The Truth With the Power to Change Everything

by Chaka Heinze

When fears and insecurities threaten to paralyze me, one truth prevails.

Too often I forget the truth that first saved me. The truth that made me whole, changed my identity, forgave my sins, rebuked my shame, reclaimed my self-worth, renewed my hope, and filled me with child-like joy.

Jesus loves me.

There’s such power in those words.

Children accept with unquestioning innocence the lyrics “Jesus loves me,” and if you ask them how they know, they might respond with the rest of the verse, “for the Bible tells me so.”

The past couple of weeks have been challenging. I’ve mourned my shortcomings as a mom as I parent a strong-willed ten-year-old, and a teenager exerting his independence. I’ve lamented my physical limitations, my need to budget my time to manage responsibilities with my limited energy and a propensity for migraines. I’ve struggled through the gray days when my SADS (Seasonal Affective Disorder) dims my mind to happy thoughts. And I’ve fought my fears: Do I have the strength to do this? Am I enough? Did God pick the right person?

All those issues can lurk malevolently in the background of my mind, but recently they decided to launch a united, frontal assault on my brain. The stress I felt left me feeling helpless to organize, plan, and act. In other words, my anxiety affected my ability to function.

One night I went to bed with the pressures of the day heavy on my heart, and I searched to find God in any of it. I was busy sifting through my circumstances and deeds to find some way that I might have pleased Him or some way I could see His love for me in the middle of my hardship, and the truth came to my mind like a whisper:

Jesus loves me.

With that thought, I was miraculously changed. The oppressive burden was lifted. The darkness scurried away. The truth once again set me free.

Too often we allow that truth to live only on the lips of children. We don’t claim the freedom, power, and security of knowing that the one who formed the universe and purposefully knit us together, loves us. These words are not trite, dated, or empty. Walking every day, every moment beneath the shelter of Jesus’ unconditional love is powerful protection against the attacks from within and without.

Remembering that “Jesus loves me” didn’t make me a perfect mom, but it reminded me that I’m His masterful work in progress, and I can’t ever drive Him away.

Jesus loves me didn’t completely erase my physical limitations, but it gave me the security to know that what I offer up to Him will be enough.

It doesn’t remove mental bombardment from SADS, but it assures me of my value regardless of what my darker emotions might say.

It didn’t answer all the “how tos” or provide me with a blueprint for organizing my schedule and maximizing my efficiency, but it restored my peace of mind so that I could get moving again.

I don’t have all the answers, but what I do have I offer you. Jesus loves you too.

Can you rest a moment in that truth? Can you consider how it might change your feelings toward yourself if you allowed yourself to accept it? Can you imagine the freedom you might feel if you realized that His love is not tied to your performance or your perfection? Can you fathom what it might be like to have the one who knows the stars by name and has the power to create with a mere word or thought on your side?

Jesus loves me, and Jesus loves you. Such a simple statement, but one that has the power to change everything if we let it.

When we live wholly loved, absolutely everything changes. Our fears are soothed by God's power and grace, our deepest wounds begin to heal, and we're freed to live, to rest, in who we are in Christ. No more worrying about whether we measure up. No more feeling like we have to have all the answers or do everything right. Simply leaning deeper into Christ and resting in His grace as we allow Him to mold us into the treasured masterpieces He created us to be (Eph. 2:10).

Join us for the next Wholly Loved Conference to learn how to rest in the Christ's love, to embrace and live out your immutable purpose, and to discover then celebrate why your uniqueness, quirks and all, is all part of God's glorious and beautiful plan.

Visit our Events Page to find out more or email us at contact(at)whollyloved(dot)com to find out more. 

Fighting Against Guilt

“Too many Christians are more readily aware of the absence of God than they are of the presence of God, and they are more aware of sin than they are of grace.” ~ C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness

It's one thing to feel convicted; it's another to become consumed by guilt. The first can spark a Spirit-infused inspiration to change. The latter enslaves us in negative, self-defeating thinking. 

Today devotional writer Susan Aken shares the difference and how we can break free from guilt. Read her thoughts then share yours!

Fighting Against Guilt

by Susan Aken

 My failures weigh heavy on my soul like a blanket suffocating me. I can’t measure up to anyone. Others are more loving, kind, giving, and joyful. When I observe other Christians, thoughts like these bombard me:

 “You’ve wasted so much of your life!” 

“You call yourself a Christian; look at all the people you’ve ignored!”

“What do you have to show for yourself?”

“Have you made any progress?”

Overwhelmed with negativity one morning, as I was getting in the car, the song “Greater” by MercyMe came to mind.  The lyrics expressing how God, within me, is greater than he who lives in the world, resounded. I turned on the car and those exact lyrics were playing on the radio!

Some would say this was a coincidence but as a believer, I’ve learned when something like this happens, God is giving me a message. Later that day, I shared my struggles with a friend.

She said, “That’s the enemy! God doesn’t talk to us like that.”

A light came on in my heart and I remembered the song. Reading the lyrics, I realized I was under attack. The enemy was filling my heart with accusations! But the blood of Jesus Christ has covered my sin! “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8a NIV).

I wish I could say I had victory from then on, but the enemy doesn’t take a vacation. He looks for an opportune time when we let our guard down ... then strikes. He mixes in enough truth to bring us to our knees. It’s true that I struggle with pride, selfishness, laziness, and jealousy. But, I’m no longer under condemnation! The grace of Jesus is always there.  When I’m off track, I confess and ask His help. God never prompts me to give up because of my sin.

He calls me to repent and keep going.

The Holy Spirit will convict a specific sin and call us to repent, but He doesn’t oppress us with guilt, a feeling of failure, or condemnation. We need to grieve over sin, but not wallow in gloom. We humble ourselves, confess, and move on in joy.

When you’re attacked, feeling condemned and overwhelmed by your weaknesses, call out to Jesus.

If you feel that conviction, but you’ve never given your heart to Christ, know this truth from Romans 10:9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (NIV).

Once you are His, Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” When we sin, He promises in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Once He cleanses us, our sins are wiped away.

If you’re a believer and feel convicted of sin, confess it and move on. If there’s a sense of condemnation and accusation, that’s the enemy! Resist him! “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). Meditate on the truth of Scripture. Spend time praising God. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV).

Susan Aken is a homemaker, substitute teacher and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband and son (she is now an empty nester). Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! Visit her online at Soaring With Butterfly Wings and check out her devotional HERE

Let's talk about this! 

Guilt defeats, discourages, enslaves, and, left unchecked, can completely paralyze us! But God calls us to growth and freedom. John 8:36 says, "So if you Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (NIV).

The trick is learning to live and walk in that freedom!

We want to help you do just that, because when we live wholly loved, everything changes.

Join us for one of our upcoming conferences to learn how to live in God's incredible, freeing love for you. Find out more HERE!

And stay tuned to hear about our next conference, Bold and Brave, where women will learn how to live in freedom and grab hold of the abundant life God promised to all believers. 

Email us at contac(at)whollyloved(dot)com to find out more or to book us for your next women's event. 

Beyond If Only

By guest blogger Delia Latham

© 3/2017

“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.” ~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Once again, I’ve trapped myself in a terrible world of my own creation. It’s lonely here…and yet crowded with dissatisfied souls who’ve also found their way to this dark place. Everyone has her own reason for being here. Every reason begins with the same two deceptively simple words.

If only…

·      I were a better me (thinner, prettier, richer, more charismatic, less shy…fill in your blank)

·      I’d taken that well-spoken advice

·      I’d left those words unsaid

·      I’d been a better mother (wife, sister, daughter, friend…)

·      I’d handled that pivotal situation with more grace

On and on it goes. Inmates within the walls of If Only share a sad, negative, defeated frame of mind. We live in a dark place of self-criticism and discontent. Even as I shrank into the gloom behind its impenetrable gates, my heart urged me to reconsider.

Because, you see, I know…

I know, as a child of Christ, I’ve been given helpful instruction in every area of my life, including what I think about. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

I know when my thoughts are negative and defeated, I can and must (with the help of Christ) bring them back to a place of joy, truth, and victory. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).

That I keep getting trapped in this prison reveals my tendency to lose sight of Christ. When I keep my eyes unwaveringly on Him, I think like He thinks. It is when I look away, when I look on the things of this world, that my thoughts grow negative and defeated. It is then that I start to wander toward ‘if Only’ … despite another thing that I know:

Every ‘if only’ I entertain creates another brick of heartbreak, another stone of regret. As I continue to collect them, they become high and strong barriers that hinder me from becoming who God created me to be.  

If only I would stay close to my Father! While well within His light, and abiding in His Word, I never doubt that He loves who I am, right where I am, just as I am. He stands between me and this self-made prison of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlies.’

Yet even now, having lost myself again, my soul knows what to do. I must cry out to my Deliverer. He will lift me out of this prison, and take me to a better place.

·      A place of liberty from the chains of societal molds and social expectations. “When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; He brought me into a spacious place” (Psalm 118:5, NIV).

·      A place of assurance that despite human mistakes, I can continue to strive for Christ-likeness. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal… (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV).

·      A place of knowing that, in Christ, I am perfect. Where He dwells, beauty abounds—not because of anything good in me, but because He is perfect, pure, and beautiful.

He loves me that much. Who am I to not love myself? If God finds me beautiful, how dare I believe that I am not? If my Father sees me as lovable in spite of all the things I wish I could change—all my ‘if onlies’—then how presumptuous of me to see myself as anything less than a forgiven, beautiful, beloved, royal child of the King!

Beyond my self-criticisms and derision…on the other side of my prison walls, God’s ‘spacious place’ awaits. A bigger, brighter, more beautiful dwelling place—without a single regret or condemnation.

I will lift my eyes to the Lord, and call His name. My God will crush the bricks that form my prison walls. He will take me to that spacious place.

My beautiful sister, lift up your head! Beyond this dark place is our Father’s glorious world of light and love. Come with me…we’ll go there together.

***

Spring Raine, Paradise Pines series, Book 1:

An uncharacteristic, last-minute decision to do something "wild and crazy" before entering the stressful world of forensic science sends Raine Presley to Cambria, California. Against a cloud of disapproval from her slightly manipulative, over-protective parents, she signs a seasonal lease at the beautiful Paradise Pines Lodge...and winds up over her head in life and love.

Declan Keller's just minding his own business—literally—when Raine drops into his world and turns it upside down. He's far too busy carving beautiful shapes out of chunks of wood to be babysitting a gal from Pasadena. Even so, his father’s promise to an old friend obligates him, despite a looming deadline that could make or break his career in the art world. He’s praying for anything but Raine when she comes along.

Neither Declan nor Raine is prepared for the seemingly divine influence of Paradise Pines—and Miss Angelina Love. A mysterious lady who may or may not own the lodge, Miss Angie possesses an amazing talent for mending ruffled feathers, spouting proverbs, and somehow bending even the most determined of hearts to the power of love.

Writing Heaven’s touch into earthly tales, Delia Latham puts her characters through the fire of earthly trials to bring them out victorious by the hand of God, His heavenly messengers, and good, old-fashioned love. You’ll always find a touch of the divine in this author’s sweet tales of romance.

Delia lives in East Texas with her husband Johnny. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author of inspirational romance…with a finger or two immersed in the design pool, where she creates beautiful marketing material for other authors. Delia treasures her role as child of the King and heir to the throne of God. She’s got a “thing” for Dr. Pepper and loves hearing from readers.

Visit her online at her websiteher blog on her Amazon Author PageFacebook Reader Page, and follower her on Twitter.

Let's talk about this! We all have lies we believe about ourselves and negative thinking we tend to not only entertain but feed. As Delia shared in her post, those thoughts can easily imprison us and get in the way of our living out who Christ came to be. 

But we are wholly and deeply loved. We have a glorious and immutable purpose, and we are wonderfully and intentionally unique. Imagine what life would look like if we learned to consistently rest in and live out those truths?

At Wholly Loved Ministries, we want to help you do just that. Join us for our next conference, held at Good Shepherd Presbyterian. This conference will be held on June 24th from 9 am-12:30 pm. Visit our EVENT page to learn more or email us at contactus(at)whollyloved(dot)com to book us for your next women's event. 

The Struggle to Be Still

In our hectic culture, it's easy to get caught up in the pressure to perform and achieve. It's easy to allow our to-do lists to dominate our time and our minds. But if we're not careful, all that frantic running around can rob us of what we need most.  

Be Still

by guest blogger, Athena Dean Holtz

BE STILL.

What is it with these two words? And why is it so hard to accomplish?

Maybe because I’m a do-er. Doing things well always make me feel good…like all is right with the world.

But what about with me and God? Is everything right there?

I’m a speaker, author, publisher, blogger, radio host, women’s ministry leader, executive board member of our writer’s group, AND a pastor’s wife.

That’s a lot of DO-ing. And all that DO-ing crowds out that still, small voice that beckons me to …

BE STILL.

I think most of my life I’ve avoided slowing down because that seems to be when the pain bubbles to the surface and the emotions swirl. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that I’ve spent years pushing back down and numbing with various drugs of my own choosing: working, shopping, eating, social media … and the list goes on.

During my time in Texas, I was helping my brother care for my mom in the last months of her life. There was so much pain I was still running from, and all I could think to do was whine to Him to hurry up and bring my Prince Charming.

But I wasn’t ready. I needed to learn to be still and allow Him to heal my heart.

And so He began using benches to get my attention, to draw me into BE-ing instead of DO-ing.

They were everywhere. On every porch, in every yard. It was hard to miss the emphasis, especially now as I walk my neighborhood in Washington, with only one bench in blocks!!

Come, sit with Me. Slow down. Think about all I have brought you through. Ponder my faithfulness. Pray.

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.

So that is what I did. And healing came. So did my Prince Charming! I can’t promise the same thing will happen for you, but I can tell You He will answer Your prayers as you surrender to Him.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:14 CSB

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalms 147:3 CSB

[Lord, I am choosing today not to] worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, [I] present [my] requests to [You].  And [I thank You that Your] peace, which surpasses all understanding, [guards my heart and mind] in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Lord, I thank You that You do, indeed, heal the brokenhearted. That would be me and I would guess some others who are reading this post right now. You bandage all our wounds, after you’ve cleaned them and applied your healing balm. I thank You, that as You heal our hearts, You remind us that You value those who fear You, those who put our hope in Your faithful love (Psalm 147:11 CSB).

Thank you, Lord, that You value us. As broken and hurting and wounded as we are, You value us as we revere you and recognize Your faithfulness. We are valuable to You. Through the brokenness in our lives, the cracks in our pots, Your light shines. Your hope spills over onto other broken women and brings light in the darkness of pain and despair.

Help us to BE STILL in the midst of this Truth, and allow You to bring life.

Amen.

Athena Dean Holtz is a speaker, publisher, radio host, and pastor’s wife. Her memoir, Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God (Redemption Press 2017) chronicles her entrapment and deliverance from two cults, Scientology before becoming a Christian, and a legalistic, destructive, toxic Christian cult called Sound Doctrine after her salvation. Visit her online at: www.athenadeanholtz.com.

FULL CIRCLE: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God

One woman’s search for acceptance and love takes her on a 12-year journey into deception in a restrictive and legalistic cult. A true-life Cinderella love story of losing everything and regaining freedom, redemption, and faith.

Peace in Uncertainty

One phrase, spoken by my husband, tossed my world upside down.

I was a young mom who spent my days caring for our daughter and managing our home while my husband went to work. Were our roles to reverse, there was no way I could ever earn enough to support us.

In other words, my daughter and I were completely dependent on my husband.

Or so I thought.

It took a major shift for me to realize, Who was really holding us, and to rest in Him.

But back then, all I could see was what lay before me. My husband’s income came a certain way. We paid our bills, and everything went according to plan.

Until he shook things up.

One evening, Steve came home late and tired. Between his long commute, crazy hours, and ever-increasing stress, he lived perpetually exhausted. “I’m quitting my job,” he said.

I stared at him. “Where will you work?”

“I don’t know. Home Depot?”

Before I could ask the frantic questions pinging through my brain, he said, “And we’re moving.”

By this time, I started to wonder if he’d lost his mind. I feared my hard working, persevering, provider husband was crumbling.

I probably would’ve started crying or screaming if I hadn’t been so stunned. Or perhaps God held my tongue because, well, He knew what lay ahead.

All I could see was the crisis in front of me.

Over the next few weeks, God and I had some highly-emotional conversations, most of which involved me begging Him to intervene.

Fast forward a few months; we prepared to put our home on the market. By now, my husband had begun to talk with career headhunters, so I had a little hope. But we were. Selling. Our. House. With nowhere to go. And Steve was determined to quit his job.

One afternoon, I was outside working in our yard, praying, when I sensed God saying to me, “Submit.”

Ouch. Um, did I hear you God? Because I’m pretty sure my husband’s lost it.

“Submit.”

God must’ve done something mighty powerful in me that day, because I did. And two months later, we packed up our van, handed our house keys to our realtor, and headed to Louisiana, where we thought and hoped a job was waiting.

Steve got the call that afternoon. The job was his. Our house sold the very next day, for full asking price. And because I surrendered to God, even when everything I saw told me to do otherwise, my husband and I grew closer.

God had a plan all along—a solution we couldn’t see. And He wanted me to trust not in my husband or his job, but instead, in Him.

I remember this time whenever I think of the Israelites as they were fleeing Egypt. Trapped by soldiers on one side and the sea on the other, they thought they were doomed. But “[God’s] road led through the sea, [His] pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there” (Ps. 77:19 NLT).

When I face a crisis, I can get so stuck in how I think things should go, but God’s aid can, and often does, come unexpectedly. His method of providing may change, but His character as the Provider never will. He’s calling each of us to trust in Him, not our job, or our spouse, or our savings account or friends.

What are you facing right now? How might focusing on who God is, the promises He’s made in Scripture, and His never-failing love for you bring you peace as you weather life’s uncertainties?

Weedy Thoughts

Thoughts can be fruitful like flowers or destructive like weeds; it all depends on what you allow to grow.

Spring is here and each day it seems I receive a new seed catalogue in my mail. Oh the possibilities! Pictures of the luscious fruit and hardy vegetables are almost too much for my husband. Every year he plans on planting less than the one before, but ends up planting as much, if not more.

I’m no better when it comes to flowers. My husband tills up areas for me, and I buy enough seeds for a whole meadow. I can’t help myself!  

A few years ago my husband prepared a fresh spot in our pasture for my garden. I knew it was going to be work to keep the grass and weeds out since it had never been used for a garden before, but I was excited to have such a large spot.

I decided I would plant wide swatches instead of taking time to measure out and make straight lines. It was a fabulous year weather-wise, and my buds quickly grew to fill up this space. I worked diligently at keeping it clean to give my plants a chance to grow.

I was quite proud of how spotless I kept my flower garden…until my husband and I went on a week-long vacation.  

A week without tending my beautiful garden.

By the time we returned, the garden was overgrown with weeds. They had actually surpassed my flowers in this short period of time. And because the plants were still growing, pulling the weeds could’ve meant taking out some of the blooms. Since I’d planted such a wide area instead of rows, I was going to be doing a lot of bending and reaching to clean it out.

It took me twice as long to get those errant sprouts out of my garden since they’d been allowed to grow freely. It would’ve been better to take a few minutes each day to be sure they didn’t take root at all.

I was not thinking happy thoughts as I pulled every single one of those weeds.

And that reminded me of how negative thoughts and sinful ideas can overcome my mind. They start out small, like someone pulling out in front of me, almost causing an accident. These thoughts grow until I am in a bad mood at home and snap at my family. It’s not long before negativity springs up across the garden of my mind and chokes out the fruitful thoughts.

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV says we are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  Although Paul spoke specifically about arguments that kept people from knowing God, I think we can also use this for any thoughts that are not from God.

When allowed to grow in our minds, these thoughts take root and often times grow faster than the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy things from Philippians 4:8 that we are told to think on. Then we have to spend double the time getting those weedy thoughts yanked out by their roots.

I’ve learned to plant in areas small enough to handle the creepers that inevitably try to take over. I have also learned to take my thoughts captive before they begin to overtake my mind.

Does anyone else have issues with weedy thoughts? What are some ways you’ve tried to rein your thoughts and center them on truth?

Some of our most destructive weedy thoughts have to do with those things we tell ourselves. God says we're cherished, deeply loved, created to be glorious masterpieces that shine for Him, and yet, so often, when we think about ourselves, we feed those nasty inner lies that hold us back and keep us in bondage. Lies like "I'm not good enough," or "I'm a failure" or "I'm lovable." 

It's time we rejected faulty, self-defeating thinking and centered our thoughts on truth! We want to help you do just that! Join us for our next Wholly Loved conference where you'll gain the tools to rest in who you are in Christ: wholly loved, wholly purposed, and wholly and intentionally unique. 

Find out more HERE or email us at contact@whollyloved.com to book us for your next women's event. 

This Jesus Freed Me

This Jesus Freed Me

by Jessica Rose Thorberg

"Free at last, Free at last,
Thank God almighty we are free at last." ( Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)
Free to dream, free to dare,
Free to love, free to share,
Free- no bars,

Free- no chains,
Freed by my King’s

All loving, most forgiving, supreme reign.
Free- Restored,

Free- Adored,
Undying, unbroken life chord.
It’s Jesus,

 who gave his life to save,

To reach down,

And reach in,

And rescue my life from the grave.

Jessica Thorberg is a seeker of the heart of Jesus. She loves to explore his word, especially the Psalms, Prophets, and Gospels. She and her husband, Kyle, have three God-given leaders- all boys, who are learning how every facet of life can be lived for their creator and Lord. She seeks to bring glory to God through her camera lens, the fine arts, writing, and communicating the word of God with her favorite Bible study ladies at West Hills Church and the Metro Women’s Faith Network.

Two of her current projects include a storytelling piece to take a stand against human trafficking, and the completion of a large mural for a center that serves individuals with disabilities. Jessica has worked as a group facilitator for people with mental illness, which helped prepare her to serve people in a variety of life struggles. She sees the amazing gifts that God has bestowed in others, listens for his leading in her life, and anticipates how God will move in our communities to his glory. If you want to see more of her work, visit her portfolio at Eliah Storybooks & Art

***

Happy Easter from all of us at Wholly Loved! May  you reflect on and rest in God's deep and unchanging love for you, and may He teach you how to, daily, live in the freedom He offers. 

When Our Role Shifts

When we place our value and fulfillment on what we do, we’re only one life-change from heartache and confusion. Today’s guest shares how God used a major change in roles to center her in something much more enduring. And fulfilling. For all those facing a time of transition, may Eileen’s story bring you peace and encouragement.

When Our Role Shifts: Could the Best Be Yet to Come?

By Eileen Rife

(Edited and Revised by the Wholly Loved Editorial Team)

Could the best be yet to come?

I didn’t think so eleven years ago when I entered the empty nest. My active mothering had ended. On top of that, my mother died.

These events threw me. I pondered my twenty-five year journey of training my children to be God-honoring, well-balanced, responsible adults, and realized in some ways I was still a child myself. With my mother gone and my father close behind her, I felt a free fall into maturity I didn’t fully want to take.

I was it—the next generation carrying the baton and pass it off.

The message God kept bringing to my mind: Enjoy Me. In this new season of life, enjoy Me! The best is yet to come. But in my written plans (yes, I charted out goals) to enjoy Him, I struggled to wrap up in His love.

Reviewing journal entries from that time, I retrieved a letter my husband, Chuck, wrote to me. He expressed his joy at the gift God had given him in me. He wrote: “We’re on the ride of our lives, and I’m excited! I know the best is still ahead!”

Back then, I didn’t share his enthusiasm. I entered the second half of life drained and vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. After two weddings, two graduations, caring for aging parents, losing my mother, turning 50, and entering menopause, I needed good old-fashioned rest. Instead, my typical reaction to grief kicked in—get busy! That hindered me from God’s admonition: Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10a NIV).   

I wanted to enjoy God, Chuck, and my new life. But most of my planned “enjoyment” required work! I needed to give myself permission to rest in order to regain my emotional equilibrium. For me that means reading a good book, sleeping in, taking long prayer walks, or visiting with a friend over coffee.

I realize now that the passage to the empty nest requires celebration. While I helped my children celebrate their milestones, I forgot to plan a party for me!

During this transition, I focused too much on the deficits and not the pluses like my three sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, developing my talents and ministry potential, and dancing with my hubby.

More than that, no matter what season I found myself in, I would always have my Savior. When we make the journey with Him, the best is always yet to come.

***

Eileen Rife, author of Second Chance, enjoys dancing with her hubby through the second half of life. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.   

God has a plan and purpose for us at each stage in our lives. Our value is immutable, and our purpose is not dependent on our ever-shifting roles. To find out more and how to rest in the incredible freedom and peace of knowing who and Whose you are, join us for our next Wholly Loved Conference (c). Visit our Event Page to find out more.

Second Chance:

Mave wants the life back in her marriage. Dareece just wants a life. Could they be the answer to each other's dream? Mave Robertson, a recent empty nester, wants the fire back in her marriage, but her husband, Jerry, remains aloof. Is he having an affair? A midlife crisis? When a neighbor suggests she 'get a life' Mave accepts the challenge and volunteers at an inner-city teen ministry where she is thrown into a culture of drugs, gangs, and unwed teen moms. She soon discovers someone she can help, but might he also be the cure for both her stale marriage and her crumbling relationship with her father? Dareece Jackson, a teen from the projects, wants something in Mave's purse...and he'll stop at nothing to get it.

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