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Archive for January, 2012


As I write this, I hope you are able to capture the essence of this pencil drawing.  At the time when I struggled with discovering my heart as a woman and opening myself up enough to give it fully and completely to the Lord God, an artist friend did this pencil drawing for me that reads, “You Can Trust Me with Your Heart.”  It is a frequent reminder that God’s love abounds toward me even when I am feeling unworthy of His love.

Romans 5:8 reminded me that “God showed His great love for [me] us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  God didn’t wait until I cleaned up my life, until I got rid of all of the emotional baggage from my past.  No, in fact, He extended His love first so that I knew it was safe to let go of all that baggage and pain.  WOW!  Romans 5: 10-11 continues by stating that “since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by His life.  So now we can rejoice in our new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends with God.

Oh, Lord Jesus, how can I not entrust my heart to You when You gave your very life so that I might be restored to friendship with my Heavenly Father?  Forgive me for those times when I doubt Your love.  I know it isn’t You that I doubt, but that my own insecurities start screaming louder than Your whispers of love.  Draw me to Yourself.  Bolster me with the courage to trust You with all of those parts of my heart that only are safe in Your Hands.  Amen. 

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Standing on the shore of the Grand River in Lansing, Michigan, I cried out to my Heavenly Father asking for relief from the pain ripping out my gut.  As I wept, I screamed, accused in anger, claimed Bible verses that speak of His healing power and then I fell silent.  It was in the midst of that silence that I heard His whisper in my wounded heart—“give me this.”  Just as He spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 33:12-23), and Elijah at the entrance of the cave (I Kings 19:12).  Oh, I didn’t hear His voice audibly, yet, I knew what He was asking and just as Moses and Elijah were frightened, I too understood that this was a defining moment for my spiritual journey and I was petrified.

What did it mean—give my heart to Him?  How could He love me?  I had so messed up! I had hurt others and hurt myself?  Yet, the Lord says, “O my son, give me your heart.  May your eyes delight in my ways of wisdom.” (Proverbs 23:26).   If the Lord wanted my heart, I realized I had to figure out what was in my heart before I could give it to Him.  So began a journey on discovering my heart.

Getting comfortable enough to give God my heart began with getting comfortable with love.  After all, we were created in God’s image and God is love.  Being uncomfortable with love would mean that I was uncomfortable with myself (no secret there—I didn’t like times alone, but preferred always being in the presence of others).  I recognized that all of this began in my heart where I did not truly believe I was lovable and therefore, I found it hard to receive God’s gift of unmerited love and favor.

Being intimate with my heart meant that I had to be authentic with me—transparent about my emotions, fears, mistakes and successes.  Sometimes it was easy to believe the negative about myself than to believe good attributes.  So, I had to be honest about the good aspects of my life, my character, and abilities as well as acknowledging the mistakes and negative parts of my life.  That was the beginning.

I spent a lot of time in prayer.  First, I asked God to open my heart so I could examine it.  Then, I prayed that He would give me the courage and the strength to lay at the foot of the cross all that I found in my examination.  Finally, I asked to be a new creation in Him, just as He promises is available in II Corinthians 5:17, “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone.  A new life is begun!”  I wanted that new life free of baggage and weakness.  I wanted to be whole.

The journey wasn’t easy, but God protected me and my heart as I peeled away each layer of pain until I was able to expose the beauty within.  For each of us willing to be courageous enough to allow Him to hold our heart, we will find that He holds it with merciful tenderness.  No one holds a fragile heart like Jesus.  I pray each of you will experience the intimacy of His touch today.

Thank you Lord for giving to me a new life so rich and free.  Amen.      

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Editors Note: As Given the Time Daily Devotional contributors have shared their hearts and stories this month on the spiritual transforming work God has been doing in their hearts to draw them closer to Himself and align their lives with that of Jesus Christ.  It is evident that each of these women have sought a level of intimacy with God as their Heavenly Father. 

This week, our writers will continue sharing how they have battled fears, anxieties, trust issues and guilt to discover abundant joy in an intimate relationship with God as their Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ as the Lover of their Soul, and security and comfort from the Holy Spirit as He guided them with wisdom to intimacy. 

Intimacy:

1. the state of being intimate.

2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.

3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with Japan.

4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like: to allow the intimacy of using first names.

5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.

(Definition from online dictionary)

Repeatedly God’s Word tells us that He loves us. John 3:16 is a verse familiar to many, but from the beginning He has sought to assure us of His great love. (Deu 7:8).  Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us that God says He has “loved us with an everlasting love.”

It is easy for me to wrap my brain around the concept of God loving me in theory, but in practical application in my life and acknowledging that love personally means I open myself up to share intimately with Him.  But what does intimacy look like?  What will I experience with intimacy? What does God expect of me if I am to draw close and have an “affectionate and loving personal relationship” with Him?  Is there certain responsibilities that go with being spiritually transformed into an intimate relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ?

Oh, Father God, I long for a close, personal relationship with you.  At the same time, the thought of being transparent and open with You is frightening.  Oh, I know you are omnipotent and omnipresent—I can’t escape You.  It is me that I am afraid of.  Walk with me through this time of transformation Lord God that I might learn it is safe to be intimate with You and that You will hold me close as I learn to be intimate with myself.  I love you, Lord.  Amen


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The “heart of a woman” invites.  A woman who is authentic and reveals her feminine, beautiful heart invites others to share in a life of passion and joy.  Oh yes, being that woman is a risk.  Exposing my true heart and inviting others to share with me in that authentic place is based on hope.  The hope comes from a sincere desire to draw others to the love and grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I have learned I best offer my authentic self by asking good questions and bringing forth the truths and wisdom God has given me.  Each of those truths or pieces of insight is like a glimpse into His heart.  Through being real and authentic, I passionately reveal God’s irresistible appeal because, ultimately, my role is to invite others to know God.  To experience Him as I have—all His grace, His mercy and His forgiveness.  Phil 2:12-13 challenges me to “work out” my salvation and this is where I most have to work—I have to be fully woman.  I can no longer hide the real me if I want to invite others to find His healing touch or experience the love He has showered on me.

Oh, yes, I want to continue to be useful and serve my Lord.  But, in this journey we call life, most of all, I want to offer God my heart so that He might use it to show others His beauty, His joy and the precious gift of His presence through the Holy Spirit that fulfills and invites peace.

Oh, Father God, to offer my heart is to allow You to draw others through beauty and gentleness rather than through aggressive demands.  Keep me soft today Lord God that others might see Your gentleness, Your desire for laughter and love.  Never more has this cynical, critical world needed the touch of my woman’s heart.  Take it Lord God.  I entrust it to Your safe keeping.  When I extend my feminine beauty toward others, keep me authentic and kind so that others see Your irresistible appeal.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

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So, if feminine is more than soft, frilly, lacy, silky trappings but is truly about authenticity, how do I allow my heart to be exposed to a world that often wants to trample all over that part of me?  How do I live out there where others can see and experience me in that way?

It is only as I become intimately connected with my Lord God that I find the safety and security to open that part of me and allow Him to use it to add value to others.  Beauty adds richness to the mundane.  Like a rich, dark chocolate exploding on the tongue or the perfume that flows naturally from a rose, God urges me to release that part of me that He has made beautiful.

God breathed life into us (Genesis 2).  God made woman as His final crowning glory to set forth before the world His beauty.  The heart of woman is beauty.  Women were meant to invite and draw people with our woman’s heart to God’s captivating glory.  (Isa 55:1-2, and Song of Solomon 4:9-15). 

The world is hungry for what we offer as women—beauty.  It is no secret that the beauty of flowers, smells, sunsets, sunrises—in fact, all of creation sets forth God’s beauty and goodness.  God has planned for women to be the ones to share that beauty with the world.  Author Simone Weil wrote, “The beauty of the world is almost the only way by which we can allow God to penetrate us. ..Beauty captivates the senses in order to obtain permission to pass straight through to the soul.  The soul’s inclination to love beauty is the trap God most frequently uses in order to win it.”  God has given this gift of beauty to women.  We bear the image of God.

Most of the shame and guilt we have experienced as women is because of the conflict between this God-given beauty and the messages the Enemy tries to contain us with.  Yet, when we fail to accept how beautifully we are made and reflect that beauty to our world, we allow the Enemy to deprive us of an opportunity to draw others to our Beautiful Creator God.  The only thing standing in the path to keep us from experiencing all of the abundance of joy God wants us to find in our beauty (John 15:11) is our doubts and fears about being authentic.  It is where we become most vulnerable.  Solution—drawing intimately into the arms of Jesus and allowing His love to enfold us and surround us.

 

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Feminine? Does that mean soft? Is feminine always equated with sexy? Temptress? When do I feel feminine?  When do I feel it is okay to be soft, nurturing, gentle?

Discovering my heart is critical.  After all, if I don’t know my heart, I can’t give it to the Lord God for His benefit.  Neither can I give it to anyone else.  I can’t give what I don’t know I am giving.  I wouldn’t even know if I truly gave it if I don’t know my heart.  So, what does it mean to have the “heart of a woman” and be spiritually transparent to share my feminine heart with those around me?

The dictionary defines feminine as a “set of attributes or characteristics that either gender may exhibit.”  So what does feminine look like to you?  After much searching and analysis of those individuals I consider feminine, I concluded that for me the characteristics are: kindness—genuine caring for others; positive encouragement for the dreams, goals and desires of others; gentleness—not harsh in their language or masculine in their style, mannerisms, walking or talking.  The phrase “talking like a truck driver” comes to mind as something that is not feminine in my mental image.

Feminine is that woman who pursues and encompasses in her life the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), as well as being willing to be passionate about life and fully present to those she interacts with in life.  (Note:  please share your comments about what you view as feminine and what it means to share your woman’s heart—all of us can benefit from your journey). 

Out of history, Annie Oakley, Dolly Madison, Martha Washington, Molly Pitcher, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Mother Theresa, Julie Andrews, Sojourner Truth, Jacqueline Onassis, Ella Fitzgerald, Beverly Sills make me think of feminine.  None were milk-toast or weak women.  None shrunk back from fully being passionate about their values or beliefs.  Yet, none resorted to harsh, abrasive conduct to communicate those beliefs.  All were activists who did so while being fully women.  Passionate women with very different styles and personal characteristics yet, they all model femininity.

So, where/when do I allow that feminine part of me to shine out?  When I read God’s Word—I remember I am the Daughter of the King of Kings; His little girl.  When I pray, I speak to Him as my Father, my brother and the Lover of my Soul and I am all woman.  When I play with a child.  When I remember I am God’s beloved.  When I cook and bake—I am nurturing, being a caring kind person reaching out with softness.  Feminine is where I am being most authentically me—the real me—where my heart is most exposed for others to see God’s grace that has set me free.  (Note: I intentionally left out a relationship with a man because that can become a role where we women get mixed messages between what is feminine and what is sexy or sensual—this is about being connected to the heart as a woman, not connected just in a relationship with another who affirms or denigrates us as women).

Lord God, I want my heart to be fully 100% surrendered to You so that when others look at my heart they see Your beauty, Your grace, Your love, Your joy, Your peace—all of the Fruit of the Spirit that flows out of a heart fully devoted to You.  Amen

 

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“Is it a new thought to you that your heart as a woman is the most important thing about you?  What does that mean to you?” These are questions that struck me as I started to re-read John and Stasi Eldredge’s book, Captivating.  (pg. 9).  I am challenged—what does my heart “as a woman” look like, feel like, desire, respond to, hope for…?

Perhaps like me, you too are challenged and wonder if you even know your heart.  I put my hand on my chest and feel my heart beat—but is that the same as my heart?  I can touch my wrist or neck and feel the blood rushing to and from my heart—but that isn’t my heart.  I can feel heaviness in my chest and sorrow when I learn sad news.  But is that really my heart?

Living in a man’s world professionally has pushed me to pursue effectiveness and competency, but in the midst of those situations have I forgotten what it means to be feminine and speak from my woman’s heart?  I have friends who live in a Victorian-oriented world of lacy, frilly, soft pastels and while I admire and enjoy that I come home to my more clean and simple decorating scheme.  I watch friends who wear lace, ruffles and dresses that certain promote their feminine assets without being sexy or tart, but then dress in my conservative, “professional”, business-oriented suits.

Where do I find the balance?  Where do I allow the soft part of myself to be revealed?  Do I even know what being feminine means?  Deborah (Judges 4) was a strong leader.  In fact, she leads men into battle as a judge.  Abigail (I Samuel 25) saved her husband and many others from destruction by operating from her woman’s nurturing, compassionate heart and yet, clearly she was a woman of strength to have lived with such a difficult man for years.

Please Lord God, show me I am captivating—not in the eyes of man, but in Your eyes.  Draw me to your chest, Lord.  Hold me close as Your little girl.  Hold me so tight that I know it is safe to unlock my heart and let the world see the beauty You have poured inside.  I ask, Lord, that You help me discover the joy of being fully woman—feminine for You.  Amen

 

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