faith

Gratitude: The Cure For What Ails You!

Over the last decade, my body has proven to be snitch for all the wonderful things that come along with family, ministry, and age. One tell tell sign is an eye twitch that vibrates under pressure filled moments. Yes, it’s quite obnoxious and yes, I’ve also learned to appreciate the fact that the twitch is telling me to slow down in that moment (insert eye roll because who has time to slow down). Not too long ago, after an intense week of life, I was exhausted and not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually. My husband often reminds me that we are in a marathon not a sprint, so doing things with the end in mind will often cause us to slllloooooowww doooowwwwn and take on an eternal perspective. This inward hustle propels me forward into life, creativity and work and frankly any illustration that has to do with long periods of running frustrates me, so many times I thank him for his reminder and carry on with my task list and teams of people. Then again my body is there reminding me that he’s right (yet again!) and that the hustle will always be there. With my husband’s wisdom, I’ve come to yearn for the quiet and slowed down periods because it forces me to reexamine and cross examine all that I have been given and how good my Heavenly Father has been to me. 

Whatever stress has brought me, which usually is never good, is always confronted by gratitude. From there it dies and withers on the vine. Gratitude, when embraced with largeness and aggression will always suppress the things that ail me…ALWAYS! That person who disappointed me? I’m now counting the many ways they’ve blessed me and stretched my faith to rely on God, not man/woman. That situation that overwhelms me? I’m now declaring out loud how grateful I am for God’s truth and promises. That physical challenge or setback? I’m now writing down how many times God has proven His healing faithfulness in my life and others. 

When gratitude abounds, what I have becomes enough and God becomes
the “God of more than enough.”

You see, gratitude is the cure for what ails us, our communities, churches, culture, and global landscape. It keeps us humble, positive, encouraging, lively, engaged, and ultimately unstoppable. Gratitude shifts the landscape of our hearts and minds while the storms of life rage against us. It’s the loud voice in a hopeless and hustling world that is never fully satisfied. It’s the fuel that ignites relationships and builds unity amongst individuals. It keeps marriages intact, churches acknowledging they are on the same team, and life sweet when we’ve been dealt a bitter hand. Gratitude changes everything, but first it softens our hard heart.

PSALM 107:1 – “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

My friends, what ails you in this holiday season? Acknowledge it, embrace it and then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal THE good things that will come about because of it. If there is ONLY one thing you can find, you’ve found the lifeline of gratitude from where hope can breath once again. You are loved by a good good God that will never ever leave or fail you.

With all my heart (and twitching eye),

 -JHuff

Meant To Be!

“I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but by it I can see everyone else.”
-C.S. Lewis

 

I’ve always known who God was.

I wish I remembered the first time He was introduced to me, the very moment that someone told me that somewhere in the sky, lived someone so infinite and great that He created the very sky that He held, that He would send His perfect son to Earth to die on a cross to save us from our sins. That His love was so unconditional and so perfect it illuminated life on everything that it touched, kissed, or sought. That by loving God and accepting Him into your heart, you would spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I wish I was remembered what that felt like. I wonder if I felt a fire ignite in my soul or if I pondered eternity or just thought, “Huh!” and continued on with my day.

I’ll never really know.

All I knew was that God was there, omnipresent, but still so unbelievably far away. And because He was so distant, I blatantly ignored His gentle knocks on my heart time and time again. I had grown up going to Catholic masses every Sunday. Spirituality was not a thing, routine was. If you stood for the reading of the Gospel, took communion, and blessed yourself with Holy Water on the way out, you had done your part. I remember so innocently learning about the Ten Commandments, the disciples, and even who Jesus was, but the connection fell through every time without fail.

So, instead of experiencing God’s unending love and understanding, I just put Him in a box. I labeled it “Who I Should Be,” and threw it in the corner. Then, I just continued to unpack the piled up, dusty cases that would portray who I thought I was. If I opened up that box, the Jesus one, I would have to put on an entirely new suit. God had too many rules. I wanted to have premarital sex and party on the weekends with my friends and have passionate, righteous opinions about intellectual topics that I knew nothing about. I didn’t want to be different. And because I strived for lack of individuality, camouflage was the fruit I produced.

I became the same girl who went to the same parties, who had the same boyfriend, who had the same sex, who had the same panic attack every month, who made the same mistake of placing her identity in another human being, who went through the same break-up, who searched for the same validation in all of the same ugly places, who cried out to the same God who she believed looked down on her with shame and disappointment. The same girl who had disposed of, used up, and torn through every single same box that told her who she thought she was.

Until nothing was left but the One labeled “Who I Should Be” in the corner. The one that told her not who she should be, but who she was meant to be.

I slipped that robe on in desperation. I put it on because I had nothing left. And even still, my whole world changed.

For a long time, I wish God had not been my last resort. I wish I had pursued Him first and found His truth amongst the mess. I wish I had had some magical encounter with Him in the midst of my haze. But I didn’t. I took every possible route, fully well knowing that they were wrong turns, convinced that there was no way a God with rules was a God who loved the girl who broke them, before finally turning around to meet Him face to face on the same road that I thought lead me so very far away. His feet as dirty as mine from the muddy path. He was still always there. Waiting patiently. Pursuing me the entire time.

For the very first time, God was not just this being who existed and created the Universe, but a Heavenly Father, still the Creator who spoke light into the world, who shook oceans at the sound of his voice, but the Father who sent a son who died to save me from the very sins I commit. It was this God, the Author and Perfecter, the Alpha and Omega, this same God that created and loved and chose me. Me. Regardless of everything I had done, despite the mess that my life had become.

And because I had nothing left, I found this God with my eyes wide open.

When I could finally see God for who He was and not the obscure idea I told myself was truth- about Him, myself, and the rest of the world-everything changed.

I am endlessly loved. I am unremittingly sought. I am undeniably, irrevocably, and forever devotedly His.

 

-Maeghan DiMaggio
2/15/18

Faith’s Biggest Fan!

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]”  – Hebrews 11:1-2

 

“Preach, Babe”!

Yelling verbal support as my husband preaches his heart out each week is something most are familiar and can hear on our church YouTube videos. This last week, I probably could have waved a banner (if local churches still supported that) and possibly banged a tambourine on my leg (come on now!). Since those things are usually frowned upon in local church services, I contained my extroverted ways to being Faith’s biggest fan.

Where do you begin with this message as Jason begins with closing out a three week home-run series on Love, Hope and now Faith? He talks about the incredible work by our Creator of the physical eyes and how they process images. Again, we are reminded that our living bodies continually tell a story of God’s workmanship. Then he proceeds to our spiritual eyes: the ones that see into another realm and are connected to our heart. Our faith eyes! The message wouldn’t be complete without highlighting some way his and my personalities are so opposite yet complimentary. His example was our unique and different choices in sunglasses, which I might add, his are still ugly and mine quite fabulous (said in my diva voice)!

Underneath the layers of science, theology, and humor, this message is REAL, it’s raw, and we are walking it out with so many wonderful people. There’s not a week that goes by that certain spectacles of tainted faith are removed and I’m reminded of the lens of faith that sees the world, people, experiences, challenges, blessings, opportunities and trials through the clear Word of God.

Faith is not a future oriented emotion declaring a potential promise of God, but believing for the NOW despite not being seen physically (Hebrews 11). The beginning point of Faith is in God’s character: He is who He says He is. The ending point of Faith is in God’s promises: He will do what He said He will do. All the rest in the middle? That’s the messy faith journey we live out in our lives as evidence to His character and promises.

Are you hopeful (a future implied desire) to experience God or are you Faith-filled (to experience God (we just need a mustard seed size for it to happen – Matthew 17:20)?

Hope places expectation in tomorrow, but faith receives God’s promises for TODAY. How many times do we place hope in the driver’s seat of our lives when it is a position that belongs to Faith? . When you woke up today, did you accept EVERY promise God has for you, knowing that He’s a good God who loves you and declares you His favorite? That’s faith talking and walking!

Is your faith being tested, shaken, rocked, messed-with, challenged, or dissipating? GOOD! That means you’re “in the middle” of this faith journey because you have already believed in God’s character and now you are confidently accepting the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Are you ready to remove your many shades of unbelief and start siding with faith? Me too, so let’s go!

With all my heart,

J-Huff