Good things always come wrapped in brown paper packaging, right!!!
I am so excited to share this with you.
The latest edition of Thryve magazine has featured an article that my very good friend, Mara Clements wrote.
(She’s a stunning beauty on the outside and inside)
It’s her first publication and also her first ever submitted piece. SO, SO VERY COOL!!! But more than that her words are meaningful and needed. Her article, ‘Nothing to Lose’ touched deep within the recesses of my heart to reveal the fear that lived there.
I have the permission and great joy to post the article on my site. Thryve is a relevant, visually beautiful, important magazine that gives women a voice and allows us to heal by sharing our failures and pointing to our Savior.
read more of Issue No. 5 at thryvemag.com
Nothing to Lose
By Mara Clements
Thryve Magazine NO. 5 Fearless
Abraham placed his own son on an altar for God without question (Genesis 22), Peter and the believers in the book of Acts valiantly proclaimed the Gospel in the midst of persecution, and the apostle Paul wrote that the churches in Macedonia gave even beyond their means without fear (2 Corinthians 8). If you’re anything like me, wouldn’t you love to be listed with these fearless men and women who displayed selflessness, boldness, and unrestrained generosity in the midst of uncertainty and adversity? But, if we’re being completely honest, we’re afraid because it feels like there’s way too much at stake for us to live like that. It almost seems reckless. For one thing, our happiness is at stake if we lose our child to the world, right? And we put our reputation at risk if we say the wrong thing at the wrong time while witnessing to a friend. Then there’s our security that might be jeopardized if we give carelessly to someone in need.
The truth is, we’re all fearful of one thing or another. Abraham spent years afraid he would never have a son (Genesis 15). Peter, who eventually became the founder of the early Church, was scared to tell a servant girl that he knew Jesus (John 18:15-27).
Even Paul, the first and greatest missionary, was afraid when he went to speak to the Corinthians (Acts 18:9-10). The playing field has been leveled, girls. We’re human and we’re all afraid of something.
But here’s the good news (and it’s so good): for those of us who recognize our weakness, God reveals His matchless grace (James 4:6). For those of us struggling with the fear of losing control, feeling unacceptable, or being taken advantage of, God poured Himself out through the person of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to micromanage everything to feel safe. We don’t have to look perfect and say all the right things to be loved. And we don’t have to put up walls to guard against rejection. God Himself put on
flesh and came to our level to rescue us from fear through His perfect love (1 John 4:13-19). Perfect love looks like this: The omnipotent Creator of the universe humbled Himself by coming to us as a needy baby that grew into a toddler and then a teenager and then a man who was eventually mocked and killed by the very people He came to save. But hallelujah, by taking sin’s punishment (death) on His perfect self, He defeated sin’s power over us! And He didn’t stop there. He rose back to life, conquering death so it would no longer have its sting!
Jesus overpowered sin and the grave so that we could rest in His goodness and His sovereignty because we could never be those things for ourselves. And not only did He rescue us from a life apart from Him (hell), but He rescued us from the guilt and shame that sin tries to shackle us to every day. That means He doesn’t just save us when we first believe, but He saves us day after sinful day! Paul said it so well when he wrote to the church in Galatia, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We can stand firm in the truth that we are accepted and loved by God despite what we do or don’t do. Instead of getting caught up in our work for Him, let’s get caught up in His work for us. That’s where our freedom comes to live selflessly, speak boldly, and give extravagantly, because we have nothing to lose!
If we don’t have to fear the shame and guilt of our past because of God’s unconditional love for us; if we don’t have to fear rejection because we are completely acceptable to God through Christ; if our future is secure because of what Jesus did on our behalf, then what do we really have to fear? Do you see how Paul could remind his son in the faith, Timothy, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love and of
power and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)? God gave us His own Spirit to empower us to walk in the good works He has prepared for us! For you! Despite your mistakes. Despite your weaknesses. Despite your fears. We can actually boast in our limitations because they make room for God to reveal His unrivaled power in and through us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). This truth has the capacity to propel us into the face of the unknown with boldness, into the scary with courage, and into the impossible with confidence! Because we are daughters of the King!
There aren’t any steps to achieving this freedom because the truth is, if you are in Christ, you have already attained freedom by His grace alone. We just need to recognize it or be reminded of it, and there are so many ways to do that. Here are a few:
* Be still. As soon as you feel afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed, stop where you are. Stop trying to hide the mistakes you’ve made with your spouse, stop worrying about how you’re going to get your kids to make the right decisions, and stop stressing about all your deadlines at work. Just stop. Breath out the lie that says you have to control it all, and inhale deeply the truth that says God’s grace is sufficient for you. The truth is that His strength is made perfect in your weakness. Rest in the peace He’s been offering you since you started your busy day of work and errands and relationships. A peace that passes all understanding is available through the power of the Holy Spirit abiding in you! Being still gently cultivates a quiet environment for us to hear God’s voice so we can grow in our friendship with Him.
* Know that He is God. So often our pride blocks our view of God, even our desire to see Him. We get caught up in this pretense that we are in control and we
know best; that we’ve got it figured out and don’t need any help. In essence, we play God. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, we know this idea never works out well. Nevertheless, we fall into its subtle trap each day because that’s our human nature. But in the quiet, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can humbly acknowledge the fact that God is much greater than we could ever imagine, that He doesn’t need our help to rule over heaven and earth, and that He came to set us free for a more abundant life, one that is beyond what we could ever think of or ask for. We are free to let go, to unload the burden of trying to be good enough, and recognize that He was good enough on our behalf. We are free to stop trying to get everything right because He got it right for us on Calvary. And thank God we are free to fail because He succeeded for our sake. Meditating on these truths connects us intimately with our Heavenly Father so He can produce the fruits of the Spirit in us (love, joy, peace, patience, etc…) We can meditate on who God is by admiring the lavish beauty of His creation, by reading about His attributes in Scripture, by recounting His faithfulness to us in times past, and so much more. Studying His character, reciting His promises, and remembering how He has revealed Himself to us enlivens our hearts to worship Him in spirit and in truth as we come face to face with His matchless power and boundless love. The more we get to know Him, the more we are overshadowed by His glory and swept away by His scandalous grace. Oh to know Him more!
* Stand firm. It’s so easy to get distracted by the noises around us. We have alerts for emails and texts, our phones ring for a coffee date here and a staff meeting there, and our kids race around the house while we juggle responsibilities like
bills, dinner and laundry that beg us for attention as well. Sometimes the noise gets so overwhelming that we just give up and numb out by checking Facebook and Twitter, or by watching an entire season of “Friends” on Netflix in a matter of three days (can we be real here?). But by God’s grace, we can choose to set our eyes on the things above and stand firm in the truth we know about our Savior. For the benefit of your own soul, focus in on the good news of the Gospel and the hope of your salvation because, when you take your eyes off of yourself and your circumstances, and plant your gaze on Jesus, the fruits of righteousness begin to take seed. Growth happens when we acknowledge our depravity and recognize the sufficiency of Christ in us, when we die to ourselves and yield to the Spirit alive in us. Vocalizing or writing down our gratitude for who God is, what He’s done, and what He will do can help us stand firm in His sovereignty, His grace, and His power. It takes the focus off of us and puts it back where it belongs, on Jesus. We aren’t called to stand firm in our love for Him; we are called to bask in His extravagant love for us. We were created to glorify Him by enjoying this beautiful relationship that is without condition, so His light will overflow out of our very pours and engulf the people we come into contact with each day.
These aren’t steps to freedom; these are a few of the gifts God’s given us to remind us of the freedom we already possess. We are free to be fearless like Abraham because we trust the Lord is sovereign and good. We can let go of trying to control our spouse, our children, our career path, and cast our hurt, our anxiety, and our unfulfilled dreams on the One who cares for us and has called us according to His purpose. We are free to be
fearless like the Christians in Acts because we believe our acceptance comes from our Heavenly Father and not from men. We can share the good news with boldness, caring more about Christ’s reputation than our own because our security is found in Him alone. We are free to give fearlessly like the believers in Macedonia because we know our God has and will supply all our needs according to His riches and glory. We can give and serve and love extravagantly without expecting anything in return because we have all we need in Christ.
So take up your armor, which is the Gospel, the good news of redemption and power through Jesus Christ our Lord, and stand firm against the enemy’s schemes to shame you, to discourage you, or to overwhelm you. Delight in the truth that God has forgiven you, He loves you, and He’s fighting for you. For freedom Christ set you free, dear sister. So entrust your responsibilities to His care while you take pleasure in His presence. Take risks knowing His grace has given you the liberty to fail and try again. Go into the world and live fearless because you are a child of Almighty God and nothing can separate you from His perfect love.
From Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid…Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident… For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord… You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to
You, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”…I believe I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Luke 1:68-75. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.”
I love getting a little peek into the lives of my customers. The items I make play a small part of their story- birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, milestones of all kinds AND…. my personal favorite…proposals!
I was extra excited and moved to tears when one of my customers graciously sent me photos of how she and her fiancé used a set of proposal props from my shop. Jennifer is a beautiful and excited bride- to -be…she’s also the future stepmom of two gorgeous boys (pictured below). Jennifer mentioned that although the photos weren’t picture perfect they were better than picture perfect to her. I absolutely agree . Those boys couldn’t take a bad photo if they tried. I also agree with her philosophy, picture perfect is boring.
Sometimes life goes better than we can ever plan or imagine. The picture in our mind can limit us. Being as open-hearted and relaxed as Jennifer is can only allow for more love and happiness to flow, not just in her life but to the ones she impacts and influences. Those boys are blessed..all three!
I wanted to share in hopes of inspiring you because I was inspired by this beautiful family. Jennifer was kind enough to share a few words about what this new role means to her.
You know what’s better than perfectly staged pictures of two healthy, active, curious, one year olds? Knowing that before long I officially get to be stepmom to these cuties, and this hot guy’s wifey. Love my little family! When I came into their life they were not even two months old, I knew all three of them had my heart. Not my step heart, my whole heart. I used to pray and pray for twins. God has a funny way of answering prayers. I’m so blessed. What happens in reality is almost always better than what you pictured. It’s like God knows what’s best or something crazy like that.- Jennifer V.