Don't Stop At Forgiveness...

It had been two years.

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Two years since we'd sat together to catch up, and this time it was different. This time, we sat together without talking about grievances, hard things, uncomfortable things - painful things even, like we had out of necessity in a tough season just a few years prior. We'd both been on deep, long, and at times, arduous, individual journeys with God, changing, transforming, wrestling, healing and growing deeper roots in Him, separately. It hadn't been easy for either of us, as it turned out, but sitting there on the couch in her Brooklyn home felt just right. God really does make all things new.

I was nervous as I walked from the subway to her front door, praying with every step I took. Would we drag up the past, or had we both healed and changed enough to have grace for one another to move forward? Would we see each other through God's eyes or through the pain of our past?

Turns out, it was through God's eyes.

One thing that rang true in our conversation was that God is all about reconciliation - the promise that we'd be reconciled to Him and to one another. There were laughter and tears (mostly on my end- I'm such a crier). The Gospel, at its core, is about reconciling the entire world to God, the Father of all life. He sent His one and only Son to redeem, restore and reconcile us to His heart. It's His plan that we would all walk in our true identity, looking to Him, the One whose image we're created in. 

As I sat on that L-shaped couch, across from this old friend, I saw the beginnings of new life, the glory of God manifesting right there in that Brooklyn home. New beginnings. New life. New hope. New horizons. NEW.

It's not always easy to get there. For Jesus, the entry point was death on a cross followed by a wrestle with all of hell for the reconciliation of humanity. But on that third day, when the world had lost hope in their human plan of what they'd thought was meant to be, Jesus took the keys that held us bound to sin, death and destruction and rose from the grave, defeating its power with complete and total authority.  He is the resurrection and the life that makes all things new. 

There is no other Gospel but death and resurrection. First Jesus' death and resurrection, and then our own as we die to ourselves and are resurrected in His life as a new creation. 

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It is for His glory that we reconcile with Him and are reconciled to one another. It is for His glory that we seek to reconcile the wrongs in this world, establishing His Kingdom of light and love in their place. Word to the wise, you're in for a fight (the right kind, though!) because it is territory that the enemy has been squatting on, and it's not his. Remember whose name is on the title and deed. That's right, it's YOUR name, because it's your inheritance as a child of God. So go ahead, child of God - place your foot on it.

I don't know what needs to be reconciled in your life today, but Jesus kicked down the door of death and defeated it completely so that you can walk in His resurrection power. You may need to die to yourself, your way, your plan, your blueprint, but just remember - there is resurrection on the other side of death.

As my friend said in a post on Facebook after we caught up,

"Don’t stop at forgiveness if reconciliation is in your grasp. Being right will never be as fulfilling as being together. Be like Elsa and #letitgo"

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 TPT

"17 Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. 18 And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 19 In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. 20 We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” 21 For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him."

Musings From A Woman On The Verge Of 40

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When your kids start calling Ice Ice Baby and Can't Touch This "oldies" in casual dinner conversation, you've officially become your own mom and dad. When you start saying, "when I was your age..." and catch yourself, cupping your mouth in shock, then yeah... life it is a'changing.

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When your eldest son says, "Hey mom, they measured my height yesterday at school. I'm 5'4" now... officially taller than you. Also, I weigh 105." Ugh. First of all, thanks for reminding me of how short I am, when, secretly in my own mind, I'm a super model. Second of all, now my weight doesn't feel so amazing. Third of all, when did I get to the age where I have a son that is taller than me? For real, though. HOW AM I ALMOST 40?

I hear people say that they're pumped for 40, ready to turn 40, excited to step into 40, but this woman is just seeing more wrinkles (collagen, where did you go??) and lumps. And what ever happened to my metabolism, and my thick, silky hair? What. The. Heck. In case you're wondering, I'm just waiting for small lips to come back in, too. I'll be sooo on trend. And why do I cry all the time... correction, more than I already did?  Whhhhhaaaaat is happening to me????

I'm turning 40. Yes, 40. Let that sink in, Andi. 

Some of you are older than me and want me to just shut up. Others of you are like, "what? Lumps? Loss of hair? Slower metabolism? Ahhhhh! I. can't. even."

CALM DOWN. It's all going to be okay. Or at least, that's what I hope I'll be letting you know on September 4th, when I step out of my 30's and into my 40's. (Yes, I'm accepting gifts.) Also, I share a birthday with Beyonce, so that's something.

I find myself wrestling with these thoughts often, "Since when did age become something to avoid?" "When did we stop embracing the beauty of grey hair, lumps, wrinkles, a life lived with experience and wisdom?" "When did looking like I'm forever 21 become the goal?" "Why can't we all just age well?" Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we're eternal beings that still can't cope with some of the effects of the Fall in the Garden. Maybe it's comparison. Maybe it's vanity. Maybe we just like beauty products (yes, I see you). Maybe we're locked into a moment where we felt the most beautiful and want to get back there somehow...

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This is my BEAUTIFUL mom. This is her real grey hair; the hair that young people now spend crazy amounts of money to have. but hers is all natural. It's all her. Those wrinkles, sans botox; those laugh lines, sans fillers; all earned, all hers. Every. Single. One. She's beautiful. She's a tad emotional (I get it from my Momma). She's a little crazy and totally creative - a hippie to rival all hippies (you should try her homemade kombucha) - and she's aging beautifully, inside and out. And as I teeter towards 40, I thank God that she's my mom. When I start freaking out about aging, I just look at her. She's paving a way for me and so many others. 

A couple of months ago, my 5-year-old Sammy pointed out the wrinkles around my mouth and asked me, "what are those?" to which I replied, "Laugh lines! Those are earned over time, buddy. You have to laugh a lot and then you'll get your own." Deep in thought, he smiled and nodded, thinking that was quite possibly the coolest thing ever. 

Look, you do you. Botox, fillers, all the things... whatever floats your boat. I just pray that we as woman can age beautifully from the inside out. That we can be at peace with who we are, and that we find a way to genuinely love who our Creator has made us to be. Truth be told, I've shocked myself over this last year with all these conflicting feelings and fears of hitting a certain age. For the most part, I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin,  but in the times I'm not, I cry it out in my Father's lap. I let Him remind me how amazing I am, and then I get back up, dust myself off, and keep going. 

My conclusion? This short lady (who is a super model in her own mind) is going to keep walking her way down the runway of life with a little less hair, a tad slower metabolism, a few more tears than usual, and laugh lines, to boot, and she's going to be just fine. 40, I'm coming for you like a dance battle.

Because, DANCE BATTLES.

 

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Guest Post with Jamie Ivey

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Guys! I met a new friend who you're all going to love... let me introduce you to Jamie Ivey! Just last month, I flew down to Texas to meet her and record an episode for her podcast, The Happy Hour With Jamie Ivey (you can listen to the episode here). She is mother to four beautiful kids, wife to Aaron, lives outside of Austin, Texas and has just released her first book, If You Only Knew; My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming FreeI asked if she wouldn't mind me sharing some of it with you, and she said yes! She's a soul sister with a message of freedom and vulnerability that aligns so deeply with my heart. I believe you're going to love her and love her book!

Here is an excerpt:

"Remember at the end of high school when they announce the people who are “Most Likely to _________”? Then they fill in the blanks with things like, “Most Likely to Succeed,” “Most Likely to Stay Single,” “Most Likely to Become Famous.”

I never received any of those “Most Likely to . . .” awards in high school, but I can only imagine what I would have received if they’d given me one: “Most Likely to Get Married Early,” “Most Likely to Become a Teacher,” “Most Likely to Become a Mom.” Yet on the inside, my identity was in shambles. I knew I wasn’t “likely” to do any of those things. And as I worked my way through college, the predictions would only have gotten worse: “Most Likely to Get Divorced,” “Most Likely to Get a Disease,” “Most Likely to Get Pregnant.” (Well, that one actually did happen, but thankfully not the others.) 

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If we’re not careful, our whole identity can become wrapped up in what other people think we’re supposed to be or what we think we’re supposed to do. Perhaps today, for example, you’re basing your identity on something as fresh and recent as how you acted last night and what somebody said to you or accused you of. Or you’re finding your identity in the mom you want to be, or the mom you hate that you are. Maybe you’re finding your identity in the job you have, or the job you wish you had but can’t seem to get hired for. 

Maybe you find part of your identity in what you did this summer, or what you wish you’d done this summer, compared to what everybody else was doing (and bragging about doing). Maybe you find your identity in the ministries you perform at church and how people perceive your “Christian” standing because of it. Maybe you find your identity in your passions, in your body mass index, in your checkbook balance, in your home décor choices, or whatever other kinds of indicators seem to measure your worth and success as a person. We are constantly finding our identity from everything around us, from everywhere we go, and from everything, people say and think about who we are or who we should be. 

But this is not who we are. And we always need to remember that. 

A few years ago, one of my kids came home from school, super down about his day. He told me how during the day, some kids at school had been talking about all those “Most Likely to . . .” categories, and his friends announced they had voted him “Most Likely to Lose at Arm Wrestling.” My first inclination was to laugh. From my vantage point as an adult, of course, being known as the best arm wrestler in third grade doesn’t mean much. But I held back my giggles because I could see this insult had been a real blow to my son’s nine-year-old heart because his friends had made him sad . . . and “because I’m strong,” he told me.

“I know you are,” I said, pulling my sweet boy close to me, hugging him. I whispered into his ear, telling him he was a child of God whose identity was already secured, and that his identity in Christ is the only identity he ever needs to be worried about. He didn’t need to be devastated or heartbroken over what his friends were saying because that identity never matters. 

And I wonder if that’s not what our Father wants to do when we come home from another day of combat, with all those false identities screaming in our head. Can’t you just hear Him saying, “My sweet daughter, those thoughts you’re thinking are not true? Remember My promises to you? My Word is true. You know this. You are a child of Mine. You are a new creation. I have made you alive with Christ, and I have chosen you to be My daughter so that I can do great things through you.” 

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Over and over I’ve needed Him to whisper these truths to me—through His Word, through His Spirit, through my community. And if past (and current) history are any indication, I feel pretty sure I’ll be struggling to believe it until the day I take my final breath on this earth, until I’m face-to-face with Jesus. Of the numerous things in my life that I battle nearly every single day, remembering my identity is one of them.

Over time, God has revealed Himself to me in ways I’d never before been willing to accept. I finally started to learn that my identity is not skewed because of all the things I’ve done or haven’t done, but is secured by all the things Jesus has done (as well as by what He hasn’t done, like condemn and reject me). 

My identity is only what it is today—a daughter of the King—because of Jesus. It has nothing to do with me. “Most likely” has been replaced by the absolute assurance that I am loved and cherished by my heavenly Father, despite all that He knows of me. And when I finally began believing this truth—that God could use a broken, messed-up person like me for His glory—I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. 

That’s when things really started to change for me. I know it can be the same for you." 

So friend, get out there, buy Jamie's book and subscribe to her podcast. You'll find a fast friend through each page you turn and each episode you hear.

xoxo Andi

Helpful Links: 

Jamie's Book

Jamie's Website

Jamie's Podcast

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calming The Storm Within

I was talking on the phone one evening a couple months ago to a mentor and mother in the faith who said these words to me,

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"The accuser is NOT the author of your life story and legacy!”

Boy, did I need to be reminded of this truth.

Once again, those words shook me awake to the reality of just how easy it is to entertain a negative, toxic thought for too long until it grows into a viable life option. It was only when I confessed out loud the sneaky whispers that the enemy had planted in my mind (that I'd willingly entertained and actually considered!) that the turnaround came.

This can happen to any one of us. These thoughts start like a small seed and, if left to germinate, grow into a plausible reality. The moment we bring them into the light, they're robbed of their power. I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but the accuser does not get to derail you, destroy you or take you out. Allow Jesus to be the author of your legacy as you continue to live a life enfolded in His arms. He will never leave you, forsake you, accuse you or lie to you. Trust Him. 

When we don't deal with the storm inside of us, It's virtually impossible to confront the storms churning outside of us. 

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In Mark 4:35-41, after a huge day of teaching, Jesus and His disciples pushed off into the darkness to go to the other side of the lake to an area where pig farmers lived, a place considered unclean according to Jewish custom. On the way there, they were confronted with a demonic storm, but all the while Jesus slept, completely peaceful within, aware of His authority and unafraid of what was churning all around Him. "38 But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. 39 So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” (4:38-39) The disciples lost their minds, allowing fear to take over. How often are we just like them, running around the boat of our lives, mad at Jesus for sleeping, yelling extreme statements like, "We're all going to diiiiiieeeee!!!!! Don't you even care about me, Jesus?"  I've been there.

I was there 2 months ago. 

As my mentor reminded me that the accuser is not the author of my life story and legacy, I woke up to the demonic storm coming at me. The words straight out of Jesus' mouth to His disciples after he calmed the storm leapt off the page and dove straight into my heart, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” (4:40b)

Haven't you learned to trust yet?

In that moment, Jesus and I went to a scary place together. A place I had been trying to avoid for years. A place where I hadn't yet learned to trust Him. It was only then that peace and healing could come as I recognized my lack of trust and my deep need to rest in the bow of the boat with Jesus. You see, there was no storm in Him, but there was in me. He knew how to calm the storm within me so that I could then confront the storms that churned outside of me. 

Partnership with the Prince of Peace, even in the midst of chaos, confusion, destruction, pain and trial, will cause us to walk in and live from a place of rest, authority and confidence even when it doesn't make sense. This is the peace that surpasses all understanding that the author of Philippians spoke of, and it is your portion.

So if you're ready, ask yourself, "Why am I so afraid? Have I learned to trust Jesus in this area of my life yet?"

Take some time to pray, journal, turn on some worship (try "Surrounded" by Michael W. Smith - for real, click the link...) and re-read Mark 4:35-41. Ask Jesus to reveal the truth to you, and why you can always trust Him fully with your life. 

Pain, Lies, Love, Truth & Freedom

If you haven't already heard, I released a brand new She Is Free Book Video Series last month to accompany you or a small group of women who you'd like to walk on a journey to freedom with. Maybe you haven't purchased the She Is Free book yet, so, in just a moment, I'll give you a taste of what it's all about. Maybe you'd like to buy a bundle of books and shoot this post to a group of friends, inviting them to gather together and start a book club! Whatever you do, my heart is to resource, equip and activate you to walk in the fullness of freedom Christ has for you.

Friend, here is what I've learned; pain has a way of either telling us something or destroying us depending on what we do with it. The moment we consciously surrendered to a loving God in the middle of our mess, trusting Him to hold just us as we are, even with baggage from years of compounded pain, our hearts begin to heal.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction of my book - She is Free:

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"I’ve heard it said, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” but what I didn’t know was destroying me. Ten years of serving Jesus on my resumé, knee-deep in three kids under the age of three, married for seven years, and yet I was completely unaware of how deeply loved I was by my Father in heaven. I didn’t know there was no need to perform, serve, and achieve for love and acceptance or that I could live from a place of deep love and acceptance. I was one of the greatest Christian performers around, yet I wasn’t getting paid for my efforts. I was desperate for the real thing, for someone to let me fall apart and see me in my mess and not walk away. What I didn’t know was that Jesus was right there all along waiting for my great unraveling. Not only that, He didn’t walk away; He gently and steadily led me into healing and wholeness.

How often have you heard this phrase, “The truth will set you free!”? Many times it is out of scriptural context. This line by itself is used in movies, churches, devotionals, and countless conversations around the world, but the truth alone can’t set you free because it depends on what truth you’re holding on to. Is it your own truth? The world’s truth? Your neighbor’s truth? Buddha’s truth? The government’s truth? Pop culture’s truth? What about the truth of your past and pain? Or the shocking truth of your present reality that hurts more than anything? All of these “truths” will fade away, yet there is One whose truth is eternally unshakeable because He is truth incarnate, the word made flesh. This is the truth that we can align our lives with to live in freedom.

So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” (John 8:31–32 AMP)

Scripture tells us that if we hold to Jesus’s teaching—know it, walk in it, abide in it, and follow it—then we are truly His disciples or His students. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19; 8:28; 12:49) so holding to His teaching and following in His ways is also holding fast to the Father’s heart and ways. Once we meditate on and align ourselves with His truth, then we will know it and the truth of His goodness, love, and salvation that rescued us from the penalty of sin and death (John 3:16–17). This my friends is the truth that will set us free.

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One thing I’ve learned on the journey thus far is this: our spiritual freedom is found as we learn the truth about the lies that have held us captive. These are the moments in which love breaks through the darkness and the blinders begin to fall off of our eyes, revealing the sweet freedom that is ours to walk in. There are spiritual forces at work that try to lure us into their world of lies. The Bible is very clear on this. In Ephesians 6:12, we’re told, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Once we buy into those lies, they create an atmosphere or subculture around us from which we live, operate, and see our lives. Imagine the lies we partner with (whether knowingly or unknowingly) are like a dirty, scratched, and damaged pair of glasses. Glasses are supposed to help us see more clearly, but if the glasses are smudged, scratched, or dirty, our view is skewed. Lies do this; they cause us to see ourselves, others, and our lives without clarity.

Oftentimes, what’s going on outside of us reveals what’s going on deep within us. Whether it’s the news, social media, circumstances, our spouses, children, leaders, friends, the driver in the car in front of you, coworkers, or that person walking down the street, any of these can push our buttons and squeeze our lives like a toothpaste tube. It’s when we are under pressure that we see what is within us. Is it anger? Control? Fear? Unforgiveness? Or is it peace, love, joy, patience, and the like?

What if I told you there’s a way to break free from the lies you’ve found yourself living in, that there’s a way to step into the truth that is wrapped in love, enabling you to create the culture of the kingdom of heaven inside your heart and around your life?

In some seasons it feels like a fight to step into spiritual freedom, and in other seasons there’s a beautiful ease in aligning ourselves with what is already ours in Jesus. I want to share with you how I’ve done this in my own life. It’s an ongoing process for each and every one of us and, of course, a very personal one. It’s a journey I hope we can share together. I believe I can help as a fellow traveler on the path of freedom."

I'd love to share in the She is Free journey with you.

There is so much more we'll cover together in this book, from how I hated my mom, to forgiving and reconciling with her, to stepping out from under the heavy blanket of shame I lived with for years because I thought I deserved it. We'll talk about anger, fear and the insatiable need we have at times to control things, people or circumstances. It's raw, vulnerable and practical. My hope is to provide you with the right tools to dismantle the lies that have held you captive.

You can be free.

Indifference Kills Transformation

My husband and I were invited by a friend, and Liberty Church Community member, to attend the Restore Fall Benefit Dinner at the Tribeca Rooftop last September. Restore believes that 'sex trafficking is a problem that has a solution.' 

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Besides being in awe of the good work that Restore is doing, that line got me thinking... If there is a solution to a problem I face, or that we, as a society face, I cannot afford to be indifferent. Nothing changes around me when I stop having genuine care and concern for the plight of humanity. 

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference." - Elie Wiesel

Indifference kills transformation; personal transformation and societal transformation. 

It's hard to take action when we're indifferent. It's hard to break free from the lies that hold us captive if we're indifferent. It's hard to bring freedom to others when we're indifferent, and comfortable in our comfort. 

Jesus came to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, so maybe it's time for us to shake things up at the start of 2018. Ask yourself, "Where have I been indifferent in areas of my life that really matter? And what can I do to make one change today?" It could be as simple as having a conversation with someone you've been avoiding. It could be choosing to give your time, talent or treasure to a cause that is worthy. It could be choosing that bible reading plan you've been avoiding because you've already decided you'll fail. It could be a personal goal that you'd like to achieve, but have found yourself thinking over and over again, "It's not a big deal." That mindset indicates that you've stepped into a form of indifference. Maybe it's time to stop waiting for someday, when...

The truth is, we may just change the world as we become resolute that we will not walk, stand, or sit in indifference when it comes to the things that really matter.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Eradicating Shame

Shame is an insatiable beast. 

To step out of it's cruel grip, we have to understand and partner with what Jesus has done to set us free from it. 

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The woman with the issue of blood exemplifies a beautiful picture of what a life set free from chronic shame can look like. In an excerpt from my book, She Is Free: Learning The Truth About The Lies That Hold You Captive, I break down the power of reaching out for Jesus in the midst of crippling shame. 

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"Maybe like the woman with the issue of blood, who was separated from society and isolated from God’s presence, you feel isolated and alone in your shame. The loss of blood and the repercussions of her condition would have left her exhausted, weak, anemic, and spiritually dry. The long sickness could have made her feel overwhelmed and alone on her journey, and the same could be true for you in what you’re facing.

She had spent all her money trying to find healing. The passage (Mark 5:21-34) also says she “suffered” at the hands of many doctors and only grew worse. So not only was she broke, but she also got sicker as each year passed. In the area where you need to be freed from shame, are you going from person to person “spending” all that you have but receiving only Band-Aid solutions that aren’t fixing the problem? Maybe you’ve been let down so many times by people that you find it hard to push through the throng of voices and trust God, The only thing that can bring you true healing is to reach out and receive from Jesus.

The touching of the hem of Jesus’s garment is significant.

The part of the fabric the woman touched is known as the tallit, or prayer shawl. Fringes or tassels were to be sewn on the four corners of all clothing of Jewish men in accordance with God’s instruction:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.’” (Num. 15:37–41)

The tassels were to remind the Jewish people of God’s commandments. They were tied into 613 knots to remind them of the 613 laws of Moses: 365 “thou shalt not” laws and 248 “thou shalt” laws. The tassels were in full view for everyone to see as a constant reminder to walk in God’s ways, to stay on His path of righteousness.

When Jewish men were deep in prayer, they would wear this prayer shawl over their heads to be covered in the presence of God. The shawls were white and blue. The white represents heaven—the dwelling place of the Lord—and the blue represents the Holy Spirit.

The tallit also represents authority. King David was known as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but before he became king, the reigning King Saul wanted to murder him. David had an opportunity for revenge in a cave. David’s cohorts, also known as his “Mighty Men,” encouraged him to kill King Saul (1 Sam. 24:1–7). Instead, he snuck up behind Saul and cut the hem of his garment, yet was “conscience stricken” for doing so because it was an act that represented him cutting off the authority of his king. When Ruth laid down at Boaz’s feet, she placed herself under his tallit or his authority to submit herself to him (Ruth 3:1–9).

When this woman who had lived a life of shame and reproach for twelve years reached out to touch Jesus, she didn’t grab just what happened to be at arm’s length. She was going to make this count if she was going to go out into the crowd and risk making others unclean by physically touching them as she pushed through to her Healer. She also risked making a rabbi (Jesus) unclean. As I read this account, I wonder if she knew the significance of touching His tallit. I’d like to think she did, because when she reached out to touch the hem of His garment, she reached out for all it represented—all the promises and commandments from the Word of God, God’s covering and His presence, and all the authority of heaven and earth that Jesus was given as God’s Son. The tallit or the hem of His garment represents God’s commandments, the presence of God, and God’s authority!

When you reach out to God for your healing and deliverance, realize that you are touching all the promises of the Word of God—every commandment He has given. And that Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us—you are touching Him! Realize that you’re touching the covering of His presence and all of the authority that is in heaven and earth through the power of Jesus Christ.

When she touched Jesus, immediately He felt power go out of Him. When you reach out and touch Him, it doesn’t just affect your life in miraculous ways; He feels your touch too. He turns his face to you, acknowledges and adores you in your public shame, heals you, and commends your faith in Him. He says to you, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34), or in other words, “Your trust in me has made you well.”

The heart of Father God is that you would understand that through your faith (the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen [Heb. 11:1]) in Jesus, you are healed and brought into the family—you are God’s daughter! As a daughter, you are an heir to all Jesus has—healing, love, freedom, eternal life, redemption, restoration of all that was lost, and so much more.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and your faith, trust, and hope in Him heals you and connects you to all that He is and has."

For more of this chapter, Freedom From Shame, and the rest of the She Is Free book, click here or the link below to get your copy today. 

Love, Andi

 

 

The R Word

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I led our leadership team in corporate repentance on Friday night.

We made it personal first: what did we each need to repent of in our own hearts? Pride, greed, offense, gossip, fill in the blank... And then we cried out for our city, our nation, and the nations of the earth as we repented on their behalf, asking God to heal our hearts and heal our land.

I love prophetic acts because they're a demonstration of humility before God, showing the enemy that we, God's people, aren't messing around. We're on the move and we're a united front. 

"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

The R word, repentance, isn't sexy, but it's effective, and it only works when we choose humility. Our words, motives, and subsequently, our actions (or lack thereof) start in our hearts. It's imperative that we become aware of the conscious or subconscious meditation of our hearts (Psalm 19:14), if we want to see change in us and in our world. 

Repentance requires what I would call a turning on our behalf, yes, from our wicked ways. Now, some of us are automatically thinking of an extremely wicked person, but any partnership with the enemy's ways is wicked, and we have to choose to turn from it. Need a reference point? They can look like gossip, slander, pride, arrogance, greed, selfishness and offense, to name a few, and if we're completely honest, we probably partnered with a few of those this morning before we even started our morning commute! Go ahead, I'll give you a moment to take that post down... wink, wink. 

In Christ, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17)! But we still have to choose to walk in our true identity on a daily basis in order to keep shedding the old ways we once walked in, while intentionally putting on Christ. You were created by and for love - this is good news!

As followers of Jesus, our faith is active, not passive. We are all in a constant cycle of pruning and flourishing, pruning and flourishing. Intentionally recognizing of the state of our hearts before God is vital to personal transformation, and in turn, the transformation of communities and nations. As we continue to partner with our divine nature as new creations, we'll begin to see change all around us. 

We've got to ask ourselves what places and over what things has God given us the authority to pray? What assignment, region, workplace, family, nation, and/or people group has He brought around us and asked us to actively love? And what are we doing about it? Lofty ideas don't work here, but repentance, prayer and action will. Matthew 4:17 tells us that, as His first act after coming out of His desert testing & beginning His earthly ministry, "Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This emphasizes just how crucial the act of repentance is, not only for our personal walk, but for the kingdom of heaven coming on the earth! What do we need to turn from, and instead, turn to Jesus?  Where do we need to walk in humility and turn from pride? Pride is at the root of most of our problems. 

Repentance from self-preservation is what brings us to Jesus in the first place, and it doesn't stop on the day we begin to follow Him. It is the daily choice and act of humility that changes us and changes nations. The R word is pretty powerful.

Love, Andi 

Keep Showing Up

There's no magic potion to walking in freedom. Most days it's just putting one foot in front of the other, as we discover more of our inheritance in Christ, being renewed by every revelation that we unearth in the richness of HIs great love.

"If you have really experienced the Anointed One, and heard his truth, it will be seen in your life; for we know that the ultimate reality is embodied in Jesus! And he has taught you to let go of the lifestyle of the ancient man, the old self-life, which was corrupted by sinful and deceitful desires that spring from delusions. Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you. And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him!” Ephesians 4:21-24 TPT

The truth is, we simply have to keep showing up to our own lives, taking responsibility for our heart, emotions, thoughts, and actions with Jesus and with one another. There's an old song by Sara Groves called, Just Showed Up For My Own Life, and it couldn't explain better what it takes to walk in the life that we already have in Jesus.

Spending my time sleep walkin'
Movin' my mouth but not saying a thing
Hopin' the changes would take
By workin' their way from the outside in

I was in love with an idea
Preoccupied with how a life should appear
Spending my time at the surface
Repairing the holes in a shiny veneer

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up
For my own life
And I'm standin' here takin' it in
And it sure looks bright

I remember first hearing that song years ago and feeling wide awake to the possibilities; that freedom was actually possible. I also began to understand that community was designed as a context for transformation. The authors of Gospel Centered Community say it like this, “The agent of sanctification is the Holy Spirit. The tool of sanctification is the truth of the Gospel. And the context of sanctification is community.”

I love family dinner. Something crazy and profound almost always takes place at the table. The table represents a place of conversation, connection, learning and communion. We change when we keep showing up to our own life and to the table with others.

We have a choice every single day. Here is an excerpt from my book, She Is Free.

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"Family dinner in our house can get pretty crazy. There’s laughter, stories, interruptions, prayer, life decisions, jokes, inappropriate behavior (the phrases “butt cheek” and “booty” come from our youngest more times than I’d like to admit), tears, discipline, encouragement, and, of course, food. The table is a place where we engage as a family. Our children get to tell stories and discuss what’s important to them, as do we. We talk about our highs and lows of the day and encourage each other as we go around the table. We teach our kids that interrupting doesn’t bring honor and that some behavior is not for the table. Sometimes, a poor attitude or poor behavior will keep one of our children from coming to the table until they are ready to engage. They know that there is always a place for them there; they are a part of the family.

In order to step into the fullness and freedom of what God has for every one of us, we need to cultivate a willingness to approach His table and engage with family. There will be laughter, tears, encouragement, confrontation, life decisions, and, most of all, a safe place for you to be yourself in the presence of God. At the table, you will learn your identity as a son or daughter of the Most High God. But you have to choose whether you’re willing to come to the table to engage in your personal transformation.

There will be days when you’ll feel like it and days when you won’t. Many times we disqualify ourselves from coming to the table because of pride, insecurity, weariness, lack, apathy, fear of failure, or a host of other hurdles. Before you go any further in this book, you have to decide that you’re worth the journey. Even if you don’t feel like it, you just need to keep showing up—keep coming to the table. Too often we dream about life in the palace but are unwilling to walk out of our prisons. We are deceived into thinking it will be embarrassing to admit our flaws. Pride will continue to torture us in captivity until we lay it down and humble ourselves before God, admitting that we need Him.

In light of this truth, ask yourself, “Do I really want to be free, or do I just like the idea of freedom? Am I willing to do what it takes to get free, or do I want someone else to do the work for me?”

We all desire freedom, but it’s often more complex than a simple yes or no answer. Freedom means something very different to each of us, depending on the landscape and shaping of our lives. How was your relationship with your mother and father? Were they both around? What about siblings? Did you experience abuse or trauma growing up? Shame? Fear? Anger? Discontentment? Anxiety? What about walking through dark seasons that have stuck to you like they still own you? Broken relationships? Loss? Pain? The sad reality is that everyone can identify with something on this list, however incomplete it may be. As we each look back on our lives, even if we had two loving parents, a white picket fence, and a healthy church environment, the enemy has still tried to weave a tangled web of lies to keep us in bondage and make us believe that we're cut off from our relationship with God. The good news is that our God has given each of us a way out of that bondage. The question is, do we actually want to partner with God to do what is necessary to live free? Or are we content with putting on a show for the rest of our lives? It’s up to us.

There is no question that God wants you to live a free life, but He respects your free will enough to allow you to choose. There is always more ground to take, and once the ground is taken, it’s time to pour it out and give it away to others so that they may attain the measure of freedom that God has stored up for them as well. As freedom germinates, grows, and blossoms in your life, by its very nature it must bear fruit and reproduce. You will begin to transform the culture around you."

Keep showing up friend. You've got this because He's holding you through it all. You're worth it - and there are lives on the other side of your freedom that need what you have to give. Don't give up!

xoxo Andi

For more my NEW book She Is Free, get your copy at www.sheisfreebook.com

The Trap Of Isolation

Some of my greatest wounding has come from imperfect humans in my world, yet some of my greatest healing has come from being in Godly community with, you guessed it - imperfect humans. We're all imperfect people tryting to walk this life out in Perfect Love. 

I'm sold out to building a loving, Christ centered community, and truth be told, some days I still want to run - but I wont because isolation is a trap. It provides us with a false sense of security from others, leaving us to our own devices while often cultivating an orphan spirit that is fixated on survival and self rather than abundant life and others.

Here is an excerpt from my book, She Is Free from the chapter called, Freedom From Isolation.

"A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment. - Proverbs 18:1 NKJV

Lie: Isolation from honest and vulnerable relationships will keep me safe from rejection, betrayal, and pain.

“Good news, your heart is normal!”

Tears filled my eyes as I read those words from my cardiologist while sitting in my office in lower Manhattan. I turned to look out my window, gazing up at the Freedom Tower (as I still like to call it even though its official name is One World Trade Center), laughing and crying at the same time at the symbolism right outside of my window: freedom.

Two days before, I had been at an appointment with my cardiologist getting an ultrasound to learn whether there were any abnormalities in my heart causing the constant, disturbing heart palpitations I had been experiencing that year. At those times, my heart felt as though someone was holding it in my chest and rattling it around, taking my breath away. Along with the heart palpitations, yet another bout of shingles had erupted on my hip. I felt chained to the reality that my body would react every time we went through a big season. In my head, I knew this was a lie and wasn’t in the character of my beautiful, loving God. The counteracting truth is that He sent Jesus to heal my body, my heart, and my mind with resurrection power that is at work within me. Because of this truth, I started to ponder what my responsibility is in partnering with and living in that healing.

Truth be told, it had been a rough year. It was a year filled with much goodness, joy, triumph, celebration, and love, yet the hard and painful things were trying desperately in my head to outweigh all of the good. Heart-wrenching moments kept dancing around in my mind like a creepy circus clown trying to get all of my attention. Friends I thought I would have forever were dropping like flies and stepping out of our lives and into new seasons. I felt rejection set in and started to act as a victim of my circumstances while unhealthy thoughts swirled in my head: It’s not my fault; I’m a target for this stuff; this always happens to me. My heart was filled with such heaviness that it may as well have been tied to a weight and dropped into the ocean. Subconsciously, I began to isolate myself from connection to others because it seemed safer to detach than to love deeply and be hurt again.

For years, isolation has been a strong tower that I’ve hidden in during times of pain to separate myself from reality. If I ever felt subject to circumstance, misunderstood, or unable to control others’ free will in causing pain to those I love or myself, I’d subconsciously cut them off by drawing an invisible line in the sand because that relationship was now unsafe. For years I allowed what others did to rob my heart of the peace that is my inheritance to walk in, come hell or high water. The problem was, my strong tower was man-made, not God made.

 

Choosing Loneliness over Potential Pain

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, slept through storms unaffected by fear (Matt. 8:23–27), and because he lives in me, I have access to that peace at all times no matter what others do, say, or think about me. No matter the political or socioeconomic environment. No matter the state of my marriage, the state of the church, the state of the nation, the president that’s leading our country, the horrible things I saw on the news today—circumstance does not have the authority to steal my peace and isolate me from love unless I surrender that authority.

Isolating ourselves so we’ll never be rejected is simply a different way of being hurt. It’s choosing the pain of loneliness over the potential pain of loss. By isolating ourselves, we attempt to stop others from rejecting us, but we simultaneously reject the love of God. In turn, we also reject the possibility of thriving in community, friendships, and relationships that are a part of our purpose.

As we consciously choose to move past our desire to self-protect, we go willingly into the pain, hand-in-hand with the lover of our souls who heals us and keeps us safe in the secret place (Ps. 91:1 KJV). I love those words, “the secret place.” The secret place is a secret because it’s unknown and untouchable by the enemy and his lies. In the secret place, his lies are broken down and void of power as we discover the truth that sets us free."

For more my NEW book She Is Free, get your copy at SheIsFreeBook.com

Present In His Presence

I'm not going to lie, I think about bacon cheeseburgers mid-worship from time to time. Sometimes I'll even ponder food for so long that I easily dream-drift through each course I desire, ending with the best coconut cream pie ever from Prime Meats (always after my burger and fries, of course!). As I break out of my prophetic food dream, I usually look down to make sure my phone's on silent (because no one wants to be that guy), only to be alarmed at the 10 text messages that came in while I was focusing on connecting with the Father's heart. So, of course I have to check to see if any of them are urgent, and before I know it, worship has ended and I have been present for a sum total of five seconds flat. Do better, Andi. Do better. 

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And what about when I'm actually out at the meal after church on Sunday, eating my desired bacon cheeseburger, fries and coconut cream pie across the table from my husband, three sons and daughter? Well, of course, I MUST check Instagram to see what's happening in the lives of everyone who I know, generally know, or want to know. Meanwhile, I have five people whom I love, sitting around a table ripe for good conversation and knock knock jokes, while I'm on my phone. Present to my phone. Present to my burger and coconut cream pie, but not present to the opportunity of human connection that's sitting right in front of me.

We are living in a time where our minds are being rewired for overstimulation.

It's like we have every tab in our mind open all the time and are pinging left, right, back and center all day every day. To simply sit and have a meaningful conversation is becoming a lost art if we're not intentional about seeking after it.

Even when we find ourselves in the "waiting rooms of life", we're usually itching to have our name called instead of seeing the opportunities to converse and connect with everyone else in the waiting room. We want next, next, next, next, and we keep missing now, now, now, now... we're not present in the present.

Now let's bring it back to the presence of God. How are you doing being present in His presence? No condemnation here - It's a daily practice to ask myself this same question. How are you at intentionally becoming aware of what you already have - His presence - because you have ALL of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

It's hard to be present with others if we don't know how to be present with God.  

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Slowing down, resting in Him, reading His word daily (even if only five minutes until the kids start crawling all over us!), turning on worship to change the atmosphere, making ourselves aware of HIs unending presence... it changes things. Being present in our pain and not dismissing it, that is where the eternal love of God touches our lives, and heals our hearts. It's the power of His presence that changes us and being present in His presence, well... there's nothing like it. 

C.S. Lewis said, "For the present is the point at which time touches eternity." 

Jesus came down to earth, eternity touched time, and now our present lives can be changed because of it. We can learn a lot from Jesus and how present He always was. He was present with His Father and often escaped the crowds and chaos to do so, and He was present with others - with the "one". The only time He wasn't present was when He was ignoring someone's lack of faith.

In Matthew 9:18-25, Jesus is present to Jairus in the midst of the crowd after a rough night in the storm with His disciples and delivering the demoniac. I'd be napping, but Jesus chooses to be present to Jairus when He hears that his daughter is ill. On the way to heal Jairus' daughter, Jesus is present to the woman with the issue of blood in the midst of the pressing crowds. He turns and sees her, heals her, and calls her "daughter". Then He continues on with Jairus, removes those with a lack of faith from the room, raises his daughter from the dead and even takes care of her physical needs, making sure that she gets a meal in her belly. 

The truth is, Jesus is present with you, right here, right now. Our distractions can dissuade us from being present, causing us to miss moments of connection and transformation.

He is present in the mundane and present in the pain. HE is present in it all.

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Today as I dropped my youngest son off at his kindergarten class, a mother and daughter in front of us were twirling and dancing on their way to the classroom. Sammy was observing and smiling while giggling to himself. Not seconds after that grin came across his face was he, too, twirling with exuberance. My heart swelled within me. I didn't record the moment on my phone or share it on an Insta Story. I was just there, present, proud, and full of joy watching him be an awesome kid - my awesome kid.

Our Father in heaven thinks you're a pretty awesome kid too. He's present with you and wants to journey with you. Intentionally becoming aware of His never-ending presence in our lives will bring freedom from captivity, shake our rickety foundations to be rebuilt by the Master Builder, bring healing to our brokenness but also joy in the seemingly unremarkable moments, and an awakened desire to spread the love that He so freely gives us. 

Can we simply be present with Him today? He has so much to tell us through His word and the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Let's choose together to stop missing the moments and instead, be right in the middle of each one - the ordered, the messy, the electric, the magnetic, even the monotonous - silencing ourselves to hear His whisper through them all.

When I am still, compulsion (The busyness that Hilary of Tours called "a blasphemous anxiety to do God's work for him") gives way to compunction (being pricked or punctured). That is, God can break through the many layers with which I protect myself, so that I can hear his Word and be poised to listen...
In perpetual motion I can mistake the flow of my adrenaline for the moving of the Holy Spirit; I can live in the illusion that I am ultimately in control of my destiny and my daily affiars...
French philospher and mathematician Blaise Pascal observed that most of our human problems come because we don't know how to sit still in our room for an hour." 
- Leighton Ford

Change Your Narrative

A friend of ours decided to celebrate their 40th birthday in Greece this summer, and when invited to come along, we jumped on that bandwagon like a teenage girl (or middle-aged mom) purchasing Bieber tickets. 

When we showed up at the airport, Paul and I got a free upgrade (not even sad!) and happily settled into our seats. While the other passengers boarded the plane, I tested out all the buttons on my remote to see just how flat my bed would go and gladly accepted all the drinks the flight attendants brought by, because it'd be rude not to!

Mid-sip of that second refreshment, a quarter of the way into my first movie, cozily tucked under my comforter with my footrest up, the lady next to us (who we'll call Negative Narrative Nancy) starts yapping about everything she could find wrong about being in business class. I mean - were we even on the same plane??

After sitting on the tarmac for about 30 minutes, the first delay notification came in, but I couldn't have cared less! I was lying down, watching a movie, and eating snacks under a comforter that I wasn't sharing with my four children. We sat on the tarmac for a good hour and a half, just 3 minutes shy from being deplaned and put on another aircraft. Luckily that didn't happen, but during the delay, Negative Narrative Nancy used business class as her stage with absolutely no need for a microphone. 

She started talking loudly. "Ugh! (deep loud breath, sigh, eye roll) The pilot needs to update us- he's not telling us what's going on! Hey lady (flight attendant), what's REALLY going on? Why are we delayed? What aren't you guys telling us? I need a Xanax."

The couple in front of Negative Narrative Nancy had their six-month-old baby, and anytime it cooed or made a peep, the woman would breathe deeply, roll her condescending brown eyes and ask if she could have a different seat in business class "AWAY from that baby". After the poor couple were bouncing their sweet baby (seriously, it was such a quiet baby - just ask me, I have four!) to keep Negative Narrative Nancy appeased, to the point of their quads and biceps giving out from muscle fatigue, good ol' Nancy turns and addresses all of business class saying,  "I can't think of anything worse!"

What?!? Lady with no children, come over here and let me sit you down. Nothing worse than a baby in business class? Negative Nancy - paaalease! I can think of a lot of worse things like... This plane going down. Snakes on the plane. My movies not working on the plane (come on, you know you're with me!) and worst of all, YOU never taking that Xanax you speak of and and continuing to talk for the rest of our time together on this airplane!

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We were in business class people! Business class! And her negative narrative was destroying the atmosphere. The funniest part of this story was that we found out later that a group of turtles mating on the runway caused our delay! Literally, turtles on the runway, which got me thinking...

Have you ever been running a meeting where someone is giving "feedback" but their tone is far from constructive and instead, full of negativity, just posing more problems with no solutions in sight? Maybe the problem is as minor as a turtle on the runway, but the meeting you were so smoothly running is now in a proper nosedive due to a negative narrative taking over. Maybe you started out solving a problem in your own personal life that feels like a minor hurdle, but then the negative nosedive in narrative you find in your own words or thoughts actually becomes the problem instead of the initial situation you faced? It's possible that you naturally operate in faith and optimism, but you're surrounded with "friends" and family who tend towards the negative, calling themselves "realists" and you've unconsciously joined the same club, not sure of who you are anymore. Maybe the pain you've walked through has consumed you, and instead of facing it and walking through it with the Healer, it's become your identity, your constant narrative.

I have found myself being Negative Narrative Nancy in the business class of life more times than I'd like to admit, destroying the atmosphere of my home, workplace and even within myself. I have come into agreement with lies, circumstance, stress and negativity, letting it dictate what I see, feel, think and in turn, what I do. 

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Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. - Proverbs 4:23 NLT

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45 NKJV

Everything I do and speak comes out of the abundance of what going on within my heart, which then determines the course of my life.

So let me ask you, on what narrative is your heart meditating? Because whatever it is, it will become your reality!

Our narrative starts in our thought life as a conscious or unconscious meditation, which, sinking down, becomes the meditation of our heart and, ultimately, our words and actions shaping our world.

I've had to be intentional to live aware of the negative or positive narratives playing out in my life. Sometimes I'm overreacting to turtles on the runway, and other times, I'm facing legitimate pain, trouble, trial, and problems in need of solutions. She Is Free: Learning The Truth About The Lies That Hold You Captive is an honest glimpse into my heart while on the journey of changing my negative narrative - a journey which I'm still on today and want to share with you. It’s messy, it’s real, but most of all, it’s wrapped in the Love of a Savior that has set me free in deeper ways than I ever imagined and continues to do so on a daily basis.

It's imperative that we take authority over our negative narrative, because it changes the course of our story here on earth, and this spills out into the lives of others. There are people out there that need your story. People on the other side of your wrestle for freedom that will thank you for bringing the Good News of what Jesus has done in you and for you, because He can and will do it for them too. 

Will you join me on the freedom journey?

My NEW book She Is Free is now available for pre-order. Plus you will receive amazing FREE bonuses if you pre-order by October 3!

From Faker to Freedom Fighter

I’ve heard it said, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” but for me, what I didn’t know was actually destroying me.

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Ten years of serving Jesus on my resumé, knee-deep in three kids under the age of three, married for seven years, and yet I was completely unaware of how deeply loved I was by my Father in heaven. I didn’t know that there was no need to perform, serve, or achieve to receive love and acceptance, or that I could actually live from a place of deep love and acceptance. I was one of the greatest Christian performers around, yet I wasn’t getting paid for my efforts. I was desperate for the real thing, for someone to let me fall apart, see me in my mess and still not walk away. What I didn’t know was that Jesus was right there all along waiting for my great unraveling. And when it finally happened, He didn’t walk away; He gently and steadily led me into healing and wholeness.

From the outside, I was doing all the "right things", according to western Christian culture - serving in church, going to weekly services, reading my Bible daily, praying when and where I could, "getting over it", whatever "it" was, and moving on quickly. I may have been the walking wounded on the inside, but on the outside, I always had my hair perfectly done, make up on, and kids on my hips with a big smile on my face while walking through those church doors. The arrows shot at me from childhood and on into adulthood had me running like a steam train without breaks, neglecting the time it took to rest and unravel in the arms of the Great Physician who had the ability to heal my heart, mind, and soul. Instead I looked to humanity to meet that need, and they were utterly failing.

This roadshow was beginning to take its toll.

Throw in a traumatic season right before the birth of my baby girl and life had me walking into the darkest night of my soul; like the walking dead, I stepped into its menacing prison. I didn't know where else to go or what to do, so isolation, rage, fear, unforgiveness, shame and control became my protectors, my weapons. The trouble was, I was destroying those closest to me, my husband and three small children, not to mention my own rapid self-destruction.

Where was this so-called freedom in Christ?

I felt trapped—trapped in my thoughts and emotional pain, trapped in a cycle of living that had me questioning my sanity. Too many times I had confessed out loud, “I feel like I’m going crazy!”, and I was starting to believe it was true. I’m not sure if it was the postpartum hormones for the third time around or all the neglected pain that had accumulated over the course of my lifetime up until that moment. Needless to say, I was in turmoil, and something had to give.

I felt like a donkey led by a carrot on a stick, chasing an ever-elusive freedom always dangling in front of me, just out of reach. I had read about this freedom in the Bible countless times and had heard many sermons about it, but it seemed as though I was the donkey destined never to actually reach it. Maybe it was for everyone else but me. Countless moments of failure woven into my days solidified a fear in me that I might just need to live out my Christian life faking it, always putting on a show for everyone around me. After all, I had become good at it. I could keep hiding behind my sense of humor, believing this was as good as the Christian life gets. But the trouble was, I knew that wasn’t true. If the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead was alive and at work in me (Rom. 8:11), then surely that power was enough to pull me out of this pit.

I grew angrier by the moment trapped in my pain, yet somehow, something innate in me still believed in the greatness and goodness of my God and His ability to set me free. I knew that two choices lay before me: to completely surrender my mind, will, heart and emotions to an unseen God, or to succumb to the darkness I felt creeping in all around me. 

This book is my journey out of hell and into the arms of healing love - from faker to freedom fighter. And I want to share it with you...

Truth be told, I wouldn't have spent a couple of years of my life writing this book if I didn't genuinely believe that it would help set you and those you love free. It's a tool for this journey we call life, one that I wish someone would have handed to me in the dark night of my soul. When we're free on the inside, we can then carry this freedom to the world. This book is me giving the life and freedom I've found in the Father's loving embrace, to a world who desperately needs His love and freedom. Would you join me on this journey?

Freedom is possible for all of us... 

My NEW book She Is Free is now available for pre-order. Plus you will receive amazing FREE bonuses if you pre-order by October 3!

  

The Cost of a Critical Spirit

I shocked myself. The negative words sputtering out of my mouth, declaring the worst over my circumstances and identity were detrimental to my mental, emotional and physical health. I found myself saying things that I rarely say, things like, "I hate that I'm like this." "I don't like myself." "I hate that I feel everything." "I hate that I want to quit and feel so depressed lately." "I'm an awful leader, incapable of inspiration or strategy." "Why do I even try?" "I wrote a book about freedom, but feel like a phony - how can I be in such a dark place of discouragement and be free, much less tell others how to be free?" 

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Celebrating 15 years of marriage...

 

Thank goodness I said them in front of my husband, who reversed the curse of my words and declared the truth over me. I sobbed in his arms. These were the early hours of our 15th anniversary on Australian soil. 

Soon after my cathartic sob session in his arms, I got a text from a dear friend who was praying in the States for me. She said, "As I prayed this afternoon, this is what I sensed. Please feel free to disregard anything if you don't feel it's right so, the word 'witchcraft' came to me and I felt like there were some things that needed to be broken off. Witchcraft can mean anything as simple as a curse or negative declaration spoken over somebody or something. I had this sense that things have been said, or even people have agreed in their hearts with statements that are not true and you have been feeling the impact. I believe it is a critical spirit. I feel like it's trying to strangle any growth from happening"

She was right on. Cue more tears. Criticism. I had partnered with lies aimed at myself and our church. I had begun to criticize myself, speaking lies over my life and the endeavors I've been entrusted to steward. As I came out of my emotional fog, I realized I was deeply critical of myself and ready to surrender to the darkness. The cost of a critical spirit is great. It poisons the hearts of those who dish it out, and does the same for those who ingest it as truth. 

Destructive criticism is far different than constructive feedback.

One tears down from the sidelines, while the other invests and builds with a sense of ownership, partnership and relational reciprocity. We all know the "feedback" we've either been given or dished out that hasn't been with the intent to build anything. The ultimate cost of this is destruction and it takes its toll on the heart of the giver and of the receiver. 

I think of the times I've hurt my husband and children while operating in a critical spirit with words that lacked encouragement or eternal life. I think of the times I've been so high, mighty and "right", assuming others motives while judging those with a critical spirit in church leadership or just others in general who do life differently than I would.

I have brought division. Death.

I have been a part of the problem. I don't win, and it doesn't build anyone or anything. Repentance and humility are the cure and according to the Apostle Paul, living a cheerful life, without complaining or division among ourselves is key -  but that's easier said than done. 

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:14-16 TPT,

"Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe, offering them words of eternal life."

I desire to be a shining light in the world we live in today. But I have to choose to live from the abundance that is already within me, given as the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have to choose to break agreement with the ways of culture and instead transform culture with words that drip with Kingdom life and love.

My friend continued with a prayer in her text message that literally delivered me as I sat on the stairs up to our bedroom of our Airbnb in Sydney. Maybe you too need to be set free from the criticism of others? Like I did, maybe you need to repent of a critical spirit? May this prayer transform you and set you free.

"In the name of Jesus, I command the critical spirit to flee. You have no right to reside here and you must go now! Father, I thank you that your blood has already paid the price and taken care of our freedom, our LIBERTY. We are free. Andi [insert your name here!] is free. God, as all that is not of you gets chased out of the door, I invite your Presence to invade in a deeper, more tangible way that surprises and explodes like only you can. I pray for a turnaround in circumstances, hearts and spiritual climate. Fear, anxiety and negativity would be no more but JOY would be activated and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Thank you God for all that you are doing, seen and unseen. We are ready and waiting for you to blow our socks off!"

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. - Proverbs 18:21 ESV