hearts, here is what I know:

He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Matthew 10:30-31)

When the bully shows up and intimidates me, God gathers me up on his lap and prays that I would realize how the bully's words mean nothing. He reassures me how much I'm truly worth and reminds me to use my shield of faith to deflect the piercing, untrue words.

But he [God] didn’t let anyone push them around, he stood up for them against bully-kings: ‘Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones, don’t lay a hand on my prophets.' (I Chronicles 16:20-22)

And when the bully shows up and intimidates me, God deals with it Himself so I don't have to. When I'm a crushed heap under the weight of words that feel so real, He jumps in and stands up for me and takes the bully out.

And He reminds me to pray for peace…for love, for a heart change. Not for this bully, because he's unchangeable to the core. But that I would pray it for myself...that I would accept the peace and love God has to give.

And for my heart to change so I will stop believing each time discouragement shows up on my playground.

Yes, discouragement is a ruthless beast, bullying its way into every corner of my life that means anything. But my rescue is in prayer and the One to whom I pray.

My Daddy will always stick up for me.

--

Monica

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout

Seeking A Vineyard

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: October 6, 2014

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  Proverbs 31:10-13

Proverbs 31...okay, so who can really challenge this gal’s bio? No skeletons in her closet. Her man doesn’t question her value. He knows because it cost him more rubies than he had. She is a half-full, glass kind of woman and an expert in retail products. An early riser, she is packing a healthy lunch and extras to share with others. She has her eye on prime real estate and drives such a good bargain that she can plant a vineyard. That’s where I stumble.  

The vineyard gets me. She had a place of her own from her earnings. Something that represented her intellect. I hold my breath as something stirs in my heart-envy.

I want this woman’s vineyard. I covet and am blinded from what I do have, embracing what someone else has because there are times that my “field” as a wife and mother is defined and measured by repetitive tasking and asking.

How many times do we find ourselves questioning the field, our life God has given us? How will we ever be able to gain any earnings when we just scrape by on what’s in our field? When we are so easily overwhelmed by the day’s challenges and defeated before our feet hit the floor each morning?

In the parable of the sower the seed falls onto different soil, that soil being the condition of our hearts. For a woman, the seeds of envy are found just beneath the soil of our heart. They grow at random and germinate from our insecurities. First as the little girl seeking love and approval, shouting, “Watch me! Want to see do that again? Hold me!!”

Then the thorny stems plucks through our adolescence with, “Do I look pretty? Why don’t they like me?

The plant reaches out, engulfing the blossoming flowers around it. “Why doesn’t he like me? She is prettier than me, more popular. She doesn’t have acne or even body odor!”

This starts the unrealistic comparison game that follows into young adulthood. “I would have had that job if I were smarter, funnier. He would have loved me if I was more spontaneous. My life would be different if only I ______”.

Unfortunately, the insecurity plant’sroots can infiltrate our heart soil when we become mothers. There are times in our life that we try to live vicariously through our children. We celebrate their developmental milestones as infants, their achievements, their victories as our own, and then we brag.

I often think of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Picture Mary and a friend we’ll call Naomi, on a play date. The kids play while Naomi and Mary sit by chatting about the kids activities, then Naomi casually mentions that Benjamin’s ram’s horn and lyre teacher thinks that Benjamin is quite talented and gifted. 

In fact, she blushingly admits, “My Benjamin is a prodigy.” Mary sits there quietly seemingly appreciative of Benjamin’s rare giftedness. Doing that “treasure and ponder it in her heart” thing. Now, don’t you think Mary could have quickly replied, “That’s lovely, Naomi, but my son’s the Christ. You heard me, M- E-S-S-I-A-H: Messiah!” Certainly it would have silenced Naomi. I mean after all, who could top that?

Perhaps that never happened to Mary, but what about to you? Have you felt the sting that you can never measure up? What if you truly believed your field was God’s plan for your life? It’s then we should stop, and consider God, ruler of the universe, who hangs the stars in the sky. He gave you your field and expects you to tend to it.

We can’t be imitators of Christ, aliens to the world system if we define ourselves by the latest trends or others. If we can’t get past the insecurity, we can never allow Jesus to heal the wounds of inadequacy.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. 2 Corinthians 10:12-13

What if all the little things in life that we are faithful to; the acts of service which go unnoticed, were to fill our hearts and out of the overflow, the scraps, God began making nutrient rich compost?

Would your bio read, “She has compost but she covets a vineyard.”

Or would you allow the Holy Spirit, the master gardener to till your heart soil changing your bio to, “Out of her abundant compost, she helps other women tend their field-reaping an eternal harvest.” 

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

The Things She Taught Me

By: Gwen Plauche
Posted: October 2, 2014

Legacy:  This word is frequently used, but do we personally consider what our own legacy will be?  Dictionary.com defines legacy as:  anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor orpredecessor:

Anything is a big word – blessing or curse falls under that, think about it!  What are you handing down by result of your daily choices and reactions to life?

I had the opportunity to share a bit about my dear mom in law at her funeral this week, and realized along the way that her legacy was built every time we got together.  I have been asked to share the list I read at the funeral, so here it is:

Priceless Things I learned From My Mom-in-Law:

  • Write your thank you notes immediately
  • Use your special silver & china pieces frequently
  • Tradition is important
  • Invite all your family & friends (and their family & friends) to your Christmas dinners and pull out the linen, silver & china.
  • Count all your silver utensils after a dinner – before the trash goes out
  • Cats are people, too
  • Ask your mom in law for help with your children
  • A fussing baby needs lots of pats on the back
  • Hungry toddlers need to be fed at bite to eat at 5pm, while waiting for dad to come home from work
  • Every kitchen needs a Cuisinart & a copy of The Plantation Cookbook
  • Red beans & rice are best the second day
  • Hand pound the meat for tender Grits & Grillades
  • Boil the shrimp heads to make the best broth for shrimp creole
  • A great cup of coffee starts with a thick, strong brew
  • Coffee tastes best in a china cup with a saucer
  • Don’t fuss over a broken dish or glass – things happen
  • Schedule times to get together with your friends.
  • Share your favorite places with your extended family & friends – places like City Park, the Zoo, Soutea-cup_1798148bthern Yacht Club, Montreat, & Pass Christian
  • Talk about your past with your family, even if no one is listening
  • Write down your story
  • Hand write your letters & notes.
  • Don’t set your life by medical timelines
  • Impacting others is not just for when you are young
  • After age 80 or even age 90, don’t hesitate to: take art lessons, teach art lessons, buy designer clothes & shoes (on clearance), get your hair cut & colored, get a manicure, wear makeup, go places
  • Go on spiritual retreats with your church friends
  • Pray
  • If a family member calls for prayer, pray harder – even if it means all night. Miracles happen when a Granny prays all night.

My prayer is that this personal list of my recollections of the legacy I received from my mom-in-law will encourage you to work on your legacy today!

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. –Ephesians 4:29

Blessings -

Gwen

Gwen Plauche, aka Momma Gwen, is married to the greatest man on earth, mom to five (ages 16-26) and loves to find encouragement between the covers of her Bible. Her blog can be found at: www.MommaGwen.com and follow her on Twitter @MommaGwen.

The Courage Within

By: Holly Wagner
Posted: September 28, 2014

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.  -Joshua 1:9 

One Saturday morning eighteen years ago I decided to have a garage sale. My husband Philip and my son Jordan were off riding horses and I was setting up the sale. My daughter Paris, who was almost three, was roaming around the front yard ‘helping’ as only a toddler can.

A neighbor came over, leading her newly acquired dog on a leash. Paris went to pet the dog, when suddenly the dog turned and bit Paris in the face two times before his owner could stop him. With blood pouring down her face Paris started screaming and running toward me. I scooped her up, realizing this would require more than Band-Aids, put her in her car seat and we made the quick dash to the emergency room.

Upon arriving, the nurse told me that a plastic surgeon happened to be on call. This was good news. Definitely a good thing to have a plastic surgeon be the one to put stitches in a face!

As the surgeon was preparing, I had to hold Paris down as he injected shots of Novocain in her face to numb it so that he could begin stitching her up. In her little raspy, weepy voice as they were giving her shot after shot, Paris told me, “Mommy, I am OK…I want to go home now.” So did I! But we had some work to do first.

Holding my daughter down while she was in pain, getting shots, over 40 stitches and bleeding WAS THE HARDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. But it never occurred to me to let someone else hold her down. So in that moment I was brave.

As a side note, when I got her home, she asked where the dog was because she thought “he needed a spanking!”

The life that you and I have been given will include moments that absolutely require us to be brave.

Courage is one of the qualities God demands of us as we face the unknown future. Just like Joshua.

In the first chapter of Joshua, God tells Joshua (and us) four times to be courageous. Why? Could it be because He knew we wouldn’t likely get it the first time? Is it because God knows our courage, like Joshua’s is sometimes hard to hold on to?

One of the definitions of courage implies facing the difficulties ahead with enthusiasm. Wow. Not sure I would go that far. I am up for facing challenges…but usually it is because it is necessary…not because I am looking forward to it.

Since God is asking us to be courageous, we must be able to! It is not like he is asking us to be seven feet tall. He is asking or rather commanding us to be something that He has equipped us to be.

God calls us, just like He called Joshua, to take our land…whatever that would be…marriage, job, parenting, health… with strength and courage.

We need courage as we live out our life.
Courage will be needed in order to speak up when it is necessary.
Courage will be needed to navigate a health challenge.
Courage will be needed to get through a rough time in a marriage.
Courage will be needed to forgive the person who betrayed you.

 

Courage is within you!!!!

Holly

Holly and her husband, Philip, are the Pastors of Oasis Church – a growing, relevant, multi-cultural, church located in Los Angeles.  They have been married for over 28 years, love life and enjoy spending time with their two adult children, Jordan and Paris.  Holly is passionate about seeing women become who God has designed them to become, and to see every generation of woman extend a helping hand to the generation that is younger.  Through the women’s ministry of Oasis, GodChicks, she has empowered thousands of women around the world.  Holly has written several books including GodChicks, Daily Steps for GodChicks, WarriorChicks, Love Works, and Awakened.

Join pastor, author Holly Wagner and award-winning songwriter, worship leader Darlene Zschech* on October 25th for GodChicks Day of Courage – a gathering dedicated to celebrating and inspiring women as they overcome the challenges of life – especially breast cancer.  As a company of women we will encourage and inspire one another, and believe God to do the miraculous in our lives. There will be live music, stories from brave women, fun and surprises!!!  

Through the Storm

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: September 25, 2014

A loud crash and blood-curdling scream jolted me from a deep slumber. I leapt from bed, my feet instinctively carrying me up the stairs toward my daughter's room. My mind raced to process what was happening.

Thunder + Lightning + Screaming = Thunderstorm.

storm

Having grown up in Kansas, Midwestern thunderstorms are nothing new to me. However, after eight years of parenthood, I am still not accustomed to being awakened by middle-of-the-night screams.

Why must the worst storms always be at night?!

Fortunately, my feet know their way  to my daughter's room, even when I'm still half asleep. When I finally reached her, I snuggled her close and said in my most soothing Mommy voice, "It's OK, Mommy's here." I settled in as she laid down and drifted off to a peaceful slumber within minutes. It was going to be a long storm, so I might as well stay.

I wish I could say this stay-for-the-long-haul parenting method has always been my modus operandi. Sadly, it has not. There have been many long nights of Ping-Pong Mommy, running back and forth from my room to hers, worrying that if I stayed too long I would sabotage her self-soothing capabilities. (Oh, the things we mamas worry about!)

But this. This was one of those "perfect parenting" moments when I wasn't concerned with how much sleep I was missing or how I might be crippling her independence. This time I was here for the duration, as long as she needed me.

And that's exactly what she needed...me. She just wanted to know I was there. The storm, with it's crashing thunder and flashing lightning, raged on outside. But my girl slept peacefully in my arms.

And in that very moment, snuggled under a teal canopy, God whispered to my heart, This is what I do for you.

The storms look different in our lives. They come in the form of unemployment, disappointment in relationships, medical issues, conflict with family members, financial struggle, or any number of other situations. The thunder cracks, the lightning flashes, and we cry out for help. What does God do? He runs right to us.

"The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry" (Psalm 34:15).

He doesn't grow weary of our cries. He isn't annoyed by our neediness. He doesn't worry about the "other" things vying for His attention at that moment.

You are His child. When you cry, He comes running.

Sometimes He raises a hand and speaks with authority to the storm, "Be still." The thunder quiets, and the lightning subsides.

"He...rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm" (Mark 4:39)

We find a better job. The medical scans come back clear. Conflict is resolved; relationships are restored. We take a deep breath, breathe a sigh of relief, and go on with life.

Sometimes the storms rage on. We lose the job. The tumor does not shrivel. Bills continue to come. Conflicts worsen and relationships are severed.

It's in those times that God holds us tight and wraps His arms around us. He leans in close and whispers, "Be still. It's OK...Daddy's here."

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thank

sgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6, 7).

Our heartbeats calm. Our breathing settles. His presence brings us peace. 

Are you facing a storm today? If so, cry out to your Father. He will come running for you. And when He does, you can snuggle into His arms...and rest.

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

BIRTHING

By: Monica Steely
Posted: September 18, 2014

It was one of those "lightening bolt" mission trips. The kind where every moment you feel God zapping you and showing you something new – something different, something profound.

The kind where you literally feel yourself changing right then, right there...never to be the same again.

Have you ever had that kind of experience?

It was a spiritual mountaintop. The highest of highs that felt I felt like I had seen heaven – there, on the other side of the world, surrounded by young people representing over 60 nations.

Where everyone sang in their own tongue, and the blending of all those voices and languages and dialects was pure symphonic beauty. It made me weep; every day for nine days, I wept.

Have you ever had that kind of experience?

The return to the States felt like an eternal Sunday night – that feeling of knowing Monday is looming right around the corner and you'd give anything...anything...not to have to face it.

I didn't want to go back to normal. I didn't want to face the job I had no passion for, a lifestyle that felt excessive, a void of the heaven I just experienced.

Something was birthed in me on that trip; something grand and magnificent and scary, and it filled every empty place I didn’t even know I had.

I didn't want it to fade away.

The first week of reentry was hard. One day as I drove to work, I loudly played a CD from a band I had just seen play live just a week before on that trip.

I drove and I reflected and I remembered heaven.

And then I passed through the toll booth on the interstate, and was immediately overwhelmed by a scripture that God pressed on my heart...hard.

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

The tears sprung forth and my heart wanted to burst right out of my chest and I couldn't bear the ache I felt. The Word, watering the change that was birthed on the trip, was glued to my soul.

I pictured what That Word meant and I wondered how I'd make it all happen. I mentally listed all I'd sell and how I'd tell my parents I was moving across the globe.

A few weeks later in church, as I closed my eyes in worship and sought God desperately, I was again immediately overcome with a scripture that sounded like it was being whispered into my ear -- like a secret from a best friend that she wants only you to hear.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“New thing” repeated over and over as a mantra while tears sprung forth. Again my heart wanted to burst out of my chest – but this time it wasn't an ache I felt but a joy. A deep, simmering, reverential joy and I suddenly couldn't wait to see what God would do next.

My time had come. He was moving and I was so excited to be along for the ride. I pictured what that meant and I wondered how I'd make it all happen. In my mind, I saw how I'd quit my job and what it would feel like to walk off an airplane in a country that required a visa for me to stay there.

Have you ever had that kind of experience?

There's a flip side to that verse in Isaiah I wasn’t aware of back then – a shift that is required to make a new thing possible. 

I didn't know that for God to create something NEW, it meant that something old had to DIE. 

I didn't know there were things that had to be pruned and killed and that it's an excruciating and painful process. I didn't know I'd immediately go into a time of crawling...into a wilderness of my own where Satan tempted and used scripture and where he would have been very pleased to give me his kingdom.

For a very steep price.

I just didn't know.

When the crawling time came, I was angry and heartbroken and mesmerized and lured all at the same time. In moments of despair it was so easy to shake my tiny, human fists at God as I fell headfirst into the pit. 

I thought you were creating something new! I thought you were pleased to give me the kingdom! Where are you?! FIGHT! FOR! ME!

I didn't know that I had to crawl. God needed to kill my interpretation of His word so I'd willingly accept His definition of it.  

God births what He births. It's not up for interpretation or debate or compromise. And what He births requires of us – it requires holiness and righteousness and an obedience to lay down the very word He gave. To lay down our Isaac.

And it requires a willingness to hold up a mirror to our sinful selves and allow Him to purify us – so that our desires become His desires and He can be pleased to give us His kingdom.

What experiences can you look back on and identify as birthing times? Are you able to see God's divine plan in it now? Have you forgiven God, if necessary, for His word looking different than you initially thought it would? My friend, He is for you. His heart yearns to be one with yours. 

--

--Monica

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout

Unforeseen Challenges

By: Dianna Salciccioli
Posted: September 15, 2014

We have an interesting situation at our house.  Our home has huge windows facing out to our backyard; behind the fence in the yard is a grouping of trees that serve as a “gathering place” for a multitude of birds.  Early in the morning my husband and I often comment that the birds are holding “church services” back there!

Here’s the sad challenge~ daily I hear one or two loud noises as a bird, flying confidently through its day, slams into my window and falls to the ground.

 

Sometimes, after they get their bearings, they cautiously fly away. 

Sometimes they die. 

I am so sad every time! Outside of putting decals all over mypicture windows; I can’t save them from this unforseen challenge!

As always, these situations give me reason to ponder and find the truth about life in the experience. Today I realized that just like the birds, there are times we are just going along with our daily routines and then...WHAM! 

We find we have hit an unforseen challenge! Didn’t see it coming!!  Couldn’t have avoided it!! Didn’t necessarily cause it!! 

We were just “flying along”!

  Matthew 10: 29-31 reminds us of this truth; Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

God doesn’t promise deliverance from all pain. He does not always intervene to keep us far from hurt or harm. But in the times when we do hurt, He comforts us in the midst of our troubles.

Sometimes He bolsters us through the kindness of others.

Sometimes He brings a sense of peace that we could never conjure up on our own.

Sometimes, through a glimpse of beauty or a well-timed word of encouragement, he reassures us that we’re going to be okay, that we are loved.  He is near.

My prayer is that when you face unforeseen challenges you will experience the hand of God lovingly nudging you back on your feet just as I do when these little birds hit my window. May you sense His sadness for your hurt and know His desire to see you fly again!  

Dianna

Dianna Salciccioli co-founded and leads alongside her husband Greg, at Coachwell, Inc.- Coaching & Consulting Company. Dianna's been a pastor’s wife, pregnancy resource director, teacher’s aide, youth pastor’s assistant, and coach in her life but her highest calling is being a quality wife to her precious husband, as well as a hands on mom to her incredible sons!  Over the past five years she's been blessed to add to her “roles” that of mother- in- law to two of the greatest young women she knows! This year, Dianna's role grew to grandma and her heart swells at the thought! Follow Dianna on her blog.

Running Behind Our Pads

By: Martha Bailey
Posted: September 11, 2014

Every time I think I’m about to get a handle on football, the commentators throw me another curve ball. For example, recently during one of the preseason games the announcer stated, “He’s running behind his pads!”

Hmmm……..running behind his pads; running behind his pads.  What in the world could that possibly mean? I thought to myself. Less than five minutes later, the announcer said it again.  Because my husband Waylon, knows me quite well he quizzed, “Do you know what the commentator is talking about?”

“Nope. Not a clue,” I confessed.

 “It means the player is running down low lunging forward because in football leverage is everything,” Waylon explained as if it made perfect sense. “Do you get it?”

“Not really,” I said somehow not connecting all the dots and feeling about the same way I did the first time I heard a commentator say a player “left his feet.”

The expression that threw me for a loop years ago was, “They scored on a Hail Mary!”

“Hail Mary?”  What does that have to do with football?  Then I learned it means throwing the ball in the air and praying someone catches it and scores.

Unfortunately, many of us deal with life from a “Hail Mary” perspective.  We put up a few prayers from time to time while hoping for a positive outcome—an attitude completely foreign to the apostle Paul who was an “in it to win it” kind of guy!

He was focused.  He said, “I run with purpose in every step… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27 NLT).

Admittedly, Paul faced many difficult situations, but even then he was in the race of life to win. He refused defeat saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

In Philippians 3:13b-14 NLT Paul said, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

May you and I, like Paul, be people who refuse defeat.  Let’s be people who are in it to win it–people who are “running behind our pads,” totally focused on heaven.

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Heavenly Father, life is a tough race to run–one we often think we can complete by throwing up a few half-hearted prayers from time to time.  But that’s not Your will for our lives. Thank You for reminding us that we must not dwell on the mistakes or hardships of the past.  Instead we must focus on the goal and run with perseverance.  Help us today to run behind our pads, totally focused on heaven.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:1-3; I Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14

Martha

Martha Bailey is a pastor's wife, author of two books--Putting My Dress-up Clothes Away and It Hurts but I'm Okay (available at Amazon and insight Press)--and blogs Wednesdays at marthabailey.com. To find out more about Martha's: Treasures, Past, Christian Service, Publications and Passions, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter.

For Those Who Have Scars…

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: September 8, 2014

My first surgery in 2010 left me with a 6-inch scar running down the back of my left thigh. Of course I know it's there, but since it's on the back of my leg and it's faded over the last few years, it's easy to forget about. This time, however, there was a new scar, and this one wasn't so easy to hide...my port.

For those who don't know, a port is a small device implanted just under the skin for the purpose of delivering chemotherapy drugs. While I am thankful to have had it during chemo, I wasn't looking forward to toting it along on my vacation. It's implanted right under my right collar bone, so it was easy to cover up with clothing through the long, cold winter. But now it was swim suit season. That was a whole new ball game.

Unlike the one on the back of my leg, this was one scar I could not ignore. When someone looked at my face, there it was...a few inches below my chin, looking like it was about to burst out from under my skin. It was unmistakable. It was unavoidable.

That is when I decided...it would just have to be seen, and I (and everyone at Ft. Walton Beach) would just have to live with it!

Strangely enough, it didn't bother me once my feet hit the sand. :) I figured those who didn't know what it was could probably care less. And those who did know what it was...well, they would understand.

They would know that it's more than an ugly protrusion under my skin.

More than a disfigurement.

It's a physical marker of the battle I am waging.  A weapon in my arsenal.

That's the thing about scars...those of us who have them understand what they represent.

We don't see the ugly or the imperfection.

We see the struggle.

The fight.

The victory.

As I type this, I am recovering from yet another surgery, and I have yet another scar. Before all is said and done, I'll likely have two more.

I don't like scars. Not because they're ugly, but because they represent pain. Deep pain. Pain no one should have to endure.

They remind us of a time when we were weak, vulnerable.

And for that reason, I'm learning to appreciate my scars. I don't know that I'll ever grow to love them. But I pray I will always remember what they represent...

"My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak,  then I am strong."  2 Cor 12:9, 10

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

THARSEO

By: Monica Steely
Posted: September 4, 2014

You direct me on a path that leads to A BEAUTIFUL LIFE. As I walk with you, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment” (Psalm 16:11)

 

There has been pain.

Pain when two boys we used to care for in our home were killed. Pain when a fellow student in high school died. Pain when my family shifted and changed unexpectedly after college, and the foundation of everything I thought that was suddenly wasn’t, and everything I thought I had vanished and a series of heart-bursting earthquakes left me shaking, empty and broken.

 

Yes, there has been pain. But there’s also been beauty.

 

There was beauty when I was a teenager and would sneak in the back of church on Sunday nights — when I had done something I knew I shouldn’t, or was feeling something bigger than I knew how to express, or was confused or sad or lost. I’d sneak in the side door on the far right-hand side of the sanctuary and sit right there, on the second to last row under the balcony, where the lights were dim and

 

And every time — every single stinking time — God would have gotten there first, and sat there so quietly and invisible that it wasn’t until I felt His huge arms wrap around my body tightly that I realized I actually had sat on His lap, not just the pew. And for the entire service, He would just hold me tight and I would cry until there was nothing left.

 

There was beauty when as a young adult I reached the end of my rope — when the path of pain and shock and tears all converged right there at God — and my options were simply Will You? or Won’t You? and out of sheer desperation I fell to the side of my bed and whispered, I will. 

 

It wasn’t until I felt His huge arms wrap around my body tightly that I realized He had gotten there first and I had actually fell into His lap, not just the floor. And He held me tightly and I cried until there was nothing left.

 

And there was beauty when I a real-live grown-up and faced tragedy and loss and shook my fist at God asking, Why me? and He gently – oh so gently – whispered back,

Why not you?

 

and my pride vaporized and I again found myself in His lap, arms tightly holding me as tears fell until there were no more.

 

There has been pain. But there has been even more beauty.

 

We all know suffering. We know the question-raising, faith-doubting, back-turning pain this life brings — whether we’re affected by it, or it’s our own personal story to tell — we know it. We see it throughout the Bible, in our communities and in our world. The consequences of a fallen world mean we will have pain.

 

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. BUT TAKE HEART! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
 

And the secret to not just surviving the suffering but thriving in it is tucked right there in the end of the verse. The take heart, or be of good cheer as it’s sometimes translated. The original Greek of that phrase is wrapped up in one word — THARSEO — literally meaning ‘be of good cheer’ or ‘be of good courage.’

 

And that phrase — THARSEO — is either spoken by Jesus or in direct relation to Him each of the eight times used in the Bible.

 

THARSEO – Your sins are forgiven. (Matt 9:2)

 

THARSEO – Your faith has healed you. (Matt 9:22)

 

THARSEO – It is I. You have nothing to fear. (Matt 14:27)

 

THARSEO – Do you see? It is I. (Mark 6:50)

 

THARSEO – He calls for you. Get up and go to Him. (Mark 10:49)

 

THARSEO – Your faith has made you well again. (Luke 8:48)

 

THARSEO – I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

 

THARSEO – You have successfully told your story about Me in Jerusalem, and soon you will do the same in Rome. (Acts 23:11)

 

Our defining moments — the moments that lead us to a life of beauty or a life of ashes — come when we’re standing facing that fork in the road deciding between the Why Me? Path or the Why Not Me? Path.

 

As we stand there we hear Him call THARSEO! and we either choose to be of good cheer or we don’t.

 

And it’s choosing the Tharseo path — the Why Not Me? path — that leads to a beautiful life.

 

Protect me, God, for the only safety I know is found in the moments I seek You. (Psalm 16:1)

 

A Beautiful Life is not about how to avoid suffering or pain or difficulty. But it is about choosing God and the joy and contentment He alone brings — regardless of our circumstances — is what makes life beautiful.

 

Because God is in the business of making beauty out of ashes, if we first choose to Tharseo. 

 

God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes. (Isaiah 61:3a)

 

He’s in the business of abundant futures and eternal riches, if we first choose to Tharseo.

 

You, Eternal One, are my sustenance and my life-giving cup. In that cup, You hold my future and my eternal riches. (Psalm 16:5)

 

He’s in the business of making glad hearts and joyful souls if we first choose to Tharseo.

 

This is a good life—my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest. Who could want for more” (Psalm 16:9)

 

He’s in the business of giving us victory in life, not making victims, if we first choose to Tharseo.

 

To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness. (Isaiah 61:3)

 

God longs to raise up Victors…to bring freedom to those that have been enslaved to their circumstances for too long…to show you how beautiful life truly is and empower you to choose the Tharseo path — to give you a heart of courage and good cheer.

 

THARSEO! He calls for you. GET UP AND GO TO HIM.

 

__

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout.

 

Watercolor hearts photo ©iStock.com/beastfromeast (modified by Monica Steely)

 

How are you going to love?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: August 28, 2014

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37  Then he said to his disciples,  “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  38  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”                                                Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus had compassion for the distressed,  the dejected, the lost.  A few years ago,  I was so hemmed in by my need to serve on God’s personal God Squad,  handing out sin citations,  that my love for the lost was overridden by my prideful need to defend God’s truth.  I was still moved by the innocent who were maligned and hurt,  but immune to the sinners birthed from a corrupt culture.  It was then God showed me if I were to love the lost,  I would need more empathy for the “guilty” than for the innocent.  I would need compassion.  And slowly,  He gave me a heart of compassion,  a compassion that compels me to love in action.  A voluntary act of my will, a yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Compassion that compels forces your heart to pay attention with intention.  It kneels down to your child to listen with your eyes. It reaches across the table at that next family gathering.  It knocks on your neighbor’s door.  It extends itself at a ragged shirt sleeve and outstretched hand. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers,  for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.       Hebrews 11:12

Close your eyes and think about someone whom you love with your whole heart.  Someone easy to love. Then create a mental montage of those who may not have loved you in return.  Now stop,  and think about the family member you are called to love,  but just can’t?  If they died today would you know where they would spend eternity?  If you doubt it is in heaven,  do you feel that is their just reward?  Or do you feel compelled by the same compassion to serve the helpless, to leave the ninety-nine sheep, and seek the one that is lost?  In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus identified the needs and saw that the workers were few.  

Do you think he was only speaking to His disciples after a series of mega-picnics that fed thousands?  Or is His word living and active today and it includes us?

The answer is yes,  we are His disciples. In verse 38,  Jesus tells us to ask  (pray)  the Lord to send,  some translations say force,  the workers into his harvest field.  

What if,  just what if,  you were praying and God commanded you to harvest the field?  Could you do it steeped in the confines of judgement and condemnation with arms crossed?  Or suffused in His grace and mercy like those loving arms, outstretched on the cross?

... “Simon son of John,  do you truly love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said,  “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said,  “Take care of my sheep.”  17  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep."             John 21:15-17

Jesus posed the question to Peter three times, “Do you truly love me?”  By the third time,  Peter was hurt.  How could Jesus ask him three times?  Peter said,  “You know that I love you.”  If Jesus knows all things, why was he asking?  He certainly wasn’t asking Peter because He didn’t know.  He was relentless in His questioning not for Peter to affirm his love, but for Peter to decide how he was going to love.  Jesus asked Peter and today He asks us to display His love through compassion.  A compassion that should compel us to feed the innocent lambs and take care of the lost sheep.  

The question remains, how are YOU going to love?

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram