I’m putting my Gratitude Adjustment to work today…

I’m thankful for the Lord’s favor in big things and a chance to tell His story of my life to an unexpected audience…

Thankful for faithful friends who drop what they’re doing when the see “Prayer Request” in the subject line of an email…

Thankful for a warm bed on a cool night and black-out curtains that make for perfect sleep conditions…

Thankful that I’m loved, accepted and forgiven by the Transforming One…the God of the Universe…through His son, Jesus Christ…

What are you thankful for today?

That could have been the name of the sermon Pastor Richard preached this Sunday. Whether it was or not, I have no idea. I just know it was what I needed to hear. I needed a gratitude adjustment.

This change business has been tough. Tough on my heart. Tough on my mind. Tough on my soul.

Did I mention that it’s been tough?

My new church (I recently moved to new church…more on that in coming days) is in a season of uncertainty. The building we are in may not be ours for much longer. And as of yet, no new building has been uncovered that we can move to and call home. It’s a little nerve-wracking.

Uncertainty can be unsettling and and unnerving. Kind of like change…

That’s where attitude comes in.

An attitude of gratitude is key to moving through tough seasons with grace. With confidence. With certainty.

One of things I’m learning in a fresh new way is that I have a choice about my attitude. I’ve always known that. I’m just learning it in a new way these days.

When I choose to be grateful, I’m feeding on the Lord’s faithfulness. Remembering what He’s done and what He’s doing and allowing the fact of His past action in my life to give encourage me to trust Him for the future.

Being grateful requires being thoughtful. I have to choose to think on the things the Lord has done for me. To choose to focus on the things He’s doing for me, in me and through me. Right now. Here. Today.

A life of gratitude is God’s will for my life.

Regardless of where my life is right now. Regardless of whether or not I can see where God is going. Regardless.

I need to embrace gratitude, thankfulness, as way of life.

Not easy but necessary. I don’t do this well. I need to practice this more.

This was the attitude adjustment I needed.

How about you? How’s your attitude of gratitude looking these days? Any adjustments needed? What are you thankful for right now?

Yesterday, I talked about the challenge of living through the pain of change.

There are some days when living the change seems daunting. Overwhelming.

Like it just.can’t.be.done.

Ever feel that way? Yeah, I thought you did. Me too.

Thankfully — and I do mean thankfully — the Lord makes provision for days like this —

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

~~ 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

His divine power. He’s given it to us. And in His power is everything we need.

To live life. That means even a life that includes seasons of change. We have His power to live through it. Not just get through it as though it were some gut wrenching experience (although at times it feels as though it is) but to live, really live through it.

To have joy in the midst of difficulty.

To laugh in spite of hard moments.

To feel centered in the face of unsettledness.

To have meaningful moments with people who are close and dear.

To really live.

I’m so grateful for this power. Grateful that He gives it. Grateful that it’s mine. Grateful that I can have more of it by knowing Him more. Grateful.

What do you need power for these days? Know that you already have it. It’s yours. He’s given it to you.

Change is not easy. It’s hard. Really hard. And it can be painful.

It’s hard when your normal is not normal anymore. Your routine is upset. What is familiar is gone and is replaced with something that feels awkward, ill-fitting and uncomfortable.

Like new shoes you put on for the very first time and need to be broken in. They make your feet hurt until they take on the shape of your foot. Adjust to your gait.

I’ve been coming into a new normal for almost two years now. Nothing in my life except for my address is the same as it was 24 months ago. Or 12 months ago. Or 6 months ago.

And it’s been painful. At times, really painful.

I’m grateful for the pain. Sounds crazy, I know.

The pain reminds me that God’s at work. He’s doing something.

Not that His intention is to ever harm me. It’s not. He never harms His children.

But He is committed to changing me. To changing you if you’re His child.

He refuse to leave things as they are. To leave me as I am. To leave you as you are.

So He changes circumstances. Relationships. Geography. He changes the status quo.

It’s hard to take sometimes. Hard to process.

But if I keep my eyes on the One doing the changing, I’ll come through it.

Shiny like silver.

That’s His promise.

So I’m thankful for the pain. It’s evidence that He’s making good on what He said He would do.

How are things with you? Has your normal changed? Has it been hard, painful? Let me know…I’m praying for you.

I used to believe that to be content and satisfied in, with and by Jesus meant that I wanted nothing else. And that the converse was true, that if there was something I wanted, then it must be evidence that I wasn’t content in Christ.

The last few years of change have helped me learn I was wrong.

Being content in Christ for me has come to mean that I have given Him my total trust, that He has my absolute confidence for every area of my life. It sounds silly that this would be a place that you would have to get to.

After all, who wouldn’t trust Jesus with everything, right?

The truth is, I didn’t. I didn’t trust Him for my hopes and dreams for marriage. Or for meaningful relationships with friends and family. Or for a life that was limited in anxiety and worry.

Letting go of the concern over these and so many other things always seemed to me to mean that I didn’t care anymore. That my hopes and dreams didn’t matter. That they weren’t important to me.

What I learned is that they do matter. They matter a lot. To me. And because they matter to me, they matter to Him. To the Lord. To the God of the Universe. To His Son. To Jesus. They matter. A lot. To them.

I had to learn to trust and believe that those things were true. That His love for me was real. Not just words on a page or a voice from a pulpit but really real. And tangible. And available to me if I would only believe.

What we believe drives how we behave.

If I believe that the God of the Universe is deeply and intimately concerned with the things that matter to me, the things that grieve my heart, the issues that cause me worry and fear, the dreams I keep tucked away in the quite of my soul and tell no one about, then I can begin to live contently.

I can can find the still waters He promises. Because He loves me and He cares. He really does.

My life will reflect that. I will not strive quite so much and have moments when I don’t strive at all. I will have a place to take my thoughts captive.

I’ll take capture my thoughts with the truth. The truth that His love for me is real. That He sees me. That what concerns me concerns Him. That I matter to Him. That the Lord is good.

And then I can want. I can want with confidence. Desire with abandon. Dream with imagination.

I can walk with confidence because I trust in the One who I believe loves me and every one one of the desires of my heart.

It’s here — when belief and dreams come together — that contentment comes to life in the heart. Because a heart that believes God, really believes, lives in peace. Lives in trust. Lives boldly. Walks uprightly. Without fear.

I can’t confess that all of this is completely worked out for me. I still worry about things. My future. My health. Finances. Lots of things, big and small. But I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. So I have hope that as I live this life here, I will grow in confidence and trust as I hand Him more pieces of my heart.

If today, your heart is troubled, your heart is fearful, your heart is bowed down because of worry over your hopes and dreams, know that He loves you. Make a step, however small, to believe Him in a way you never have before. He sees you. He knows you. What matters to you matters to Him. You believe Him, I know. Can you believe Him just a little more?

It’s hard to let go of the world you know and exchange it for something different. Even if the exchange is for something better. Change is hard. Moving from the known to the unknown is challenging.

Most people are creatures of habit. We like the consistency routine brings, the comfort the repetitive motion of day to day living provides. Even if the consistency and comfort we are living in are not the most beneficial, or particularly healthy. Bad life patterns, unhealthy ways of thinking, less-than-edifying relationships might be hindering us from living the full, rich life the Lord offers us.

Life might be hell but it’s the hell we know so we stick with what we know rather than risk and exchange it for an unknown future.

The last few years have been a time of extraordinary change for me. It hasn’t always been easy. My world has been turned upside down in a lot of ways. More than once, I’ve commented to friends that the Lord seemed to have had a good grip on the snow globe of my world and was giving it a good shake. The snow in my little dome is settling in new places. My world has started to look different. It’s been an incredible challenge to let go of my known world and step out to embrace what the Lord was bringing into being. Especially when I can’t always see where my foot is going to land.

A few truths have encouraged me to let go of the old things and lay hold of the new:

  • The Lord never does things from a distance. He’s up close and personal when He’s moving in the lives of His children. I’ve had to choose to believe that He is always with me. I don’t have to worry that He’s sending me into the unknown alone.
  • The Lord is never confused or surprised by what’s happening in my life. I’ve had to choose to believe that the circumstances He’s orchestrating are for my good even if I don’t completely understand them. I must trust Him.
  • The Lord has gone ahead of my circumstances and orchestrated them perfectly. I’ve had to choose to believe that if I follow Him and His leading, I will not fall.
  • Most importantly, the Lord’s banner over me is love. I have had to choose to believe that the Lord loves me more than I can comprehend. His love is at the heart of everything He is asking me to leave and everything He’s asking me to embrace.

Leaving what we know is never easy. Embracing what we can’t see or understand is hard. Our loving God knows both of these things. He asks us to trust Him, to believe Him and to move forward, laying hold of what is unknown to us but is fully known to Him.

What change is the Lord working in your life? What truth to you need to embrace so you can lay hold of what the Lord has for you?

The work of change usually takes place in seasons. I think that’s the Lord’s grace upon His creatures. If He forced all the changes He has planned into a one-time event, we would likely collapse from the shock and the pain of it. I’ve often thought of these seasons as a series of surgeries that have to be performed, the next needing to wait until we’ve regained our strength from the last. Each one brings us to a new place of healing, a new level of strength, a new confidence. It’s so important we remember that. That we will be better for having gone through what He’s bringing us through.

Transformation, like healing, requires our participation. Jesus does the work but we do our part.

I had to learn that.

My season of transformation has been active off and on for the last five years or so. It has, at times, been incredibly difficult. During these years, I’ve felt

Weak.

Fearful.

Intimidated.

Insecure.

I felt those things because I was convinced that I couldn’t “do” the life Jesus was calling me to. And the truth is, under my own power, I couldn’t.

But baby step by baby step, Jesus showed me this truth:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ~~ 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

His quiet but persistent whisper into my heart and mind was that He had given me everything I needed to do the life He has laid out for me.

His divine power makes me powerful and not weak.

Confident and not fearful.

Strong and not intimidated.

Safe and not insecure.

Transformative work always starts in the mind. Be renewed by the transformation of your mind (Romans 12:2, NIV), says the Lord.

During the most difficult of times, when the hard work, the pain, the hurt, seemed the worse, I had to choose to settle my mind on truth, to believe what the Lord said to me…

He had given me His divine power to get through. I may not have felt like it. But it was the truth. I had to choose to believe the truth over the lies. I had to take the lies captive and replace them with something more powerful. His word.

When we choose to believe the truth, to walk in it, it changes the way we behave. When I believe I have His power, I will live in His power. I will be powerful. So will you.

The Lord may have you in a difficult season of change. The circumstances may be incredibly challenging. Ask the Lord for His truth. For a truth you can focus on when situations want to distract you to the point of not being able to do your part. There’s power in His truth. Then allow it to transform your mind so He can continue the work of transforming you.

I’m praying for you…

All my changes come from He who never changes. ~~ C.H. Spurgeon

Jesus. He is the One who never changes. He is a change agent, though. He makes transformation possible.

Transformation starts when we first believe. Believe Jesus is who He said He is and believe that we are who He says we are.

He is the Promised One, the Messiah, the Son of God, sent to save, to change, to transform anyone who would see their need of a Savior and believe in Him. By our simple and humble decision to believe, He transforms our eternity from forever dead to forever alive with Him.

That alone is powerful change.

He doesn’t stop there.

He transforms our here and now, our lives, our present and our future, from hopelessness to the promise of a future that has nothing but good for us.

The transformation isn’t always about our circumstances. Often it’s about us, who we are. Transforming us. Changing us. Healing us. Our circumstances catch up with His changes, ushering them in when we are ready to receive what He has for us.

Jesus does it all without changing. No matter what He uses, what He allows to come into our lives to change our character, to change our perspective, to deepen our need for Him, to make our relationship with Him richer, no matter what, He does not change.

Jesus stays true. Faithful. Loving. Steadfast. Near. Strong. He’s all of these things even when and especially when we are not.

All of us are under His transformation because He tells us that He is busy at that work every day. It’s not always pleasant. But it’s always for our good. It’s always to make us more like Him. And it’s always for His glory.

Today, if your season of transformation is hard…challenging…painful…blinding…remember that He who is busy about the business of changing you never changes.

And because that’s true, you can be confident that this season will not last forever. That it will be for your good. That you will not be harmed. That in it and through it, you have a hope and future.

Rest in that. Let the truth of that be like air to you. Trust Him. He’s transforming you for your good and for His glory.

Psalm 30:5 — The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. (The Message)

Grief. It is the faithful companion to loss. It always comes behind loss, like a shadow that can’t be shaken. Loss is a shock to the system. Grief is a consuming darkness.

Grief has a way of crippling you, of making you believe that you’ll never laugh again, never be happy, never enjoy life. Ever.

Leave it alone long enough and it will take up residence in your heart and mind. Let it live long enough and you’ll forget that it’s not supposed to be there.

Losing Jennifer, then my grandmother and then realizing that my sister was lost to me as well all came within one of week and with each loss came a Costco-sized package of grief. The sadness was blinding. I couldn’t breathe. I could barely do life.

During my season of counseling, I learned that I was also grieving childhood losses that had never been fully resolved. They had left their consuming darkness behind and I had learned to cope, to adjust my vision of life to the dimness, to the lack of light. That explained why I had lived with depression surrounding my world.

It seems odd that the arrival of new grief would force me into a position to deal with long-ago losses. To face hurts that happened when life was different, when I was different. It’s hard to believe that being terribly hurt and broken could be the exact time the Lord wanted to break me down further so I could be stronger. And better. And joyful.

But that’s what He did. I went to counseling every week. And talked. And processed. And talked. And cried. Actually, I cried all the time. For awhile.

But a life of grief is not what Jesus died for. It’s not the backdrop the Lord wants for the life of His children. I had been living a lie. And this new grief brought me to a fresh place of being desperate for Him. And it was that desperation that helped me break free from the bonds of grief that had held me captive for so long.

I was able to let go of old pain and begin to see myself the way He sees me. Precious. Dear. Valuable. Not sad and lost and invisible.

I was able to focus on where Jennifer was — with Him — and not where she wasn’t, which was here. And I could rejoice that my grandmother was for the first time in her life enjoying a happiness she never tasted in her own life and that she would know it forever. And I could hand my sister spiritually to the Lord and release the sadness of not having a relationship with her now.

Breaking free gave me a new freedom to be who the Lord was showing me I was. And to be that woman at all times, with all people, with complete abandon. And to love every minute of it.

At the start of it all, I was weighed down, cast down, broke down. At the end of the process, I was light, free and hopeful. It was a huge change. A great change.

I remember a moment when I realized that I the nights of crying my eyes were ending. There was lightness in my spirit and joy in my heart. I had days of laughter that I had not known before. Those early days had a special sweetness to them.

I knew I was transformed. God was faithful. He had changed me.

Has grief ever consumed you or sadness overtaken your life? Are you in a season of grief or sadness now? Share a bit of your story on how the Lord rescued you. Or leave a prayer request for your current place…it would be my blessing to pray for you.

Ever have it all figured out? I mean really figured out. Had the world by the tail. Knew what you were doing and what everyone else should be doing and could tell them so?That was me at 24. I pretty much ran the world. And I was good at it.

At 24, I had been out of college for two years, was a highly-regarded young professional at a global communications firm and was engaged to be married to a very handsome guy.

I was, by all accounts, very successful. And I had been successful my whole life. In 24 years, I had suffered very few failures. At least as far as I knew. I was a compliant child, a successful teenager and a forward-progressing young adult. I was perfect. My life was as perfect as it could be. I had orchestrated a perfect life.

What I really was was deceived. I had a bad, bad case of PRIDE —

P — Puffed up. I mean really full of myself. I was perfect. I never said the wrong thing, never did the wrong thing. Ever. As far as I was concerned, anway.

R — Risk averse. I never did anything that could lead to failure, that I didn’t know I would be good at. Because failure doesn’t fit in the picture of the always-successful, the always perfect. Only do the things you’re good at and your perfect record remains in tact.

I — Irritating. Can you imagine living with me? Or being my friend? I mean really, who wants to live with someone who is always right? No one, really. But one person in particular really didn’t.

D — Dead to life. I grew up believing that life was work and work was life. There was no room for fun, for living and it didn’t matter anyway because I didn’t know how to have fun. Who had time for hobbies or interests or real friendships if you were always working?

E — Eternally lost. And I had no concept of what that meant or how the condition of my soul impacted how lived. When you don’t have the peace that salvation brings, you live life in perpetual anxiety, worry and fear. Of everything and everyone, not just death. In hindsight, this made living life exhausting.

Proverbs 16:18 says

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (The Message)

I had a big ego.  My fall would be hard.

I did marry the handsome guy when I was 26.  We had a lovely wedding.  Two months after we got married, he told me he wanted a divorce.  Marriage was not what he thought it was going to be.  I was not what he thought I was going to be.  And he was right to think that.  I was the perfect girlfriend.  I was not the perfect wife.  Because he was not the perfect husband.  And I had a hard time dealing with the lack of perfection in other people so needless to say, I didn’t handle his shortcomings too well.  I stayed angry.  And anger always has to be expressed.  When I expressed my anger at my husband, I was not nice.  I raged.  It was a nightmare.  For him and for me.

I was failing.  At marriage.  And I didn’t know how to fail.

Meanwhile, my mom, who had raised me and my sister as a single parent, was dying of cancer.  It was hard to accept her diagnosis.  Even harder to accept that regardless of the fact that we as family were doing everything right — following doctors orders, gutting out grueling chemotherapy treatments, suffering through the horrendous side affects — my mom was not getting better.  As a family, we were not used to this kind of failure.  We did right things right and right things happened.  Cancer was not cooperating with our family approach to life.

Clearly, something had to change.  I’m pretty convinced that the the Lord thought so, too.  He needed to allow circumstances to unfold so I could see that my way of living was not working.  I needed to crash.  To fall.

Six months after I got married, my mother died.  I was devastated.  My mother was gone and marriage was flat-lined.  I was a basket-case.  I didn’t know how to cope with this much loss, with this much failure.  I needed help.

A cousin came along side me and started to share Jesus Christ with me.  She told me that He was the answer to all of my problems.  For now and for my eternity.  I needed to be transformed, she said.  Jesus was in the transformation business.  I started reading the Bible looking for hope, searching for answers.  I began attending an evangelical church. A big switch for a girl who had been raised to be a very good Catholic.  I didn’t care.  I needed answers.

Nine months later, in a hotel room in New York City while on a business trip, I finally broke.  I cried out.  I was in a lot of pain.  And I needed help.  I needed a Savior.  I needed Jesus.

I flew home the next day, crying the entire flight.  The Lord’s spirit began the transformation on the plane.  I cried because I was so convicted. Convicted over how my pride was the root of how horribly I treated my husband.  How I had a big hand in why the marriage was in such trouble.  I needed to be different if things were going to change…

Humble.

Teachable.

At rest and not striving.

Allowing the Lord to do work I was never meant to do.

I got off the plane and committed to being different.

My transformation had begun.

A week later, my husband filed for divorce.  He was done living with me.  Jesus had caught me just in time.  I never would have survived the body blow of the moment if I hadn’t had Him with me, in me and around me.  The work of transformation began in earnest at that point.

The marriage didn’t survive.  But I did.  Or the new me did.  The new creation.  Me.  The Lord’s handiwork, His personal improvement project.  He saved me.  So I would be with Him forever.  To give me a life.  To transform me.  For His glory.

That was over 17 years ago.  I’ve never looked back.  He’s still at work.  Everyday.  To make me a reflection of Him.

What’s your transformation story?

About Me

I'm Aurora and I'm under transformation! Ever since Jesus Christ took hold of my heart, He's been working on changing me into His image. I'm passionate about growing in my faith and living fully in the freedom Christ paid for me to have. I love hearing about what the Lord is doing in the lives of His people and encouraging them to follow hard after Jesus.

Join Us!