Mother

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

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!

  

I Used To Think I Was Stupid...

I just wrote a book, people! No ghost writer, no transcribing of sermons... I - WROTE - A - BOOK. All by myself. This girl who used to think she was stupid and inept with nothing to say. This girl who unfairly compared herself to her salutatorian sister and valedictorian brother. This girl who was born and raised in Spokane, Washington on the wrong side of the tracks, in a blue collar, working class family who went through seasons of life living on food stamps... I - WROTE - A - BOOK. This girl who got asked if she wanted to sign the "dumb rock" in high school, who was then petrified (no pun intended) to ask any further questions in case I looked like a fool... I WROTE A FREAKING BOOK! Take that, "dumb rock!"

Now before this becomes a prideful rant, let me take the "I" out of the equation and replace it with "we"...

This girl who has been abused, cornered, terrified, controlled, broken, ashamed, fearful, confronted, lied to, betrayed, cast aside, over-looked and unqualified... by the literal grace of God, with His love, tender nudge and whisper, truth and direction, through obedience, a multitude of tears while on my knees and a million and one little "yeses" - I wrote a book, no WE (Holy Spirit and I) wrote a book together.

Yesterday, I received the final proof to go through one last time for any final edits before it goes off to be printed. It's surreal. I keep looking at it as it sits here next to me on the couch with the morning sun shining down on it, like a new born baby fresh out of the womb. I keep thinking, "I actually did that. This college drop-out did that."

1 Corinthians 1:27 says, He uses the foolish things to confound the wise, and this fool, who may not be wise by human standards, or of noble birth, partnered with God and wrote something that I believe will bring His freedom and life to many. 

Truth be told, I'm a little tired, okay - a LOT tired - because my husband, 4 kids and the church that I'm leading didn't press pause while I sat and wrote my heart out. But in this bleary, puffy-eyed, tired state is an overjoyed momma (albeit in need of a caffeine drip).  

A momma who no longer believes she is stupid.

I'm overjoyed at what the time, tears, energy, early mornings, late nights, writing trips, encouragement from friends and family has produced - a little piece of the inheritance that I'm leaving to my children's children sits on the couch next to me in the morning sun and I feel the glorious weight of it all. I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of our God to love us and partner with us, in spite of us. It's profound. He sees us, the fullness of who He created us to be right in the middle of our mess, our brokenness, insecurity, lack of qualification, and takes us by the hand (if we'll let Him) and leads us down roads of destiny. 

This book, She is Free, is a little piece of my journey from brokenness to wholeness, and at its core is Jesus. The One who rescues me, loves me deeply in all of my flaws, has delivered me multiple times, held me when I hurt more than I knew was humanly possible and simply never gives up on me - ever.

"26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV

So, in the first week of October when my book is released, I hope you'll invest in (or gift) a piece of freedom that will cause you to search your heart and go on a journey of discovery with the One who will never leave you or let you go.

Love, Andi

P.S. Here is a direct link to pre-order my book at Barnes and Noble!!! 

 

 

Doers or Deceived?

I am often slow to post anything on social media in politically and emotionally heightened times - not because I don't care, but because I am accountable to God for every word that flows out of my mouth. With every finger I point in assumption or judgment of others motives and actions, I personally feel the weight. Whatever scripture I post, call to action or quotable quote I grab from someone else, I live in such a way knowing that I am personally responsible to go and do something with what I have said or written. I am also keenly aware that I answer to God at the end of my life here on earth for every heart motive, idle or active word (Matt 12:35-37 NKJV) and deed I do or don't do. Heavy, but true nonetheless. 

A few months ago, my husband was speaking to our church and read out James 1:22, followed by a throw away comment that has stuck with me:

James 1:22 NKJ
“22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
“Hearing but not doing is a form of deception” - Paul Andrew

These last few weeks I have "heard" a lot of opinions. Heck, I've even had a few of my own but have chosen to keep them to myself.  It can be crippling to take in so much information, yet feel like there isn't a clear path to help those in need, or so it seems - because let's be honest, we only need lift up our eyes from our phones to meet a need. I want to step away from the anonymity of my computer or iPhone screen and get my hands dirty. I want to look people in the eyes and place value on them. 

I want to be educated, equipped and then activated to go and do something.

While we don't yet see certain injustices reconciled here on earth or perhaps we do see first hand how an executive order affects our loved ones and it feels like confusion and pain seem to reign, I'd like to put out there that we as followers of Jesus can all SIMPLY be about the Father's business in our day to day lives (Luke 2:49, Matt 12:46-50, John 4:34-38). I'm sure we could all use some "simple" in our live right now. We will always live in the tension of the "NOW but NOT YET" where life is unfolding before our eyes as we simultaneously hope and work towards a better future. The times we live in are a wake up call to the global Church to lift up our eyes and really see people and then do something about the pain unfolding before us. Let us all be deeply loved by God and in turn give Him all of our love and adoration. Let us then love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt 22:34-40), reconcile hearts to the Father (2 Cor 5:16-21) and actively make disciples (Matt 28:16-20). 

Opportunities to be about our Fathers business are unfolding right in front of our eyes every single day. It's in the breakthrough conversation with that cafe owner after years of patronage where they begin to seek the heart of the Father and ask us to lead them there. Or the moments where our kids ask the big questions about eternity where we get the honor of discipling them and telling them about the goodness of the Gospel. It's in the moments where we take someone out to coffee whose world we don't understand and never could unless we walk a mile in their shoes. It's the moments where we step out (even if we're scared) and pray for someones healing. It's in showing up at your local community center and sitting with that young, marginalized, world changer while believing in them and showing them that there is a way to step into their dreams. It's choosing to be generous with encouragement and compliments instead of keeping them to ourselves because kindness is good for the soul. It's leading that neighbor of yours on their deathbed to Jesus because hell was never created for God's children to spend eternity. It's finding out how you can see systemic injustices reconciled and bridges built by serving in or volunteering in programs that your local church or community centers have to offer. It's in putting your hand up to tutor that underprivileged genius that may never get the opportunities that others will because of their upbringing or the color of their skin - but your simple act of kindness could break through a barrier. It's giving your finance to causes in places where your feet may never be able to tread. It's in each of us us putting our money, hands and feet where our mouth is. 

What will cost us? Is it just our words or will we let it cost us our time too? We are all accountable.

Ben Smithee, one of our Liberty Church Union Square Team members posted the below picture and quote this week:

"Regardless of political beliefs, religious belief, or roast beef, let's just freaking love each other and the world would immediately be a much better environment. We expend so much energy in fighting, hating, and spewing vitriol that we forget the Great Commandment. @andiandrew 's message this past week really drove it home. I mean, what if we all just did one loving act for another person this week. One simple act of love, rather than take the ease of contention. Call it a dream, but I believe we were meant for more and that God's words were not just a set of optional guidelines for life. Live like you mean it, love each other, help those less fortunate, and for gosh sakes - wash your freaking hands!" - Ben Smithee (@smitheeeeee on Instagram)

What I love about Ben, (and he doesn't know I'm saying this until he reads it) is that he is a part of the Big Brothers and Sisters program and has been for years, he serves at Church every week, runs his own business and does amazing charity work without any fanfare. He lives this stuff week in, week out and every single one of us can make a difference with the "neighbors" that are in our world. 

I feel the weight of these times as a leader in the Church and it's enough to take me out some days... My hope is that we'd be equipped, educated AND activated in our faith. May we keep it simple with our eyes fixed on the ONE. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry (James 1:19). May we choose to take a breath, seek wisdom and respond instead of react. 

Rise up oh Bride! Humble yourselves and unite under the name of Jesus Christ! Wake up you sleeper and put your hand to the plow! Step away from your computers, phones and all forms of distraction and GO! Be about Your Fathers business...

 

 

The Power of Empathy

em·pa·thy [ˈempəTHē]

NOUN

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

As a pastor, mother, wife, leader, friend and human being living in the world today, I don't always get it right. To be honest, I don't always know what to say in the social, economic and political climate we live in at this time. One can feel frozen, crippled and unable to speak. Questions race through my mind like; Who or what do I speak up for? What do I post on social media that we should pray for today? What do I say? What do I do? Who will I offend? Who will get angry with me and call me disgusting names that I'll have to then block from my social media? All of these questions and more can keep me from doing anything as a Christian and simply as a citizen of the human race.

There are so many hard topics to breach from the massive refugee crisis, #BlackLivesMatter, bombings in different nations, death in the middle east every day, shootings, human trafficking, the upcoming U.S. election - fill in the blank. I'm sure if you could jump in here and write this, you would have a list of things in your heart to fill up this page with. 

Here's the deal, 

Sometimes all I can do is EMPATHIZE.

Every human life matters to the heart of God. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

Therefore, as a human, regardless of the color of my skin, ethnicity, background or socio-economic standing, we have this God-given ability to TRY and UNDERSTAND and SHARE the FEELINGS of another. 

We all want to be heard, understood, and loved. Understanding doesn't always mean agreement or even that I'll know what to do next - that's not what this is about. Empathy is part of the heart of God.

Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21 NIV

I want to rejoice with those who rejoice, I want to weep with those who weep. I want to empathize with others because it is our God-given ability to do so.

May we all keep being led by the Holy Spirit into ALL TRUTH. May we live our lives wrapped in LOVE that is the very being of God and then serve each other with that love. May FREEDOM and UNITY be at our core and a catalyst for true change. May we SEE, and I mean really SEE one another as we appreciate the beautiful creation that every single one of us are.

 

 

Give Yourself a Time Out

I had an explosive moment with my kids. I wish I could say it was the first time but that would be a lie. I adore my kids; it’s just that sometimes they’re like the flock of seagulls on Finding Nemo saying “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” and I’m Dory being pulled apart on the docks in the Marina. This particular episode of being pecked at caused me to shake with anger and walk away from the situation so that I wouldn’t unleash my wrath. I asked the kids to give me 5 minutes to be alone with Jesus and they obliged.

I needed a time out.

As I lay there on my bed shaking, hand on my heart, eyes closed with tears spilling down onto my quilt, I said out lout to myself, “What’s going on? What am I feeling?”. Sobs welled up and began to pour out of the deep sadness I felt coming from my heart. I began to say out loud, “I’m sad. I’m sad. I so so sad Father…” As I said those simple words over and over again, giving room, breadth and understanding to my deep emotions, I was able to pinpoint where the surface emotion of anger was coming from. Immediately, peace began to flood my being. I allowed the Father to scoop me up into His arms and hold me in my sadness. He didn’t tell me to stop feeling that way, He didn’t curse me for being angry with my children, He just loved me where I was, and His love was healing.  

Just 5 minutes later (yes, only 5 minutes), I walked out of my room and gathered my kids around me. We sat on the floor together and I apologized for allowing the sadness in my heart to come out as anger towards them. I explained that sometimes Mommy’s heart is sad or hurt and anger or frustration can come out as I try to protect my heart instead of letting the Healer help me. I explained that it’s not theirs to carry, but sometimes mommy needs 5 minutes so that Jesus can come, be with me and heal my heart. I asked for forgiveness and each of them in their different ways gave love and forgiveness. Finley had tears in her eyes and couldn’t stop hugging me saying she forgave me. Zeke was gently stroking my arm and smiling with his beautiful gift of mercy. Jesse asked “Who did this to you?” because his justice heart wanted to go and take care of business. Of course I didn’t tell him, but smiled at his zeal and passion. Then Sammy gave me his stuffed animal and told me, “You were angry… Daddy is really nice” and we all lost it belly laughing. All was well and I brought them onto the healing journey, which was in turn healing for them.

I use this as an illustration to say, at any moment of the day, in any season you can step away for a moment, give yourself a “time out” and connect to the Fathers heart.  Maybe your sitting at your cubicle and your co-workers think you’re deep into a project, but really your taking a moment to connect with God while staring at your computer screen. Maybe your baby won’t stop screaming and you feel like punching a wall. Check on that beautiful baby, make sure they’re alright, and then give yourself a few minutes with headphones on and worship on to connect with Jesus. Let the Fathers love into your anger, frustration, failure, rage, sadness... Let peace flow like a river and then go scoop up that baby and give them the love you’ve just received.  

In a recent coaching session with good friend and revelatory bomb dropper, Lucas Gifford (married to the amazing Christa Black-Gifford) who’s mission is to see others lead a heart-based life, I realized that the source of some of my unhealed pain and even physical sickness was the result of unreleased and consequently compounded emotions. I was born a deep feeler, but for years rejected a huge part of my identity and believed the lie that “feelings lie, so don’t trust your feelings.” If that’s true, then God made a mistake when he made you and I because God feels deeply and we are made in His image. Our feelings are indicators that tell us something about our heart and they are extremely important in our journey of healing. If we don’t give ourselves space to feel or give understanding to our emotions and pain, then we will shove them down, put them in a box causing them to compound while protecting that box of pain with our weapon of choice. We’ll then begin to operate in things like un-forgiveness, fear, anger, shame, control, and rejection, which are indicators that the heart is in need of attention and ultimately healing.

In the place of intentional connection, we receive healing, love and truth. Lies are abolished in the arms of the Father. The secret place of freedom, breakthrough and revelation is in connection to the Father’s heart, and His intentions for you are pure and only good. 

Go and give yourself a time out. 

 

Inadequacy, Anxiety & Fear - Getting Honest

The first day of the New Year didn't start out the way I had hoped. On the other hand, New Years Eve was awesome: surrounded by my kiddos, good friends, no make-up, comfy clothes and watching the Disney Channel. But the first half of the first day of 2016, no bueno. Inadequate, anxious, and fearful... Those are the words and overwhelming feelings that marked January 1, 2016 for me. Not the sort of resolutions, nor words, one writes down to "walk in" for the year. Let's just say those thoughts, feelings and emotions were not in the plan for 2016, yet there they were, physically part of my being on day one.

I had just posted "Positioned for 2016" on New Years Eve and was writing my latest post "What are you waiting for?" when on the first day out of the gates of 2016, it all got tested.

Let's talk about inadequacy for a moment. It's often how I can feel when embarking on something new and it's simply an indicator of what's going on in my heart. Whenever I feel totally out of my depth, and unable to achieve, perform, or do what I am "supposed to do"(all yuck), I know I've stepped out of connection with God, and have started walked into striving and fear. He never asked us to perform for Him to prove our love, yet sometimes we act like He has.

On the way back from ringing in the new year at our friends' house in the Hampton's, I started having heart palpitations that literally took my breath away. What's annoying is that I've been having them for the last couple of months. (Don't worry, I'll get them checked out) Fear began to creep in because of the palpitations, paired with deep feelings of inadequacy for the year ahead. With several speaking engagements booked for the year, the pressure (I put on myself) to write my first book, the pressure I feel (and put on myself) to love and lead my children "better" (performance is a killer) than I already am, the pressure I feel (and put on myself) to build an even better marriage, as well as the pressure (once again, that I put on myself) to pastor a growing church with love, excellence and strength was stacking onto my shoulders in the form of completely overwhelming and unrealistic expectations. The pressure was causing me to crumble and my physical body was manifesting what was going on in my spirit.

With each heart palpitation, I literally started to picture myself dying (I know sooooo dramatic!). I started to picture the heart palpitations as heart disease and that I was going to have a heart attack and die young, maybe even in 2016. I started to picture my children orphaned and wondering who Paul would marry when I was gone. Whoa! How quickly we can go down scary, dangerous and negative roads... Or is it just me?

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Paul asked me what was wrong on the drive home just as the sun began to set. I poured out my deepest fear as he grabbed my hand and held it tightly. We put on worship and as one of my sons began to sing out beautifully behind us in the back seat, we both started to cry.

The truth is, for the last 6 months or so, I had started to feel my heart disconnect from feeling anything, which is really strange for me. I am a feeler to a hilt and always have been since I can remember. I actually used to think it was a weakness, but then I realized God thinks I'm pretty awesome and He made me this way. I feel everything to the depths of my being. I feel a room when I walk into it. I feel the mood and temperament of people when I encounter them. I feel joy and I feel pain in my depths. So when my feelings begin to shut down and numbness sets in, I know something’s wrong. I felt myself going into self preservation mode and not wanting to trust anyone anymore. I even unconsciously shut God out and surrounded my heart with my worries and inadequacies as a makeshift vault.

Later that evening after we got home, we dropped off our kiddos to be with our amazing life assistant/Mary Poppins (seriously, she is like Mary Poppins) for the evening. My husband Paul and I left for Manhattan to go out to dinner with two “heart of our heart” friends, Christa and Lucas Gifford. They had both come into the city at the outset of the year to invest into our worship team and then Christa kicked off the first Sunday of 2016 speaking across our Church Communities.

As we hung out, and made up for lost time, somehow our conversation led to a moment where I began to pour out my palpitating heart. I talked about my huge feelings of inadequacy for the year ahead. Luke and Christa were both squarely looking me in the eyes, and telling me that “I was enough” that “Jesus paid the price for me, and that I was worth the price.” They said this and a billion other things I'm still pondering in my heart. Things that have ruined "my plans" for the year (in a really good way).

The love in their eyes for me, without agenda was like looking into the eyes of Jesus. My husband squeezed my hand (lots of hand squeezing that day) and nodded with a big smile on his face in agreement and adoration for me right where I was. The love from these three people was almost too much to take, but I liked it and I received it. That "moment of honesty", even in the depths of my inadequacy is what caused a moment of truth and connection to happen. A moment of truth that I'm still marinating in.

Before 2015 had ended, I asked God what the word for our Church was for 2016. Instead I got two words, LOVE and CONNECTION (more on this in an upcoming article). You see, when we are all SEEN and KNOWN, and deeply LOVED even after we're fully seen and known - warts and all (which can be scary), then we have true CONNECTION. And God is all about connection, it's why Jesus came! To invade our hearts with His love and in turn connect us back to the heart of the Father.

Brunch with the Giffords
Brunch with the Giffords

So this weekend when Luke and Christa came and dropped love bomb after love bomb through countless meals and conversations, not to mention the investment and encounter they gave to our worship team Saturday night, and personally sitting on the front row hearing the same message three times over this last Sunday while getting totally wrecked each time, let's just say something started stirring in me. My heart is slowly thawing out. The numbness is leaving and I'm feeling like myself again. There is still work to be done, and you better believe I will do it because I'm so worth it, and so are you for that matter. You and I are worth His blood.

As a church we entered 21 days of fasting and prayer on Monday January 4th. On the first night of the fast, I laid my kiddos down and started an internal dialogue with God. I was pottering around the house getting insignificant things done, almost to avoid slowing down and processing more of what was going on inside of me.

I felt God ask me, "What are you afraid of?"

I really thought about it... "Am I afraid of what I'll find in my heart? No... I'm actually afraid I won't be able to find anything or even figure out what's going on and then I'll be stuck here in numbness. I'm afraid that this "feeler" has been disconnected too long. Yeah, that's it."

So what did I do?

I slowed down on purpose, stopped cleaning the house as a petty distraction, sat in the presence of God and listened to what He had to say to me. Not surprisingly, He had good things to say to me because He's a good father like that. Then, I sat down and wrote this blog to process a bit further. I needed to be honest with myself and I truly hope my honesty has somehow empowered you to be honest with yourself. Then I trusted a few people God has placed around me to talk things through in more detail than I would share publicly on a blog. We all need a few true friends who love you where you are, but won't leave you where you are. Lastly, I have put a couple things in action to continue on the road of sanctification and wholeness, because it's a life long journey. God wants your whole heart always, so continue to do what it takes through every season for Him to have all of it's real estate.

Remember, Responsibility is your ability to respond...

So how will you take responsibility for your heart and life this year? We've got to stop waiting for others to do it for us and respond to God love and goodness that is always available to us.

So stop for a moment and ask yourself a couple of questions. 

When you start to feel yourself disconnecting, slow yourself down long enough to ask why. Where are you self protecting and self preserving? Why are you isolating yourself? What pain has crept in that you have tried to shut off so you don't have to feel it? What lie are you possibly believing? Are you even aware that you're connected or disconnected?

Stop, ponder, journal, listen... What do you hear?

I just know God so deeply desires for us to receive His love to the depths of our being, and out of us being loved right where we are, by the lover of our souls, we can once again find ourselves connected back to Him and His heart. He has never left us. We may have drifted, grown dull or numb of heart, but it's okay. He's got you and He is the greatest heart physician there is, so consider putting your heart back into His hands.

Now to get practical:

Christa speaking at our Downtown Community
Christa speaking at our Downtown Community

After you get honest with yourself about where you're at just like I had to on the first day of the year, why don't you consider having a listen to the podcast from this past weekend by Christa Black-Giffordhere - "Love Yourself"  - based out of  Matthew 22:38-39. Listen as many times as you need to, so you can marinate in it.

Think about pre-ordering Christa's book - "Heart Made Whole" (P.S. She doesn't even know I'm writing this article and has not asked me to do this. She's a friend and I believe in her and what's on her life). Invest in the healing of pain you may find in your heart to "turn it into one of your greatest strengths."

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

Loved people love people and make the love of God known...

I just know it's going to be a great year even though I wasn't so sure it would be on January 1st. My hope is that you will be able to say the same. Oh how our God loves to turn things around in a moment if we'll just go on the journey with Him and get honest with ourselves.

xoxo

Andi

Behind The Curated Instagram Feed - Real Life

So it's a big life, and sometimes the highlight reel on my Instagram feed can make it all look glamorous or just plain easy. It's not. It's big, it's messy, it's an adventure, and it's beautiful. Our family lives a calculated and intentional life, yet at the same time we're all full of flexibility for those moments/seasons where just about anything can happen. With every new turn of the corner, we stretch, change, and move things around according to the needs of our kids, marriage, family, church and so on. I decided to write this article after I hung out with my good friend (Chris Jury - love you girl!) in Australia after preaching at SWB with Leigh Ramsey the pastor of Citipointe as well as with Sean and Lynda Stanton down in Canberra. I also got to visit to my brother and his family in Sydney which was so much fun. Chris and I got talking (at the playground with our kids nearly necking themselves several times) about how looking from the outside in, it can sometimes seem like its a super easy, cushy life to live. None of our lives are, but I thought I'd take you behind the scenes of my day to day to show you a bit how we do it as a family. If I didn't cover something you're still curious about, comment and I'll see what I can do to answer your questions.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Whatever I put on here just remember, life is seasonal for all of us so there is absolutely no way we can really  "do it all" at the same time and stay sane. Don't buy into that lie, because when you do, you set yourself up for failure. Begin to look at all the wonderful things you are doing now and place value on it! Those gorgeous children, that job that is building character in you, the friends that you keep running alongside that can feel like a drain at times, that marriage that needs some work... Seasons come and go and after a beautifully lived life you'll be able to look back over the years and say, "Hey, I did it all!" because you didn't give up!

How I do it "all" - demystified:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Things we don't Instagram:- As I kick this off, let's be honest - there is so much we don't Instagram or post on social media. As I was talking to one of our Brooklyn Pastors, Kristen Tarsiuk, we laughed about all the things we NEVER post... Like that unibrow, our kids having a tantrum - in public, arguments with our husband, that church service that failed and no one showed up to, that meal we burnt, the ring around our bathtub (that we still bathe our kids in without wiping it down). Usually we post our perfect cake, our children painting a picture just like Picasso, or a bikini shot with our kids in the frame making sure everyone knows that we lost that baby weight. Yeah, you probably lost a few followers that day - did I just write that? Yes, yes I did. I've personally never posted a bikini shot (nobody needs to see that - I personally don't want people picturing me in a bikini as I preach) and my stomach has been stretched to kingdom come - 4 times (like I said, nobody needs to see that) - but each to their own. But I'm sure I've posted other things that have made people want to throw their phone and say "Oh yay! Good for you!" laden with heavy sarcasm, and for those days - I'm sorry.

(Clears throat) So moving on... How I do it all behind the curated Instagram feed:

Values: You've got to live from your value system, or life will choose for you. Make sure you know what they are and that they're in order, or you will sacrifice and pay the price for the wrong things. Usually unintentionally but nonetheless it will leave you frustrated and lacking grace for your season.

Paul and I often say "Our first ministry is to our family" and it comes out of our value system. There have been times when our lives didn't line up with that value (ouch!) and we took the rebuke from heaven and made changes. My husband and I don't want to build our "ministry" while we sacrifice our children in the process. They are our ministry! If their lives fall apart because of our choices, then we have to answer for that. I realize that they have a free will, and we don't control that will, but we will do our best to "raise them up in the way they should go so they don't depart from it" in every season of life. By the way, the word ministry means "to meet a need" - and as their parents, our children's primary needs are to be met by us.

So here's a shout out to all the stay at home moms and dads that don't feel appreciated! THANK YOU for raising kids that will change the world. You are my heros!

Now look, that's just one of our families values out of many that I've used as an illustration, and your values may not be my values, but get before God and put them in order. This will help you count the cost with every season and cause you to pay the right price. None of our lives will look the same, but we have to be true to each of our individual callings and purpose. We answer to our Father at the end of our lives for how we have cultivated what He's given us. Then, when the pressure comes to cave or compromise, we can't because we know we're building for the long haul with our values in mind and a knowing that opportunity will always come knocking.

Not every opportunity is your God opportunity.

My mom and dad: So after all that, lets just start with the fact that my mom and dad live upstairs in the same brownstone as we do, albeit a different apartment - we do life together. My parents truly are wonderful GRANDparents to my children and they feel called to come alongside Paul and I as we build the church together. They are also on staff overseeing our pastoral care, but if Paul and I ever should travel at the same time, it's my mom and dad that are home with my babies. They raise them just as we raise them and my children adore Nonni and Poppy. Whenever we do go away together and they ask, "who is staying with us" (as if they answer ever changes) and we tell them, "It's Nonni and Poppy!" They cheer and scream and get so pumped - every time.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

I understand that this is not a reality for everyone, and that we have extremely blessed circumstances,  but this wasn't always the case. I lived in Australia for 10 years without my mom and dad and was a stay at home mom for a season with my 3 children under the age of 3. It hasn't always been like this and to be honest I wouldn't travel, work, nor build the church at the capacity that I do without them. So in this season, this is really working, and with the next season that God brings we will re-evaluate once again.

Life Assistant: Our life assistant is another me at home! I have multiplied my capacity by training a wonderful woman to help run our household just like I would if I was home 24/7. It's a sacrifice for us financially and for me as a woman and mom emotionally, but with the right person (which we SO have) it brings peace and efficiency to the household.

After a long day's work I come home to the laundry done, beds fixed, a tidy house, bathed kids and a cooked meal so I can sit around the table and focus on what matters most - my kids and my husband. We talk, laugh and have family dinner which is what I love and crave in life. I am so grateful for our life assistant who has truly transformed (and organized) our lives at home.

Executive Assistant: Paul and I have an awesome woman who organizes our work life and calendar and I don't know how we'd do it without her! She helps lift the burden of admin (and a million other things) so I can focus on people, study, message prep and writing. She is amazing!

Home Days and Work Days: I only work in the office Tuesday-Thursday so I can be home with my kids Monday and Friday. I want to stay in touch with the dirty dishes, laundry, organizing, school drop offs and picks ups, general kid chaos and all things home.

Sam sleeping on our billionth plane
Sam sleeping on our billionth plane

Frequent Flyer points: Please don't get the idea that we have millions in some offshore account so we can do all this traveling - we have a lot frequent flyer points. Travel is one of our values and I realize it may not be on of yours. Because it is a value of ours, we find creative ways to do it and make it work and we save money to travel.  We love making memories together and bonding with each other as a family and travel is one way we do that.

Calendar Planning: Not sexy, but 100% necessary. My husband and I often sit down to plan the calendar with our values in mind.

Since our kids are our first priority, we plan the calendar around school season, school breaks, times when we know their emotions may run high or they may need us more for various different reasons, times where they'll need their momma more then their dad, or times when dad is great to hold the fort down while momma is away.

We also plan in time away without the kids. Paul and I want to fall more and more in love as each year passes and we need time together to do that. If the kids feel sad about us leaving, we simply ask them this question, "Do you want mommy and daddy to fall more in love?" Hello! The answer is always yes and then they are excited to see us leave. We want to pass on the desire for a healthy loving marriage to our kids and prioritizing each other does that for them.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We do life with our kids: This isn't always easy, but we like to take them with us on the journey no matter the cost (emotionally, physically, spiritually... you get it.) Sometimes they fall asleep on the floor at the thai food resturant after you've preached your heart out because you don't want them to go back to the hotel without you so you can have one more cuddle. It's worth it - totally not convenient and I love it all.

Endless packing and unpacking: A side effect of travel that I DO NOT love. No one can pack for me or my kids because it's all up in my head. You know that inventory list that no one else can access or do right even if you write it down? Yeah that one. And I admit, it's a little bit control freakish of me, but it's a huge part of travel that is so not glamorous! Gaaaaah!

Battles:Fear is real and so is LOVE. But that battles you face when you say YES to God in any way shape or form are no joke. Be ready and know your stance - you win. We fight from a place of victory, not  defeat. So keep your armor on and get your fight on.

Keep your heart pure: Entitlement will kill you. At times, our generation can be a "give it to me because God showed me a vision, I'm gifted to the hilt, and now is my time because I said so" generation. When we act like that, we're lacking the gratitude and humility it takes to SERVE and LOVE every generation alive on earth today which is why we're here. We are here for others - period. The first and foremost "others" I am here for are my husband and my children, and if that's out of whack, then it all falls apart. This goes back to the values piece. If you're goal in life is travel the world and preach, then you've missed it. Serve God, whatever that looks like in your season and do it with joy. That is the prize.

We serve at His pleasure... Not our own.

Wherever you are now, do your journey well. Fight the good fights that are right there in front of you. Moms! Raise those babies and be the greatest momma this earth has seen - even though no one may ever say thank you. We're raising them to be demon torturing, Kingdom releasing, Love overflowing, model citizens of this earth to transform it for Jesus - THEY ARE YOUR CALLING.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Count the cost: Giving everything for God will cost you no matter your sphere of influence, so don't be surprised when there is a price tag to the life you are called to live. The truth is, you still have a free will to count the cost and decide if you will pay it or not.

When you go to a store and buy a new shirt, before you purchase it, usually you would have looked at the cost, the style of the shirt and weighed up whether you're willing to pay for it or not. Once you do pay it, there are generally two responses - joy at having the new shirt, or buyers remorse because you didn't count the cost appropriately according to what you had in the bank to pay.

When it comes to the call of God it's the same. There is a price and a cost to stepping into new levels. There is also a cost to remaining in the same place. But we have to constantly be counting the cost and checking our hearts. Once you have counted it, weighed it, and prayed about it - make your decision and move forward without looking back and don't complain about how much it cost you! In every season of life, continue to ask God for the plan to execute the assignment He's given you - stay close to Him. He will slather your life with grace to live in what He has called you to.

"Don't trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost." Proverbs 20:25 NLT

Keep getting punched in the face:Continual first hand revelation is necessary to overflow in this race we are all called to thrive in. Second hand revelation comes from others revelation (i.e. podcasts, messages, books, etc.) and is powerful, but there is nothing like being in the presence of God and letting Him hit you with the truth in love. It keeps you humble, on your face and in the right place for God to literally take the stage of your life because you're not interested in being on it! I serve at His pleasure therefore I need to know Him and what He wants for and from me.

Have your 3 or 4:I need prayer warriors in my life that have my back, my front, and my sides... And I've got theirs! I have 3 or 4 women in my life that I can call upon to pray in every season and I do the same for them. On occasion, I will call these women together and we get on our faces and pray... We are at war and every single one of our assignments matters - your assignment on earth matters, so take yourself seriously.

At the end of our lives we will stand before God and He will ask us what we've done with what we've been given. I don't have another shot at this life and I'm not wasting any time. 

Well, that's all for now... I hope you feel encouraged, empowered and helped in some way shape or form. Now go and run your race and do it with everything you have!

Warning: This picture does not represent real life.

Warning: This picture does not represent real life.

Although, how nice would it be to get your hair and make up done every day?!?!

These pictures however, do.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Chubby baby and ugly selfie faces. Life is too short for beautiful selfies.

andiandrew.co
andiandrew.co

Wrestling at bed time that starts with laughter and often ends in tears. You know what I mean.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Airplane pics with no make up, a sweaty beautiful jet lagged baby and new wrinkles around my mouth.

Over the years, I've had so many people ask me; "How do you do it all?" That whole four kids thing, healthy marriage, growing and flourishing church, leading in life, juggling like a freaking clown. Yeah that whole thing.

Well, the simple answer is... I don't.

I've been called "supermom" often, but really, I'm just a smart mom. I don't actually wear knee high red boots, have a lasso on my hip, and wear the super hero outfit everyday under my cloths. Although that would be fun.

I used to buy into the lie that that you can do it all (in the same season at the same time)! And with that statement came extreme pressure that I put on myself. I lived under that pressure for so long until I got shingles (for the second time) after my 4th child was born and I realized something had to give. And if you're not aware, shingles come out when you are stressed to the max. Boo! My stress manifested itself in my body, and I needed to pay attention. Paul and I had a big talk and made some major shifts in our lives and continue to do so as needed.

So I'm going to tell you the truth about how I (we) do what we do, because I don't do it by myself. There is an army that has gathered, and from the outside sometimes it looks like "I can do it all!!!" But I'm not alone.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

A releasing husband 

I married the right guy. Biggest and BEST decision I made. He doesn't see me as infieror, but as a partner in crime, eh hem, I mean good. We are equal but very different and compliment each other well like a fine wine pairing. I married a man who loves to see the dreams God has put in my heart come true, as I do in his life. He is truly my best friend.

He also LOVES and ADORES our kids and doesn't see it as a secondary option to stay home with them if I am traveling and speaking somewhere. He is the head of our house, leads us, and covers us with strength and valor in every season. He is a man I will follow anywhere.

We love running together!

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Kids that are called

Don't think for a second that I would ever sacrifice my children on the alter of "my calling". They ARE my calling. God put these children in my womb, and they are called to our families redemptive purpose on the earth. It's a together thing. Our family has a collective calling, and Paul and I pay attention to ebb and flow that come with each season. Sometimes my kids need more of my time in a certain season, and I need to listen to what they're really saying. I need to listen to God when the season changes, and then make adjustment accordingly. It will change year by year, but if I am truly a woman, wife, mom, daughter, friend, and leader led by Holy Spirit... I will be obedient and make appropriate changes as they're needed.

Family

I know, I have it good. My parents literally live upstairs in the same apartment building as Paul and I live. And contrary to popular culture, my parents and Paul don't just get along, they love each other. We are a family unit that thrives living near one other. My kids run upstairs all the time and bust into Nonny and Poppy's house uninvited but always welcome. My parents give us the margin we need sometimes when the stretch is on. It's the way family was meant to function, and the way a healthy church family does too.

Another added bonus are Paul's extremely wonderful parents! They sacrificed it all in their 60's and moved from Australia to help us build the church... and they LOVE our kids as if they were there own. They have a place in Connecticut that provides a "nature retreat" from the city. Its so fun to go to Grandma and Grandpop's house!

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Vanessa aka "Sessa" aka "Consuelo" aka "Nessa"

This woman is without appropriate adjectives. She swept into our lives right after my bout of shingles and has changed our family forever. We call her a "life assistant" because to call her a nanny downgrades what she actually does alongside us. She is called to our family in this season and does it brilliantly. What does a life assistant do you ask? Laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, helping with the kids, planning activities, pick ups and drop offs when I can't be there... the list goes on. Hiring Vanessa was one of the most pivotal moves we made for our family and a huge reliever of undue stress.

A house cleaner

Only recently have we added this glorious bonus! Every two weeks or once a month, we get our house cleaned according to our budget. We make sacrifices in other areas, so that we can do a deep clean in the house and I can invest my energies in other more important things. A clean house really matters to me because it brings order to "my space" in a life that is constantly moving. The house clean releases me in particular, to not worry about things that would take up my time on saturdays or mondays when I just want to rest, relax and be with my family.

Friends

I have good friends.

My friends tell me the truth. My friends love me even when I am not perfect... And that is everyday people. My friends are iron that sharpen me. My friends believe in me and cheer me on in my race without comparison because that belief in them is reciprocated. We all allow each other to be who we are and it's a diverse group of friends. I couldn't do this life without them.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

An incredible Team and Church

I can't believe the people that God has put in our Church. I really can't. We wondered if we were smoking something when we planted this church because it was honestly just 9 of us around a Central Park bench when it all began and that included our kids!!! Now there are hundreds of people that call Libertyhome, a staff and team that are anointed leaders in their own right, and we've only just begun.

God...

No brainer. I am friends with, and my life is completely submitted to my maker and Father. I am deeply loved and in love, and out of that place, I live to please my God - the one who rescued me. Daily I choose to lean into Him... This is probably the greatest key to living in my lane.

 And we'll end on this picture... Just because it's awesome. I love my boys.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Your Worth

How many of us have struggled with our self worth? Since I can't get a show of hands, I'll answer for you; all of us. Last night our family had a movie night. We watched Frozen (I mean, how could you not? It was released on DVD yesterday!), sang our hearts out as if we were in the cast, all whilst eating ice cream and tons of popcorn. All of that was fun, but the moment that got me was after the credits had already begun to roll. Paul swept Finley up into his arms and danced with her... He danced with her like they were the only two people in the room. She giggled with delight as her handsome prince swayed to the music, kissing her and holding her tight. This is one girl that will always know her worth.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Maybe for you, growing up things were less then perfect and this image strikes a cord in your heart that brings pain. The truth is, things are less then perfect in our house, but our kids know that they are loved.

Love is the framework that we live our lives in. It's what we surround our kids with, so that they know even if they screw it all up, or if we as their parents screw it all up, our lives still fall in the framework of love to be mended and put back together. Love is our motivator, love compels us to forgive one another, it brings understanding and compassion to each other. It brings about miracles... And ultimately love connects us to God, because God is love.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

I wonder what framework you live your life in? Is it love, or is it fear? Is it hatred or shame? Is it self doubt, or pity? Or is it striving and laboring for your worth? Maybe you find yourself grasping for your worth in what others say about you, or to you, about your accomplishments or achievements? I tell you what, you will wear yourself out striving for the rest of your life if you can't just find rest in God's love.

His love is readily available to heal you, restore you, deliver you, save and rescue you, and make you whole. His love is here right now waiting for you to let go of your own ways and find yourself in His. His love is relentless, unswerving, uninhibited... His love is after you.

His love is so un-relenting that He wasn’t content to sit on His throne in heaven and watch you be tortured by the enemy. He had a battle plan that would destroy the works of the devil. He put skin on and became like us.

John 1:14 ESV14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And the Message version puts it this way:

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

John 1:14 MESSAGE“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

We've got to try to wrap our mind around the fact that Jesus left his heavenly throne to become like one of us. God in flesh. He was born into adversity and trial in the wilderness because his parents were rejected for lack of room at the inn. Life was not easy for Him, and it didn’t start out easy. It wasn’t the cushy life of a king as many would suppose for the savior of the world. The first place He was to lay down his head was a manger full of straw... a place where animals came to eat their food. It wasn’t a sterile, clean immaculate environment fit for a king... it was full of sheep’s dung and dirt... He bowed low and humbled himself to become human, to be like one of us... The word became flesh and dwelt among us... He understands us: He felt the pain of loss when his friend Lazarus died, He actually wept in the moment He stood outside his friends tomb. He celebrated at feasts, hung out with the rich and the poor, the sinners and saints. He was tempted and He overcame. He felt rejection as one of his closest friends, turned on Him. He felt grief as He prayed in the garden asking God if there was another way to save all of humanity, yet still went through with it and suffered pain on the cross for the joy that was set before Him... Us. He was fully human and fully God.

He completely understands you, feels you, gets you, knows your struggles, trials and pain… Will you let Him in?

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Amy Carmichael said - “There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our hearts as though He were unwilling to fill us... Love is pressing around us on all sides like air. Cease to resist it and instantly love takes possession.”

He is willing... He is waiting.

The truth is Jesus love for you is un-relenting now matter how you feel, what you do, or where you go. You are the object of His love, the apple of His eye, the joy that was set before Him. You are the reason He lived, died and rose again. His love is on the move...

Just like this picture, God wants to heal you, pick you up in His arms, spin you around and tell you how much He loves you. It is already finished in His mind, He only waits for you to reach out and say you want it.

Cease to resist His love... And watch it take possession of your heart.

You're worth it. 

Series: Control Freak - Article Six

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAKARTICLE SIX: WALKING IN YOUR NEWFOUND FREEDOM

I feel like as I write these "Control Freak" articles, that I am talking about someone else because of the deep changes the continue to take place in my life.

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

Remember, this is one step at a time... You’ll look back one day as  you embark upon your journey to freedom and be amazed at what God has done as you consciously align yourself with your new revelation. Once the moment of freedom takes place, you have a spiritual stewardship responsibility to run in the revelation that’s been given. Otherwise, you’ve opened a door to allow “the roaring lion to devour” again. The word says that “the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) After you get free, you have to get good at saying “You may not.”

1 Peter 5:8 AMP

8 Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

While we were in Africa, we got to watch a lion feeding take place.

[embed] http://vimeo.com/84310983 [/embed]

It was extraordinary and frightening all at the same time. Let’s just say I am glad there was a fence between us and the lions. After we watched the feeding take place, our group went over to another pride of lions that hadn’t been fed yet to get some pictures. They're truly majestic animals. We had our 6 year old son Jesse with us who was by far the smallest person in the group. We started to notice that one lion in particular (the dominate male) would not take his eyes off of Jesse. Wherever Jesse walked, this lion went. And when Jesse would crouch down, he would fiercly roar and try to get through the fence to devour him. We did a little experiment and had Jesse run up and down the fence just to see if the the lion would follow him. And sure enough, the lion ran wherever Jesse ran. This lion was hungry and was pining to get through the fence to feast on my son.

[embed] http://vimeo.com/84310820 [/embed]

As a mother, my hackles went up just watching all of this. I went into protection mode. Even though the gate was there, I was ready to step in front of my son and be dinner for this lion. He was literally going to have to step over my dead, devoured body before he could touch my son.

Revelation 12:12b NIV says: "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury,because he knows that his time is short."

The devil especially hates free people. So be on your watch, and tell "the roaring lion" where to go.

What I understood as I watched this lion in Africa try to get to my son, is that he went after who he thought was the most vulnerable. When you step into your new found freedom in any area of your life, there is a level of vulnerability that you walk in and it’s just wisdom to be aware of this. You’ve just opened you’re heart up to God, to let Him do major surgery. That’s the moment that the enemy loves to begin to ‘prowl around’ to seek if he may devour you and steal the seed of freedom that has been planted in your heart. When you don't allow it to be stolen, it will grow and bear great fruit. For that to happen, above all else you’ve got to guard and protect what God has done within you.

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

Just imagine how God feels when the enemy prowls around you... He get’s angry! He is so passionate about you. The enemy literally has to ‘step over’ God’s one and only son Jesus dead and resurrected body to get to you. Just read Psalm 18 to see just how fierce God is to protect you when the enemy tries to come after you.

So how do you protect the seed of newfound freedom within your heart? You’ve got to let LOVE in.

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and control is rooted in fear. If this is true (and it is), then you'll need love as the salve to heal every part of a recovering control freak… You’ve got to step into it. Once a moment of deliverance or freedom takes place, it’s not surprising to begin to sense fear trying to knock on the door of your heart… Fear that things will spiral out of control, so you have to take over again. Fear that you won’t be protected or covered, so you go back to your old ways and control situations with anger to self-protect. Fear that life won’t turn out how you dreamed or imagined, so you’ll work hard without God’s grace to earn and control every circumstance in your life.

Anyone tired from just reading that? I know I am.

Instead, we have to CHOOSE to REMAIN in His love. It's a daily, sometimes moment by moment choice. Remember in the last article when I talked about CHOOSING to cultivate The Fruit of The Spirit instead of choosing to control ? I said...

"I choose to exchange the fear that binds and controls with the LOVE that casts out all fear"

Just like love is a choice sometimes in marriage (It's more than a feeling), it's a conscious choice to remain in the Fathers love. To believe that we have the capacity to love... Whether that's to love others, or to love ourselves because He first loved us. You have to allow a great exchange to take place. To hand the fear over, and receive the unending love that covers all, and causes you to overcome.

When you know you're loved, no lion can devour you... The 'accuser' cannot touch you.

John 15:9-11 NIV

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

1 John 4:18-19 NIV 

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.

So let love in, and step into the newfound freedom that is yours to fully walk in all the days of your life...

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

Series: Control Freak - Article Five

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAKARTICLE FIVE: Getting Free...

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

To get free, I needed to go back to where it all began. Where did this door open for the ‘control freak’ to come in and operate in my life? I asked the Holy Spirit to take me on a journey, and to be honest, I was a tad freaked out... but at the same time buckled in and ready to go.

One thing I knew for sure... no one is born a control freak. One becomes a control freak.

Somewhere, something happened to me that caused me to think that controlling my environment kept me safe. Somewhere fear crept in, I was the target, and control was the fruit of my fears. And after it crept in, it came at me in different ways, compiling the amount of control I would exert to feel safe.

I ignored it for years, but I know where the door was opened. It crept in in the form of abuse at the age of 3. And after that, it just kept rolling in. If I couldn’t control what happened to me, then I would control my immediate environment in order to feel safe. As I grew up, it came in the form of broken relationships where I engaged my whole trust in someone that I thought would be my savior. This, in turn, crippled me from putting my whole trust in God. So if a person or a situation would let me down, fail, or hurt me, there were new reasons to lash out and control my personal world.

 finleycountry

finleycountry

Somewhere along the journey, a subconscious lie came in and I told myself, “I can do a better job than God. I can take control of my life.”

For me, the number one way control manifested itself in my life was anger. And a close (very close) second to anger was a compulsion to keep my house, and the humans that lived in it, in perfect military order.

The funny/not so funny thing is is that control isn't even in the nature of God. I was a little bit bummed when I realized it wasn’t a fruit of the Spirit since I was so good at it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that old song that goes “God is in control”, but the truth is, He left you and I with one big thing that still baffles me: choice. He has given us the beautiful and oh-so-annoying gift of free will. And why is it annoying, you ask? Because it leaves absolutely zero room for a victim mentality. You can’t blame anyone when you have the free will to forgive, let go, and live in freedom. He doesn’t even force you into relationship with Him; it’s your choice to let God in or not. You were created to be in relationship with Him, but until you acknowledge that... He stands at the door and knocks.

 fambridge

fambridge

Maybe it seems strange, but I got free when I realized that even the person who abused me at the age of 3 had the gift of free will from God too. They had a choice to treat me with love, or mistreat and hurt me. Unfortunately, that person chose that latter, which affected my life greatly until I realized I needed to engage my free will to forgive them. Forgiveness let me out of my cage of torment and control (Matt 18:34-35). This is the most powerful weapon you have in attaining freedom from control. Forgiveness is what Christianity hinges on. Our engagement of forgiveness (receiving and giving it) are foundational and fundamental to living free in any area of our lives. From there on out, I had to make choices that aligned with my newfound freedom. The responsibility for my freedom was and is on me to execute with the knowledge and revelation I now walk in.

After the chains fell off, the seemingly obvious things all started to hit me:

  • I can’t control my husband.
  • I can’t control my kids.
  • I can’t control other people's decisions.
  • I can’t even control what people think or say about me (I can make choices to have a good reputation but I can’t control others opinions no matter how hard I try)

And the more I try to control those things, the more I feel out of control and lack any semblance of peace.

BUT, here is what IS in my power to choose and cultivate in my life:

  • I choose to exchange the fear that binds and controls with the LOVE that casts out all fear.
  • I choose to have JOY and LAUGH at the days to come no matter what season I’m in or what circumstance I face.
  • I choose to pursue PEACE in the midst of the good, bad, ugly and crazy hectic times in my household. The Prince of Peace came, and Peace is my inheritance.
  • I choose PATIENCE when all I want to do is respond in anger and control my environment.
  • I choose KINDNESS when my first reaction is vengeance, anger, hatred or frustration (Yes, even this pastor can be given to strong and unhealthy emotions).
  • I choose to focus on the GOODNESS in my life, and not blow out of proportion the things that have gone or are going wrong.
  • I choose FAITHFULNESS on the days I want to throw in the towel and move to a deserted island all alone where no one can talk to me.
  • I choose to cultivate GENTLENESS when my initial reaction may be brash or harsh. It is in my power to choose.
  • I choose SELF CONTROL, because it’s in my power to do so. I am not God’s little puppet. I am His friend. And friends don’t control one another.

Galatians 5:22, baby! I can CHOOSE to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Along this journey, I've realized that God is a lot better at doing His job than I am... And I realize that people have a free will to hurt me, but I have a free will to get free.

Have you ever heard the quote:“Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react"?

To walk in forgiveness, I want to encourage you to read Matthew 18:21-35. It's the parable of the unmerciful servant. It shows how God so willingly and easily forgives us, and expects us to do the same to those that owe us a debt they can never pay. We owe God a debt that we can never pay Him, yet through salvation and forgiveness of our sins He releases us of our debts freely. As you read this, you'll notice that we're the ones that are actually in prison until we forgive. Forgiveness releases you, and sets you free.

Forgiveness brings recovery and healing to an ailing control freak. Forgiveness and repentance change everything. It’s the key to our freedom.

So now what???

Step 1: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where control has had an open door to enter your life. It will probably look different than my journey, but when you’re ready, God will reveal it to you.

Step 2: If it’s necessary, choose, as an act of your will, to forgive those who have hurt you and owe you a debt they cannot pay. Repent of your sins in holding onto that debt and ask God to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Read Matthew 18:21-35 for revelation on forgiveness and repentance and the power it has to set you free.

Step 3: Willingly cultivate the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22in your life, and begin to make choices that align with your freedom.

Below is a prayer you can use to engage forgiveness as an act of your free will. It’s the canceling of a debt, a heavenly transaction. Even if you don’t feel like anything happened, believe that a heavenly exchange took place. Don’t let the enemy steal your seed of freedom.

 jessefreedom

jessefreedom

LORD, TODAY AS AN ACT OF MY WILL I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE _____________________  FOR HURTING ME. SPECIFICALLY I FORGIVE THEM FOR _____________________. I CHOOSE TO RELEASE THEM FROM THEIR SIN AGAINST ME AND I CANCEL THE DEBT THEY OWE ME AND I RELEASE THEM INTO YOUR HANDS. I RELEASE THEM FROM ANY JUDGEMENT OR CRITICISM THAT I HAVE HELD AGAINST THEM AND I TRUST YOU TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION AS YOU SEE FIT.

IN THE NAME OF JESUS, AND BY THE POWER OF HIS BLOOD, I ASK THAT HE SEAL THIS HEAVENLY TRANSACTION. AND BY THE POWER OF JESUS' BLOOD, I CANCEL SATAN’S AUTHORITY OVER ME IN THIS SITUATION AND IN THIS MEMORY.

GOD, I ASK THAT YOU FORGIVE ME FOR STANDING IN YOUR PLACE AND TRYING TO EXECUTE JUSTICE. I THANK YOU THAT YOU FORGIVE ME LIBERALLY AND COMPLETELY, AND I CHOOSE TO EXERCISE THE SAME FORGIVENESS TO THOSE THAT OWE ME A DEBT THEY CANNOT PAY.