How to Brand Ourselves with Freedom

Have you heard about “branding”? In our part of the world branding is slightly different than in the blogging world.

We brand calves and cows as a mark of identification of who owns them. It prevents theft and it lets people know who these cattle belong to. So when I got into blogging and heard that we should “brand” ourselves I have to be honest I probably took it a little different than other people.

I know what it means. I’ve done enough studying and learned it’s a way we can set ourselves apart by being consistent so people know who we are. You know the funny thing is that’s actually very similar to the branding that we do with our cattle.

We want to put a mark on ourselves so that people know without a doubt who we are, what we like, basically something that says “this is us”! But to take it a step even further I want people to be able to know whose I am. I want people to have no doubt in their mind that I love Jesus. I want people to come in contact with me and say, “Oh my gosh I want whatever she has because the joy in her is palpable.”

So yeah branding is is a way of setting ourselves apart.

I have to be honest, I’m not the best at staying with the same fonts or the same themes. I try to do the right things but if you know my personality at all you’ll know that actually my branding is to be a little all over the place.

There might be a slight case of bunny chaser in me. I just can’t help it it’s my personality. I try to chase that rabbit back but don’t always get there. Despite all my bunny trail wanderings, I pray my heart will come across clear. I hope it’s perfectly clear my number one goal in life is to share the gospel and the good news of the saving power of Jesus.

I am not an emotional person by nature but the thought of people perishing without a relationship with Jesus breaks my heart. Everything else we do in this life, the words we write, the books we sell, the jobs we do, even all the good deeds in the world, pale in comparison in the light of eternity.

So in an effort to help with the branding process I should tell you a bit more about me. I love blue so you’re going to see a lot of blue. I love nature so you’re probably going to see a lot of nature. I love my family so they’re probably going to sneak in here from time to time too. I like all things ranching so it’s going to be a part of my writing as well. I love humor, I just can’t help myself.

But what I know is no matter what I do, no matter what I say there will be one truth for me and that is I love Jesus!!

So I hope you continue on with me as we chase a few rabbits down bunny trails. Ride along with me as I throw too much blue up on this blog. Be patient with me as from time to time I might gush about my family a little too much. In the end though, it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t some randomness on here. Because that’s a part of who I am!

I’ve tried to fit the mold of what I’m supposed to be for so long and I don’t know if it’s age or what but I am sick of fitting into other people’s molds for me! I am who I am and I don’t want to be anything else anymore. You know what friend, I really would love to invite you into this freedom.

There something to be said for branding ourselves by who’s we are and not what we do.

When you stop and think that the King of the universe chose you you can’t help but get excited! He could have done this without us and yet He wanted us that much.

I love the song “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong where it says, “He didn’t want heaven without us so Jesus You brought heaven down.” Come on! How can you not just melt into a puddle when you hear that? We should all be in so much awe on a regular basis that the only mold we want to fit into is the one He has for us.

Whew, I don’t know about you but that takes a lot of pressure off! So I’d love to hear in the comments what ways you are going to step into freedom this week. Alright freedom bell ringers, let’s get after it this week and be who God created us to be unique and individual! Go for it you mold breaker – I’m cheering you on!

 

How to Find Healing in the Journey

I’m pretty open with you here on the blog. Often as I’ve bared my soul and pushed the publish button, the butterflies in my stomach turned to some kind of winged monster that tried to carry me off.

Being vulnerable isn’t something that comes easy to me and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. Yet one of the things I really learned through this process of writing is that when we put ourselves out there it opens the door for other people to be honest with themselves.

Honesty is the start to healing.

This last year has been a little tough. I’m so grateful for the writing process as it’s helped me work through so many things with God. There are many times when it’s strictly between God, myself and my journal. Other times God makes it clear it’s something I’m to share with you.

healing in the journey

A year ago this month, August 2017, my health took a drastic turn south. I was running on a cup that had long since gone dry and was choking on the dust left behind.

God has so miraculously designed our bodies to work the way He intended for them to work. But so often we just grab the wheel and run it the way we want. Unfortunately, I ran mine right into the ground.

Health issues can often be a snowball effect.

What started out as endocrine/hormonal issues led to depression which led to weight gain which exasperated all the other issues. So I did what any rational person would do, right? I worked harder! (I really wish I could add a rolling eyes emoticon here!)

My body was trying desperately to tell me to slow down. Yet I fought it every step of the way! I figured if I could just work harder, try more and not let my body get the “upper hand” it all had to get better, right?

I put SO much pressure on myself not having a clue that what I was doing was adding to the problem!

Johnny Diaz - Just Breathe

Then to add insult to injury I went to several doctors and was told this was simply part of getting older and I better just get used to it. Not gonna lie, that sucked!!!

There’s a cool thing about our bodies though. God created them perfectly.

He has made each one of us to reflect His wonderful handiwork.

I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:14 (HCSB)

So when things are out of whack do we turn to Him for answers? I sure didn’t. I simply ran that much harder. There I was working out 2-3 hours a day on top of our daily ranch work, writing, household chores, youth ministry and life in general.

My body rebelled hardcore!

I tried the doctor’s suggestions to support my tanked adrenals and endometriosis. They helped temporarily but there were to many side effects so I had to cycle them and the crash in between was miserable.

It’s not fun to admit that it took so long but I finally fell on my face and said God I have no idea what to do, please help!

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10

We’re so blessed to serve a loving and patient God.

It’s not the first time He’s patiently waited for me to come to my senses and run to Him. I’m not sure if it’ll be the last but I pray it’s quicker each time now!

In typical God fashion, He had the best plan for me all along. When I finally submitted my will and listened to God I got to participate in my own miracle!

My body needed rest.

My emotions needed rest.

My spirit needed rest.

They all needed rest and support – not the punishment I was doling out!

God provided the steps I needed to take towards wellness. I simply needed to be willing to not run ahead or lag behind.

What started as a journey to help my body get the support it needed has impacted every area of my life. I’m excited to see where God leads and share with you as I follow Him!

healing in the journey

I’ve added a new page to share a little with you about what I’m doing to support my health. I don’t plan on changing the direction of the blog. But I can’t help but share a little about how God has blessed me so much through this journey! Check it out here.

Thank you for allowing me to bare my soul to you. It’s not always easy to share the less than stellar parts of your own life. I’ve lived a life of delayed obedience way to often in the past so when God says go, I’ll do it.

Even if it means doing it scared!

I’m sharing this post with several other blogger’s at these Faith Linkups. I encourage you to check them out. If this post resonates with you and feel it would help others please feel free to share. Easy to share buttons below.

~Laura~

 

How to Fight the Storm of Fear

“Hurry, load ‘em up!” I hollered over the wind as my young niece and nephew brought their horses to the trailer.

The temperature had dropped as the wind seemed to come up instantaneously. Everyone at the rodeo was desperately trying to get horses and kids rounded up and to safety.

I was just out of high school and was going to the town an hour north of us each week for the women’s and kids’ rodeo. It was a fun evening to look forward to each week. It also gave me an excuse to have my niece and nephew come stay with me for the weekends. It was also a way of getting them out of the situation they were in even if was just temporary.

I had always been a completely fearless person. Often not even exercising enough self caution to prevent way to many injuries to count. Then that storm rolled in and changed everything.

“Grab your ropes and get in the pickup,” I said hurriedly, “I think we can get ahead of this storm and outrun it.”

The sirens were going off in town and I knew there must have been a tornado warning issued. It was so dark the only way to see any of the sky was as the lightning sparked and illuminated it all. As far as I could tell there was nothing on the horizon so plenty of time to get out of there before it got worse.

My niece was concerned but had spent her whole young life with me and snuggled up beside me trusting my decision. It was short lived!

As we rounded the corner out of town the rain started coming down in sheets followed by hail pelting us in full force. Visibility was almost nonexistent at that point.

My poor niece was terrified. I was fighting my own fear welling up in me to calm her down. I was just trying to stay on the road as we inched along.

It came up so fast I didn’t have any time to react. I never saw it coming just the wind hitting us with such ferocity that fear completely overtook me.

The next thing I knew we were being picked up off the road and moved like a little matchbox car to the opposite ditch.

Something died inside of me that night. That fearless girl who believed she was completely invincible realized her own mortality. Fear had set in and the devil was trying to destroy me in new ways since his old ones had failed.

If there was so much as a cloud in the sky while I was outside, my heart would race uncontrollably. I would make every excuse in the world to those around me on why we needed to immediately go in the house. As rancher’s we work outside for a living and this presented a huge problem over the years.

It was especially bad if we were in a vehicle and crippling if I was the one driving.

It may sound like a logical fear but unfortunately it was a foothold for satan to gain ground in other areas of my life. New fears started growing and morphed into daily worries. I became the epitome of a worry wart.

One day, many years later, I was driving home by myself pulling a camper when a storm rolled in fast. My heart felt like it was going to explode it was racing so fast. Rationale was fleeing. Then I remembered a verse I’d chosen to repeat while I was in labor with my first son.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

I started repeating it to myself as a way to calm my heart. Also to help turn my focus back on Jesus who had always wanted to heal me of this fear.

The fear started to subside. I was fighting back finally and the devil knew he was in trouble. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I was taking ground back that had been stolen all those years earlier.

You know what, the storm didn’t subside. The wind blew hard and it rained and hailed on me for a good part of the way home. It was dark and scary on the outside but my heart had found firm footing inside and there was no way I was going back!

I love what Kelly Balarie reminds us in her book Fear Fighting – “What didn’t kill you yesterday has no real power to kill you today.”

Unfortunately, I had let fear rob me of the power Jesus had made available to me all those years. So, I exhaled all the fear and inhaled life back into those dry bones.

Does that mean fear never tries to rear it’s ugly head in my life? Of course not, but now I know that where the Spirit is – there is freedom!

~I would love it if you’d visit Fear Fighting Writers Contest and vote for me if this post has encouraged you. Go to the bottom of the page and enter 32 in the comments. Thank you!

If you want to learn more about Kelly Balarie you can visit www.purposefulfaith.com or to order the book go to www.fearfightingbook.com.

I’m sharing this post with several other blogger’s at these Faith Linkups. I encourage you to check them out. If this post resonates with you and feel it would help others please feel free to share. Easy to share buttons below. ~Laura~

Fear Fighting: Do you Live Fear or Faith?

Please help me welcome Kelly Balarie to the blog this week. 

Just yesterday, my friend told me her daughter has lice. 

I hugged that girl yesterday!

Would lice go from her hair to mine? Would I be cleaning the entire house, washing every sheet and stuffed animal, and pulling a thin comb through every inch of hair on my family’s heads from now until eternity? I can’t handle this thought. Next time, fist bumps will trump hugs.

Fear is the plumbing of discontentment.
It is the spillage of hesitation and loneliness.
It is the brakes to love.
It is the bulldozer to close relationships.
It is the boundary holding you back from God’s unlimited plan for you.

Fear is the rain cloud that always follows, the homicide to all God has, the breeding ground to insecurities, the shortness of breath that wakes you up at night, the cemetery of faith, and the artery blockage to the Spirit’s leading.  Continue reading “Fear Fighting: Do you Live Fear or Faith?”

Is it Time to be Still or Move?

The word of God is active and alive. I love how I can read a scripture or passage that I’ve read hundreds of times in the past and God can bring a fresh revelation to me.


God’s redeeming power is on full display in the story of the Israelites being delivered from the Egyptians. God told Moses to inform the people that He was going to rescue and redeem them. In other words, get ready people, God is on the move!


Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’” Exodus 6:6-8 (NLT)

Unfortunately, they weren’t overly receptive to what Moses had to say. Their own daily grind and hardships had them utterly discouraged. Yet God was well aware of His covenant He had made with Abraham and remained faithful. His people were freed by God’s grace!


Shortly thereafter however they found themselves walled in again as they camped at the Red Sea. Pharaoh was in hot pursuit and all that freedom was starting to feel pretty scary! Fresh off huge miracles from God and they still forgot WHO was in control.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve been right in that same camp. God has set me free from my past and yet I’ve been all too quick to panic when that freedom was being threatened by the enemy hunting me down.


But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Exodus 14:13-15 (NLT)

Yes, God calls us to be still and calm in the midst of chaos. We need to seek Him and trust Him to rescue us. BUT… He also tells us when it’s time move!


When we cry out to God for direction and His still small voice gives us just that; we need to put some distance between us and what God has called us out of! Stay calm but move.

When we’ve been redeemed and set free from whatever has been enslaving us we need to move forward. Many times this means we must distance ourselves from the sinful activities that held us so deeply. Those “egyptians” in our own life never to be seen again.


There may come a time when that includes walking away from relationships that are toxic. We can forgive and move forward but many times that can mean putting some safe distance between us and the relationship. This can be people, activities, idols or even seemingly “good things” that have us running back to slavery.


The Israelites didn’t set up permanent residence right next to the Egyptians. They moved on to the land God promised them. There were many bumps along the road still but they moved forward.

Is God calling you to set up some safety margins in your own life? Ask Him. He knows when it’s best for you to be still and when it’s time to move.

Deliverance to Freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 

Galatians 5:1 (NIV)



Freedom is defined as the state of being free or at liberty as opposed to slavery or bondage.
The Israelites were held in slavery for many, many generations. (400 years according to Acts 7:6 and Genesis 15:13)   When God delivered them from their captors (Egypt) you would think they just walked out into the world and claimed their freedom.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Even though they had been delivered from slavery they still had the minds of slaves.  They were not living in freedom.   
                       
Deliverance is only part of freedom.  An important part no doubt, but still just a fragment.  We need to be delivered from our captors such as addictions, strongholds, lies and fear to name a few.  Then we need to receive the freedom that comes with deliverance.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  Delivered but not really living in complete freedom.  Their minds often still held in the bondage of slavery.  Wondering if it might be easier just to go back to slavery than live a life delivered but not really free.  They enslaved themselves even amidst their own deliverance.
How many of us live just like them?  I know I have struggled for many years knowing God said I was delivered from an addiction but still living in a mindset of captivity.  That’s not freedom.  Freedom is no chains.  Freedom is the ability to live without constant fear of falling back into that trap if I take one misstep.  Freedom means I don’t just throw it all away if I do make a mistake.  It means I can accept God’s mercy and move forward with grace.  To me it means the enemy can’t use the addiction I was delivered from to pull me back to slavery.  I AM free!  I need to claim it and not look back. 
The Israelites wandered in their deliverance for way to many years.  So do many of us!  Often we’re too paralyzed by fear to know what steps we need to take from deliverance to freedom.  Every time they let their eyes drift from God they would wallow in their circumstances.  I’m guilty of the same.  If I take my eyes off Jesus for even a brief time the enemy tries to drag me back to the desert!
The Israelites could see the Promised Land.  Freedom was within their reach.  They stood on the hill to look.  They even stepped out into freedom to check it out.  Unfortunately, all most of them could see were giants in the land.  So they grumbled amongst themselves.  It spread like a virus.  How could freedom lie there?  It was there because God promised it!  So in an act of disobedience and lack of faith they turned away from their own freedom.  Just to walk back into where they had been delivered out of slavery to.  Stuck in limbo.  Not slaves but not free.
Let’s be like Joshua and Caleb and despite the giants we face, receive the gift of freedom Christ has promised us.  Accept the deliverance He has given you and walk out into freedom.

Jesus, help me to accept Your deliverance as a done deal.  Never again to pick up that yoke of slavery.  I know my freedom is IN You.  Give me the strength through Your Holy Spirit to make the choice to walk in freedom each day.  Keeping my eyes on You and Your promises!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Words of Life

“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”  
Psalm 119:133 (NIV)
What we allow into our lives always effects our lives.  If most of our life is filled with words from negative sources, we can’t honestly expect to not be negative!  It just makes sense.  If we put trash into our minds that is what we’ll get back out.
When we spend our days listening to music that’s filled with sinful behavior, it will seep down into our hearts.  We try to make excuses for the TV shows we choose to watch. “It’s just entertainment and means nothing” we tell ourselves to justify watching it.  These are lies the enemy uses.
Freedom!  Jesus brings freedom.  This freedom is not permission to continue to sin.  It’s not always easy to look honestly at ourselves and admit our sins.  The seemingly innocent material we fill our minds with is a doorway for the enemy to bring about temptation and destruction.  We need to be honest in our evaluations of ourselves on the material we are allowing into our lives!
We MUST guard our mind as it greatly affects our heart.  “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT).  

We need to fill our minds with God’s word.  That is where we will find the truth!  Jesus told us there would be times of trouble in our life.  When you face troubles, and you will, you need to be armed with God’s truth so you can endure the test.
Fill yourself up with Christ.  More of HIM and less of me! 

Father God, please help me to run everything I allow into my life through the filter of your truth.  Let me look honestly at what worldly materials I have allowed into my life that conflict with your word!  I repent and ask for forgiveness.  I need your help!  Fill me up with the truth of your word so that my life may be shaped by words of life!  In Jesus name, Amen