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give yourself permission to allow the beauty of self to shine through (4)

I was such a people pleaser and in trying to be everything to everyone else, I have little idea of who I am.

 Her words, full of regret and confusion, describe me only a few years ago. At times—even after years of seeking wise counsel and prayer—I still struggle with desiring approval.

If you’ve ever felt the pull to be someone you weren’t designed to be; ever buried your thoughts beneath the false assumption that your feelings are inconsequential…irrelevant…immaterial; ever heard yes spill from your mouth when you intended to say no; then you understand.

It was only in beginning to understand authentic, unconditional love that I found release from the terrible, demanding tyrant of seeking always to please others at the cost of genuine personhood.

The ingrained habits of childhood followed me into marriage and, as a newlywed, I “protected” myself from being fully known by remaining meek and agreeable whether or not I agreed with my husband.

The dusty blue and white striped couch is a perfect example.

As my husband and I meandered around the Sears furniture department, we compared several different chairs, couches, and kitchen tables. Pointing out a particular set sofa within our price range, Dave asked for my opinion. I like it. Which…I did, but I preferred a different piece. The traditional one a few steps to the right. I remained silent.

I chose pleasing my husband to sharing myself and was reminded of it each day for the five years that cute little sofa graced our home.

Time has taught me that to be truly loved by others, I must be known as I am—not as others might wish me to be. Not as I imagine I should be. Just the woman God created me to be.

If people pleasing has been your struggle, would you give yourself permission to allow the beauty of self to shine through in your thoughts and actions? Allow Him to reveal the woman He designed you to be—fully known and loved.

Blessings,

Tammy

 

P.S. I always share my opinion when buying sofas now and my husband still loves me. J

 

Ideas that might help as you discover You-

If you, like my friend, feel uncertain about who you are, consider starting small.

  1. Decide on an untried genre of book that sounds interesting or explore a hobby that intrigues you.
  2. Read and memorize scripture that combats doubt about self by affirming your identity in Christ. These are some of my favorites: 1 Thessalonians. 1:4, Psalm 139:14, Ephesians. 1:5
  3. Journal your thoughts, feelings, and discoveries.
  4. Ask a friend, spouse, or mentor to pray for your specific needs as the Lord guides you toward a greater understanding of your identity.

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Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

The four men encouraged their friend, “We’ve heard of his miracles—healing you will be a simple task.”  Resolute, they hoisted their companion and his bedroll onto their shoulders.  Navigating the crowded streets of Judea without dropping the bundle became increasingly difficult as they neared the house.  Men, women, and children; rich and poor; religious leaders and rebels pushed and prodded to gain access to the one called Rabbi.  There was no more room and no way to get any nearer.

Unless….well, it was a long-shot.  Without hesitation, the men gathered the mat and its contents, maneuvered up the stairs to the roof, and with bare hands ripped each tile from its place.  Finally, they glimpsed him below—there, in the midst of the crowd, preaching.  Would he resent their boldness?  Grow angry at the desperate need of their friend?  Glancing nervously at one another, they slowly lowered the bedroll and the man lying upon it at Jesus’ feet.

Undisturbed by the interruption, Jesus glanced upward and then at the weeping, paralyzed man. “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

Like the paralyzed man and his friends, Jesus calls us to live a life of faith.  We can go boldly before Him, lay our “mat” at his feet, and rest in the knowledge that He will meet our needs.

May we have the faith to come before Him today–expecting to walk away changed.

Scripture for Reflection-“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.”   Mark 2:11-12

Action Step-Make a list of three concerns or struggles you are managing today.  Pray about them and give them to God–all day long. Consider including the following Bible verse as part of your prayers, but inserting your name in place of the pronouns my and your instead.

And my ( ____________’s) God will meet all your ( _______________’s) needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Recommended Books

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This is a Christian–one who dares to act as if God tells the truth.”  –Pastor Mark Bates

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.

His life reads like a Hollywood movie–the culmination of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, forced to seek refuge in a distant land, and then offering his life in place of the soldiers who pierced his hands and feet…suffering for the sins of those who pressed a crown of thorns on his head…pronouncing words of forgiveness to a discarded, frightened man bearing the shame of Golgotha.

But, this is not a child’s fairy tale or a superstitious myth dreamed up to explain the unexplainable.  This is Biblical truth; the great love story of God rescuing His people from that great enemy, Sin. The beautiful giving of His life for those willing to risk belief.

Yet the world threatens to overcome…to overwhelm…to overpower belief.

A young man just beginning to live takes his own life–desperate for relief from consuming depression, a child’s small bones ache from arthritis, a next-door neighbor submits to another round of chemo and hopes she’ll have enough energy to play with her children tomorrow.

But there is a story much bigger than our smaller stories–these lives of struggle and prayer, tears and hope.  It is His story–one recorded for us–that tells of the Lion and the Lamb…the Beginning and the End….the Resurrection and the Life.

And while the world threatens, He promises to give abundant life (John 10:10)

…to provide freedom (John 8:36)

…and to love us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

I dare to believe–to act as if what God says is true. Won’t you? Let us encourage one another to hold to our faith, dear Friend, even when we doubt.

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Leave a Jesus-impressionI cupped the butterfly in my hands–watching its wings gracefully open and close. It’s gossamer sails resembled the stained glass of a country church when the sunlight streams through the kaleidoscope of colors and I oohed and ahhed at its beauty.

Gently grasping black-tipped wings, I settled the creature in a field of clover and watched it for a few more minutes. Holding my hands up toward the sky, I tilted them first one way and then another. The butterfly’s scales had left a filmy sheen on my fingers and palm and I worried. Oh, please, let the butterfly dance in the wind again!

Are you like the butterfly? Have you been mishandled? Mistreated? Have you left bits of you behind where life has brushed hard against you?

Sometimes, the impact of brushing against life has sent me spiraling headlong into self. Self-preservation. Self-protection. Self-pity. And I concentrate more on the marks left on me–those places rubbed raw and left vulnerable–instead of looking to the One who strengthens and transforms me through the ebb and flow of living human.

I’ve forgotten to consider…what sort of impression have I left behind when others see the struggle? Has the whole of the difficult been about me or are other lives different…changed…or even better in some way because in the pressing into and through the hard places something like a spiritual transfer occurred? During those times do people see Jesus in me?

A dear woman I know is beginning her second round of  chemotherapy. Transluscent skin peeks from beneath the covers while Patty tells us this is her second missionary journey. Her life is being swallowed by the great, devouring enemy of cancer, but when she is pressed? Rubbed against? The words that flow from her mouth are gentle and sweet…offering hope and forever-life to other cancer patients…nurses…doctors.

Oh, that I when I brush hard against life I could be a woman like my friend. I don’t think it’s easy. We begin to leave Jesus-impressions when we soak our hearts in His word. His power. His presence. And isn’t that our calling?

Friend, where are you meant to leave a Jesus-impression today?

Blessings,

Tammy

 

Linking up this week at:

 

 

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Summer Giveaway! (1)https://tammykennington.wordpress.com/

My God-sized dream is to meet with you here and to make a small difference in your life and the lives of others through simple, authentic words splashed across a screen. When I write? I pray for you. I want to lessen your heavy load and celebrate your special moments.

I want to dive deep into the places of our lives and hearts that most call out for mercy and mending, encouragement and hope. Into those quiet corners tucked behind the everything-is-great-all-of-the-time church smile. Below the easy response of I’m fine to the truth of each woman’s life–the joys, the struggles and everything in between.

As I map out the next few months, I’d like to ask for your input. What topic would you like to explore? How can I come alongside you?

Would you respond in the comment section and let me know if any of the following areas strike a chord? If not, what other heart journey should venture into together?

To be entered in a GIVEAWAY for this beautiful dragonfly necklace just do these two things.

Dragonfly Necklace

1) vote for your favorite topic or series in the comment section below

AND

2) share this post with a friend who might want to be part of the giveaway. You’ll get an additional entry for each friend who joins us for the GIVEAWAY. 

Topics I’m thinking about might include:

  • Steps of Obedience
  • 16 Days–Who Does God Say that I Am?
  • Walking In Forgiveness
  • God Can
  • Trusting God

Thank you for sharing the deep place that  resonates with your heart.

Warm Regards,

Tammy

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Peering beneath the edge of the steel frame where the carpet and dark space intersect, I imagined all sorts of evil lurking in the five inches of space beneath the mattress and covers.  Nibbling at the edge of a fingernail, I shifted from side to side considering my options. The risks? Certain punishment if I refused to quickly locate myself beneath the warmth of sleep-inducing blankets or—to my impressionable mind—possible capture by whatever monster or boogie man lurked beneath the confines of a seemingly innocent piece of furniture.

At the tender age of four or five, Shadow had become a thing of nightmares and illusory power.

Too often, though, it seems our fear of Shadow follows us into adulthood. While disguised in more grown-up form, we still tremble at its existence and our thoughts are filled with untrue or unfulfilled imagery that leads us from a place of comfort into the obscure illusion of “What If?”

The “What If’s” come in many shapes and may be different for each of us.

What if…my husband leaves me?

 What if…my child dies?

 What if…I’m really never happy?

 What if…this wound refuses to heal?

 What if? What if? What if?

 Oh, dear One, the Shadow of What If is—and always has been—a robber of joy and imitator of truth designed to obscure the Light of Hope. We fight each dark pursuer—out of breath and in need of relief. Somehow, we’re certain a jab or swing in the Shadow’s direction will ensure some sort of relief. So we listen to Oprah…read books by Dr. Oz…try the newest diet trend…anything to help us battle the dark, elusive threat that is our greatest Fear.

But in so much of the struggle we rely on ourselves—forgetting the promises of scripture. Psalm 23 reminds us that even when we’re surrounded by a darkness so deep it casts death’s shadow, He is there! Even in the most frightening of times or the loneliest moments he guides…protects…comforts. He is the one who will manage our struggles and wage our battles.

Our futile attempts at Shadow boxing can cease. No more useless jabbing or dodging. Let’s give the battle to the Champion of hearts and souls—the giver of life, conqueror of death, and victor over sin and its effects.

 Suggested Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Read Psalm 23.

What dark valleys has God guided you through already? If your journey is taking you through a place filled with Shadows are you relying upon the Shepherd—or self? I know I struggle with this–vacillating back and forth.

As a gentle reminder to yourself about God’s abounding faithfulness and protection, reread Psalm 23. This time, replace each “me” with your name and “my” with the pronoun “her”.

A David Psalm (MSG)

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

 

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Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.The words slipped from her lips–tender and free of accusation.  “In a group this size, I’m sure there are women who have experienced the pain of abortion. Lord, let those women know you love them.”

Sobbing erupted near the front of the auditorium and I scanned the rows of chairs until my eyes lit upon a woman with long, dark hair in the first row. Her shoulders shaking, she beckoned to the speaker. Grabbing hold of the microphone, the weeping woman stunned us with her confession. “When I was a young girl, my dad did things to me and I got pregnant.” Her body wracked by sobs, she continued. “I’ve never told anyone, but he aborted the baby.”

Burying her face in her hands, the weeping woman’s anguish spilled from her raw and vulnerable–shoulders shaking as violently as the ground during an earthquake.

Within seconds, men and women poured from the corners of the auditorium to comfort this dear one whose life had been spent silently bearing the weight of a secret too burdensome for one woman to carry alone.

Surrounding God’s daughter and with heads bent in prayer, we cried and mourned for this brave woman. And, we cared for her the way Christians are meant to do–sharing mercy…offering hope…living out Jesus’ love.

Images of the weeping woman continue to intrude in my thoughts and I wonder how many of us are holding to hurts that grow heavier day by day…year by year. My albatross? Your millstone? They may not be as burdensome as that of the weeping woman, but whatever we’re carrying it’s time to release those joy-stealers to the God who can heal all of the aching places in our hearts.

Give that wound…that memory…that hurt to Truth, friend. Jesus is the healing balm for all heartache and He promises to set us free. (John 8:32)

Leave a comment or message me on Facebook at Tammy L Kennington if you’d like someone to join you in your journey to freedom.

Blessings, Tammy

Linking up this week at:

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