fully seen. fully known. fully loved.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

Psalms‬ ‭139:1-4‬ ‭TPT‬‬ #Loved

Our Nature in Christ: Healed

“But he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his stripes we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5, New International Version)

(For starters, let me begin by saying that this first paragraph is a little [very] graphic and made me squirm)

“These ‘stripes’ (or wounds) were administered by whipping the bare backs of prisoners whose hands and feet were bound, rendering them helpless. The phrase ‘by His stripes we are healed’ refers to the punishment Jesus Christ suffered—floggings and beatings with fists. Whips made of braided leather with pottery shards and sharp stones affixed to the ends tore the flesh open with each whip. When we picture this terrible, inhumane form of physical punishment we recoil in horror. Yet the physical pain and agony were not all Jesus suffered. He also had to undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father, who punished Him for the sinfulness of mankind—sin carried out in spite of God’s repeated warnings, sin that Jesus willingly took upon Himself.” (GotQuestions.com)

Can I be honest? I am a very visual person so picturing Jesus in these beatings definitely made me uneasy. However, it also made me think of His love for me. I love the author’s point that Jesus had to “undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father.” The first time that I read that, I literally had no idea what that meant.  I was praying and trying to figure out how God measured sin in physicality? Then, the Holy Spirit revealed that He took on the fullness of shame, guilt, and condemnation.

Let’s be real for a second here. The shame, guilt, and condemnation from disobeying God for myself can be bad, and has even proven to be crippling from time to time in my life. In the past, I’ve had panic attacks from being so overwhelmed. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine what it is like to take on the shame, guilt, and condemnation of EVERY, SINGLE person in the name of love.

Just take a moment to take that in.

______________

“Some have taken this [verse] to mean that every believer has the right – the promise – to perfect health right now, and if there is any lack of health, it is simply because this promise has not been claimed in faith. In this thinking, great stress is laid upon the past tense of this phrase – by His stripes we are healed. We can say that God’s promise is perfect, total, complete healing, but we must also say that is is not promised to every believer right now, just as the totality of salvation isn’t promised right now. The Bible says that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8), we are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and we will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:15). We have been healed, we are being healed, and we will one day be healed. God’s ultimate healing is called ‘resurrection,’ and it is a glorious promise to every believer. Every ‘patch-up’ healing in this present age simply anticipates the ultimate healing that will come.

What Christians must not do is foolishly ‘claim’ to be healed, despite ‘mere symptoms’ that say otherwise, and believe they are standing on the promise of Isaiah 53:5. What Christians must do is pray boldly and trust God’s goodness and mercy in granting gifts of healing now, even before the ultimate healing of resurrection” (Guzik).

I LOVE this latter section!!! Haha! I have struggled with everything that the last two paragraphs refer to. Today, I even asked Holy Spirit, “Uhhh, are we sure that Christians can’t claim healing despite symptoms? I think it’s faith!” But I love the rest of this article and this quote from Charles Spurgeon, “‘With his stripes we are healed.’ Will you notice that fact? The healing of a sinner does not lie in himself, nor in what he is, nor in what he feels, nor in what he does, nor in what he vows, nor in what he promises. It is not in himself at all; but there, at Gabbatha, where the pavement is stained with the blood of the Son of God, and there, at Golgotha, where the place of a skull beholds the agonies of Christ. It is in his stripes that the healing lies. I beseech thee, do not scourge thyself: ‘With his stripes we are healed’ (Spurgeon).”

I love the humility of this.

Resources
https://www.gotquestions.org/by-His-stripes-healed.html & https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Isa/Isa_53.cfm

Our Nature in Christ Series

So, until this year, battling for my identity in Christ was really hard for me. A few years ago, a leader from a small group gave me a list of 90 items that refer to our nature in Christ. I never looked at it too much, but honestly, I’ve needed it. I tend to get caught up in my feelings, and while I read my Bible a lot, I don’t think I always take time to really digest the Word in relations to my identity.

So, I decided that I think that I want to deep dive into that list. Instead of simply saying each of these things out loud, I’m going to unpack them, and I want them to come alive as the Word promises, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires,” (Hebrew 4:12, New Living Translation).

So, join me! I’m sure most of it will be notes that I find from online resources, but it’ll still be awesome, and hopefully it’ll help you too!

frail refuges

“Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face? If I go up to heaven, you’re there! If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!” 
– Psalm 139: 7-8

I used to do this thing when I felt rejected where I would retreat. I would either leave the setting that I was in or (if I was stuck where I was) I’d physically find a way to retreat into myself. You could find me tucked deeply into corners, or if I couldn’t find a corner, I’d retreat into myself. I’d pull my knees close to my chest, and wrap my arms around them, and wait for the rejection to pass. If it were REALLY bad, I’d even lay my head on my knees to take a moment to breathe.

 For a long time, I considered that posture my safe place.

For a split second, I could silence the world. I could hide away from everything that was happening around me, all the things that hurt, and the disappointment I constantly felt from not feeling protected or defended by God (ultimately, not feeling loved).

That season’s passed, & the Lord has taught me a lot about His love and the frailty of my refuge. It provided a sense of comfort for a while, but it never healed. This post isn’t necessarily about rejection (that’s soon enough), but I’ve been reading over this passage from Psalm 139 for a few days, and it’s reminded me of those days of that false refuge.

In whatever ways you’re coping, God wants to encourage YOU that the He sees you.

– Wherever you run, He’s there (verse 7)
– If you’ve made sin your lying place, He’s there (verse 8
– If you take refuge in isolation & darkness, He’s there.
– & even in the darkness, His hand will still lead you and His right hand will still hold you (verse 10)

He’s not even intimidated by our limited knowledge of darkness, and He never looks away in the middle of our pain or shame.

”It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you,” (verse 12‬, MSG)!

Your refuge can’t heal you,
Only the One that you’re turning from can.
He loves you. He’s waiting for you.
and despite what you think, He still thinks so highly of you.

“Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:17, MSG

grace requires nothing of me.

“I’ve spent my whole life searching desperately to find out that grace requires nothing of me” – Sleeping At Last, “One”


Any perfectionists out there? ✋🏾 I listened to a podcast a few days ago, and my mind was BLOWN by how often I think that everything has to look/feel/flow a certain way, and that I’m the only person who can make it happen. Y’all, the “I can do it!” struggle can be real some days! What I’m finding, though, is that in the moments when it’s not “going according to plan,” Holy Spirit is trying to meet me with grace.

To the ones who need a reminder today that you don’t have to have it all figured out to come to the table:

You are not inherently bad. Even in the seasons that have been hard, God still sees you. “I have loved you at your darkest,” Romans 5:8, ESV . 

Remember, you can NOT do it by yourself, and there’s nothing to prove. You cannot earn your worth. While your heart for wanting to make sure that everything that can be done right is done as right as possible, you’re wearing yourself out, Martha. You need Holy Spirit to help you. You need rest. Embrace grace. “But he answered me, ‘My grace is ALWAYS more than enough for you, and my power finds it full expression through your weakness,’ So, I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. SO, I AM NOT DEFEATED BY MY WEAKNESS — BUT DELIGHTED..” 2 Cor. 12: 9-10a, TPT

When God’s grace pulls you close, don’t resist His love that casts out condemnation and silences the inner judge. “So now the case is closed. There remains NO accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One,” Romans 8:1, TPT .

This a lifelong journey. Embrace grace on the good days & the bad ones. “Surely there is not a righteous man on Earth who does good & never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20, ESV .

P.S. That Sleeping at Last podcast for 1’s is the BOOOOOMB! Go listen if your Wing is a 1 (or if your Type is a 1, obviously! 😂😂) Also, “Extravagant” by Steffany Gretzinger & Amanda Cook (the live/acoustic version) is a great reminder of His love for us!

A Response to the Girl who Loves too Hard

Father, I pray that we see ourselves the way that You see us. I pray that Your voice is the loudest voice in our lives. I pray that the way that You see us has more influence than the way that the world sees us. Let our identities be completely engulfed in who you say that we are. Tear at the lies that we’ve believed about ourselves. Reveal your mending heart. Forgive us for not seeing ourselves as masterpieces. We are who You say we are. We can do what You say that we can do.

I remember reading an article awhile ago addressed to “The Girl Who Loves too Hard.” (Which there are actually dozens of those blog posts now) At the time of reading it, I remember completely relating to every word that the author had written. I mean, I was one of those girls! I was someone who poured their heart out completely and didn’t receive it in return. I felt like the way I loved people was abnormal, that sometimes I was “too much to handle,” that I was clingy, and that there was something wrong with me. I think as long as I can remember I’ve always been a person who has “loved hard,” but recently I’ve found that (as cute as is sounds, in theory) loving hard” slowly suffocates the room needed to fully love myself. Although there really is nothing wrong with loving other people, there is a very real problem: We tend to confuse love and validation. We don’t know what love is. The love that we pour out is self-seeking, looking to be reciprocated, and in loving other people, we neglect to love ourselves.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    

In two weeks, I’m coming up on a year of living in a new city, and I remember for the first nine of these twelve months, the biggest struggle between me and God was, “God, I feel like you NEVER defend me! I moved to a new city because YOU told me to, and what is happening? My closest relationships are now at their furthest! People are looking at me like I’m crazy because nothing is making sense, and I’m wondering, did you move me here just to make a fool out of me!?”

(Yeah, I know. I was real reckless in the way I was speaking. -__-) 

I remember speaking to a mentor one day about everything that was going on, and she said exactly what Holy Spirit had been saying for weeks, “The problem isn’t everyone else. The problem is you. You don’t love yourself. You say you love you, but Alexis doesn’t really love Alexis. If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t accept some of the things you accept.” For the first time, it clicked that the problem wasn’t that the Lord hadn’t defended me. He was good and faithful! The problem was that I had never defended myself. I’d defended everyone else at the expense of me! 

I knew that God called me to a different city, but when opinions came up questioning my decision, I caved to the pressures of other people.

I knew that I’d accurately discerned what God had shown me in tough, challenging moments, but because I was the only person who saw it, I thought, “Surely, something must be wrong with me. Why would God only show me, and no one else?”

I knew the promises that God had laid on my heart, but when the promise was tested, I didn’t want to look stupid, so I just kept quiet, and wavered instead.

The problem is that we place our identity in the validation of others and call it “love.” And some of us have been in so deep, for so long that we actually think that it’s a noble thing to love people like that. It’s not, friend. I know, because I was there. & if we really had to ask ourselves to think about certain situations/relationships/jobs/etc, could we honestly say that we would encourage another friend to stick around if they were walking in our shoes? No.

You know what you deserve? You deserve to hear yourself say, “I deserve better, and I am worthy of love.”

So, how do we let go of the control & insecurity that disguises itself as “loving hard?” Where do we go from here?

We accept God’s love for us, and we accept the way that He sees us. We repent of the lies we’ve believed. We’re made in the image of God, and when we don’t have a right God-image, we don’t have a right self-image.  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love,” (1 John 4:18). God is gentle. He knows each of us intimately, and intricately and He doesn’t NEED anything from us. We have to accept that there is a love that is tailored-made for each of us, and we don’t have to perform, or have the best clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. His love is free and freeing. 

We forgive ourselves.  When we forgive ourselves, it opens the pathway to forgive others, and to allow people be people. For me, I found that one reason I struggled with “loving hard” was that I felt like if they left, it had to be me. I had to do anything I could to keep them and show them that I loved them, but in the end, I realized that it was never them (well, for the most part). I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to forgive myself for not being my own defender.  I had to learn to say to myself, “I deserve respect, and I am worthy of love. So, I may love them, but I’m choosing me.” 

We become our biggest cheerleader, and we speak life. “The Bible says, ‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph!’ That means He MAKES me win. So, that means I AM VICTORIOUS!”2 Corinthians 2: 14 [& Donnie McClurkin]. Like love and forgiveness, seeing yourself rightly is a choice. We are not victims, but victors! We are holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). We are known (Psalm 139 1-18). We are protected (Psalm 91). We are representatives of Christ, Himself! (Matthew 5: 13-14) I’ve learned that it’s great to hear other people say nice things about me, but nothing is as lovely as speaking what my Daddy has already declared to be true about me. I have become so intentional about being my biggest cheerleader, and it’s a choice. I choose to be patient with myself. I choose to be kind. I choose to think good thoughts about myself. I choose to trust myself. I make a decision and I later trust that the decision I made was for my benefit. I hear from God. He trusts me, so I’ll trust me.

We have to learn to keep our cups overflowing to pour into others, and I’ve found that I can only be filled to overflow when I’m looking to the God that fills. If I’m searching to be filled by people, I will never be satisfied. I will always require others to reciprocate the same “hard love” that I pour out. But, when I go to the Father and I’m filled, the love I can pour out onto others is pure with no expectation of what we need in return.

So, friend, you don’t need anyone’s validation. As you learn to love yourself, your need for validation from people slowly fades away. Suddenly, the relationships you always needed to control have little room in your life. The voices of your “mentors” (not to be confused with Godly council) fall in line behind the voice of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, you learn to love and trust yourself, and as you learn to love yourself, it makes it easier to love others because you will naturally set healthy boundaries, and learn to walk out Romans 13: 8, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law,” (Romans 13:8 NLT)

Fear No Longer Lives Here

“For God has not (not even once) given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind,” -2 Timothy 1:7

Let’s see…

Can I be completely honest? Fear has always been a problem for me. Fear of the future, fear of the present, fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear, fear, fear! Weirdly enough, though, the thing I’ve always feared the most is success, and actually believing that I am 100% who God says that I am. I’ve always loved seeing success stories of people who just did it! Fear, and all, these people just went after their dreams and succeeded! However, when it came to my own life, I’d always been too afraid to even sit and write out the vision! It was too big, too expensive, no one else around me has ever done that, etc! Every excuse there was, I’d mastered it!

A few mornings ago, I was looking for a song to listen to, and I found a Youtube video of Steffany Gretzinger’s, “Letting Go”. The video was of her telling the story behind how that song came out of a process of the Lord working fear out of her. She didn’t mind singing spontaneously in a live worship set, because it was spontaneous. However, when it came to writing songs, and having other people listen to them, she felt so uncomfortable. Like, what if the songs were really bad? What if she bared it all, and looked stupid? Outside of the fact that [in my mind] Steffany is my BFF, I really understood what she meant. For me, it has always been easy to know that God has given me gifts and talents, and those gifts are fine in corporate settings with other people, but when it came to something that He was instructing ONLY me to do, I didn’t know how to not be paralyzed by fear.

  • Fear of going all-in. What if I miss God? What if I don’t hear Him correctly?
  • I know the Lord keeps telling me to put words to paper, starting with a blog, but how am I supposed to do it? Everybody has a blog! Why is mine any different? Plus, I haven’t been very consistent. Am I sure?

This past weekend I was in a conference with one of my leaders praying over me. I felt her grip start to loosen on my hands towards the end of the prayer, and as we were nearing the “Amen” she said, “I keep hearing this, the Lord wants to break the spirit of fear off of you.” I knew in that moment that it all had to change. It wasn’t that I would never deal with fear again, but that I’d have an approach of victory when it came to fear. My stance would be different because this time I’d had the revelation of WHO I’d lean into when my flesh gave way, and WHO I was. I realized that paralyzing fear had attached itself to things that God had for me!

Priscilla Shirer says it best, “We know that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear. So, if we have a spirit of fear in any area of our life, we know it must have come from the enemy. If I’m afraid of something, (since I know that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear) it must mean that there is something embedded in that thing that the enemy does not want me to have. If he can distract us with the size and the depth of the thing, we won’t traverse it. He doesn’t want you getting past that Red Sea, friend! Because on the other side of that Red Sea is milk and honey. It’s the blessing of God, and the favor of God and the promises of God experienced in your life! On your current side of the Red Sea, you only get to hear about what God is doing. Satan doesn’t mind when you read a verse a day to keep the devil away, that’s not what he minds. What he minds are [believers] who actually go back home with a holy confidence, face the battle, not be afraid of it, and traverse it so that they move forward with God. He is going out of his way to stamp fear to anything that he knows on the other side of it is God’s best for you.”

Isn’t that SOOO good?!? When we realize that there is purpose and breakthrough on the other side of the thing that fear has attached itself to, it changes everything!

  • So, I won’t fear going all-in. With my heart is really set on God, even when I take a step that I’m not so sure about, He’s right there to make sure that I’m on the path. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).
  • I won’t fear writing, or whether or not my voice is significant! Steffany said it great, “I have a voice. I am a mouthpiece, and God has given me something to say.” We have no reason to fear. God has anointed us with gifts and talents to do the very things He’s calling us to. “May the favor of the Lord rest upon us; make our efforts successful. Yes! Make our efforts successful.” (Psalm 90: 17) Plus, it’s really not about us, and we never have to do it alone. In whatever capacity He’s called you, He’s using you to reach someone! That’s all that matter. In humility, let us put ourselves aside. In boldness, let us press forward into what God has called us. “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (2 Timothy 1: 6-7)

So, my personal testimony is that I stopped running.

I leaned into the Holy Spirit.

I picked up my holy confidence from where I left it.

I turned around to face my fears.

He’s already promised us that we are more than conquerors, so I will traverse in whatever is thrown at me,

and I’ll continue to move forward with God.

Fear no longer lives here.

The “New” Christian

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive your inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ,”

(Colossians 3: 23-24, ESV).

“We live in a world now, that if you don’t post it on social media, it never happened.”

-Kendrick Epling.

– Adoption

– Blogging

– Mission Trips

– Hipster Stylings

– Human Trafficking

What do all of these things have in common? THEY HAVE TAKEN OVER MY SOCIAL MEDIA TIMELINES!! There seems to be a new “wave” of Christianity; a wave of salvation as easy as buying new hipster clothing, reposting videos and statuses of the latest prophetic word, and owning all of the latest worship albums.

We live in a society where it’s easier to base our salvation off of Christian cliches rather than the Bible. We live to tell 1,500 of our closest Facebook friends how much we appreciate our best friend, but it’s hard to live out that love in everyday life. Consecration and fasting are so foreign to Christians because it’s not plastered everywhere, and we’re surprised by revelations of the glory of God because honestly, our knowledge of it? Well, it comes from a reposted video from Bill Johnson or Lisa Bevere.

PLEASE do not get me wrong. Since being saved, I have learned these lessons the hard way, and I have gone through different phases in which I thought I was called to a million different things, but in the end, that’s all each ended up as: a phase. It’s easy to get entangled in the emotional porn of following Christians we don’t know through their stories of adoption, or Instagram missionaries, or even people we do know whose lives seem so much more interesting and exciting than our own, but the problem comes in when we envy their lives over our callings. Want to know a shocking revelation? Instagram/Facebook/Twitter shows the highlights that people WANT to share.

We long to be those people in the gripping videos of couples running through the airport to meet the new child whom they’ve just adopted, but we don’t think too much about the pain of being barren or all of the money, time, and resources that were lost on the children whose adoptions were never finalized.

We’re “Called to the nations!” “Send me, Jesus! I’ll do the World Race!” Yet, our mindset of missions expands to taking pictures with children in other countries, casting out demons, and posting pictures standing on mountaintops. We forget about very real illnesses that can happen within our bodies, or even that we’d have to sleep on the ground….in a tent… for three months. We can raise $20,000, and sign up to travel all of Asia for a year, sleeping outside, “suffering for the Gospel,” but we don’t even like camping in the states. How is it that we can be better Christians overseas than we can be in Atlanta or Alabama?

Want me to highlight one for myself? I feel like I’m called to help those in human trafficking, but recently Holy Spirit revealed to me that if I can sometimes barely deal with guests who get on my nerves at work, how will I show Biblical love to those girls I’d meet who are hurting, and their natural tendency is to backlash? I think because I would see the highlights of the A21 Campaign, I created this false mentality that every woman/girl I met would be waiting for me to swoop in with my Jesus cape, saving them from men and the life of human trafficking………nope! Not exactly!

It’s okay that we have a heart for so many different things. We’re meant to be compassionate and have a heart for the hurting, but because we walk out our salvation and base our callings more off of what we see on the internet than being led by Holy Spirit, our callings are based on what makes our Instagram pages look better.

“For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God,” (John 12:43).

If I were called to everything I thought I was called to since I was saved at 17, I’d be the only part- time kindergarten teaching, part-time prosecuting, lip-syncing-worship-leader (sadly, that really was a desire LOL!), World Racing, evangelist interning, human trafficking advocating, skinny-jean/floppy-hat-wearing, adopting mama of 9, WORN OUT person that I know!

Yes, I do still believe I’m called to some of these things (maybe not all 9 kids), but I’ve learned that just because it looks great on other people doesn’t mean God has called me to it. It’s a learning and a prayerful process, and every day Holy Spirit continues to lead me, and reveal more and more of my purpose to me, and you know what I’ve realized? I’m not called to operate in every lane, and that is OKAY.

If we’re all going to ministry school, who’s reaching college campuses?

If we’re all called to be international full-time missionaries, who’s going to Washington DC?

Who is operating out of each of our lanes while we’re all operating out of the hipster mold of the “new” Christian?

What has God called YOU to do?

It’s time we KNOW the living God we post coffeehouse, Bible-journaling pictures with.

It’s time we put our phones down, pick our Bibles up, and truly walk out our salvation.