Bring Your Brokenness| By Rachel Lukinovich

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Do you remember back in your childhood days, when you were just learning how to color?

Wasn’t it fun to scribble all over that white paper and make whatever your little heart so desired?

But then, all of sudden, you accidentally pushed down on that crayon a little too hard and maybe a little too fast. Then pop, your crayon breaks, and man are you bummed. You’re a smart kid so you ask for some tape and voila, the crayon is back to its former “whole” self. Or, maybe you don’t have any tape, so you just throw those crayon pieces right where they belong – in the trash.

Does this bring back any memories?

A few weeks ago, my 2-year-old daughter Ava, and I were making creative little pictures. Just as she goes to finish the round edge of her circle, snap — you guessed it, her crayon broke in two. She, like most small children, feels very similar about her crayons, and within minutes, this was our dialogue-

Ava: “I can’t use these crayons, mommy, they are broken.”

Me: (not wanting to waste and throw away anymore crayons) “You can still use them, even though they are broken.”

If the Holy Spirit didn’t slap me in the face, I don’t know what did! Instantly, it was brought to my attention that too often we treat ourselves and sometimes others like this crayon. Our minds have somehow come to believe that once broken, we need to quickly slap a piece of tape on our brokenness, and if that is not doable, we are no longer usable for God’s kingdom.

For years, mainly after giving my life to Christ, I believed the lie that I had to seem perfect or altogether, but over time, the Lord freed me of this and spoke truth into my heart. It is okay to be and appear broken, as long as our brokenness is being handled in the hands of our Father. Others might see our broken crayons like pieces of uselessness, but Jesus sees a perfectly capable art tool that He’s thrilled to create a beautiful story with.

Have you ever thought that maybe our broken crayons are what will make our story so beautiful? When we are broken, it is guaranteed that God gets the glory because our own strength simply could not hold us together.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Too often, we believe we need to quickly fix ourselves and tightly wrap some type of reinforcement to hide the brokenness – Why? Because a whole taped crayon looks so much better than a obviously broken one. Yet, reinforcing the crayon will only hold its strength for so long, and despite what its appearance may show, it’s still completely broken on the inside. The outer splint will only last for so long.

Our past hurts and mistakes do not define us, but that doesn’t mean we should slap a bandaid over a festering wound and call it a day. Wounds, mistakes, failures, shortcoming, hurts, – they all cause us to break one way or another. Brokenness takes time to be mended, a healing that can truly only be completely made whole and well by the grace, forgiveness, and love of our Father, Jesus Christ.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

We may want our whole story to be written with a perfectly whole crayon, but at the end of the day, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and let Him write our story, it will be so beautifully written, regardless if the crayon was whole or broken.

Instead of seeking quick fixes to tape us back together, let us keep our eyes fixed on our Savior and King, and let Him do the mending back into shape, even if it means we have to go through the fire to be melted down and reshaped. After all, we are His work in progress and we are His masterpiece.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

The Power of Encouragement| By Rachel Lukinovich

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Have you ever gone through something and felt like no one could possibly understand?

And if you were to tell anyone, they would judge you and think less of you?

Well, that makes you human.

Right after my second child was born, the first few months seemed pretty relaxing and easy. Several people warned me about how hard the transition from one to two children would be, but it honestly didn’t seem that hard to me. It wasn’t until my sweet Emmy turned 4 months that things became a little more challenging. Until then, all she did was eat, sleep, and poop, just like the perfect baby you hear about it.

Naturally, she became more awake and alert, making it hard to even go to Walmart without it ending with a poo or throw up explosion, or loud crying. I did not want to even leave home, which was hard for me, so very hard. I am not a home body, and even though God was doing a work in my heart, as He always is, I didn’t really feel so great about it. It was in this moment that I truly needed someone to understand me and encourage me through it. I needed someone to recognize that this truly was hard for me, and not just put a blanket over it with a statement like “trust Jesus and it will get better.”

Yes, those are words of truthful, but I needed something deeper. I needed someone that acknowledged that this is real and hard and although it WILL get better because of Jesus’ faithful promises, the present circumstances still were worthy of how I felt. I needed someone to acknowledge that I was not alone and it was okay to have hard times, but also to speak truth into my heart and help me along the way.

Thankfully, I had those people in my life who were already there to encourage me. Before letting the lies of the enemy steal too much of my joy and time, I chose to reach out to people in my life, and I will never forget some of the moments or words that happened during that hard time.

You see, the devil wants us trapped in those moments of difficulty. He wants us to believe the lie that no one cares, understands, or may judge how you feel. He wants us to become isolated and alone, where he can continue to speak those lies into our ears.

Only we have control of how we handle our own lives and situations. Unfortunately, we can not make others reach out for help when they are hurting or feeling dry. Sometimes, it is truly hard for someone to do this.

However, we do have the power to reach out to them and always encourage them, regardless of feelings or situations. We are all doing life together, through the good, the bad, and ugly.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The fact that my people acknowledged the difficulty of my situation, but yet encouraged me in the faith, greatly increased my perseverance and even helped me look at things a little differently.

This tells me that our encouraging words have the power to cancel a thousand lies constantly being spoken in our sister’s ear.

Life can be so busy, hard, lonely, you name it, but we have the power to encourage others through it!

Sometimes it is as simple as:

“You did a really great job!”

“Your hair looks great, did you get a cut?”

“you have such a wonderful personality”

…and genuinely meaning it.

There is always something we can find positive about a person, regardless of who they are.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Your friend, your mom, your sister, your pastor…they all could use a good word of encouragement. I challenge you to use every opportunity to not only address real life, but to love and encourage them through it. Because our words have more power than you think.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Do You Even Know Me?| By Tori Savoy

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Marriage is one of those things that’s beautiful and ugly all in one. It has a way of exposing your true character and teaching you lessons you never realized you needed. Marriage is a representation of the covenant we share with God and just about every struggle and every victory can be related back to our walk with God.

This is something I have found true in my own marriage.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only wife who has been guilty of being upset because their husband was not listening to them or was not taking part in conversation.

Our minds are wired to relate intimacy to the emotional connections that happen through conversation. We want our husband to listen to our long story or allow us to vent about our days while responding in a way that shows he is genuinely interested. Words are our intimacy, and when we do not get it, we feel alone and less than as if we are no longer interesting to our husband.

How does this relate to our relationship with Jesus? EVERYTHING!

As I was upset over this very thing one day, God showed me this is exactly how I treat Him. When I neglect to talk with Him and listen to what He is trying to say to me, He feels neglected. It causes my relationship with Him to become disconnected.

A relationship with both man and God requires spiritual and emotional intimacy. This is why prayer life is so important.

Matthew 7:22-23 says “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭In our marriage, it takes work and intimacy to know one another. Saying you are married is one thing and knowing your spouse is another. Have you ever told your husband, “Do you even know me anymore?”

As I sat sulking to myself over this very question, God reached down to me and said “Do you even know ME?”

Sadly, my answer was not one to be proud of.

You see, God doesn’t want us to just claim to be a Christian, but wants us to pursue an intimate relationship with Him.

God is begging for your attention and wants you to seek intimacy with him through your prayer life. Just as you desire that intimacy with your husband.

Think back to when you and your husband or significant other had first met. All you both wanted to do was get to know one another. Me and my husband spent hours on the phone talking about anything and everything.

The same thing happens when we first become saved. But just as a romantic relationship requires us to continue to work at communicating and igniting that spark, our relationship with God must be pursued daily.

I challenge you to dig deeper into a relationship with God and truly desire to know Him and his love in a fuller capacity.

“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:19-20