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“For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God.” Genesis 33:10

While the digital age connects us like never before, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. No email or Facebook message can ever compete with the joy of seeing someone's face light up when you enter the room. My grandparents' home was always an oasis for me for that very reason. When I'd arrive, both of them wouldn't just say they were glad I'd come; it was written all over their faces. No matter how much uncertainty, disappointment, or worry I was experiencing, one look at the two of them reminded me that I was accepted just as I was.

“For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” A man named Jacob spoke these words to his brother, Esau. You might think that a huge compliment like that was born out of a beautiful, loving family relationship. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jacob and Esau were twins who had been rivals even in the womb. Their childhood was marked by favoritism, competition, and deceit. The final straw: Jacob wanted Esau's birthright and inheritance, so he deceived his blind father into thinking he was his brother, and stole it. It made Esau so mad that Jacob had to flee for his life.

Decades had passed, and Jacob was returning home. He had no idea how Esau would receive him. He knew he deserved an angry and bitter reception. But Esau surprised his brother, and showed grace. He accepted his brother with open arms. He offered undeserved favor and unconditional acceptance. He proved that the bond of family was stronger than sin. That's what caused Jacob to say, “I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God.”

God gazes at us in that same way, only with greater purity, love and delight. Because we have been adopted as God's daughters, His divine blood runs through our veins and proves stronger than any sin. “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” (Ephesians 2:13). “And because you are [daughters], God has sent the Spirit of his Son into [your] hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a [daughter], and if a [daughter], then an [heiress] through God,” (Galatians 4:6-7). Because we are family, we receive unmerited grace and are accepted just as we are. Soak up that truth. When God looks at you, He says, “Hello, beautiful.” He adores you. He delights in you.

And what does He want us to do with all that grace that He's poured over us? He tells us in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love.”

If we're going to imitate Him, then we have to ask ourselves the question: What do our faces communicate to those we encounter? Do people leave our presence feeling like they've seen the face of God?

Or do our faces tell people that they don't matter much, because we are SO BUSY with incredibly important things like checking out the status updates of some old acquaintance?

Do our faces tell people that they aren't accepted, because their behavior doesn't match our opinion of “the right way to do things”?

If it's true that 93% of all communication is nonverbal, we'd better pay attention to what our faces look like.

Of course, this all would be easier to do if people would just act the way we want them to. But unfortunately, some people can be pretty annoying. Often those we love most can aggravate us to distraction.

So here's the good news. You've got some serious mojo to draw on when you feel like you just don't have it in you to reflect the face of God. Remember what you just read in Galatians 4:6. It says that if you're a daughter, then you're an heiress. You've inherited wonderful things (you can read about some of them in Ephesians 1:3-14). One of the things you inherited is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says that we've got the following things at our disposal: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That's the mojo I'm talking about. Mojo is the power to control natural forces through supernatural means. It means that God can supernaturally help us to control our natural reactions of disdain, cynicism, criticism, anger, disappointment and disinterest.

Your inheritance is there for the asking. So no long faces as we continue through Lent. Let's show the world what an amazing God we worship and reflect HIS FACE to everyone we meet! Now that's a great way to celebrate His resurrection!

Blessings,
Lisa

*This post first appeared on the WWP website in April 2014.

Walking with Purpose

At my core, I am a New Yorker. While some find Manhattan an assault to their senses, it is there, in the midst of the chaos and noise, and the Naked Cowboy in Times Square (yes, he is a thing) that I thrive.

Until recently.

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in the city where we became husband and wife. And as I stood like a sardine on the C train surrounded by all sorts of humanity, all I kept thinking was, “I kind of miss my minivan.” And friends, if you have ever seen my minivan, the weight, if not shock, of this sentiment would surprise you. This was a serious shift from the “get up and go, hurry up and do” kind of woman I had proudly identified with for years.

The bottom line? I am done with the rat race. I want to rest. Physically and spiritually. There has been a steady decrease in my desire to move more, talk more, do more. And in its place? An undeniable increase in my desire to sit more, listen more, ponder more.

For someone who never shuts up, this is no small thing.

And perhaps this shift is simple maturity. Maybe this desire is birthed out of nothing more than middle age, an inevitable consequence of growing up.  But I believe it comes from something greater; from a heavenly nudge, an inner pull and stretch that is always the result of a heart open to Mary. Mary, our Mother, whose role is to lead us to Jesus.

On this Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, we not only acknowledge Mary's critical role in the salvation story, but we are gifted with this Marian Feast on the very first day of the New Year. This day, where resolutions are made, and words are carefully chosen to live by, we celebrate Mary...and this is no coincidence. Who better to step out with, into the fresh, empty calendar pages of 2019, than the woman whose chosen word of the year - her yes, her fiat - changed everything?

After journeying through Advent with Mary, I am convinced that there is no better, no faster way to Jesus, than going through the heart of His mother. As she continues to gently guide me to her Son, the word REST has been firmly pressed upon my heart; specifically, rest after prayer. Because I protect my daily prayer time with faithfulness, but have failed to equally protect the time I sit and wait for God to respond. Instead of embracing the stillness, I close up the gap. Instead of lingering in His presence, I get up and go. This beautiful breathing space that time after prayer offers me is completely ignored. It is as if I don't know how to sit still anymore. It is as if I am afraid of the very quiet I crave. And for certain, there is an enemy who loves nothing more than to usher me out of this space of anticipation, and back into the chaos of my cluttered mind.

And maybe you are right there with me. And if you are, I am pleased to report, there is still hope for non-stop women like us. Women, who are great talkers, but not so great at listening. Women who love to pray, but hate to wait for His response. You see, we have a Heavenly Mother who is our helper and advocate. A Woman who models for us how to sit and wait, ponder and reflect. My sweet sisters, if we want to grow in relationship with Jesus (and I know that we do) and if we want to have a year filled with peace and love (don't tell me you don't) then we have to begin by learning how to sit in the silence. And I wonder, can we do this? Can we be still and wait? Can we jump off of the treadmill, and rest in the empty spaces we are so tempted to fill?

With Mary as our model, we can. You know, I spent so much of the past year wondering where God was. Why He didn't respond. It wasn't until flying to Mary that I realized, He was there. He did respond. I was just too busy moving to notice.

Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, on this Holy day and every day to follow, prayers for each of God's beautiful daughters. May this be a year of thriving in the quiet and rest that only Christ can give, to those who sit and wait.

With love,

Laura

PS: What a year this could be if we, His precious daughters, chose Mary as our model. What a world this will be if we choose to lean into the quiet, and wait patiently for His response. To jump start our devotion to Mary, starting 2019 off on the right foot, let us turn together to Lesson 16 in Opening Your Heart, What Does Mary Have to Do with My relationship with Christ?

Laura Phelps author bio

“For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God.” Genesis 33:10

While the digital age connects us like never before, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. No email or Facebook message can ever compete with the joy of seeing someone's face light up when you enter the room. My grandparents' home was always an oasis for me for that very reason. When I'd arrive, both of them wouldn't just say they were glad I'd come; it was written all over their faces. No matter how much uncertainty, disappointment, or worry I was experiencing, one look at the two of them reminded me that I was accepted just as I was.

“For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” A man named Jacob spoke these words to his brother, Esau. You might think that a huge compliment like that was born out of a beautiful, loving family relationship. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jacob and Esau were twins who had been rivals even in the womb. Their childhood was marked by favoritism, competition, and deceit. The final straw: Jacob wanted Esau's birthright and inheritance, so he deceived his blind father into thinking he was his brother, and stole it. It made Esau so mad that Jacob had to flee for his life.

Decades had passed, and Jacob was returning home. He had no idea how Esau would receive him. He knew he deserved an angry and bitter reception. But Esau surprised his brother, and showed grace. He accepted his brother with open arms. He offered undeserved favor and unconditional acceptance. He proved that the bond of family was stronger than sin. That's what caused Jacob to say, “I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God.”

God gazes at us in that same way, only with greater purity, love and delight. Because we have been adopted as God's daughters, His divine blood runs through our veins and proves stronger than any sin. “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ,” (Ephesians 2:14). “And because you are [daughters], God has sent the Spirit of his Son into [your] hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a [daughter], and if a [daughter], then an [heiress] through God,” (Galatians 4:6). Because we are family, we receive unmerited grace and are accepted just as we are. Soak up that truth. When God looks at you, He says, “Hello, beautiful.” He adores you. He delights in you.

And what does He want us to do with all that grace that He's poured over us? He tells us in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love.”

If we're going to imitate Him, then we have to ask ourselves the question: What do our faces communicate to those we encounter? Do people leave our presence feeling like they've seen the face of God?

Or do our faces tell people that they don't matter much, because we are SO BUSY with incredibly important things like checking out the status updates of some old acquaintance?

Do our faces tell people that they aren't accepted, because their behavior doesn't match our opinion of “the right way to do things”?

If it's true that 93% of all communication is nonverbal, we'd better pay attention to what our faces look like.

Of course, this all would be easier to do if people would just act the way we want them to. But unfortunately, some people can be pretty annoying. Often those we love most can aggravate us to distraction.

So here's the good news. You've got some serious mojo to draw on when you feel like you just don't have it in you to reflect the face of God. Remember what you just read in Galatians 4:6. It says that if you're a daughter, then you're an heiress. You've inherited wonderful things (you can read about some of them in Ephesians 1:3-14). One of the things you inherited is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says that we've got the following things at our disposal: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That's the mojo I'm talking about. Mojo is the power to control natural forces through supernatural means. It means that God can supernaturally help us to control our natural reactions of disdain, cynicism, criticism, anger, disappointment and disinterest.

Your inheritance is there for the asking. So no long faces as we wrap up Lent. Let's show the world what an amazing God we worship and reflect HIS FACE to everyone we meet! Now that's a great way to celebrate His resurrection!

Blessings,
Lisa

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