Archive for : March, 2016

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Best. Weekend. Ever.

I started to title this “The Terrible, Horrible, [So] Good, Very Bad Day”, but thought it might be lost on anyone who’s not familiar with the children’s book by Judith Viorst. (Elementary teacher and parent friends, you’re welcome.)

You know those days you can’t wait to get to the end of? Days when you just can not operate as a functional, stable human being and want to crawl back to your bed? When the little things suddenly seem overwhelming? Or the big things are falling apart and you’ve got no Plan B?

I’ve had some of those before. They’re awful. They’re the kind of days that stumble you and pull you away from Jesus if you let them–but they don’t have to be! Here’s what I’m practicing holding on to during days like that:

So far, the Lord has carried me through every single one of my awful days, even when I was not doing anything at all that He’s asked of me, and I know He’s doing the same for you. That’s a 100% survival rate for bad days.

Somewhere, someone is having a great day–maybe they got the job they’ve been hoping for, maybe they’re getting married, maybe they’re a new parent, maybe they hit all green lights on the way to work, maybe their barista gave them free coffee, maybe their best friend called to catch up, maybe they gave their life to Jesus Christ and confessed He is their Lord and Savior. Someone, somewhere is having a red letter day–how can I pray for a speedy ending to that?

All things happen in His perfect timing. He has mapped out every day that ever will be–He has made this day and every day and I can take heart in that.

I try to adjust the perspective of my mental list. Instead of immediately chalking things up as nuisances–the unheard alarm, the bad review, the traffic, the non-stop phone buzzing–I try to remember to find something in each of those to be thankful for. Sleep is fabulous–and my body may have needed those extra minutes. The bad review is not a reflection of my value, but an opportunity to grow and learn to do better next time. The traffic? Extra time with the radio for car singing and dancing. Obviously. The non-stop phone buzzing means I am blessed with the convenience of having instant access to pretty much anything at all and anyone with a phone number.

You can call it optimism if you want, but I’m calling it God-answering-my-prayers-for-more-of-His-perspective-and-less-of-mine.

Since I’m rambling about bad days–which is not where I expected this post to go, let me share some of the perspective I’ve been given lately regarding the most beautiful bad day there’s ever been.

I’m talking about Good Friday. No bad day of mine will ever compare to Jesus’ days leading up to the crucifixion. (Check out Rick Warren’s The Answer is Easter series for a great breakdown of the Easter story.)

One of the things I’ve learned form several of the Bible study lessons I’ve read/heard lately is to carefully consider what a verse or passage means–not just to breeze over it like I would a story. When we do this with the Easter story we see what a beautiful [ahem, perfect] model Christ’s last days before the crucifixion are for how we should get through the worst days of our lives.

Here are my big takeaways from this closer look at the truth of Easter:

Jesus spent time with the disciples–the people He was closest to. Now, granted, they fell asleep on Him a couple times, but they did show up!(Matthew 26:36-46) When life-storms come our way it’s so easy to withdraw and isolate ourselves, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the most recent season of my life it’s how harmful that is. I’m overwhelmingly blessed with a family, friends, and church family circle that lets me ramble and laughs at my corny jokes and doesn’t mind my occasionally obnoxious laugh–but more importantly they hold me accountable for my actions when I don’t reflect His love and they encourage me when I feel so far away from it. If you’ve got someone(s) like that, thank God for them and be sure to tell them how grateful you are for their presence! If you look around and don’t see those kind of people in your life, I strongly encourage you to find a church family that can be that support system for you. A support system is no replacement for the life support of Jesus Christ, but they make a huge difference in those life-storms. I’m not crazy about being the new girl, but for some things it’s worth it–and your spiritual well-being is definitely one of those things. You can do this. He’s got you.

Jesus cried out to God–in a vulnerable and honorable way, asking if there were another option to let that happen, but still praying for the will of God to be done. (Matthew 26:36-46) We know Jesus is the only perfect person that has ever been, so it only makes sense that we should model our behavior after His and be honest with God in our prayers, while still praying that His will be done. He already knows where our heads and hearts are, sure, so you don’t *have* to tell Him, but it’s kind of like sharing a secret and having the other person say, “I know, it’s ok.” What a huge relief to you!

Jesus covered us in prayer–in the moments leading up to what Jesus knew would be a humiliating, heart breaking, history changing death and resurrection, He chose to spend time praying for you and me. (John 17: 20-23) His perspective is always a selfless one. In every inconvenience and discomfort of the people that came to Him He looked for an opportunity to love and teach. In His most painful moments our Jehovah Nissi, our protector, our banner, was loving and caring enough to set an example we can still follow 2,000 years later. That’s an ever faithful, ever watchful, ever thoughtful love. Maybe, just maybe, if I learn to approach my inconveniences and discomforts as opportunities instead of burdens I’ll get a little closer to Him and have the blessing of reflecting Him to the world.

 

As we honor the day of His death, remember the day He laid in the tomb, and celebrate the day of His resurrection, let us be mindful of all that these things mean for our lives. Let’s not forget that before all of this He covered us in prayer, through all of this He loved us, and because of all of this we get to come and live in His peace and have His Holy Spirit dwell in us. Perhaps you don’t need this challenge, but I do, so here it is:

Let’s live out Colossians 4:5 this weekend (& every day).The Very Best Friday Ever by A Mermaid Redeemed

The worst days are behind us. He is risen, y’all. It’s a good day when you remember that for yourself. It’s a great day when you get to tell someone else.

Happy Easter!

Love, Deenene

Bippity, Boppity, Brave & Beautiful: Happy Women’s History Month!

Hi, friend!

I hope you’re having a beautiful week, inside & out. I just spent the weekend at my church’s youth conference for middle and high school young ladies, Brave Conference, and let me tell you, it. was. amazing. Not that I expected anything less of a weekend spent with 70 women worshipping and loving on Jesus, but, [gush] it blessed me so much more than I could’ve hoped for.

I had the opportunity to pour into young ladies and be poured into by women with hearts I so admire–for two whole days y’all. To see women pour their hearts out and be vulnerable so that younger women might see their struggles are not unique to them. To see young ladies thirst for Jesus and confidently own their salvation. To see a handful of gentlemen spend their weekend serving so that we might have the chance to draw closer to the Lord–and to not see them any more than when they were serving so that it could really be just us ladies–thank you to the men of Southside, for both being present and being aloof and being a blessing in both actions.

The theme of our Brave weekend was unwrapping, as in becoming bare and real before Jesus. I think it’s easy to acknowledge how hard it is to be real, to be genuine, as a teenager, but it’s a little harder to admit that it doesn’t get easier to be real the day you turn twenty. It doesn’t, though, does it? I had the opportunity to share a big struggle of mine (that’s another story, for maybe another post, some other time) and it was a relief to share that even something that broke me, messed me up, and hurt me does not define me because I’ve been redeemed.

The biggest takeaway for me from the weekend was this (now, I knew this beforehand, I’ve seen it in various words, many times, but I’m one of those girls who like repetition, so this is what I wrote in my journal Saturday):

Jesus doesn’t call the perfect.

They don’t exist, and if they did, He wouldn’t be have any room to work on them. He wants the broken, the messed up, the hurting.

Broken can be fixed.

Messed up can be cleaned up.

Hurting can be healed.

But only by Jesus. 

As all weekends must, our weekend retreat came to an end, but this ending involved matching t-shirts and taking up a nice, big section in the front of the sanctuary for one last worship and service session where the presence of the Lord hugged up on our corner of teal tops and sunburned cheeks and sleepy eyes and full hearts. [gush, again]

Sunday afternoon I finished one of the books you might’ve seen on my library page, Beautiful Uncertainty by Mandy Hale, The Single Woman. And I found myself smiling in agreement with the author that while so much of life may be beautifully uncertain, Jesus is a beautiful certainty we can rest our hearts in and count on through any struggles and brokenness.

Monday evening we had our monthly ladies’ night at church–this was my first time going! Wouldn’t you know it our sweet pastor spoke and really drove home a point about Psalm 45, particularly verses 10-11,

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

Bippity, Boppity, Brave & Beautiful (A Women's History Month Post) | A Mermaid Redeemed

How sweet a parallel that we, as daughters of Christ, are called to leave the baggage of our past in the past so that we can spend our time loving on Him and being adored in return? That’s a pretty sweet deal, right? Again, this girl likes repetition, so it didn’t hurt my feelings that I got another reminder that when you run to Jesus you can count on Him to fix your heart and you can [and should] leave the past behind you.

Then today (Tuesday, for those of you following along) Proverbs 31 Ministries daily devotional was on, drum roll, God Thinks You’re Beautiful. Another reminder of just how beloved women are by The Creator of heaven and earth. [all of the gushing. don’t hate me.]

I don’t know a single woman (or person, for that matter) that doesn’t have something in their life that evokes sorrow, tears, snotty-mascara-streaked-crying. (Yeah, girl, I know.) But I DO know a Savior that can turn even the hottest of messes into a beautiful testimony better than Cinderella’s fairy godmother can turn mice into horses. No bippity-boppity-boo required, no midnight expiration.

March is women’s history month, and while I’m inspired by the fabulous quotes and the photos and empowered statuses I see on my timelines, there’s a revelation that smacked me in the heart recently that meant more to me than all the other yes-women-are-amazing-because-of-x-y-and-z tidbits.

Before women were considered eligible for Presidential candidacy, 

before women were equal percentages of medical school cohorts,

before women were granted the right to vote,

before the woman had such faith that she was healed by touching Jesus’ hem,

before Mary was blessed with a divine pregnancy,

before Esther helped her people through the position granted to her,

before Ruth left her homeland,

before Hannah prayed for a child,

there was Eve.

The final creation we learn of is Eve. (Genesis 2:18-24)

Now, it’s really easy to think poorly of Eve for her choice to listen to the serpent, but friend, I’m no better because while I may not have eaten from the tree of knowledge, I’ve definitely fallen short of Holiness more than once.

Here’s the truth that touched my heart: Eve was the final piece of God’s puzzle that is creation. He made everything with perfect foresight, made every ecosystem to serve its purpose, gave every food chain the pieces it required, made every system and cell of every living being to function properly, right down to the mitochondria [the powerhouse of the cell, thank you 9th grade biology].

And He didn’t stop with Adam. He wasn’t finished with creation until He made Eve.

Do you know what that means?? All of creation wasn’t finished until a woman existed as part of it.

Now, I’m not discounting men, by any means. I’m simply reveling in the fact that before God rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2) he made a woman.

Let that soak into your heart.

The God of everything that has ever been and will ever be not only made woman in His image, but His work wasn’t done until He had made her! The plans of all eternity never would’ve played out, be playing out, without women. 

God didn’t rest until He’d made the first of us! And some 4,000 years later He is faithfully near, longing to correct our brokenness, clean up our messiness, and heal our hurting? Desiring to call us beloved, beautiful, and reveal to us our purpose in His grand designs?

That’s my favorite bit of women’s history there ever will be, y’all. What do you think? Share with me in the comments!

Love, Deenene

 

patience, sass, & trust

A few weeks ago I sassed the King of Kings and He didn’t smite me–that is grace, y’all. That’s the day I decided to start a blog and the day I decided on the title A Mermaid Redeemed. Why a mermaid? Why redeemed? Well, you can read about that in my testimony. Now, since I’m still here to tell you my story of patience, sass, & trust, let me catch you up.

Psalm 86:11My girlfriends and I started an Online Bible Study through Proverbs 31 in January and one of my early prayers was a personalization of Psalm 86:11. I prayed ‘teach me patience, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness, give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”. You wanna talk about a dangerous prayer? I had no idea what I was asking for, but the last several weeks have been a roller coaster of heart transformation for me and today a clear answer to that prayer bubbled up in my heart.

Not long after I prayed that prayer the Lord laid someone on my heart and I spent about three days trying to shake them from my thoughts. On a Wednesday I had a raging headache when the thought was given to me to reach out to them. For a brief few moments the headache subsided. This was not someone I really wanted to reach out to though–and for what I thought was a few minutes that turned into an hour and half I tried to convince the Lord that this person did not need to hear from me, and that hearing from me would not in any way add to their life. Now. Let me say this–this person is a wonderful person that I pray for every single day. A person whose happiness I pray for. A person whose God given purpose I pray is realized because I just know it would be a beautiful thing. But I didn’t want to talk to them. In fact I went so far as to type the message and ask the Lord if He could send it if that’s really what He wanted done. Not in a challenging way, just in a, can-I-just-do-the-easy-part-and-you-do-the-part-that-would-require-some-vulnerability-of-me-Lord kind of way. The headache relented a bit with each decrease in my stubbornness, mind you, but I was still being sassy.

I finally broke down and clicked send, got an enthusiastic and nice response (true to the heart of this person) and that was the end of the conversation with said person.

That afternoon on my drive home from work I cried out to the Lord asking why that person? Why, Lord, of all people–but thank you for not making it people who wouldn’t’ve been so nice–would you want me to text that person? And the answer in my spirit was as clear as could be: Because you don’t trust me. You don’t trust me to protect your heart and to heal it when it does get hurt.

If we’re just becoming friends, let me tell you a little something about myself–I’m a crier. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, let me feel with it any measurable intensity and my body will interpret it as a reason for tears. Happy. Sad. Amused. Inspired. Relieved. Anxious. Empty. Fulfilled. All of it–tears. It used to annoy me, but now I find it pretty cathartic. [I’ve also learned to avoid mascara on my bottom eyelashes unless it’s waterproof.]

So I cried, because this was so true. I didn’t trust the Lord to protect my heart. I didn’t trust the Lord to give me the desires of my heart as far as romance is concerned. Now this person is not someone I’m involved with, but I got the Lord’s message loud and clear. I had promised to go all in when I started this Bible study, but I hadn’t given Him my romantic hopes yet for fear of Him not answering them.

I prayed that day that the Lord would teach me to trust Him, show me how to practice that in everyday life, and He gave me opportunities to trust Him in ways I was already comfortable with or ways I could easily step into, and He blessed me each time I chose to trust Him instead of trying to work it out myself. Sometimes in very first world things, like finding out I had insurance on a phone that was nearly two pieces instead of one. Sometimes in very personal ways, like having opportunities to see the friends He has given me that are God-fearing women with hearts after Him who encourage me to be the same.

It’s only been a couple weeks since then, but I will tell you this, the more I intentionally trust Him, the easier it becomes for that to be my default instead of my last resort. Today, somewhere between the blessings of being able to share His truth with women I absolutely adore and singing very loudly with the sunroof open and radio up I realized that I had prayed for patience, but the Lord ended up teaching me that patiently waiting for His plan to play out is really just trusting in His promises.

The Lord spending 7 weeks to teach me a lesson instead of just giving up on me? That’s grace, y’all.

The take home from all this?

Psalm 37:3-6 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” (NIV)

Truths that help me hold onto this promise:

Philipians 4:6 says Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.

Colossians 3:15 says we’re called to peace–did I mention I’ve never felt such overwhelming peace before? This is good stuff, friend. You’re gonna want to get in on it.

Colossians 3:12

Colossians 3:12

“We cannot know Him as Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, if we are not in need.” -Renee Swope, Proverbs 31 Ministries Facebook post from 3/7/16

I pray you find comfort and encouragement from this, friends, and that you turn to the only One who can provide them.

Love,

Deenene

 

 

Diving In

I am so excited to be here! As you can see this adventure is just getting started-I hope you’ll stick around to see where this current takes us. (How long before water analogies get annoying?)

I’ll be posting ramblings and photos and questions for your entertainment and encouragement soon though, promise!

For now you can get to know more about me, Deenene, on my Meet the Mermaid page or find out what I’m reading & recommending in the Library. You can also follow me on Pinterest!

Have a fantastic day & be sure to visit again soon.

Love, Deenene