You’re a Daughter, Not a Slave to Fear

I like to watch my kids when they don’t know I’m looking.

I eavesdrop on interactions between firstborn and little brother. I overhear whispers of imagination, hide-and-seek and Legos.

It’s not because I’m trying to catch them doing something wrong. On the contrary, I catch glimpses of their lives I might otherwise miss.

When they notice me, their response is always the same.

“What?”

And then comes the shoulder shrug. Like they’re waiting for a rebuke. As if I’m going to chide them for running or yelling.

I realize it’s partly my fault. Because many times, I do those things. And while I don’t apologize for it, I also want them to know I watch them because I relish in seeing them grow.

I’m a witness to these lives I helped create, and I love seeing them discover new things.

The other day as I was driving to the market, the new David Dunn song, “I Wanna Go Back,” came on the radio. It describes how as we grow older, we often lose our childlike faith and belief that we can do or be anything. Instead of being grateful we have neighbors next door to play with, we feel like we have to keep up with them.

So what does the artist want? To go back. He says he wants to go back to “Jesus loves me this I know…”

As I sat in the car listening and singing along, I thought, “Don’t we all?” I realized somewhere along the line, I forgot God watches me the love of a Father instead of an angry parent waiting to punish me.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at PurposefulFaith.com about how we can let go of fear and embrace who we are as daughters. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

Linking up here: #RechargeWednesday

The One Truth That Can Silence the Voice of Doubt

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“You’re always my number one,” my hubby said.

I put my head against his chest and let his affirmation sink in, resting in his strong embrace.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so tired. Adjusting to life with three kids and finding balance was a struggle. I was flailing in a sea of failed expectations in others, but also fighting to maintain healthy expectations in myself.

When I forgot to sign my son’s homework, I felt defeated. When I was unable to spend as much time with my boys, I felt guilt.

As we encounter difficulty navigating new seasons in life, the voices of doubt often creep in.

You can’t get this mom-of-three-kids thing down. Why did you ever think it was a good idea?

 That book proposal will never get done. You may as well not even try.

 And the scary part is, we often listen to that voice-the one who confirms our worst fears and dark thoughts we don’t talk about with others. The one who brings out the worst version of ourselves.

Instead of pursuing our dreams, we convince ourselves failure is inevitable. We shrink away from the edge of the next leap of faith before we even see the drop off.

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So what do we do? How do we silence the voice of doubt when our eyelids are heavy and the road is weary?

If we want to drown the source of lies, we must look to the source of all truth- Jesus. He didn’t just speak truth. He lived it.

When I look at his life I often wonder, how did he keep discouragement and doubt at bay? When the Pharisees and naysayers questioned his every move, how did he stay strong? It’s quite simple, really.

Jesus knew who he was.

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

John 16:28 ESV

He not only knew who he was, but who he is, and is to come. One with the Father. His Son. The One he was “well pleased” with.

And when he looks at you and me, he’s pleased too. Not because we’re perfect or flawless, but because he sees his perfect Son.

You don’t have to compete for God’s attention. Like my husband said to me, you’re his number one.

When we face a mountain of doubt and discouragement, we can choose to listen his thoughts about us instead of the lies that invade our peace. Even when others around us are pointing out our flaws or being negative, we can immerse ourselves in the voice that speaks truth and love.

And when we abide in him, he calls us daughters. He gives us a crown and says, “Come to me, you who are weary.”

I don’t know about you, but those voices of lies are making me weary. Let’s come to the only One who can give us true rest today.

Let’s follow Jesus’ example and remember not only who we are, but Whose we are today.

When I Look in the Mirror and Hate Myself {Anchored Souls Series}

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To continue our Anchored Souls series, I am honored to welcome my friend Kristi Woods back to the blog. I felt an immediate connection to Kristi’s writing when I discovered we shared the same struggles with the gypsy life. What I love about Kristi’s writing voice is how she isn’t afraid to approach topics that are raw and real. She opens herself up for the sake of others, and it is a true blessing. Please welcome her today as she shares about a vulnerable experience about self-hate and a Spirit-moved transition in her point of view.

When I Look in the Mirror and Hate Myself

I look in the mirror.

The eyes ~ they’re too big at times, too squinty at others.

The mouth? The pencil-thin lines cause a cringe.

Oh, and those thighs? Girl, I was ready to get a new pair, like yesterday. What was God thinking?

I hate the refection in the mirror. I hate me.

And so I stamp myself “not good enough”.

Thighs ~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Smile ~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Eyes ~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH

And the list goes on.

Life plods along, a daily battle of me vs. me.

And mothering? A whole heap of “I’m not good enough!” jumps on the pile. Crumbs, spilt milk, kids’ decisions, and my own indecision fly the banner high.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Meanwhile perfection sits by and cracks a smile.

But one day Prince Charming swoops in, and in the blink of an eye, He whispers words that resonate. I hear their trumpet sounding deep within, although nary a sound hits the airwaves.

Love Yourself.

(Gasp!)

What? Is that You, God? Are you telling me to love myself?

The words sink in, but my lips remain in gasp formation. How could I walk this soil for 40+ years, never truly loving myself?

A verse in Matthew dances to life.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39 NIV

A revelation hits.

God, if I don’t love myself, how can I truly love others?!

I gasp again, nervous at the thought.

Truth reveals a battleground. Not Good Enough is its name. Perfection is its game. And deception rides with a vengence.

What simply seems to be a battle with thighs is truly a war against evil.

Muster your gear, girl!

The view clears. The Holy Spirit offers eyes that see.

Works, not God, birthed the awful reflection. There was no grace, no mercy, no love of Jesus, just me bashing the magnificient creation of God – me.

I became my own worst enemy. Perfection and deception waged their war. But this was a new battle. After all, Jesus is Lord.

I stand at the mirror. The same eyes, mouth, and thighs await. I touch my face. This time I choose not to see what’s wrong, hateful, and simply not good enough. This time I do indeed see perfection – my Father’s perfection. It has nothing to do with me or my works. It’s all about my Creator.

That’s what a douse of Truth will do.

I see His magnificient handiwork all over me. And it’s good.

Psalm 139:14 forms on my lips, its words thread with my own in a triumpant overtone. I look at those eyes and the cadence of words begins to bring me into step with truth.

“I praise you, Lord, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Oh God, Your works in me are wonderful. This I know full well.”

I repeat it again – each time I study the girl in the mirror. I bring truth with me and speak to the reflection, whether I feel perfect or not.

Deception, meanwhile, sits alone.

I no longer see me and my work. I see Jesus, all He has given, and love’s overflow pouring over me. My Creator’s work dances to life. And it is good.
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I share this today, knowing there are others in the heat of this same battle. I get you, my friend.

You’re not happy with the reflection in the mirror.

You feel like a failure as a woman or mother, hating the works, accomplishments, and view you see.

But consider the reflection a deflection of truth. Call it what it is: a lie.

Uncover the truth and you’ll see a wonderfully made woman: you.

Behold the magnificient work of our Creator: you.

It is good.

Grab Psalm 139:14. Use it as your sword, cutting through the nonsense darkness offers. Shed a little “Light” on the subject. I’ll be speaking truth into my mirror as well.

And feel free to grab this prayer:

Father, Your love is enough. Thank You for pouring Your love over me. Forgive me for believing lies, not You. Open my eyes to truth. Your work in me is wonderful. Help me know this full well. I believe You, Lord. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today and on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Why the Broken Way is the Only Way to Redemption {Plus a Giveaway You Don’t Want to Miss}

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Nothing makes you realize how broken you are like trying to care for another living, breathing soul.

I remember the days after my first son was born. The sheer weight of knowing I was responsible for his life brought me to my knees.

I tried to take care of myself too, but some days I would look at the clock and wonder why I was so hungry. Then I’d realize I’d forgotten to eat.

We were in a new town thousands of miles away from my family and the culture was vastly different from what I knew. We found a church with conservative views that taught the Bible and I tried to connect with God in the messages I heard each week, but I always felt like something was missing. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but there was a hunger in my soul I couldn’t fill with all the singing, the studying, the striving to measure up.

Some days I looked at my newborn and wondered how I would teach him about a God I wasn’t even sure I knew. I could quote scripture and knew the Word, but where was peace? I could pretend to walk the walk and sing worship songs, but where was joy?

When I broke down crying at my OBGYN’s office after he asked the loaded question, “Do you work?” He prescribed an antidepressant.

I spent the next several days barely eating or sleeping. I questioned the value of my life before deciding to do what I feared the most: call a psychologist.

Today I look back on this period of my life and wonder what took me so long. What is it we fear about admitting our own brokenness, our lack and need for someone to pick up the fragmented pieces of our lives?

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Do we think our Savior will look down at the shards and say, “No, this one isn’t worth saving?”

That when he hung on the cross during his final moments and breathed his last words, “It is finished,” somehow it didn’t pertain to us?

I think in a deep place we don’t often talk about, we have this fear.

And as I sat on that sofa in the counselor’s office seven years ago, I faced this fear with trembling hands and lips. The more I talked and the more she listened, I realized there were layers upon layers of fears, lies and pain I was holding onto.

I was afraid if I let them go there would be nothing left but me. And that wouldn’t be enough.

Can I tell you something I eventually learned?

Admitting our brokenness is the only way to truly find Jesus.

Whatever our hurt, our secret sin or fear is, we have to let him in. We have to invite him to that place if we ever want to find healing.

In Ann Voskamps beautiful new book, The Broken Way, she gives a message of hope. But it’s also a message of pain and struggle. Her lyrical writing and heartfelt stories reveal how struggle, pain and brokenness are intricately intertwined in a relationship with Jesus. But through our need and our suffering, we also find joy. We find a relationship more intimate than anything this world has to offer. We find meaning and purpose.

Through Ann’s words, I’m remembering how far God has brought me from my experience as a new mom several years ago. But also seeing how I’m the same. I’m the same needy, broken girl in need of a Savior to scoop me up out of the pit and set me on a solid rock to stand. And that is ok.

In Ann’s words, “Our brokenness can be a container for God’s glory.”

And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

If you’re in a place where you’re wondering if God can use the messy, broken pieces of your life or you simply need a message of hope in a world that is often heart wrenching and confusing, I highly recommend Ann’s book. She will encourage you and challenge you to bring the mess to the feet of Jesus, where you will find wholeness and truth.

All of us are broken in our own unique way. All of us need a Savior. Sometimes we just need another scarred soul to show us the way home.

 

Note: The Broken Way Study Guide with DVD will be available in November. Be on the lookout for another giveaway!

GIVEAWAY:

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As a member of BlogAbout, a blogging review network and extension of The Blythe Daniel Agency, I received two advanced copies of The Broken Way. I would love to give away a copy to one of my readers. To enter the drawing, leave a comment below. You can be entered multiple times by sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Make sure to let me know you shared the post in your comment. I will announce the winner on Monday, November 7th.

 

 

 

 

Linking up with these communities: #HeartEncouragement, #ThoughtProvokingThursday

How Legalism Clouds Our View of Jesus

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It’s amazing what a simple tool can do to alter our vision and boost our confidence when learning a new skill.

For as long as I can remember, my oldest son has feared getting water in his face. He loved playing in it and being around it, but as soon as water got near his eyes he always panicked. Teaching him to swim had proven difficult. That is, until the grandparents purchased him a new swim mask while on a trip to the beach.

The change was remarkable. Within an hour of using the mask for the first time, he was jumping into the pool and swimming. Both things he had never done before.

With a little help, he was able to see things he’d never seen. He swam underwater, which is something I didn’t know if I’d ever see my child do.

I stood near the steps of the pool and praised God that our son had faced this fear and overcome it. He had new vision, and approached the water with a newfound confidence.

Watching him made me realize how many of us walk around for our entire lives blind. But we don’t need a swim mask or a new set of goggles. We need Jesus.

The problem is, we don’t realize our need. Perhaps we said the sinner’s prayer at a young age and attend church on Sunday, but we don’t truly know him. We don’t see ourselves as a child of the Most High and we spend our lives trying to attain something we can’t quite pinpoint.

Will you continue reading with me? I’m sharing over at Angela Nazworth’s beautiful site today, and I don’t want you to miss what God showed me about the dangers of legalism. You can read the rest of my post here.

His Grace Isn’t Just for Yesterday

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“I sorry, Jay! I sorry!”

I heard my four-year-old’s shouts from outside the kitchen and stopped cutting the raw chicken in front of me. My oldest child was screaming and holding his forehead in pain, squeals high-pitched like nails on a chalkboard.

After taking a deep breath and asking both boys what happened, I learned that little one had come tumbling down the slide while big brother was still on it, causing him to fall on his face. I drug the culprit inside and placed him in the time out chair while he shouted protests, not realizing the strength of my own grip.

As he sat there with tears streaming and I continued cutting meat for dinner, I tried to control my rising blood pressure. I wondered if the boys would ever play peaceably together while I made a meal.

I also realized, with shock and a little remorse, that my anger over the situation was worse than my son’s. He was the one hurt, but he had gone back to playing happily on the swing set.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Katie Reid’s blog, and I’d love to have you join us as we talk about listening closely to the voice of God. You can read the rest of my post here.

Are We Ignoring a Crucial Area of Our Health? {Book Review & Giveaway}

Peace for a Lifetime Book Review

I spent my first year as a mother trying to stuff my emotions.

My husband and I began our marriage by moving cross-country, over two thousand years from a town in the heart of South Carolina where I’d spent my entire life. Less than two months later, I saw two solid lines on a pregnancy test I bought while on my lunch break at work.

In the months following the arrival of our baby boy, everything was foreign. The crying, the breastfeeding and lack of sleep, not to mention the culture of our new home and surroundings.

I felt like I was on a sinking ship without an anchor, but was afraid to cry out for help. Screams of “failure” filled my head at night when I tried to rest, waiting for our firstborn’s next feeding.

Even a trip home over Christmas to satiate my craving for family, southern fried chicken and sweet tea could not lift my spirits for long. I knew I needed help, but the remedies I sought addressed other areas of my health instead of the emotional pain I was experiencing.

After spending an hour in the gym, my physical needs were met. Worship and messages straight from the Gospel filled our little family’s Sunday morning, so I was spiritually filled.

What I failed to realize is that until I addressed the emotional area of my well-being, I would never attain complete health.

I was pouring into other facets of my life and expecting fulfillment, but was ignoring my emotions altogether. When my OBGYN prescribed me with a second anti-depressant, which failed miserably and left me questioning the value of my own life, I knew something had to change. I made a phone call to a Christian counselor recommended by our church.

Dialing those numbers was the first step in my journey toward healing.

When I read the opening chapters of Lisa Murray’s book, Peace for a Lifetime, all I could think was, “I wish I’d had this book seven years ago.” She addresses some of the core issues I dealt with during my first year as a mom, and illustrates how ignoring our emotional health will only lead to an unbalanced life.

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As Lisa poignantly explains, our lives of comprised of three areas: physical, spiritual, and emotional. When we spend time nurturing each of these facets, we are healthy and balanced, like a three-legged stool. But just as the stool becomes wobbly when we remove one of the legs, our lives become out of sync when we fail to spend time and energy on one of these three areas. Just like the pounds pile on when we eat fast food every day and fail to exercise, our emotional health suffers when we don’t spend time addressing the source of our anger, depression, resentment, etc.

Allowing ourselves to feel our emotions is a great gift in that all of the energy we spend not feeling them can be focused on reasoning through them so we can understand them and manage them well. (page 8)

Lisa spends the remaining chapters showing how we reach emotional abundance, and explains how devoting time to our own health will lead to peace and thriving relationships. As with any other area of our life, we start with God, because until we have peace with Him, we will never know true peace in any other realm.

Whether you are in a season of life where peace eludes you or you’ve been searching for it your whole life, I highly recommend Peace for a Lifetime. Lisa takes you by the hand and shows you there is life and abundance beyond the stress, striving and yearning for something more. With the practical, easy-to-follow steps she offers and the knowledge she brings to the table, you will see peace isn’t just an illusion or a fantasy.

It is indeed possible, and it can be for life.


 

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Purchase Info and Giveaway

Lisa Murray,’s book is available now and you can purchase it here. I am also giving away a free copy to one of my readers! Simply comment below and share on one social media outlet. I will announce the winner on Thursday, March 17.

A Prayer Inviting the Spirit to Move

life unstuck intro

Well friends, we made it. There were times when I didn’t think we would, but here we are at the end of our 31 day journey. I want to thank each of you who have offered words of encouragement and love during this challenge. It is because of you that I continue to write, to offer up words, and press forward. You bless me more than you know.

Today I’d like to offer up a final prayer for the Spirit to continue working in your lives in the months ahead. During the Allume conference two weeks ago, the final keynote speaker stated she believed one of the reasons the church has not continued to thrive here in the U.S. is because the Holy Spirit is either given a bad name or not explored at all. I couldn’t agree more.

But without the Spirit, this journey is pointless. Without this integral part of the Trinity, our hope is lost.


Holy Spirit, we know we can’t become unstuck without your work in us. Help us to recognize your still, small voice when it nudges us to move and asks us to stay. May we recognize the things that grieve you and leave these strongholds at the foot of the cross, so we can grow to be more like the One who gave up his live so we could be free. Mold us and transform us into the beautiful masterpieces we were created to be. Complete the work you started in us in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

When the Darkness Becomes Comfortable

life unstuck intro

I once heard a friend say she liked to keep her house dimly lit because it hid all the dirt in her house.

We were chatting with other moms and made jokes about how darkness was good for so many things, like hiding the mess we didn’t feel like cleaning for the hundredth time. And the dog would surely clean up those crumbs on the floor, right?

Sometimes the darkness can become comfortable.

We hide in its bleakness and feel like it protects us from the judgmental stares of others who have their check-lists done, their floors clean, their kids in line. Often we hang out there in the dark so long we forget the path back into the light. Or we think the light won’t welcome us after such a long absence.

It goes so much further than spotless homes doesn’t it? When darkness compromises our souls, it can take on many forms: jealousy, greed, hypocrisy, and judgmental attitudes, just to name a few.

We want to sweep it under the façade of fake smiles and perfect church attendance and pretend it isn’t there. But the more we put on an act, the more the unconfessed offense weakens us and keeps us from moving forward.

I know because I’ve been there. I walked in the dark and convinced myself if no one knew about it, it wasn’t harming anyone. But the person it was harming most was me.

Several months ago, some of my friends developed a rule. Not a punish-you-if-you-don’t, ruler-smacking directive but a guideline, if you will.

Confess your wrong. Bring it out into the open and talk to your sisters in Christ about it. Together, we can speak truth and build each other up.

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Let me tell you, it hasn’t always been easy. There are days when my fears slink in and whisper lies, telling me I’ll be judged if I bring that out into the open. But the more I push through and continue to share, the more I see our fears are often liars.

And do you know what I’ve found? God’s perfect Light casts out darkness. It uncovers truth, and friends, the truth brings freedom.

This is not some church cliché or platitude. It is the lifeblood of the church.

So friends, let us heed the words of Paul.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of the darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:12 NIV

Let’s come into his glorious light today. Let’s expose the strongholds that keep us captive and walk in the freedom we were born to realize.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

It Is for Freedom {A Guest Post}

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When I first read Tiffany’s writing, I knew nothing about her except that she captivated me with her ability to weave a story and string together words. Since I reached out and commented on her blog, she’s become a dear friend and encourager and I thank God we crossed paths in the blogosphere. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome today as we talk about how sometimes the familiar can become what enslaves us and keeps us stuck.

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Tiffany is a wife and mom who dwells in the sunshine (and smog) of Southern California. She’s a lover of words who purposes to use hers to speak God’s truth with grace and authenticity. More than that, she longs to provide a safe place for others to do the same. You are invited to join her word-by-word journey through the mountains and valleys of faith at her blog, Simply for One, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

It Is for Freedom

I heard the story of a man who, after thirty-five years in prison, was finally released. For decades his every move had been bound by law, and finally he was free to explore life. But after thirty-five years of rigid routine and structure, he struggled to adjust to his new found freedom. In desperation, craving the familiar confines of his former limitations, he robbed a local mini-mart. When police arrived, he surrendered to them and shortly thereafter was returned to prison.

He willingly gave up his freedom to return to what he once knew. Unbelievable.

And then it occurred to me: I do the same thing every day.

As a believer, my freedom has been purchased with great cost, my ransom paid in full. I’ve been redeemed from the bondage of sin by the blood of Christ. But my shackles are never further than my own back pocket.

And all too often, I pull them out, slip them on, and chain myself to burdens that aren’t mine to bear.

When I allow doubt to diminish the calling God has set before me.

When fear robs me of opportunity to exercise faith.

When comparison steals the identity that God has written over me.

When the pursuit of perfection and approval of man take precedent over God.

It’s like I walk right back into a prison cell and slam the door shut behind me. It’s as if I take Christ’s freedom gift and hand it back to Him unopened.

When I willingly set aside liberty to entertain slavery, it’s the equivalent of saying Christ’s life wasn’t worth my freedom.

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For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 ESV

Christ HAS set us free. It isn’t a future promise. It’s not a condition we have to meet. Freedom isn’t offered to us once we complete a list of required tasks, or prove ourselves worthy. We don’t have to wrestle to receive it. Our freedom is a complete work.

Christ has set us free, and so … WE. ARE. FREE.

Stand firm therefore. Our frame is fragile, weak even. We so easily relinquish the freedom in God’s fought for promises to embrace satan’s slippery lies. And God knows how easily we fall prey. It’s why He tells us to come to Him when we’re weary, to seek Him when we need rest.

His yoke is STILL easy. His burden is STILL light. 

Jesus doesn’t want us to live in chains. He wants us to experience the freedom of forgiveness, the grace of an unburdened walk beside Him, and the gentle touch of His guiding hand. But He also wants us to fight for what is ours. To stand fast in faith. To lock our knees, dig in our heels, and refuse to give up that which He gave His own life to obtain for us.

Christ has set us free, so that we will LIVE free.

We can’t settle for less. The fullness of freedom was purchased for us on a cross. Abundance of life was bought at a price we can never repay. A life lived in shackles is not a life lived for Christ.

Christ has set us free. And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.