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Secret #5 – The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is

I’ve been slowly working on our backyard. Though it is nice and green and beautifully paved, I’m not in love with the arrangement of plants.

Whenever I get a few moments of free time in the early evening, once the Florida heat begins to lessen, you can find me digging up and replanting plants. Some of them are growing great but have outgrown their spot. Others are struggling because they are not getting enough sun. Some are getting too much. So I keep my hands busy in the garden, giving attention to each plant to find the perfect situation for each, but always keeping in mind the big-picture view.

With the same intentionality and care, each of us have been hand-placed by God exactly where we are. You and I are part of His big-picture garden plan. A purposeful planting. The work of His hands. As individuals, we are precious to God . . . but we are also a part of the whole. He did not plant us in isolation. And we are not the center of His world. The end goal of our planting is not simply for our own enjoyment and prosperity. Our place in history and location in geography is no accident. You and I have been personally planted and perfectly placed exactly where we are for a reason: to display the glory of God to those around us.

We see this truth way back in Genesis through the command to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). He gives it again in His covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1) and with Israel (Genesis 35:10). To Abraham, God promised to make him extremely fruitful (Genesis 17:6). And at the heart of the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law given to Moses for God’s people, is for the thriving of both the individual and the nation. And while this charge to be fruitful and multiply certainly includes the bearing and raising up of children who know and love God, this command is not primarily one of physical fruitfulness. It is a spiritual fruitfulness. The heart of the commands of both the Old and New Testament is that of our spiritual growth. God has given us the recipe for living a spiritually fruitful life, in order that we would be fruitful followers of God. His plan has always been for our flourishing and so that He may be glorified. This is why we exist, to give God glory with the way we live our lives, because it is through the beautiful blooming of the Happy Soul that others see her heavenly Father.

The Spirit of the Lord God is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives

and freedom to the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

and the day of our God’s vengeance;

to comfort all who mourn,

to provide for those who mourn in Zion;

to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

festive oil instead of mourning,

and splendid clothes instead of despair.

And they will be called righteous trees,

planted by the Lord

to glorify him.

Isaiah 61:1–3

The Old Testament is filled with prophecy, the foretelling of truths to come. These verses foretold much about Christ, the promised Messiah who would come to earth to rescue His people.

Jesus will bring good news to the poor.

Jesus will bring healing to the brokenhearted.

Jesus will bring liberty to the captives.

Jesus will bring justice, comfort, beauty, rejoicing, and hope.

We are the poor, the brokenhearted, captives in need of great help. This is the point where many teachers and preachers, books and blog posts might tell you that Jesus loved you so much that He gave up everything to come to earth and rescue you. And He did. But this is not the end of the story. There is more. And while Jesus indeed loves us with a great love, and this love was one big factor for why He came to earth, it is not His primary motivation; it is not His ultimate purpose. What Isaiah foretold as the purpose of why Jesus came (and the purpose Jesus himself stated again and again for coming) was for the glory of the Lord our God.

Do you see it there, tucked away at the end of this Isaiah passage? It’s the very last part: “to glorify him.” The good news is proclaimed to us—the bound and the mourning, the faint and the brokenhearted—so that we might be a “righteous tree, planted by the Lord,” so that we can “glorify him.” God has rescued us from our hopeless state, gifted us new life, and firmly planted us. All this for His glory.

The end goal of Jesus’ coming was not our rescue.

The end goal of our salvation is not our salvation.

The end goal of becoming a Happy Soul is not simply being a Happy Soul.

The end goal of Jesus’ coming was God’s glory.

The end goal of our salvation is God’s glory.

The end goal of becoming a Happy Soul is God’s glory.

The Happy Soul exists to bring God glory.

This is the piece we often miss. Yes, we are recipients of mercy. Yes, we are beneficiaries of grace. But the implications of these truths are not to simply give us a healthy self-esteem. What is true of us because of Christ is not the end of the story. All of what God has done for us is for a greater purpose than just our salvation. The rescue of our souls from sin and the bestowing of every spiritual gift was all done for His glory. We have been saved to be a reflection of our Savior. The Happy Soul gets this, and it shapes everything she does—and doesn’t do—because the Happy Soul exists to bring God glory.

I am a recipient of deep mercy.

I am a beneficiary of glorious grace.

I exist to bring glory to God.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

Hallelujah!

Psalm 150:6


This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.

Secret #1– The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

Secret #2 – The Happy Soul is RESOLVED to follow God’s Way

Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

Secret #4– The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s provision.

Secret #5– The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is.

Secret #6– The Happy Soul is SURRENDERED to her King.

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My heart on the presidential election and the image of the church

My heart has been incredibly heavy this week over the state of our nation. I have friends and family on all sides of every issue and I can’t stand to be on social media right now. So much of the back and forth—the hate, the pride, the lashing out—is disappointing, at best. I’ve been fairly quiet online as I process where to go from here.

Lord, what is my part? What actions can I take? How am I supposed to pray?

This I do know: I am a Christian and an ambassador for Christ, not primarily of a political party or certain candidate. I am the brand of Christ. When people look at me, they are to see and feel something that is supernatural and special. Not because of who I am, but because (whether they can identify it or not) they see Christ in me. Everything I say or don’t say, do or don’t do is a reflection of Christ and I long to reflect Him well.

Everyday Love Images.009

I wish I was better at this. There are so many days and moments that I fail to reflect the glory of God to the people around me. And yet God is to be glorified through all His people—the church. I long for His good and gracious character to be made known. I want souls to see their utter need for Christ. And none of this can happen if Christians don’t look like Christ.

Lately it seems our reflection of Him has been covered in mud.

Everyday Love Images.010

So—starting with me—I’m praying for a revival of a renewed repentance and deep humility among the church. I’m asking God to show me if there is any wicked way within me and lead me toward repentance. Today, I choose to focus primarily on my own actions and attitudes and —by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit—I will follow the example of Christ down the road of counting others more significant than myself.

LORD JESUS,

I sin — Grant that I may
never cease grieving because of it,
never be content with myself,
never think I can reach a point of perfection.
Kill my envy, command my tongue,
trample down self.
Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure,
peaceable,
to live for thee and not for self,
to copy thy words, acts, spirit,
to be transformed into thy likeness,
to be consecrated wholly to thee,
to live entirely to thy glory.

. . .

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that
all things are shadows, but thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but thou art wisdom.

—Valley of Vision, Purification

thou-art-wisdom

Amen.

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World Vision in Haiti

Every where we turned, both on the journey to Mapou Village as well as on our trip back to Port au Prince, we saw evidences of the work and ministry of World Vision. Mile after mile there were schools, wells, homes and other aid provided by World Vision.

world vision in haiti

world vision in haiti

world vision in haiti

Our family has loved being a part of the work of World Vision, through our family world vision nights and in our gift-giving. We’ve given aid like chickens, ducks, building supplies, a share of a well, seeds and agricultural training. It is exciting to have a specific need to fill, and I love the way it helps my children understand how to “be Jesus” to the world.

The village of Mapou, where we stayed for eight days, is extremely primitive. Before World Vision came to the village the villagers lived in homes like this.

world vision in haiti

And this.

world vision in haiti

And this.

world vision in haiti

Four years ago World Vision came to the village and built each family a house.world vision in haiti

world vision in haiti

The villagers of Mapou now use their old homes as kitchens.

world vision in haiti

It is thrilling to get to see the work of World Vision while I was in Haiti.

It could not be missed.

Here are a few ways you can get involved in the ministry work of World Vision in Haiti:

Are you a part of the ministry of World Vision? What life-changing gifts have you been able to give?

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Going to Haiti

My husband Chris and I are going with a group from our church to Haiti in about three weeks. Honestly, it has crept up on me! I am really looking forward to this trip (and not just because my kids are staying behind!) I will miss them incredibly, yet I am looking forward to being able to do ministry with each of my hands free and without the constant pull of someone needing “mommy”.

Don’t get me wrong, this trip will not be a vacation. It is going to be full of long, hot days. We will be doing some construction as well as hosting a vacation Bible school for 250-400 children!

We have been talking to our kids about our trip and have used one of our Family World Vision Nights to focus on Haiti. Operation World has a great website, where you can look up information and prayer requests for each country. We watched this 2 minute prayer video as a family and spent some time praying for Haiti and our time there.

Then we hopped on over to World Vision’s Gift Catalog and picked out our giving for the month. There are many options where your gift is “multiplied”. So, for $25 we were able to provide $100 worth of food to help children and families still in need after the earthquake. I love that World Vision will send you a card for your gift. This is a fun visual for our kids. I wish I had started this earlier, but I have recently started to keep the cards and hang them up for the kids to see as a reminder of how we can be part of taking the good news of Jesus to the world, through our giving and our prayers.

I long for our kids to have a vision for the world. I want them to know that they are incredibly blessed. I want to give them opportunities to see the needs of the world and to serve the Lord through bringing aid to the needy. For now, their involvement is through a computer screen and their prayers, but I look forward to when they are old enough to go and serve alongside of us. I love the idea of taking a family vacation to go on a mission trip!

Would you join me in praying for Haiti, and our upcoming trip?

  • For open, receptive hearts.
  • For endurance through the hot days and good rest in the evenings.
  • Safety in flying, then on the boat to the island we will be serving on.
  • For the team in Haiti who are preparing everything for our arrival.
  • For many children to meet Jesus through the VBS we will be doing.
  • For the follow-up efforts after we leave, that many would be plugged in to the local church and into discipleship relationships.

How are you engaging your family in world missions? I would love to hear any ideas you have, as we continue to involve our children in “going” to the nations!