Finding “JOY in the journey ” while suffering great LOSS…

 

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I know that we have all heard the phrase “God’s plans do not always go according to our own plans”, but how many of us have suffered great loss? I am betting that you have, just as I have.

HOW DO WE FIND JOY WHEN WE ARE GOING THROUGH A DIFFICULT JOURNEY OR SUFFERING FROM A GREAT LOSS?

December 21, 2007, will forever be a day that I will always remember. On this day nearly 10 years ago, I experienced great loss. The kind of loss that takes more than a few months to get over. The kind of loss that stops you dead in your tracks and makes you question if God is even real. A loss that saddens your heart so deeply that you lose sight of “Joy through the journey”.

We found out that we were pregnant close to the end of October of that year. Oh, the Joy that we felt when we finally read the pregnancy test and saw those two pink beautiful lines. We sat in the bathroom together with our two-year-old daughter with tears streaming down my face in awe of God and all of his goodness. We were so very thankful that our prayers had finally been answered and we were going to have another baby. We too were scared and nervous because my first pregnancy was a nightmare. But we trusted that God had a plan and we had faith that he would take care of us. We felt Joy, unspeakable Joy all huddled up together in the bathroom that night.

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It was not the easiest task for me to get pregnant and I was later diagnosed with PCOS (POLY-CYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME) and severe endometriosis. So seeing that I was pregnant was a miracle in itself.

A few weeks later I went to see my OB/GYN and we were told we were about 9 weeks pregnant. The joy of seeing that amazing blob on the ultrasound with tiny little-webbed hands made my heart skip a beat. Then when we were able to hear the heartbeat, I was smitten; so in love. The babies heartbeat was so strong at 164 bpm. We all three giggled at the ultrasound picture and we decided to nickname you “webber” that day. Everything looked absolutely perfect and because I had a very high-risk pregnancy with my daughter, I was to come back for another appointment in about 5-7 weeks. I made my appointment for December 21, 2007 at 10 am.

December 21, 2007, started out like any normal morning for a stay at home mom. My little girl and I watched Dora the Explorer while eating blueberry pancakes for breakfast. My daughter would talk to her brother or sister each day and we would sing “you are my sunshine” together while I would brush her beautiful strawberry blond hair. I started having terrible morning sickness, but that never kept me down. I was overjoyed that today was finally my appointment day because the anticipation to see my baby on that ultrasound grew so strong every day. I was already wearing maternity clothes and looking forward to the next ultrasound to see Webber’s gender. I dropped my daughter off with my parents and headed to my appointment. My husband could not get off work that day to go with me, so I ventured there alone. I had to change doctors until my new insurance kicked in, so I was a little nervous, but all in all, I felt good, like really good.

I walked into that Doctor’s office, filled out paperwork and soon after they called me to the back. I saw the doctor for a few minutes and then he began listening with a fetal doppler to hear the babies heartbeat. At that moment the doctor wasn’t saying very much but he did not exactly make me feel in this moment that anything was wrong. He sent me to the ultrasound room straight down a long hallway and told me he would see me after.

The hallway to the small ultrasound room was nicely decorated and quiet, not one person other than me in sight. I was very anxious to see my little peanut and full of butterflies. I followed the ultrasound techs request and laid back on the bed. She squirted warm jelly on my belly and began moving it around. We had small talk for a moment and then she turned the screen away from me. I knew in that moment that something had to be wrong, but the ultrasound tech would not give me any clues to what it may be. I assumed that she could not find a heartbeat. But that just could not be true. My heart completely sank. Right there in that moment, terror struck me like lighting strikes the midnight sky. I could barely hear anything that she was saying to me. My mind was blank….She told me to clean myself up and to meet the doctor back in the same room I was first put in and she had to repeat that to me at least 2 or 3 times. I had almost forgotten even how to walk. I couldn’t breathe or speak…

I suddenly felt lost. The hallway that I had walked down just 15 minutes before seemed narrow as if it was closing in on me. I had to stop and sit in a chair before making it all the way to that room. All I could think is if I go in that room, it makes it all true. It makes it true that there is something wrong with my baby. It just could not be…. I mean I am already wearing maternity clothes and I have had every single symptom of morning sickness. Oh, little Webber how I love you! Tears began to stroll down my cheeks and I felt all alone.

But I wasn’t alone..

To the right of me, a middle-aged man was sitting and I had not even noticed that he was there until he stretched out his hands toward me. He grabbed my hands and asked me if he could pray for me. I shook my head “yes” without mumbling a word. He never even asked what I was going through, he just began to pray. After he prayed he explained that he was a pastor and he was there with his wife. I could not speak anything other than “thank you”. He told me that no matter what I may be facing that God has a plan and he will never leave me during my hardships. He quoted PSALM 30:5 “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

How was I to find “Joy” right now? How was I to understand God’s plan during all of this heartache?

God showed up in that moment through a complete stranger and gave me the strength to walk into that room and hear what the doctor had to say. I was told that my little Webber no longer had a heartbeat and they could not determine when my baby had died nor what had caused it.

I was distraught, sad, confused and down right angry!  The doctor started giving me options and proceeded to make me feel unimportant. He did not show any remorse for how I was feeling and kept calling it “spontaneous abortion”. That is not what this was! Medical terms were not what I wanted to hear in this moment.

I loved my baby, my baby was wanted! It made me feel as if I had chosen this or did something to cause it. My baby was dead inside of me and that was a hard pill to swallow. I told the doctor I wanted a D&C and he refused to perform one until I either “let nature take its course ” which could take several weeks or I could take medication to induce labor which would cause me to miscarry. I told him I did not want to wait, but I really wanted to go ahead and get a D&C, but that was not an option right now in his opinion. He handed me a prescription and told me to take two of these pills and if I had any problems to call his office, but that he was going out of town for Christmas after the 23rd, so I would have to see one of his associates. I felt he was heartless in the very moment I needed someone to understand my heartache and pain. My hopes, my dreams, and my heart were all shattered in that room that day.

The drive to my parent’s house was one of the hardest drives I have had to make. Jesus was in that car stirring that wheel for sure to get me there safely. I cried out to God almost screaming in sadness, anger, and pure confusion. I parked my car and barely made it up to my parent’s stairs to their front door to knock. Crying gigantic ugly tears I knocked but it was more of a bang than a knock on their door. I just needed to get inside to hug my Mom and Dad and have them to tell me everything was going to be ok. Thoughts were going through my head about what I could have done differently and how difficult it was going to be to tell my daughter that her brother or sister was in heaven now.

My mind was being tortured by the thoughts that this somehow had to have been my fault.

Both of my parents were so supportive during this time. They sat me down and listened as I tried to explain everything that had just taken place at the doctor’s office. Through tears and uncontrollable sobbing, I managed to explain the hard truth of the situation.

My baby no longer had a heartbeat.

I then had to call my husband at work to explain the horrific news, I could hear devastation in his quivering voice. He was holding back tears I could tell. He left immediately driving about 90 miles an hour to reach me lying lifeless, on my parent’s couch. He did not know what to say or I think maybe he too thought that it just had to be untrue. He scooped me up in his arms and held me so tightly. Not one person can convince me that being held by the person you love does not make things better. I felt his warm embrace and I knew I was home, I knew that together we would make it through this. No matter how hard this journey may be ahead, we would find our joy again. Together we explained to our little girl that baby “Webber” had gone to live with Jesus in heaven. Her deep brown eyes always lit up when we spoke about Jesus to her. God reminded us in that moment of the joy that we shared not only with each other but with her as well.

 

December 23, 2007, I had to go into surgery for a D&C due from having complications after passing my baby. It was two days before Christmas. The time of year when you celebrate “Joy”. But the great feeling of pleasure and happiness was not on my radar. In this moment I could not yet see the Joy that cometh in the morning. I was trying my best to stay strong, especially for our little girl, but I was having a very tough time. I came into the hospital looking as if I was pregnant but my womb was empty and so was my heart. I was now the mom of a toddler and an angel baby…

After my surgery, my husband and daughter went to the pharmacy to pick up my medication and a few snacks. As they were walking to the counter an older lady approached them. The lady did not look familiar to my husband at all, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a $20 dollar bill. She then proceeded to tell my husband that God told her to give him this money to buy his wife flowers. The lady had no idea why God was asking this of her, but she was being obedient to his voice. My husband tried refusing the money, but the lady was persistent. So he finally agreed to take it and thanked her a million times. He even told her about our great loss and the surgery that I had just had. The lady had tears in her eyes, for she knew that what God had placed on her heart to do had true meaning. 

Once again God showed up through a complete stranger to remind me that I was not alone. Though I had suffered a great loss, I needed these constant reminders that God was still on the thrown and that he was there for me. I needed to look deeper into my situation and find the joy through this long hard journey.

 

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DECEMBER 06, 2008, God blessed us with the most precious bundle of joy, PARKER RAY! God gave us our “rainbow baby” after months and months of trying to conceive and endless prayers. The joy we had hoped and prayed for had now come! 

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD???? 

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Rainbows are a constant reminder to me that “Joy” cometh in the morning! A rainbow baby is a baby born after miscarriage or infant loss. Rainbows are promises that after any storm things will always get better. Rainbows give us hope for things to come.

During my very tough miscarriage, I did not see God’s plan and I could only focus on my broken heart and emptiness. But after seeing my precious baby boy, I found my joy again. I saw then and there that Parker had been God’s plan for our family all along. I thought I knew what I needed, but in all truth, God knew exactly what I needed more. Going through something out of our control can be devastatingly heartbreaking, but we are to never stop fighting to find the Joy throughout the journey.

None of us have any idea why we have to go through what we do. But I know that every single hardship has only made me stronger and closer to God. Without God on my side through it all, I know I would not be here to write this blog today. I would have given up a long time ago. I have the promise from God to one day see my angel baby in heaven and until then they live in my heart. I know that my baby watches over his/her brother and sister here on earth. I believe that with my whole heart!

God has never given up on me and he won’t give up on you! God sees those tears that you have cried and he is whispering to you…Hold on dear child…your JOY cometh in the morning….

HAVE A BLESSED DAY~

<HUGS> K.D. Russell

 

K.D. RUSSELL

Never stop “DATING” your husband or wife: 20 Tips on how to reconnect.

I am not an expert on marriage, but I do know the struggles that we all face during our marriages. My husband and I have been together 17 years and married for almost 15 of those years. Marriage is not always easy, it is work! You have to constantly work on areas of your marriage to build a good strong relationship. Sometimes you are thrown off course and you forget exactly what might have brought you two together in the first place. You may feel as if you both are drifting apart and you have no idea which person has changed or if you both of you are changing in some ways. You need to reconnect with each other.

That is why you are to never stop “dating” your husband or wife.

This past weekend my husband and I left the kiddos with the grandparents and had a mini vacation together along with great friends. For several weeks we have been fighting constantly over everything. It has been as though we can not seem to agree on anything anymore. We were both allowing things out of our control to have an impact on our marriage. Sound familiar? We were not communicating correctly and 9 out of 10 times that causes an argument in its self. Am I right?

We had realized that we were not honoring our promise that we had made to each other several years ago about dating one another. We had not taken any time in several weeks to go out on our own. Life had gotten busy and we were not putting our needs first in our marriage.

How many of us know that the devil wants us to fuss and fight in order to break us apart? The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy everything, including marriages. 

 . (John 10:10)The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

God has chosen for us to be together and we truly know that what we have is special and God ordained. That is why we decided we needed some time to get away and reconnect. We needed this time to date one another. We needed to have that reminder of what brought us together in the first place all those years ago.

Each marriage faces these hardships. I am sure we are not the only married couple to disagree. It is all in how you decide to approach your problems. Do you throw your marriage away or do you dig your heels in and fight to stay together?

My husband and I fight to stay together and I am thankful every single day that we do. This past weekend we laughed until we cried, we ate some of the best food without counting calories or carbs, we engaged in conversation without interruption, we turned our phones off and focused on each other. It was so wonderful to let our guards down and just be ourselves. We reconnected on such a deeper level just by dating one another again. It changed the way we communicated just by turning off the world around us in order to put our marriage health as a priority. If you are willing to fight, God will truly bless your marriage abundantly.

 Here are 20 tips to reconnect to your husband or wife:

  1. Have more sex
  2. Go on a date at least once a month or more
  3. Put your phones away during dinner and actually engage in conversation
  4. Appreciate one another and tell each other what you appreciate about them
  5. Send a positive text every day about something that you love about each other
  6. Compliment your husband or wife every single day
  7. Flirt with one another
  8. Build each other up daily/ encourage one another
  9. Be spontaneous
  10. Make each other laugh
  11. Do a chore for one another (example: take out the trash even if it is your husband’s job. Pick up the table after dinner even if it is your wife’s job)
  12. Watch a tv show or movie that you know is the other’s favorite
  13. Turn on the bathwater for the other one to show that you appreciate the others hard work for that day.
  14. Randomly give each other more hugs
  15. Find common ground (find something you enjoy doing together)
  16. Forgive each other more
  17. Apologize more
  18. Kiss more
  19. Massage each other
  20. Pray together and keep fighting to stay together

I believe every marriage is worth fighting for and while some have Biblical reasons for divorce, I still believe God can rescue every marriage if there are two willing people and sadly, that’s often not the case. Do not be fooled, if you are not willing to fight for your marriage, satan is. 

I challenge you this week to just try a few of these tips and see if there happens to be a difference in you and your spouse’s connection. 

HAVE A BLESSED DAY Y’ALL 🙂

K.D. RUSSELL

Passionately Pursuing GOD: RUTH

~She allows her struggles to make her stronger and she never loses faith. She loves God so fiercely, she is wise and determined. She will not fail even when the odds are against her.

She is RUTH.

The book of Ruth is one of my uttermost favorite books of the Bible. There is something remarkable about women in the Bible. Their stories radiate goodness through tragedy. Their stories give us wisdom and make us feel powerful or at least they make me feel this way 🙂

RUTH CHAPTER 1

Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Kilion, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. Moab is the land of Jordan. They moved from Bethlehem of Judah because of a famine in the land. Elimelech died soon after which left Naomi with her two sons. Both of the sons married two Moabite women, Orpah and RUTH.

Ten years after moving there and settling in, both sons/husbands died, leaving Naomi, Orpah and Ruth childless widows. Naomi had heard in Moab that the Lord had come to aid his people and he had provided food for them. Naomi along with her two daughter-in-laws prepared to return home to the land of Judah. These women were going to make the long journey into the unknown until Naomi told Orpah and Ruth that they needed to return to their mother’s home.

Ruth and Orpah had shown Naomi great kindness during the deaths of their husbands. Naomi wanted them to return so that they could move on with their lives and find rest in the home of another husband. Naomi begged them to return. Due to losing her own husband and her two sons, Naomi had become bitter. Orpah listened to Naomi, wept and kissed her good-bye.

But Ruth clung to Naomi and said “Don’t urge me to leave you or to return back from you. Where you go I go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” (RUTH 1:16-17)

Ruth did not go back to what was familiar. She stepped out in faith and walked into the unknown. The circumstance that she had faced could have made her bitter like Naomi. She lost her husband and now had made the choice to move off somewhere she had never been. It would have been so much easier to return home to her mother. Her courage brought her into her divine destiny. ! Ruth had no idea at that moment what God had in store for her. But she trusted and she passionately pursued God. 

Never look back…follow God and move forward..

Have you ever become bitter like Naomi after something tragic in your life?

Has God ever asked you to step out into faith and walk into the unknown?

RUTH CHAPTER 2

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem during the harvest and Ruth begins working in the field of the Kinsman-redeemer, Boaz of the Elimelech clan. Boaz was Naomi’s relative on her husband’s side. Boaz asked the foreman of the harvesters “Whose young woman is that?” The foreman replied, “She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi.” Ruth was a hard worker and her hard work had not gone unnoticed. Boaz spoke to Ruth saying “My daughter, listen to me, don’t go and collect grain in another field. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls.” Boaz told the other men not to touch her and that she could drink from the water jars anytime she was thirsty. This was a great honor. Ruth replied by bowing down to Boaz with her face to the ground and asking Boaz why he had found “favor in her eyes” because she was indeed a foreigner.

Boaz explains to Ruth that he had been told of her kindness towards her mother-in-law since the death of her husband and how she left her father and mother to come to a land that she was unfamiliar with. He tells Ruth, “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have taken refuge.” “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my Lord, Ruth replied.” (RUTH 2:11-13)

So whenever you feel like your hard work is going unnoticed, or you feel like nobody sees all the kind things you do for others, God favors you and sees all that you do. You will be greatly blessed. Continue to be kind and continue to work hard and others will notice as well. If you are single, your Boaz is waiting for you. Love yourself and passionately pursue God. Keep sowing those seeds of hard work and kindness and your Boaz will soon find you. Step out into the unknown and see what God WILL do.

RUTH CHAPTER 3 & 4

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Ruth and Naomi were very close and Naomi wanted nothing more other than to see Ruth happy and prospering with a new husband. Noami asked Ruth, “My daughter, should I not try and find you a home, where you will be provided for?” Is not Boaz, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.

Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer, that meant that he was a male relative who according to various laws, had the privilege or responsibility to deliver or rescue a relative in danger, trouble or need. He was a relative of Naomi’s late husband, Elimelech. Naomi is meaning with this statement that maybe Boaz can find someone for Ruth, so she can finally stop working so hard and be provided for. Naomi states also that Boaz will be “winnowing” barley on the threshing floor tonight and that Ruth should go to him.

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A threshing floor is a smooth, flat surface that was used in the process of harvesting grain. Before there was machinery, farmers used a threshing floor to separate the grain from the chaff. The harvested produce would be spread over the threshing floor and then animals (cattle or oxen) would be led by it, to crush and break the sheaves apart with their hooves. At times, people used sticks to beat the sheaves apart (Ruth 2:17; Isaiah 28:27). The grain would be separated from the husks, or chaff (Deuteronomy 25:4; Isaiah 28:28) and then tossed into the air so that the wind could blow the chaff away, leaving only the good, edible grain. This was called “winnowing.”

A threshing floor is important in the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz. In those times, if a woman’s husband died, it was very difficult for her to survive on her own, and very often, the woman would be “redeemed” by her husband’s nearest kinsmen (Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 2:20). Ruth was encouraged by her mother-in-law, Naomi, to go down to the threshing floor where Boaz was winnowing barley. She was to wait until he had finished eating and drinking and was lying down for the night, and then uncover his feet and lay down at his feet, for this was a symbol of her desire to be redeemed by Boaz (Ruth 3:1-18). The connection between the kinsmen redeemer and the threshing floor in this story is likely not incidental.

Naomi tells Ruth to perfume herself, put on her best clothes and wait until Boaz finishes eating and drinking before she goes to him that night. Ruth is to note where he is lying, go to him and uncover his feet.

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Boaz is startled during the night and he turned to discover a woman at his feet. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she replies. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.

By Ruth “lying” at Boaz’s feet, this was significant because it showed Boaz that Ruth was “submitting” herself to him.  This was not meant as a sexual gesture, so please do not get that confused. Both Ruth and Boaz were people of utmost virtue and dignity. In the culture of that day, this was understood as an act of total submission.

Naomi wisely counseled Ruth to not come as a victim demanding her rights, but as a humble servant, trusting in the goodness of her kinsman-redeemer. She said to Boaz, “I respect you, I trust you, and I put my fate in your hands.” Naomi was also a woman of God and would not have persuaded Ruth to come to Boaz in a seductive manner. Servants in that time would go to their master’s feet, showing submission to their commands. That is why Ruth did what she did. She showed Boaz a great kindness by submitting herself to him and in return, he gave her six measures of barley to be brought back to Naomi. Boaz was also attracted to Ruth because of her character. We don’t really know how Ruth looked, but we do know that she was a woman of godly character.

This just goes to show you that “GODLY” character outweighs outward appearance 10-1. God does not look at your outward appearance to determine his love for you, he looks at your heart. Having the characteristics of a virtuous woman is one of the greatest gifts to have. You do not need to dress provocatively to try and impress a man. A godly man will love you for your relationship with God. Boaz fell in love with Ruth due to her kind demeanor and her willingness to work hard. Ruth showed power in her generosity and her passion for pursuing God and not man. 

Boaz and Ruth were soon married and she bore a son thereafter and they named him Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, the father of David.  

The story of Ruth & Boaz is a beautiful love story of God’s great love for all of us. A wise godly woman does not settle for less because she is lonely. She know’s God’s best for her requires sharing the same level of faith and that you both have compatible dreams, goals, visions, and callings. It means being on the same page concerning your destiny. Your soulmate will bring out the best in you and you in them. Your ultimate goal together should be to please God.

A modern day “Ruth” is a woman who has experienced great loss and pain, yet she remains loyal and faithful no matter what to God. She finds her strength in God alone. She keeps working hard toward her goal in spite of things that try to get her off course. We all need to let go of things that did not work out for us and walk toward our true destinies. Ruth ended up with a divine blessing because she was humble, kind and patient. She did not try to find a man on every corner to love her. She trusted in God’s pure love to lead her to the man that God so desired for her. 

We all need to let go of things that did not work out for us and walk toward our true destinies. Ruth ended up with a divine blessing because she was humble, kind and patient. She did not try to find a man on every corner to love her. She trusted in God’s pure love to lead her to the man that God so desired for her. 

So if you are struggling today, trust God with your whole heart! Study these verses and see how God worked miraculously through Ruth. You are strong women of God and God has a plan for you. So Passionelty Pursue him…

HAVE A BLESSED DAY YALL 🙂

 

 

 

K.D. RUSSELL

HUMBLE & KIND…

 

A meaningful life is not about being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being perfect. It is about being REAL, being HUMBLE, being KIND, being STRONG, and being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others…..

 

 

What does the Bible say about “humilty”……

The Bible describes humility as meekness, lowliness, and absence of self. Colossians 3:12 describes humility as a “heart attitude”.

You are chosen by God: Holy and dearly loved. Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience. Always forgive one another as the Lord forgives you. Above all, put on love, which binds all these virtues together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14. 

Just like we are to be clothed in the natural with articles of clothing we are also to be clothed with spiritual clothing. Each day that we are given life, we are to strive to be the best versions of ourselves. The best that we can be! We have to come humbly to our Father and recognize that everything we have is because of him and not ourselves. You do not get anywhere that you are going without getting directions from somewhere. Those directions are given by God. Every idea, every blessing and every material thing you own were not given to you because of something that you did. All things are given by God. He put those things inside of you and blessed you with them.

Some people may put on an outward show of humility and kindness but still have a heart full of pride and arrogance. When we come to Christ as sinners, we must come in humility. Therefore, humility is a prerequisite for every Christian. 

True humility was shown from God in Galatians 2:20-

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We are to never forget that God exchanged our worthlessness for his infinite worth, our sin for his righteousness, and the life we live now, we live by faith through Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us.

Biblical humility is not only necessary to enter the kingdom, it is also necessary to be great in the kingdom.

Matthew 20:26-27- It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave—(NET)

Jesus is our model here in this scripture and all throughout the Bible. Jesus did not come here to the earth to be served, he came to be a servant himself. We must commit ourselves to serving others and showing kindness to each and every person that we meet. We are not to think that we are “better” than anyone or “above” any circumstance. Jesus was drawn to the lowly, the prostitutes, the beggars, the homeless and everyone that nobody else wanted to be around. We are called to be Christ-like and humble ourselves before men. We are no better than anyone! We all bleed red, we all sin, we all have a plan and purpose for our lives.

God has promised to give grace to the humble, while he opposes the proud (Proverbs 3:34: 1 peter 5:5) 

So you may think in your head that you are better than someone else because they don’t look like you, wear the same clothes as you, live in the same neighborhood as you, have the same color of skin as you,  etc… 

I’m sorry, but you are thinking wrong, so very wrong! Each person was created in God’s image, not in the image that you think they should have been made. Each person has gifts that God has given them to use for his Kingdom. He has equipped us all uniquely for a purpose that is greater than you or I could ever imagine. 

EVERY PERSON that is. 

 

So if there is anything else to be taken from this today, we are called to be Humble & Kind. Always. Not when we feel like it, always. We all want to be accepted and loved. We all want people to be nice to us. We all need each other to make it through this life. Let’s make it a little easier by showing more compassion, humility, love, kindness, patience, and gentleness 🙂

HAPPY MONDAY Y’ALL~

 

K.D. RUSSELL

Concealed from sight :INVISIBLE

Women of God, you are not invisible! What others see in you, is not what God sees in you.

 

 GOD SEES YOU<

 

I have recently found that I love “myself”. I no longer feel that I need to be surrounded by several friends, I do not have to be part of any certain clique or group. I am no longer alone when I am alone. I like who I have become because I have fought dang hard to become who I am today…

Today I stand tall in a crowd, today my light shines brighter than before. It is not because of myself, or anything that I have done, it is because of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Finally, at 33- years old,  I love me.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT INVISIBLE?

The old me would constantly struggle with how people saw me or if they liked me as a person. I felt as if I had to put myself out there and keep everyone else happy around me, all the while I was suffering inside. Not everyone has the same heart as you and not everyone is in your corner. I know that we have all read or heard this statement a million times. But that is a hard statement to understand.  I would often feel “invisible” amongst friends.  I would ask myself…Why doesn’t anyone want to truly get to know the real me? What in the world is wrong with me? What do I not have that so and so has? I never seemed to measure up in my mind. I would take a personality test online and other assessments to try and figure out what was wrong with me. But as helpful as those test might have been, I was not thinking to myself “What does God think about me?”

I would look to my husband for so many answers. Every day I bombarded him with the look of “oh poor pitiful” me. Each day he would put me in his arms for a deep warm hug and reassure me of how “awesome” I was and that people were truly missing out if they didn’t like me. “Forget them, he would say.” My husband has always given me words of affirmation, if he isn’t being goofy and making me laugh, then he is for sure giving me some kind of pep talk. I am blessed for sure. But my husband giving me validation did not always seem to help. It was frustrating, to say the least. I just wanted people to like me.

People-pleasing is miserable.  I will just tell you from many years of experience that it never works out in your favor. So stop…please for the love of cheese..stop being a people pleaser today. People pleasing often stems from a lack of self-esteem. When you are a people pleaser, you will go above and beyond for everyone else and believe that you are less than others. You will feel invisible.

If you are not sure if you are a people pleaser or not…

Here are 15 signs that you may be a “PEOPLE PLEASER”.

  1. You worry about hurting others feelings
  2. You often feel like a doormat 
  3. You want everyone to like you
  4. You believe you are not as important as others
  5. You feel it is wrong to give yourself credit for anything
  6. You never want to leave anyone out of anything
  7. You fear letting others down
  8. You always apologize no matter what anyone has done to you
  9. You rarely accept help from others because you don’t want to burden anyone
  10. You are helpful to everyone, even those that would never help you
  11. You can always be counted on for a favor
  12. You always finish your work and offer to help others finish theirs
  13. You can not say no to anyone
  14. You live your life based on someone else’s opinion of you
  15. You avoid sharing your ideas because you believe someone else may have a better idea than you

Do any of these sound familiar? I am not, however, saying that you do not need to be kind to people and help others. If anyone knows me, I am all about servanthood and helping others. I am only saying that you can not live your life trying to seek validation through people.

Circumstances in our lives have a way of changing us. During those circumstances, we can not exactly see what God is changing within us, but after the storm is over we look back and see who we are becoming.

God sees us even when we feel invisible to the world. You are valuable!

Genesis 2:7-Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

The very air in your lungs was given to you by God himself and God does not make MISTAKES!! You were not created by “accident”. I can not stand when people say they got pregnant by accident. No, I am sorry, but you did not. PSALM 139:16 proves my point. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. God knew you even before you were created or thought about. He “knit” you to be who you are today. PSALM 139:14- You are fearfully and wonderfully made. GOD SEES YOU!!! Our self-worth is not based on how people see us and you are not called to please man, you are called to please God. YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE TO GOD. When you say “no one sees me”, God says “I see you. You are the focus of my love”. (Eph. 1:4)

I repeat…YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE TO GOD

So today look in the mirror and speak over yourself…

I am a daughter of the King of Glory

I am not invisible because God alone sees me

I am chosen, called and equipped to do great things

I will no longer seek validation in others

My validation comes from God

I am not invisible, God sees me

Today I love myself…

 

HAPPY FRIDAY Y’ALL

K.D. RUSSELL

salt and light

  SALT & LIGHT

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Jesus spoke these words when he was teaching a Sermon on the Mount, it was one of his main teachings on morality and discipleship. The general theme written in Matthew 5 is Jesus’s expectations for his disciples. The Sermon on the Mount is the longest continuous section of Jesus himself speaking found in the New Testament. That is the reason those areas of the Bible are written in red because those written words were spoken by Jesus himself.

Disciple means “follower”, we are all called to be disciples of Christ. God has given each of us the ability to learn about the things of faith, to be disciples and he has given us instructions on how to lead others to Christ. So the same words Jesus spoke to his disciples still apply to us today.

When we break down the scripture in Matthew we first see that we are called to be SALT. What exactly is Jesus meaning by salt? Salt is used to season food and it enhances the flavor of the food we eat. It was also used back in the day, to keep food fresh when there was not any refrigeration. So the way I take that statement is that just like Salt seasons food and enhances flavor, the followers of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. You and I, as Christians, are to be like the salt of the earth because our lives enhance and give meaning to this existence we call life.

Salt was used also to preserve meats and certain foods and to keep them fresh. We as Christians are called to be preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil in the society of corrupt men whose suppressed natures are influenced by sin (PSALM 14:3, ROMANS 8:8)

Salt stops corruption and decay. Salt stimulates thirst. People will thirst for the word of God when they realize that they can not get by in this world without it. Just like salt makes us thirsty…we should be thirsty to share God’s word with others.

The question Jesus asked, however, is “What good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” Jesus is saying that if a Christian has lost his or her passion or enjoyment, then what’s the difference between them now than who they once were? The answer is there is very little difference.

Secondly, we are called to be LIGHT. Light is the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. My first thought while studying these verses on light made me think about a “lighthouse”. I know that the purpose of a lighthouse used to be to guide ships in the dark or to alert ships of dangerous waters. Due to new technology that has now changed. But we get the right idea about what lighthouses are and their main purpose. Just like “lighthouses” lead and guide by shining their lights, we are called to do the same. We have a light inside of us that should burn so bright for Jesus. That light should lead and guide you and others through dark places and through dangerous waters. Jesus is the light that is inside of us. His marvelous light will shine in and through us if we are true disciples that long to live for him.

 

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16). He explained that no one lights a lamp just to hide it under a basket. A lamp is meant to be placed on a stand to give light to everything around it. Whether you’re timid or outgoing, you’re called to be a light to the people around you. So put yourself out there! Do not dim your light or be ashamed of the light that burns so brightly inside of you. Share it with the WORLD!!

Two key questions that we need to be asking ourselves daily!

  1. Are we showing HIS light to a dying world?
  2.  Is anyone thirsty for Christ because of your words?

I hope that you enjoyed my study today! I know that I truly needed this reminder! Have a blessed day!

Stay Salty & Burn bright!

 

HAPPY THURSDAY Y’ALL

K.D. RUSSELL

How to live a PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE: Purpose over preference…

 Purpose over Preference

Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

We are the only living beings who wonder about our destiny or purpose in life. Animals just worry about basic needs and survival. We have planted inside of us the desire to “matter from the outside”. Let’s face it, we all want to matter or be significant in some way throughout living our lives. We naturally want to make a difference and we yearn to do things to fulfill passions and desires that we have.  God made us this way. We all have a purpose and some of us strive every day to figure out exactly what that purpose may be. What we have to realize is that God’s “purpose” for us will always out way our very own “preference” for ourselves.

Preference: a greater liking for one alternative over another or others.

We may prefer to only share the gospel with our close friends and family, but God may have told you that your purpose is to preach the gospel to the nations. First off your purpose through God will always be bigger than you and it will most of the time feel scary and cause you to step way out of your comfort zone. God needs us to understand that only through him can we truly fulfill the purpose that he has for us. We can not fulfill our purposes by trying to control our own destinies. It just does not work like that. You can work yourself to death in an area of your Church ministry, thinking that you are fulfilling a purpose, but all because that is where you prefer to be. But in the end, God has tried everything in his power to get you to move from that area and step into your true purpose. But you have been so busy thinking about what you want, that you are missing out on the blessings that God truly has for you. That is why Purpose always outweighs our preference.

Purpose matters and preference pleases us. That is not saying that God does not take in account our preferences. He just may have a different route that he may want you to take to reach your destiny and it will probably not exactly be your preference to go that way. It will, in the end, be the best way though. God’s way is the best way, even when we do not know why we may be traveling down the road that we are, in the end, we will see the purpose.

So what is driving your life?

YOUR PURPOSE OR YOUR PREFERENCE….

How can you strive to live a purpose driven life?

BY READING THE WORD OF GOD, PRAYING FOR GOD TO LEAD YOU AND GUIDE YOU TO YOUR PURPOSE, AND BY TRUSTING GOD’S PREFERENCE FOR YOU OVER YOUR OWN.

Three very important reminders:

  • God has a purpose for you.
  • God is with you to carry out His purpose.
  • God equips you to carry out His purpose.
-ROMANS 8:28-And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
-EPHESIANS 1:11-In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
PHILIPPIANS 2:13-For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER:

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

 

 

 

K.D. RUSSELL

IT IS OK TO REST YOUR BEAUTIFUL SOUL…..

 Beautiful souls need rest too….

Oh, beautiful women of God, it is ok to take a break every once in a while. I know all too well how the burdens of a chaotic life can get you down. Way down to be exact. If you are anything like me, you are always going at 100+ miles an hour trying to keep everyone else happy, healthy, and heading in the right direction. This applies to your daily life as well as your spiritual life. But how many of us know that in doing all of this, we forget about our own needs and tend to feel guilty for taking a break to recharge? We want to usually cover up our hurts and our brokenness like a band-aid covering a wound. I know that I am a people-pleaser at times and I try my very best to keep the peace with everyone all the while I feel empty and tired from trying to keep it all together.I think to myself that if I just put more effort into helping others that I too will receive the help that I so desperately need. That just is not the way to handle things though. Sometimes we just need rest, plain and simple. God knows that we get tired and he knows that we need to sometimes take a step back to rest or we will not have the strength to do what he has called us to do.

MATTHEW 11:28-30- 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT)

EXODUS 33:14-14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

You can not truly rest until every area of your life rest in God! The mundane of life can destroy your soul completely. The wonderful, beautiful person that you are can be so worn down that you do not even recognize who you are or who you have become. Circumstances that have scarred you can leave you questioning how to even go on. That is why God says in Matthew 11:28-30 “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I (God himself) will give you rest. The Lord God will take upon himself all of our hurts and all of our brokenness to relieve us of our worries and pain. God will go with you and give you the rest that you need, all you have to do is ask. Or better yet just “take a break”. The enemy loves when we are so preoccupied with stress, hurt, pain, and busyness because he feels that he can get into our heads and keep us filled with those negative thoughts about things going on around us.

Rest is actually a weapon given to us by God because when we decide to “rest”, that means that we have put everything in his hands and we no longer will dwell on it.

We have permission to rest at times. You are not responsible for creating happiness for everyone. You can not for the life of you fix everything or everyone that is broken. That is not your job. Fixing yourself and making yourself happy is another story. You need to replenish and every once in a while put your own self-care first. Stop drowning today with worry and re-learn the art of rest and relaxing. Not only will this prevent many onset illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying, it will allow you to clear your mind and focus on what God wants to do through you.

I encourage you today to do something that you love! Take time today to enjoy the little things.

Here are 10 ways to rest and replenish today:

1. REST AND PRAY

2. TAKE A HOT BATH

3. TAKE A WALK OR GO FOR A RUN

4. ACCEPT THE THINGS WE CAN NOT CHANGE

5. CHOOSE TODAY TO NOT SAY “YES” TO EVERYTHING

6. SOAK UP THE SUNSHINE

7. GO FISHING (it is actually very peaceful)

8. UNPLUG AND BE PRESENT

9. GO OUTSIDE

10. READ A BOOK

The list could go on and on. REST beautiful women of God, he’s got you…

HAPPY MONDAY Y’ALL! I hope you all have a very blessed week full of many blessings!

K.D. RUSSELL

Biblical truths about Friendship…

When I was in 2nd grade we would sing this song about “friendship” during every girl scout meeting. It went a little something like this: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold”. That song has stuck in my head for over 25 years. Life was so much simpler when we were younger though. Friendships were easy! We may have had a small disagreement every once in a while over silly things, but we were instantly back to being friends after. We did not allow others to influence who we were around. We would forgive, forget and move on anytime we were hurt. Do you remember making “pinky promises” and making sacred vows to be Best friends forever? It seems as though when get older that our taste in friends begins to change and we have a harder time forgiving, forgetting and moving on after being hurt by friends.

What does the Bible say about true friendship?

Proverbs 17:9- Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. 

The Bible is saying with this scripture that with love you water the garden of friendship when we choose to forgive our friends of their faults and stop “dwelling” on the mistakes that they made. In return, our friendship grows strong and prospers.

-Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget    –John Randolph

How true is that statement? Just like the song above, it is a true blessing to have real friends, they are like silver and gold. I mean “true friends”.

So what characteristics do friends have to have to be considered “true friends”?

  1. Loyalty-  a strong feeling of support or allegiance.
  2. Trust-firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something
  3. Realness-genuine
  4. Honesty-n a truthful, fair, or honorable way.
  5. Empathy-he ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
  6. Sincerity- the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy.
  7. Encouraging attitude- to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence:

These are just a few key qualities that true friends should have.

Colossians 3:13 says-  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)

These verses give us the key pointers on how to make friendships last. The Bible gives us so many examples of what true friendship is all about. In Colossians, the scripture is describing how we should all forgive each other of our wrong doings because the Lord himself has forgiven us. Like..whoa! You mean to tell me that when a friend hurts my feelings, no matter how hard it hurt me, that I am supposed to forgive them?? Yes!!! Forgive, forget and move on! Because how many times have you messed up in your lifetime, knelt down on your knees and asked the good Lord to forgive you? If you are anything like me, it has probably been over a million times. We all mess up and we all make mistakes, unfortunately!  God loves us enough to pick us up, forgive us, forget about the sin we committed and tell us to move on. So we are supposed to also do the same for our friends.

Here are a few other examples of “true Friendships” in the Bible:

ABRAHAM AND LOT

Abraham reminds us of loyalty and going above and beyond for friends. Abraham gathered hundreds of men to rescue Lot from captivity.

Genesis 14:14-16 – “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.” (NIV)

JOB AND HIS FRIENDS

Friends come to each other when one faces adversity. When Job faced his toughest times, his friends were immediately there with him. In these times of great distress, Job’s friends sat with him and let him do the talking. They felt his pain, but also allowed him to feel it without putting their burdens on him at that time. Sometimes just being there is what someone needs.

Job 2:11-13 – “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.  So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” (NKJV)

DANIEL AND SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO

While friends look out for one another like Daniel did when he requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be promoted to high positions, sometimes God leads us to help our friends so they can help others. The three friends went on to show King Nebuchadnezzar that God is great and the only God.

Daniel 2:49 – “At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.”(NLT)

Each of these amazing biblical stories is about friendships that endured hardships and they were there for each other. That is what “true friendship” is all about. You want friends that are there for you through thick and thin! The ones that pray, laugh, cry, scream and fight along side of you. Those friends are the silver and gold friends! So count your blessings if you have even ONE good friend. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:23-24

The poor plead for mercy;
    the rich answer with insults.

24 There are “friends” who destroy each other,
    but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

The ultimate “true friend” is Jesus Christ. There is no better friend than him. He laid down his life for all of us and continues to bless us each and every day with his unconditional love. What a friend we have in Jesus 🙂

Happy Saturday Y’ALL

K.D. RUSSELL