Dancing in a Garment of Praise

Isaiah 61:3(NIV)

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

I had been in a long season of grieving. As I read this scripture verse repeatedly, it was hard for me to see beauty coming out of these ashes. Or how joy could drench my soul while in mourning. And then imagining a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair? It was hard to comprehend.

The Lord works in mysterious ways. When picking out the header for my blog, my friend Bethany sent a series of designs. I saw this one and fell head over heals in love! I remember thinking, but what does a dress have to do with my blog?

I initially picked it because I love dresses. We picked the four colorful butterflies for our children in Heaven. If I didn’t live so far north, I would be wearing dresses every day. They just make me feel dainty. They make everyday ordinary moments feel special.

I finally realized why I picked it. The colors of the dress symbolize a watercolor swirl of emotions, but the dress itself represents a garment of praise! No matter what occasion I am in, I can’t help but put a dress on and not feel beautiful.

There is something about dressing up that makes you empowered and brave. Also, it makes you feel beautiful. Kings and Queens have been doing this for centuries!

I want to encourage you to find your “garment of praise.” What can you add to your daily wardrobe that makes you want to sing!? Maybe it’s scarves, hats, makeup, jackets, colorful socks, brightly colored leggings, or one of my all time favorites, shoes! (Shoes are right up there with dresses in my book!)

I realize these some of these are not actual garments but you get the idea!

I have a friend of mine who is always wearing stunning pieces of jewelry; she always looks glamorous! I have another friend who wears beautiful coats. And another who wears anything with Pugs! It makes them feel happy and they rock it!

Half of the fun of getting married is finding that perfect dress, veil, and jewelry to make you stand out and feel radiant! Everyone who is invited to the wedding gets decked out and it just makes the event magical. The joy becomes contagious!

We give babies and young children a pacifier, blanket, or special toy that help soothe them and bring comfort through any situation. As adults, depression and anxiety run rampant. We are bombarded with heavy schedules and the need to constantly go 24/7. It would make sense to find something that encourages us and reminds us to be full of praise.

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The holidays are normally associated with joy and presents. But for many who are dealing with sickness, loss, or just not feeling it this year, it can be rough.

Maybe you are in a great spot right now and you don’t need that reminder. But you know someone who could use something to brighten their life. Think about what they love and bless them with something they can touch or wear and bring a smile to their face. Help them find their garment of praise!

It seems like such a simple and maybe silly thing to suggest. But if the Bible suggests it, I am all in! I have found that finding reasons to praise G-d really helps shift my focus to what is good instead of what may be bogging me down.  Trust me, praise goes a long way!

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What does your garment look like?

I challenge you to find something that makes you feel full of praise when you wear it. It will bring a smile to your face and a spring in your step!

Go ahead, put in on!

 

 

 

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This One Thing Changed My Whole Life

I remember the first time that I heard a song by U2 that completely captured my attention. The chorus still echoes often in my mind:

“But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.”

Admittedly, I have tried to find what I am looking for in so many things, only to come up empty. We all go through these phases continually through our lives.

I have poured hours into scripture wanting to find a way to have authentic joy.  I kept coming back to faith in action and pondered what that looked like.

I was waiting for the Lord to show up in my prayers with a loud booming voice and command me where I was supposed to go. I didn’t want to do it wrong, so I did nothing.

We see amazing people do spectacular things and think, wow if I just had their talent or money I would do something great like them.

Or we find ourselves begging the Lord for mercy for our suffering friends, feeling discouraged we can’t fix them.

But here’s the thing. I have found the most amazing thing that can change the way we live.  It will add a healing to your life that is unexplainable. It will open doors you didn’t know existed. Most of all, it will bring you hope and joy!

Some of us will have that magical moment where G-d intervenes in a miraculous way. But much of the time He is waiting for us to step out in faith.

So here is the one thing that has changed my whole life: giving.

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It can be our time, resources, or any way you feel led.

It’s just showing up for someone.

I remember sitting in my bed when I was so sick and close to death. In those weak moments, I realized that looking back on my life, I wasn’t successful. I am not talking about college degrees, a big house, or a big bank account. I am talking about realizing I hadn’t done much to really help anyone out unless it was easy for me.

A lot of the times I am finding out that true giving isn’t convenient. It’s stopping to help a person when you are in a hurry. It’s visiting someone who has no hope and entering willingly into their pain.  Most of all, helping those who can’t give anything back.

That moment I had that realization in bed I promised the Lord that if I got well, I would make sure to help others as much as I could. When I didn’t get well fast enough I would cry out to Him and say, “How am I supposed to help when I can’t leave my house!”

He ended up bringing people to me. Sometimes it was a phone call or sending/answering a message on the computer. While I couldn’t give them money or fix their problems, I could listen and pray for them.

It didn’t seem like much at first, but after a while, my eyes were opened to see there were so many  suffering all around me. As I have grown stronger he has me step out of my comfort zone to help meet other’s needs in unique ways.

Through each hardship we have experienced, the Lord sent many people in our lives to help us out in unique ways. We had people drop off clothes for the kids, meals, babysitting, taking my kids to school, helping clean our house, and so much more. Sometimes we didn’t even know who they were. All I know is each time they showed up, we were filled with gratitude and awe. It’s one thing to read about acts of kindess, but another to experience it. It was contagious and I wanted to pay it forward.

I have found my true fulfillment isn’t in what I gain, instead, it’s what I give.

We have been instructed to do these things in secret as much as possible. I think it just makes it that much more special when someone is standing there baffled wondering who it was and then it gets them thanking G-d while bringing hope to their hearts.

The simple act of showing up and giving has revolutionalized my family’s life. I have found on days where I am really depressed or frustrated, I stop and think about what I can do for someone else. Without fail, it always turns my day around.

Today, I want to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and give. Whether it be dropping off something simple, taking the time to listen to a hurting heart, or whatever thought comes to mind. Each day, be intentional in trying to do something for someone you know can’t give anything back.

Just show up.

But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Matthew 6:3 (NLT)

Your life will never be the same.

Guess what, I found what I am looking for.