Remember

Sheri Prescott, GFC South Tampa 


On
Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for our freedom. We consider that freedom isn’t free and we pause to thank the heroes who have lived the words of Jesus on our behalf, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” ~ John 15:13

To those like my husband, who have lost friends in combat, it’s a hard day. A day that he remembers friends like MSGT DrewMcKenna; a courageous battle buddy who fought shoulder to shoulder alongside my husband, giving his life for our freedom August 8th, 2015, in Afghanistan. On Memorial Day we talk about Drew, we thank his family, my husband remembers the good memories before the battle, and the passion they shared to protect America.

As followers of Jesus, we are reminded many times throughout scripture to set aside time (daily, weekly, monthly) to remember God’s deliverance, to be a living-memorial that reminds others of God’s faithfulness, and to remember the freedom we have in Christ.

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:2

”I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.”~ Psalm 143:5

”It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~ Galatians 5:1

Would you join me this Memorial weekend in taking time to remember God’s faithfulness in your life? His deliverance. His promises. To remember when you were rescued by our Savior, finding freedom in Him. This would be a great opportunity to grab a journal, your husband, or a close friend and share these moments out loud or on paper. Setting up a “memorial of His faithfulness.”

When did you first feel overwhelmed by God’s love for you? Do you remember when you knew you needed a Savior? When did your life in Christ begin?

What is something God has done in the past few months that you can thank Him for?
What are some areas of life that you see as a gift,because of the freedom you’ve been given in Jesus?
Let’s remember and record His goodness together!

Love Fearlessly

Alexis Patterson, GFC Lutz

“Our relationships are a reflection of our personal commitment to God.” I know that is a bold statement; especially if you have a difficult relationship in your life. But, please hear me out. I married a man that has his own, but very different relationship with God. For a woman like me, who is all in with her relationship with God, sometimes it can make our union hard to navigate. We don’t always see things the same way, we may not fight the same way, and we certainly aren’t connecting with God the same way. So, how can this union reflect the relationship we should have with Him? Love fearlessly. Our goal in marriage is to be the imagery of Christ and the Church. I’ve had moments in my marriage as I’ve grown to understand more of our purpose as a couple where the enemy will try to use what God has brought to my spiritual sight against me. The enemy will try to make me feel like we will never be what God has purposed us to be. I know from experience that I am not alone in this area. I have spoken with countless women and received many prayer requests for challenges in marriage that have come from spiritual differences. When there is a recurring theme like that in my life, I’ve learned to lean in because there is most likely an assignment for me there.

Loving fearlessly means that we lead with love. It means that we no longer love based on conditions. Loving fearlessly means loving others to the life that Christ Jesus lived, died, and resurrected for us to have. I made the statement earlier that our relationships are a reflection of our commitment to God because how we love others, especially our spouses, can reveal how we relate to God. Now, I have to be honest- this concept challenges me. I am not perfect in how I give love to my husband. There are moments when I fail my husband in showing up armed and fearless for the battles we may face. Sometimes I even allow my insecurities in our lack to change the goals and vision I have for our marriage. I struggle when I feel the blows of the enemy invading our marriage with confusion, doubt, and generational curses. But, I’m writing to tell you that God is so sweet. Even in the moments when my heart and mind want to cave into every negative thought I choose to believe: 

  1. Satan can have no authority in my marriage when I choose daily to honor and surrender my husband and our marriage to God. 
  2. God’s purpose and plans for us are GOOD – and I am believing that for my marriage. He is working it out!
  3. My husband was God’s idea. He created him. He is pursuing him and longs to soften and have his heart more than I could ever want that for him.
  4. God has compassion for our struggles and uses them to build us up – Remember marriage was God’s great plan and ALL God’s plans are GOOD.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:6

Reflecting on these truths helps me to get back up and love fearlessly. My husband is wonderful! There is so much I love about him and we get the privilege of doing life together, raising our beautiful children, and laughing all the way through. Truly, I married my best friend. We unite on so many fronts that I can see why the enemy would be threatened. We have our weak spots and, everyday, we have to stand firm on God’s word. I’m reminded in Ephesians 6:12 that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, power and the rulers of darkness. It is not my place to change my husband’s heart, that is the role of the Holy Spirit. I am to be consistent in my own faith and unswerving in my pursuit for what God has for us. My role in our relationship is to keep praying in agreement with God’s intent for marriages over our marriage. My role is to be a beacon of light and hope for other women who share similar struggles. And, finally, my role is to love fearlessly while reflecting my personal commitment to my Lord and Savior.

If you’re reading this and you feel your marriage isn’t the banner of what a marriage should resemble – please shift your focus to God’s promise and design. You’ll see a change first in your heart and then in your marriage. Don’t be afraid to love your husband fearlessly. Don’t try to make him fit into your conditions of deserving or earning your love. Love like Jesus, be fervent in prayer, and be bold about the promises of what God can do in your lives. 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for Your intentional design for marriage. We honor You in lifting up every man and woman that struggles to see how his/her leadership and love should resemble You. Lord, You are generous for giving us the right to relationship, first with You and then others. We ask that You touch every union brought together for Your glory. Father please strengthen every relationship and break every stronghold keeping us from growing. Our request is that we learn to lean on and trust in You and the great plans You have for our lives. You declared marriage as holy and sacred, Your promise points to that Your design for marriage is obtainable for all Your children. Every answer to Your promise is Yes and Amen. We Thank You for the movement of the Holy Spirit right now as we pray. In Jesus name, Amen.

Livin’ On the Edge

Lisa Santelli, GFC Lutz

A few months ago, I hit a wall. From work, travel, ministry, and fun, it was jam-packed goodness. Running full throttle with little breathing room. But, months before, a couple friends reached out to let me know they would be in the area during one of my busiest weeks.  Knowing my calendar was already planned to the max, adding them in wasn’t leaving any recovery time.  Fast forward to the day we were supposed to get together and complete exhaustion struck. Talking to one of my besties that morning, she sensed my fast fading, convincing me to cancel with my friends. My soul felt sad tension. At that moment of disappointment, I realized, I left no room for margin.

In the printing and graphics world, we deal with margins and bleeds. The margin references the border around the design. The bleed refers to the design going to the full perimeter of the page. Increase the margin and you get a larger border. And, if it “bleeds”, the design runs all the way to the edge.

Too many of us are living on the edge…and possibly bleeding out. We have decreased our border by reducing the marginal space in our lives. We think we can do it all. We are pouring into everything and everyone around us, filling up all the spaces, but forgetting to fill ourselves back up.

Creating margin in our lives is different than practicing Sabbath rest and different than our daily time in God’s word. A Sabbath is sacred time surrendered to God with the intent of drawing closer in relationship to Him. Adding margin sets up boundaries focused on our relationship with ourselves and others. It could be creative space, reading a book, exercise, or coffee with a friend. Or, maybe, just a really long nap. This is not selfish. It is self-care, which is both healing and refreshing. Both Sabbath and margins should be scheduled and protected times.

Just a couple weeks ago, still in a busy season, I was presented with multiple opportunities to serve, and I needed to make decisions. I wanted to help with it all but, I felt God pulling me back. One opportunity was a two-day event. As I showed up for the second day only, a sweet, spiritual mama gave me a hug and said, “I missed you yesterday. Where were you?”  My response, “I needed some margin.” God showed up that day both to minister to me and through me. Leaning into His “yes” and “no” always brings spiritual blessings. We undervalue the right to say “no”, but it makes our “yes” so much more impactful when it’s guided by the Spirit.

Proverbs 4:23 says, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. By adding margin to our lives, we are creating a boundaries around our hearts. We are declaring our time is sacred, allowing ourselves to rest, reset, and reevaluate all that flows through it. Inviting the Holy Spirit into these moments provides greater peace and strength so we are equipped for all God has for us.

Last, it would be amiss not to address the opposite which is having too much margin. Some may have a lot of extra time and are hesitant to step out. Maybe through the pandemic, what started out as some hibernation has turned into full-blown isolation. I want to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Sign up for something new. Show up to serve. Invite a friend to coffee. We aren’t made to do this life alone.

Lord, release the pressure of this world that makes us feel we must show up and do it all. Give us wisdom and clarity in the assignments You have planned for us. May we lean in and be obedient to both the “yes” and the “no” of Your will for us. Order our steps. Remove any guilt from the things we are willing to do and think we should do. Instead, fill us with Your peace and strength. Create  boundaries around our hearts, our time, and our relationships. Refresh us mentally, physically, and spiritually. Let Your beautiful light shine brightly on us and through us. Let us feel Your love and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.