All posts by lanetteh67@gmail.com

Your Love Was Greater

There is a pain that is so deep it seems unreachable yet tangible, present yet so surreal, forgiven and yet still so grievous.

That pain will always be with me, at least this side of Heaven. Yes, I’m forgiven by God and I’ve forgiven myself but the pain, it never leaves, and I’m not sure I would want it to.

You see, it’s because of that pain that I’m able to love deeply, and to reach out to others who have endured their own painful past.

But because I’m forgiven my past is no longer a reminder of shame and guilt but a platform to lead others out of darkness and captivity into truth and freedom through Christ.

It’s because of Jesus and the pain He endured that I understand the cost of my salvation, a debt I could never repay. Those who have been forgiven much, love much.

My sin was great, Your love was greater. What a beautiful name it is. Jesus. 

We can’t change our past but we can give it to Him and when we do He gives us a message. We can't change our past but we can give it to Him and when we do He gives us a message. Click To Tweet

Tonight I had the house all to myself which is pretty rare so I chose to relax and watch October Baby, a movie very dear to my heart. I’ve seen it many times before but I feel as if I take something more from it each time I watch. It was this quote that stood out to me.

“Only in forgiveness can you be free…”

There’s a part of me that has struggled believing that I had a right to speak out against abortion because I’m a post-abortive woman.

I’ve used my voice to talk about my own pain but to be honest, I’ve worried that if I spoke out publicly against abortion that others would see me as a hypocrite.

But who better to speak out against the atrocities of war than the soldiers who have been on the frontlines – those wounded in body, mind and soul.

I’ve been on the frontlines and I’m telling you, it’s a place you do not want to be. It’s pure evil. And the physical pain cannot compare to the emotional soul-searing pain that endures. Please do not make the same choice that I and so very many others have made.

If you’ve already made that choice please do not feel condemned but know that what Jesus did on the cross was enough to cover your sin and mine.

Your debt was paid, you’ve already been forgiven. All you have to do is receive it and you will be free.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Recently I reached a milestone birthday – the BIG 5 0 – and in the days since, I’ve also reached the conclusion that age really is just a number.

Those numbers arrived and departed quietly and without any effort just like any other day.

Just. Another. Day.

Day in and day out I accomplish what needs to be done, over and over without effort, without thought, without inspiration.

More and more I’ve come to realize just how disappointing that has been. (I hope you’re imagining the “time to make the donuts” guy)

I look around and see others setting goals and reaching them, celebrating their efforts.

And to be completely honest, I’m envious.

I’m envious of the women who put hours in at the gym and have much to show for their efforts.

I’m envious of the women whose words are being published in books and in articles being read all over the world.

I’m envious of the women who have used their God-given talents and started their own successful businesses.

I’m envious and I have absolutely NO right to be!

You see, they’ve put in the effort. They’ve set goals and they’ve worked hard to reach them. Here I am, day after day, just trudging along not making any effort, not setting any goals and most of all not realizing any dreams.

Oh I’ve made excuses…

I don’t have enough time. I’m too tired. I can’t afford it. I’m too old to start again. And actually a few of those are pretty valid excuses but not helpful if I want to get something I’ve never had, do something I’ve never done or be someone I’ve never been.

Excuses are a death sentence to dreams.Excuses are a death sentence to dreams. Click To Tweet

I’ve subscribed to the idea that selflessness is next to godliness but if I’m envious of what others are accomplishing, isn’t that a twisted form of false humility? (Yikes!)

In the same breath sacrificing self care, and self worth isn’t serving anyone well, and it certainly isn’t serving any good purpose.

Maybe some of you can relate. Maybe (like me) you feel like you’ve wasted a lot of precious time. But I believe there’s still hope for us.

So where do we go from here?

First and foremost we need to set some realistic goals.

Committing to several hours a day in the gym is not realistic (at least not for me) but thirty minutes a day doing something good for our health is doable, right?

Spending several hours a day writing may not be realistic but setting aside a few hours a week certainly should be. Getting it on our schedule is the hardest part but consistency will pay off in the end.

Continue reading Where Do We Go From Here?

My Shame is Undone – finding freedom in His presence

For many who know me it may be a surprise to hear that I wasn’t raised in a Christian home.
We didn’t attend church together, pray before meals/bedtimes, or talk about our need of a Savior even though a Savior is exactly what we needed. But my parents did the best that they could with wounded hearts from painful pasts and baggage they were never meant to carry.

Although it wasn’t a Christian home, there isn’t a time that I can remember not believing in God. I believed in Him, I just didn’t believe it was His plan for me to exist. Learning at a very young age that I had been adopted (by my dad), I came to the conclusion that I must be a mistake and if that were true then God couldn’t possibly have a plan for me.

Over the years I continued to believe those lies which only multiplied and left me painfully shy and even more insecure.

My purpose in sharing these things is not to hurt anyone, especially my parents, but to make others aware that what they see on the outside may not always be a reflection of what is on the inside. Those who knew me or knew of me probably had no idea of my struggles. I share my past because I don’t want anyone to look at me now and think that I didn’t have to go through difficult things in my life to get to where I am today.

If we don't deal with our past we carry it into the present and pass the pain onto future generations. Click To Tweet Unfortunately I’ve seen this in my own life and in the lives of my children.

I made choices in my past that brought much shame (only adding to the shame already left there by the choices of others). I saw little or no value in myself and therefore didn’t expect anyone else to either.

All those lies, all that shame, kept me far from any plans God had for me — exactly where the enemy wanted me.

For the most part I was able to keep my shame hidden, masking my pain until His grace found me.
You see, when Jesus chose the cross He rescued me from the prison of my past, He was the key to my freedom and now He uses my testimony to lead others to freedom.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
Revelation 12:11

The enemy wants us to remain silent.
He wants us to keep those secrets hidden in the darkest corners of our hearts and minds but Jesus wants us to shine our lights to give hope to those who are prisoners to their own shameful past.

I was a mess without Jesus but my life with Him became a message. Click To Tweet

So here’s the thing, when others look at me I want them to see a life restored, redeemed, renewed. I want them to know who I used to be so that they can see what is possible with Jesus.
The truth is I was a liar, a thief, an adulteress, a murderer. I’ve been abused, betrayed, abandoned, rejected, lied to, lied about, molested, raped, divorced twice. I was all of those things and so much more but Jesus chose to die for me because of His great love for me. NO ONE  could ever love me the way that He does. And no one could do for me what He has done.

And friend, He loves you too. Do not let the enemy of your soul convince you that you’ve done too much, or gone too far for Jesus to love you.
What He did on the cross was enough to wash away all of your sins and the sins committed against you. He is the key that opens the door to set you free.

Will you let Him rescue you, redeem you, restore you, renew you? All it takes is a surrendered heart. He has a plan and a purpose for your life, don’t let it be wasted because of anything you’ve done or anything done to you. Jesus was and is enough.

Shame is undone — there is freedom in His presence. He is waiting for you…

Beauty in the Broken

 “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

C. S. Lewis

 
When we focus on the one
The one thing that we struggle with most. The one thing that we like the least about ourselves. The one thing that we want and can’t have. The one thing that we’ve tried and just can’t master. The one person that dislikes us (regardless of how many others love us).
When we focus on the one it’s because we’ve taken our eyes off of The One.
The One who is our strength when we are weak. The One who loves us just as we are. The One who is more than enough. The One who we can do all things through. The One who loves us completely and unconditionally and forever.
But it can be easy to lose sight of Him when we focus solely on the brokenness of the world around us.
I recently began leading the bible study Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson and reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. And I’m realizing more and more that I’m drawn to the broken because I’ve been so very broken myself. But my deepest desire is to lead others to The One who can heal them.
You see, when we focus less on our own brokenness and focus instead on others we find our purpose and beauty in the broken. I’m so thankful that with God nothing is wasted but instead can be used to lead others to the only One who can hold the shattered pieces of their hearts and mend them back together.
November is a perfect time to turn our focus to everything there is to be thankful for — after all — Thanksgiving is right around the corner.
Although sometimes being  thankful can be a challenge and to see God in everything, unimaginable. Our struggles and our suffering — a shattered dream, a wounded heart — those deeply broken places.
 Well, He is there too.  The thankfulness comes when we realize that we’re not alone in our suffering — His heart breaking with every broken piece of ours.
He is the Creator of our hearts, the Healer of our wounds, the Collector of our tears, and the Restorer of our souls. He alone can take what was broken and make it into something beautiful. All it takes is one look at Jesus — His body broken for us — to know that’s true.
“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
Vance Havner
I'm thankful for the broken way that has led me to Jesus. Click To Tweet  I’m thankful that the breaking of my heart is an opportunity to show Him as Healer. I’m thankful that the words of my testimony are a light leading others out of the darkness of their own brokenness to the Light of the World.
I’m thankful that seeing the beauty in the broken helps me to focus on The One who was and is and is to come.
Our God-sized Dreams are nothing apart from Him. When we are willing to lay them down at His altar, willing to sacrifice our own wants and desires, it is then that He accepts our gifts and offers us His.
What about you friends, are you broken? Are you finding it hard to find something to be thankful for and struggling to see God in everything?
Give Him your brokenness as an offering — laying it down, giving thanks and having faith that your sacrifice will reveal His beauty in your broken.

Light in a Dark Place

SON LIGHT

I’ve made mistakes. I’ve lost my way. I’ve struggled, stumbled and really blown it some days. I’ve said some things that I regret and worried about things that haven’t happened yet. I’ve hurt the ones that I love most. On and on my story goes. Broken and wounded, battered and beaten, at times feeling so defeated. Battling an enemy I couldn’t see but saved by the One who died for me. Reaching out with nail pierced hands, lifting me up so I could stand. The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want…

 

I held onto my shame like it was something of great value — something I was trying to protect. The very thing that tormented me was the thing that I couldn’t let go. It was as if I allowed myself grace it would justify my choice.
The same grace that I offered to others, I withheld from myself because deep down I believed I deserved punishment.

When we hold onto shame and guilt expecting punishment aren’t we saying that what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t enough to cover our sin? Was our sin so great that Jesus needed to do more?

When we think of it in those terms of course the answer is a resounding NO! What Jesus did on the cross was ENOUGH.

So why do we hold on? Maybe we’re afraid of being exposed. If we share our secrets, if we tell our stories then others will know the truth. So we keep it hidden and there in the dark, our fear grows out of control threatening to consume us.

And that is exactly where the enemy of our soul wants us to be.

Prisoners to our past — shame, guilt, and fear our only companions as we live each day in isolation. We learn to mask those things that threaten to destroy us, fooling those around us, sometimes even fooling ourselves. Click To Tweet

But the truth is no matter how hard we try to hide our enemy knows where to find us.

Here's the good news — each time we expose his lies we take away his power over us. Click To Tweet When we refuse to let our shame keep us silent — when we allow Jesus to shine His light in those dark places — we overcome.

 

Revelation 12:11 (NASB) And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

For some of us the thought of anyone knowing the truth scares us to death. We fear judgment. We fear isolation. We fear condemnation. We fear the very things that we live when we hold onto our past.

When we trust Jesus with the truth, His blood covers our sin, our shame, our fear and His love overcomes — even to the point of death.

You know what I’ve found to be true? Every time I speak out about my past, each time I share my struggles, or expose my shame, wounded hearts are healed, including my own. Every time I trust Jesus, He shines even brighter in those dark places. And I know that one day His light is all that you will see…

Friends, trust Jesus. Let Him expose the lies of the enemy. Let Him shield you with His truth and let Him shine brightly in those dark places. I promise that you won’t be the only prisoner who is set free!

Give others hope by sharing your testimony. Lead them out of the shame of their past into the future that is promised to them.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.

I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

You Make Me Brave

waves

Today I was thinking about some friends who will be leaving soon for Africa. They’re answering the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus half way around the world — packing up what little belongings they’re able to take and going. They’re leaving all of their family and friends, and everything they’ve ever known, for the unknown.

And I thought — I could never be that brave. 

Then my thoughts turned to family and friends that have bravely fought or are fighting for their lives against diseases like cancer. They face the unknown and endure treatment and surgeries that often times weaken their bodies, and yet they continue to be so very brave.

And I wondered — would I be that brave?

Then there are those who bravely tell their stories, helping others to see that they’re not alone. We can easily become prisoners to our pasts — chained by the shame and guilt of what we’ve done or what others have done to us. But when we choose to bravely speak up it gives others the courage to be brave too — setting the captives free.

And then I decided — I will be that brave.

I’ve never wanted to stand out but desperately wanted to blend in and not be noticed. I’ve never wanted to be a speaker. As a matter of fact, getting up in front of others makes me shake in my boots. But as I thought about how we’re all called to be brave in one way or another a familiar song began to play in my head and these words were written on my heart…
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

Here’s the thing — we’re all called to be brave but we’re not called to do it in our own strength.

HE. MAKES. US. BRAVE.

Whether you’re traveling half way around the world, or battling sickness and disease, or speaking out to encourage others — HE will make you brave.

In a few weeks I’ll be speaking in front of a very large group of women, sharing my story and hopefully encouraging others to do the same. He’s calling me out, but I know I don’t have to fear because He makes me brave.

Friends, wherever He is calling you, don’t be afraid. He will make you brave too.

Finding Our Value

If we were to be honest we would have to admit that most often we base our value on appearance.

Our looks, our jobs, our homes, all play a part in whether or not we believe that we’ve arrived at some great destiny. But what happens if/when the things that we place so much value on are lost?
If we’re living, then we’re also aging. It is a normal process in this journey called life and not a matter of if we age but when we age. To be honest, as a woman I’ve struggled with that process and I know that many of you have too. We try to cover the grey in our hair, smooth out the wrinkles on our faces, fight what they call the middle-aged spread and do it all in a way that doesn’t appear like we’re desperately trying to hang onto our youth but that we’re accomplishing it oh so gracefully.

We may work hard in our jobs or careers to arrive at that place of status where we feel so proud and puffed up about what we’ve accomplished, but what happens if our jobs are eliminated? What happens if we’re replaced? What happens if our company shuts down?
And what about our homes? Friends, let’s be real here — what woman hasn’t had a major anxiety attack while trying desperately to clean the entire house in ten minutes after finding out that company is on the way?? Or felt the need to apologize profusely about the appearance of our homes or ourselves after company unexpectedly arrives. We clean and organize, decorate and display.

None of these are bad things. We should take great care of ourselves, and our homes — they are gifts from God. We should work hard, after all, His word says to do all things as if we’re doing them for him.

 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23

But if we place our value in the things of this world, then we will eventually find ourselves to be greatly disappointed.

We are greatly valued and deeply loved by the One who gave up His very life for us and when we discover our value through Him the things of this world seem to lose their value.

Friends I pray that you look around and see how truly blessed you are but that you look up — to Him — to see how truly valued you are!!

Sharing Our Scars — a beautiful reminder that God uses the broken

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
Vance Havner

 

Looking back over my life I couldn’t remember a time when I was unbroken — even childhood memories held hidden scars. There were those who intentionally inflicted scars through their words and deeds and those who did so unknowingly out of their own brokenness.

But scars — hidden or visible — serve a purpose.

Let’s look at this definition from Wikipedia:
“A scar results from the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process.” 

When we look at the scars in our lives as wounds that have been repaired and healed, then maybe we’re finally able to see them as they were meant to be seen — God’s grace towards us and towards others.

A couple of months ago I had surgery to remove one of my organs. I had been very sick and in much pain when it was discovered that my gallbladder was only operating at twelve percent. The procedure left four small scars. They are visible reminders of my broken body and of my healing.

Sometimes you don’t realize how truly sick you are until you are truly healed. I’m so amazed at how much better I feel and frequently show my scars to others to tell them of my healing.

Isn’t that the way we should live our lives — telling others of our brokenness, sharing our scars and proclaiming our healing through Jesus?
Friends don’t let the scars in your life remind you of the ugliness that caused them, but instead let them be a beautiful reminder of the grace that was poured out for you through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

His body was broken, His hands scarred from the nails, His side pierced, His blood poured out for us.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Tell your story. Share your scars. Proclaim His healing in your life.

Letting Go(d) – sometimes a leap of FAITH requires a little push

Sometimes it’s good to look back to be reminded of what God has done in our lives and how far we’ve come. I wrote this two years ago (this month) as a new chapter was being written in my life and here I am again as yet another new chapter unfolds. Today I’m encouraged by the words of the past — which are much more clear to me now. I’ve revised some of what I had written and added a few things that I’ve learned along the way. It’s my hope that you’re encouraged in whatever chapter God has you in…

Here I am in my late forties and I’m just beginning to become who God created me to be.

Insecurities and doubts have fallen away and in their place FAITH has taken root, not because of anything I’ve done but because of what He has done. And as my faith has grown I’ve learned to let go.

I’ve let go of the plans that I’ve had for myself — the ideas of who I should be and the disappointments of who I’m not.

I’ve let go of the past and all that I’ve done and all that I haven’t done.

I’ve let go of the fear of the what ifs and the regret of the if onlys.

I’ve let go and I’ve let God — I’ve opened my hands and released control.

I’ve prayed, “Not my will Lord, but yours” and meant it.

I’ve stopped trying to figure it all out and I’ve stopped trying to make something happen and have prayed instead, “Move me God, into the position and plan you have for me, whatever that may be.”

I’ve prayed believing that whatever His will is for me, it far exceeds any plans or dreams I’ve had for myself.

We are far more than we ever thought or imagined but so often we are incapable of believing in the possibilities of who we might be — perhaps out of a false sense of humility, or fear of sounding boastful — that we miss out on God’s best.

I can’t boast about my own strengths or abilities but — The ONE who created me, the ONE who knew me before He formed me in my mother’s womb, the ONE who lives in me —  I can assuredly boast about Him and what He desires to do through me!

We’ve heard the words, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”, but do we truly believe them?

God’s purpose and plan for our lives includes realizing who we are in Christ and who He is in us!

We were planned, called, and justified to live according to the purpose God has for us.

We just need to let go and let God do His work in us and through us and leave the details and the outcome to Him.

Romans 8:28-30 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

 

Naked with Strangers

I took  a break from writing, mostly because of an overwhelmed schedule but in recent months some issues with my health have occupied my time as well.
Dealing with health issues can demand that you be still even as you struggle with an addiction to busyness and can also force you into situations you would prefer to avoid — like being naked with strangers.

A couple of months ago an unexplained pain between my shoulders and in my chest landed me in the ER. Even as I stood there in extreme pain while medical professionals quickly worked around me, the words “Take off your clothes and put on this gown.” struck fear in the heart of this modest girl.

As a group of nurses attached electrode patches to my chest and abdomen and started an iv, my biggest fear wasn’t whether or not I was having a heart attack but whether the partially closed curtain would expose my nakedness to the rest of the ER. Ridiculous right? But I’m totally serious!

Test after test would threaten my modesty although each of them failed to provide an answer for the pain I was enduring. None of the strangers that had seen me naked that day could tell me what was wrong.

In the days ahead I would endure more testing (with a little less exposure) and would finally receive an answer. It seems that you can live just fine without a gallbladder but not so well with one that only operates at twelve percent.

As I (impatiently) waited for the day of the surgery to arrive, I continually researched life without a gallbladder. The week prior to the procedure I received the instructions from the surgical center on how to prepare.

There were the usual — nothing to eat or drink after midnight, be sure to have a driver and someone to stay with you but then I read, “No lotions, makeup or hair products are to be used the day of surgery.”

Let me get this straight. Not only do I once again have to be naked in a room full of strangers, but this time I’m required to have a naked face too?

The thought of it was almost too much to bear or bare.

Was I really this vain?? I mean, we’re talking surgery here — my body cut open and an organ removed.

Yes — I had a meltdown because of a no makeup rule.

Why was the thought of exposing my naked face to these strangers so devastating to me? Ok, so I never leave my house without doing my hair and makeup and dressing appropriately (I don’t wear pajamas to the store, although I’m not judging any of you who do!) but seriously?

Was it really the additional exposed skin sending me over the edge or was it more than that?

Then God began to uncover some truths to me.

I had been insecure for as long as I could remember, always pointing out my own flaws — real or imagined — but most often I did a fairly good job of covering them up.

Because I’ve always been outgoing others probably assumed that I was confident but in reality I never felt that I was good enough.

The truth is there were many things that happened in my life that made me feel that way and many people in my life that confirmed it.
At any moment I could have chosen to expose the truth and the lies of it all but instead I chose to cover it all up.
I covered my body to conceal the truth of how others had used it with or without my permission and I covered my face to hide the truth of what I had believed for so long — that I had no value. Because of the things done to me and the things that I had done I believed that I was worthless but my clothes and makeup were like a smoke screen. No one needed to know the truth— except I knew.

Here’s the thing. I was damaged and I knew it but I didn't want anyone else to know and so I hid. Click To Tweet

Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden after they had been deceived by the serpent?

 

Genesis 3:7-10 ESV
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

 

It wasn’t just about being naked, it was about covering my shame.

And that’s the thing — we’re deceived into thinking that we need to cover the shame of who we once were so we use substances to medicate our pain, or relationships to avoid it, sometimes we use busyness in an attempt to make up for our mistakes and failures and sometimes we just lie.

We're all a little broken and we're all at least a little bit afraid of being exposed in all our nakedness. Click To Tweet

Here’s the good news — God can use it.

ALL OF IT.

The nakedness and the brokenness.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” – Vance Havner

 

Modesty is a good quality — I mean who really wants to be naked with strangers — but we should never be afraid to show who we really are regardless of our mistakes, in spite of our shame.

I can’t say that it was extremely comfortable to be completely exposed to a surgical center full of strangers but it was necessary for my healing and I survived it!

And you will too.

You should be more afraid of keeping the painful or shameful things hidden than allowing God to expose them because more than anything He wants to heal you and expose the truth of how He sees you.

We walk out our faith everyday and God continues to reveal Himself to us when we’re not trying so hard to hide from Him.

Share your stories and you will change lives, including your own!

Be blessed friends and be a blessing.