Guest Post: Did You Know How Much God Just Loves You?

*a special post from special guest Heather Falana*

My husband loves me. It doesn’t matter what kind of a day I am having or if he disagrees with some of my decisions-he just loves me. He has been out of the country for 10 days and he returns tomorrow. To say I am excited is an understatement. While he has been away the Lord has been working some things out of me.

There is always stuff in us that can be worked on, worked in, or worked out. See, the thing is, people say “Jesus loves you” and ask “Did you know how much God just loves you?

…. “just loves you”.

Yes. I do know that He does love me.

But do I?

Grace means undeserved favor. It means that something is given to you that you do not deserve and it could never be earned, but I believe that over time I have come to slightly believe that I must earn some gifts from God. Today, I realized that the devil has been trying to keep things out of my grasp with this one lie; “Heather, you haven’t done enough.”

I find it very easy to love the Lord. To sing Him praises and talk about His goodness. It is also very easy for me to do that for people too; to brag on them and bring them gifts, but I have a hard time receiving it back. The Lord brought to my attention that I don’t always let Him love me. I’m always thinking about what I didn’t do or what I can do better. Not what He has done and wants to do in me and for me—there are things only my Heavenly Father can do.

I am a mother of three beautiful children. They are not perfect. They fight with each other on occasion. They sometimes lie. They don’t always follow the rules. They get mad at me. You want to know what? Sometimes they irritate me but I LOVE them so deeply that I correct and move forward knowing sure within myself that they love me too and they will improve. So, sitting in my living room today God gave me a dose of much needed unlimited, throw-all-caution-to-the-wind, cry-your-eyes-out LOVE.

Over the past month, while my prayer closet, I was sensing this wall. A wall. Not a wall to keep things in, a wall that was keeping something out. I couldn’t figure it out. I asked the Lord to show me what I was feeling on the inside. One thing I love about having a relationship with God is that He never fails to blow my mind.

I stand on scripture for healing in my body and protection over my family. I receive wisdom from God daily because His Word says in James that all I must do is ask for it and He gives it freely. Freely. God loves freely and He gives grace, mercy, and wisdom freely; however, it is never forced and must be received the same way. Today He spoke to my heart and said “Heather, you cannot earn the things I love to give you. I watch over your children because I love you. I desire to heal your body because I love you. And I gave you Jesus because I love you. Not because you remembered the scripture from last Sunday. Not because you prayed and read my Word four times or two times this week or you forgot. I just love you.

I cannot explain in a human tongue what this did to me. I know God loves me. I know that He sent Jesus because He loved us (John 3:16). It was different today. It went deeper than “Jesus loves you”. I felt like He took my face in His hands and looked me in the eyes and said “I just love you.

My husband and I moved last year to the west coast to start a church. People are people everywhere you go. I have come to realize that. Here in my new home I am finding it challenging to explain why we are here. Yes, we came to start a church to tell people about Jesus Christ and what He did but more importantly we came to share the love of Christ with people. I have been asking myself “How? How do I explain all of this extreme fondness I have for my savior?” and “How do I show them what it is like to know My savior?” and “How will they see that this is vital?

Outside of being an example of Christ and being a sweet fragrance to those around you (II Corinthians 2:14-15), I needed more. How do I put this thing in my heart into words? Wisdom is coming my friends. When you ask Jesus to come into your heart to be your Lord and Savior its more than a prayer. It’s a life changer. He said in II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.

It’s one thing to know about a person, it’s another to hear about who that person is, and it is entirely different to live with that person. Christ desires to live with us because He just loves us. He desires to change our hearts because He knows about every little thing in your life that you need. He desires to lead us. He desires to heal us, protect us, and care for us.

We recently got a dog. He is almost a year. We found him at the Humane Society. We walked into this very loud, a bit stinky and crowded animal shelter. My family and I walked into the small dog room. There was this half Corgi half Chihuahua copper dog in the last kennel on the left. My oldest son just melted. The shelter had a name on his kennel and it was Nalu. When we brought him home the kids wanted to change that name so we threw out many ideas until we settled on Cooper.

Cooper has had to learn some new behaviors. He has had to learn that we are safe and how to trust us. When Cooper came out of his old life he received a new one. A better one. He came from a high-kill shelter in Hawaii and this was his last chance at living. He was surviving but he was not living. When God sent Jesus to us it was not to point His nose down at the human race and aim lightning bolts in our direction and yell “Look at all those people screwing everything up! They need a crutch! I’m sending them Jesus.”  No. He sent Jesus because the enemy has it out for all mankind (I Peter 5:8) and Jesus came to make a way of escape. Just like we were sent to Cooper to make him a way of escape. John 10:10 Jesus says “the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In other words, Jesus came to bring something worth dying for and not so He could keep it to Himself. He came to give it away to you and me!

It didn’t stop there. We gave the dog a new name and a new life. He also received gifts and a bath! Now everything that belongs to the Falana’s also belongs to Cooper. He is in the family now! He enjoys our couch, our food, our neighborhood streets, and our love. It is the same with the Lord. You can know about Him or you can live in Him.


Picture yourself standing outside of a house and wondering what it holds. Nothing in that house belongs to you, in fact you cannot even see what it has to offer. Now, picture yourself walking through that house. You see all the rooms, the stairs, the fireplace. It is very inviting. You walk right through it and you move on.

Now, imagine you live in that house. Everything in that house belongs to you. It not only brings you the things you need, like a stove, washing machine, and toilets. It shelters you. It keeps you warm. It protects you. It also gives you room. Room to share. That is Christ. He desires for you to be “in Him”. Not to know about Him. Not to visit with Him once and move on. He desires to free you from a negative sentence in life. To change you. Rename you. Feed you. Shelter you. Most importunately, “to just love you.” I John 4:9-10 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”.

Don’t just survive this one life you have been given. Live it in Him and let Him just love you.

The Falana Kiddos with their sweet little Cooper

A Little Thought From Heather…Meadows🤗

I could write a blog post alone about Heather Falana.  She is the portrait of Proverbs 27:17 in my life– “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We met several years ago in an anatomy class and journeyed through OU College of Nursing together, being referred to by many as Heather Squared.

She and her family are brave for Jesus, bold for Jesus and desire His plans for their life, moving across country, not knowing a soul, to minister His life, His love, His hope and His healing to lives. 

Would you pray about and consider blessing their ministry with a love offering?  Your tax deductible gift can be sent to:  
Church Alive ℅ Sam Falana 1339 NW Covey Ct. Silverdale, WA 98383 

Also, if you enjoy a good laugh, Heather periodically posts some super funny videos! Click here to look her up on Facebook. Her humor will lift you up, truly making you laugh out loud.  She’s such a gift to me! ❤ Heather

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Crazy, right?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Control Freak

Getting in the car with my mom I must be prepared for one thing, the possibility she may honk her horn. And I don’t mean a little “toot-toot.” I mean, lay-on-the-horn, blaring-loud-for-all-to-hear kind of honk. It doesn’t end there. Whatever ability she has to demonstrate her displeasure on the outside of the car is only a glimmer compared to her expressions on the inside of the car. And my Mom is a nice person! However, she gets all riled up on the road. Inconsiderate people who pull out in front of her causing her to slam on her brakes. Distracted drivers, talking, or yes, even texting away on their phones. Rushed workers ignorning the lane closure signs to squeeze in at the last possible moment. It infuriates her.

When she rides with me she’ll identify every moment I should utilize my horn. My neglection of such an opportunity produces much discussion as she’ll inform me that I need to let them know what they did so they won’t do it again. There’s where her hope is. It’s not an angry, difficult, short little lady. It’s a woman who intends to help people out, highlight the error of their driving, so they can do it better the next time.

My take is different. Number one, I wonder if the person who pulled out in front of me, or cut me off, may be a mother who has a screaming baby in the car, a tired toddler and an argumentative child. Believe me, that causes some distractions and enough stress without being honked at. Or possibly, it’s a nurse who lives forty-five minutes from the hospital and got called-in before she had a shower or a trace of make-up on her face. It happens. Secondly, and most importantly for me is, I don’t care. I don’t care about honking at someone and getting all worked up over them, because I have no relational connection, nor any ounce of influence on them to change anything. If a driver is flat-out rude, they’re going to be flat-out rude whether I blast my horn or not. It’s just not worth the aggravation to me.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I do get worked up. I do get riled to the point of feeling steam come out my ears. Okay, not quite steam, but you get the picture. Flaming mad. Like Anger on Disney’s Inside Out or Donald Duck when he’s “had it up to here!” (Yes, that’s what he sometimes says, although it almost requires a translator to comprehend his lines.)

I tend to get all upset with things I think I have control over. Emphasis given to the word, “think.” It’s like a quantitative study. I have variables in an experiment. The independent variable is manipulated to produce the dependent variable. Since my lab puppy, sweet little Ruby Sue, is turning one this weekend, let’s consider dog food. The type of dog food is an independent variable because it’s something I can change (or manipulate), and the results I get are the dependent variables like her weight, her likability to the food, and maybe her coat being more shiny.

If I have no influence on the outcome, I don’t get too engaged. It’s that whole, “it is what it is” kind of situation; “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”

But let me share with you where I do get hung up. It’s again, in those areas I think I have control.

My parents were told, on more than one occassion, during my years of rehabiliation from my burn injury that I may develop an addiction to narcotics. I’ll share more about the topic when the book project pieces together, but for now, let me focus on this subject of control. Although I desire to be as out-of-it as possible when I’m recovering from surgeries, I’m quite eager to stop taking the medication when I no longer need it, because I don’t feel in control when I’m in a fog. Too much of my childhood was out of my control. As an adult, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the care I received. Absolutley overwhelmed. I’m living a life today because of the care I received. Nevertheless, I remember as a child wanting control over the situations I had absolutley none.

Memories of being restrained, with my arms braced out to my side, unable to move. Memories of a tube down my throat breathing for me, but occluding my ability to communicate. Screaming for help when those precious nurses were tearing bandages off my raw body. Fighting against amazing physical therapists as they ripped scar tissue to stretch my contractured body.

Yes, I have control issues.

I also have a good, good Father who loves me as I am, but desires me to grow in Him. Just as He provides opportunities to make the impatient patient and the prideful humble; He’s given me many opportunities to release control and grow in trust.

A reoccurring theme for 2015 was trust. As I felt challenged in 2014 to rest, 2015 was about trust. Here’s a bit of what I journaled toward the end of the year…

As I’ve sought the Lord, as He’s challenged me to trust Him, using situations to strengthen my trust muscle, I can see the control shatter. I needed to be here and He was preparing the time for me. I needed to grow in the quality, in this characteristic.

‘Do you trust God?’ Yes, I’ve always trusted God. However, do I trust God when I have no control, no influence over the outcome, when I have nothing to contribute, or even manipulate?  Not in a bad manipulate-evil-devising way, but in a manipulate as, take it in my own hands and change what it needs, or what I think it needs to be, to form it and mold it on my own. Do I trust God even then?

Oh, how I thought He was teaching me through the writing to trust Him. Oh, how I thought He was teaching me through the speaking to trust Him. Oh, how I thought my obedience to step away from full-time nursing was trusting Him, or being given our website was trusting Him- but, those situations were PREPARING me for the biggest trust exercise the Lord could have set before me….

I know where my desire to control comes from. It’s fear. I wanted control when I was little because I was scared. Not much has changed. I still to this day fight fear. The fear is a bit different, but I fight nevertheless. But again, God is so loving and kind towards me. His Word says, “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). Which means I don’t have to be in control. I just need to trust in Him.

Therefore, as you’re stepping into your dreams, visions and goals for 2016, be aware of the vision killers we’ve discussed the last few weeks: feeling overwhelmed, making assumptions, and fear.

Fear has no place. You serve a great God! And the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in you (Romans 8:11).  Remember that fact, and exercise that muscle to trust in the face of any fear this year!

Isaiah 30:15 ESV For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and REST you shall be saved; in quietness and in TRUST shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

This was one of the verses I’ve stood on, encompassing the Lord’s challenge for me to rest in 2014 and to trust in 2015. But unlike the people of Israel, may we be willing.

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New Year, Same Life

We’re a week into the new year. A week ago today many people had packed up their Christmas décor, along with their reflections of the previous year, embracing the annual “ready, set, go” as our new starting line when the clock strikes midnight.

As far as decorations, there wasn’t much packing for me to participate in this year. The kids and my Mom tackled the task. I picked out non-physically demanding packaging, like the nativity scene. While trying to delicately fit each piece back into the Styrofoam containers, I thought about my goal for 2014. Of course, I’ll share it. But brace yourself. You may think I set the bar as low as possible.

2014 New Year’s Resolution: Be Less Productive.

We quote Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” But are we sensitive to the seasons the Lord is moving us into and out of? Certainly many of us would choose to return to a warmer season, perhaps a beautiful summer day over the bitter cold ones we are encountering at the moment. This is literal and figurative.

Our temperatures here in the grand state of Oklahoma aren’t the coldest in the nation; but are definitely low enough to qualify for mention. How many of us would love to hop on a plane to the Caribbean? But that’s not going to change the reality of the conditions where we live. And sometimes we have to endure where we are until the season changes. It is in the different seasons that we grow and mature. The season shakes things up. No monotony. No apathy. No complacency. Sometimes the bitter cold makes us more aware and more appreciative for the warmth of brighter days.

My 2014 New Year’s Resolution, or what I would consider to be my New Year’s CHALLENGE, had to do with a season the Lord was speaking to my heart…rest.

After years and years of setting lofty goals, I felt challenged to rest.

My husband and I married in 1999. We started building our home at the end of 2000. We welcomed our first child, Brooklyn in 2001. Brandon went back to school in 2002 after a hiatus for the house and new baby. Jaron made his debut in 2003 with our first, yet brief, NICU stay. All the while Brandon and I were working and he was going to school.  2005, I had six surgeries in five months, and then my Dad passed away.  My Mom and I kept the wheel rolling until we sold the business. Caden arrived in 2006. Brandon received his congratulatory letter from OSU on the completion of his mechanical engineering degree and walked in the spring 2007 ceremony; only to find out he had been misadvised on a class and wouldn’t get his diploma until after taking the required class, which he did that summer. I started my pre-requisites for nursing school as soon as Brandon finished. We found out we were expecting again in 2008 and Gavin arrived in 2009 with our unwanted, but second short stay in NICU.  In 2010 I started nursing school at OU, had a couple year whirlwind, graduated in 2012 and started working in the NICU. 2013 felt like our year of transitioning.

When I was evaluating my personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth for the new year, I felt the Lord speak to my heart…REST.

Matthew 11:28, Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Why do we discredit it? Why do we neglect it? Why do we not prioritize it? We feel we can’t turn down someone’s request for the mere fact we need rest. We think we have to be the ones to step up to head the project, because rest isn’t a real reason to decline it. We assume if we’re pursuing good things and meeting goals then we’re fine and don’t need to simply sit. We conclude if we’re home resting, then we’re doing nothing.  When in all reality, it is something, and it’s something quite important. Even Jesus gave us an example to rest in Mark 6:31, “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”

We’ve all heard that sometimes we have to disconnect to reconnect. Over the year, each time I began to allow feelings of guilt to seep in, I’d remind myself that I was meeting a goal, rising to the challenge to be less productive. And was it ironic at all that while I was intending to have a year of rest, the Lord already knew I would? I had no idea at the time that I’d be working three surgeries into 2014. While it takes a lot of energy to heal, I had what He desired of me…to be still, to be in the quiet, and to rest.

When reflecting on the year, I see how my loving God orchestrated my season of rest. For 2015, I hear Him speaking to my heart, “It is time.” Over and over, I hear His precious, gentle, inaudible voice speak, “It is time.”  2015 is the time to start the beginnings of what He has prepared, for what He has set before, for what He has planned. And the only way I could have ever known this is by those quiet moments.

Taking a year of intentional rest helps me to realize how productive being unproductive can be. We don’t always have to have measurable outcomes. We don’t always have to have evidence of completed tasks. Sometimes the biggest benefit, the grandest gift, the priceless pieces cannot be seen with our eyes, scheduled on our calendars, or fabricated with our hands. They have to be received in our hearts, nurtured and grown without our meddling and without rush.

The time we take at New Year’s to self-examine is an opportunity to adjust, to tweak, to elevate who we are and who the Lord has called us to be. We get this one life to live. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what we need to be our best. Yes, it’s a New Year, but it’s the same life, the same life we had back in those warm summer months. It’s what we decide to do with this life that makes the resolution worth making.

Bless you as you set out to conquer the goals set before you. Bless you as you pursue the one who placed them there. Bless you as you use your life in this New Year for His glory.

 

*In case you’re being called to a season of rest and quietness, I pray these scriptures encourage your heart.

Psalm 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 46:10Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now stand here quietly before the Lord as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you and your ancestors.

Psalm 62:1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

1 Timothy 2:2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Joshua 1:13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’

1 Kings 8:56 “Praise the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses.

Psalm 127:2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Isaiah 28:12 God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.

Isaiah 32:18 My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.

Jeremiah 31:25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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