Names Of God

When I get the chance to help someone launch their new book, I jump at it. I know how essential it is to have as much help and support as possible. My first books success would not have been nearly as successful without my online friends and their willingness to share and celebrate it. Social media is pretty powerful! So please allow me to introduce you to my new friend, Jan Harrison, as she shares about her new book, Becoming A Woman Who Knows God By Name....

 

                                                       “ How the Names of God Carried Me through Darkness ” 

     They say the more time you spend with someone the more you begin to act and even look alike. This is often true about couples when they have spent a lifetime together. What if we were to spend so much time in the presence of God, we knew Him so well, that we began to act like and even live out our lives in a way that others could watch and catch glimpses of His beauty and grace? Could it be possible to become so attuned to His voice and familiar with His character that we honestly know Him by name? Maybe this sounds a little presumptuous or slightly irreverent but this is precisely the reason I was motivated to plunge myself into a personal study of the names of God. No one’s character is fully revealed without multiple encounters through various situations. Marriages are built and strengthened after years of sharing and growing under the pressure of adversity as well as the gladness of success. Throughout the Old Testament the true and living God reveals Him self to many different people as they encounter situations where they need more understanding of who He is and how He works in the lives of His people. In multiple circumstances He took the opportunity to roll back the eternal mystery of His identity and share with individuals His character through times of adversity and success. 

                                                                                           “I Need More” 

     I came to a place in my own spiritual journey where I found myself straining under life’s pressure and desperate for more of Him. I had spent almost 30 years growing in my personal relationship. But when my only son died suddenly while living and serving in Africa, at the age of 27, I found my faith in God’s faithfulness being stretched very thin. During that time my strength to cling to His promises was draining to a dangerously low level. After all, this was the most adverse circumstance my relationship with God had ever been in and I needed to see His character with greater clarity and deeper understanding. The pain and sorrow of death and loss compelled me to search His word for insights into His names. Through the haze of grief and the darkness of sorrow, I grabbed onto this verse, and took it at face value. 

Those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10. 

     It was a flotation device pitched toward me when I was being tossed about in the turbulent sea of loss. I grabbed it and held on. Faith for my life depended on it. Slowly, surely, my feet touched the bottom and I began to stand on the names of God. Through the weeks and months that followed I cherished my time in His presence like never before and asked God to reveal His character to me through His holy name. I prayed, I read, I waited and wondered, and without fail, He allowed me to see more of Him and know Him in a deeper and more intimate way. 

                                                                                           “An Invitation” 

     Maybe you are in a hard place and as you read this you are struggling with the character of God. Perhaps He is not who you understood Him to be in this particular situation you are in. You may be wondering if you misplaced your trust in Him. Please, may I encourage you, there is so much more to learn and know in your relationship with the Lord. He wants to be more than an acquaintance. He wants us to know Him so well our lives look like Him. In fact, He invites us to prayerfully accept His invitation to deeper intimacy by “Becoming a Woman Who Knows God By Name.” 

     In my book, by that title, I chose to share the names of God that met me in a personal place of deep need. They are examined as they were given in the Old Testament. Because God is timeless and eternal we can be confidant His character never changes and the revelations given to Abraham. Moses, Gideon, David and others are also for us. 

     I want to share His faithfulness to me never wavered and the power of His promises holds true. He will not forsake those who seek Him. His name applied to my life daily continues to strengthen me. His character is worth building my life on because He does not disappoint. The same is true for you. It has been six years since I embarked on this leg of my faith journey and because I know His name, I pray my walk and talk look a little more like Him. 

* Jan Harrison has been inspiring women for more than 20 years as a Bible teacher, speaker, and author. To learn more about Jan and her new book “Becoming a woman who knows God by name” visit her blog at http://steppingtowardhope.org/ 

You Need A Vacation

Y'all... we had no idea we needed this vacation as much as we did! 

Brent and I got back from a 12 day "vacation" about a week ago. And we have returned brand new people. I didn't even realize how empty my tank was until I got off the plane and took my first breath of beautiful Southern California smog. I ain't even kidding. THEN, we got to the beach and I was done. Heaven on earth. 

I basically had this expression for 12 straight days
 

Because of this...

And this...

And then he did this...

Brent recreated our first date at the Crab Cooker in Newport Beach, CA. We sat at this exact table 26 years ago on our first date. He had borrowed a family friends Mercedes to chauffeur me around in. He treated me like royalty then... He still does to this day.

And then everywhere I turned and looked - I saw these.

I LOVE Palm Trees! Almost as much as I love the ocean. There is something so peaceful and comforting about them. 

AND THEN....

I have no idea what Im doing here.

I have no idea what Im doing here.

But I do know I am praising my God here!!! 

But I do know I am praising my God here!!! 

I absolutely love speaking. I love sharing my crazy redemption story. I love to stand there, a hot mess, totally icky but beautiful (yes, we are beautiful!), scared but brave, a sinner but forgiven, lost but found, and in the shadow of a very good and gracious loving God!

These 12 days changed us. In a very good way. 

I know it isn't always practical for people to take long vacations. I mean, this was our first in 14 years. But if you can steal away a couple days to do nothing but refill your tank - DO IT. You are worth it. You need it. It's ok to admit you need it. It's ok to do it. It not only benefits you, but it benefits those around you... and they probably want you to go away, too ;)

We will for sure be doing this again next year!

Size Matters - The Tag Struggle

I went to the mall this weekend to pick up a few items for mine and Brent's upcoming California trip. I went in to a cute little boutique that I have always admired. I usually walk by this store, in route to Starbucks, assuming their amazing mannequin fashions are way out of my price range. 

I finally went inside and discovered that, yes, they are super-duper out of my affordability BUT, they have a teeny little clearance section in the back. JACKPOT. I instantly spotted some shorts that I have envisioned for months. I was thrilled to finally see them in person!! They were half off of the already marked down price. Can we get a collective AMEN here?!

Small. Medium. Large.

Well, I am a solid size 6/8 - So, I chose the medium and asked for a dressing room.

Holding the shorts close to my chest like an 8 year old getting their first American Girl Doll, I lock myself into the dressing room with my prize.

I remove my Target clearance shorts from my person and, excitedly, remove my dream boutique shorts from their hangar.

Left leg... In.

Right leg... In.

Hips... Defiant, but successful.

Waist... a total revolt. I mean, this medium looked a little trim to begin with, but I'm a medium, then I got to my waist and realized I'm an XL here. What?!

How can a 5'*8" 128lb woman be an XL. 

Well, turns out... I am at this boutique. 

And at Target I am a Large. 

At Walmart I am a Medium.

At H&M I am a US 10 and US 4 depending on the item.

At Express I am a 6.

And at home... I am just right.

My closet isn't filled with a ton of clothes, but the clothes that fill it are nowhere related... at all. I checked. I have size 2 to size 12 in there. 

I say this to encourage any of you who struggle with the tag. The number on the tag does not change who you are!!! If you walk in to a store a solid, confident, 150lb person who knows their measurements and size, then nothing can change that. You are who you are, regardless of their label. 

Yet, the label seems to have so much power. I must confess, after trying the XS "Medium" shorts, that I had no idea were shorts for Barbie, I immediately shamed myself. I walked out, head down, and regretting the extra egg-white I added to my morning omelet. 

Crazy, right? Over a tag!

Have you ever felt discouraged by a tag, a label? 

How do you fight it? How do you defeat it?

 

Husbands: 3 Ways You're Not Supporting Your Wife

That title reads very negative - but it isn't. This post is meant to be positive and a helpful tool for you to navigate your wife's emotional journey.

As a woman I would be lying if I said I never get emotional. As a man, you'd be lying if you said you always understand every single time your woman gets emotional. Am I right? Yes. 

Women get emotional over everything. And some days are worse than others - if you know what I'm saying ;) Thank you, Mother Nature. I've been known to lose it over a McDonald's commercial. I've been known to get pretty heated in public when I see a parent belittling/abusing a child.

Or the time my husband and I drove up next to a cop who turned his siren on as a warning when Brent changed lanes quickly to avoid hitting someone who cut him off. There we were, next to each other, at the red light and I looked over at the cop and put my hands up like "What???" Then I rolled down my window to chat about it! What the?? Then the cop rolled down his window... well, almost - he accidentally rolled down the backseat window and I about lost my stuff right there, folks. Eventually he found his window button and I asked him - Did you just "Whoop-Whoop" us? <<< That's the sound a siren makes) And I quietly thought to myself, "Guuurl, you have lost your ever-loving-mind. I wasn't even being emotional but there are times when us women just can't/won't bite our tongues. [Please note: I love our men and women in blue. And our city of Franklin are protected by some of the finest!]

Sometimes women are navigating through deep-rooted emotional pain from a loss, from shame, from being hurt physically/emotionally/sexually. Women process hurt and fear differently than men do, so it makes perfect sense that men will not always understand the emotions of women.

Well, Brent and I have been together since 1990 and we have learned a lot in this area. He has treaded some intensely rough waters with me as I've journeyed to healing from my abortions, abandonment and abuse. These are the top three things Brent learned to change ;)

1- Not Validating Her Feelings 
You may not understand but that doesn't make what she is feeling wrong. Statements like: You shouldn't feel that way. That's dumb. You're making no sense at all. That's not how I'd feel about it... these do not work at all and will only cause her to shut down. Worse yet, it devalues her. 

Try these statements instead: I believe what you're feeling is real. I am sorry you're feeling that way - how can I help you? These speak life and worth into her. They also help with number two.

2 - Not Giving Her A Safe Place
Men, you should be your woman's go-to safe place. Yes, she has her girlfriends and that is important and needed; but no one knows her as intimately as you do. Her biggest fears and deepest secrets are safest with you, but if she doesn't feel like she can open up to you then she will not feel safe handing over her deepest hurts.

Ways to make her feel safe: Ask her questions beyond, "How was your day?". Ask her about her childhood, her favorite memories, her high school BFF, why orange is her favorite color. Start the safe dialogue to earn the deep dialogue.

3 - Not Following Up 
Don't just check that emotionally revealing heart moment of hers off your husband to-do list. 

Try this: The next day, send her flowers thanking her for opening up. Or, after dinner the next day ask her how she is feeling after your conversation. Perhaps share with her something you learned about yourself, or her, as a result of her opening up to you. 

This demonstrates that you value her, are grateful for who she is, and that you are for her. She needs to know that you are her biggest champion, the one that knows her on a soul level, the one that she can exhale her emotions with.

And stay tuned - Brent will be sharing a follow-up post, "Wives: 3 Ways To Help Your Husband Help You"