Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/elamarca/heartredeemed.com/wp-content/themes/StandardTheme_25/admin/functions.php on line 229
Heart Redeemed | Ezekiel 36:26

Something about…

The song that goes “There’s something about Christmas time. Makes me wish it were Christmas everyday” is going through my head this morning. I know it’s January. A full eleven months until Christmas comes again. Maybe it’s because my youngest has been singing some sort of Christmas song almost daily since November, and just because the day came and went, he is still singing the songs. Just a few minutes ago, he treated me to a personal showing, complete with puppet-hands, of his preschool Christmas play.

As he was performing, I began to think about what he was doing. We become so involved in looking at a calendar that we cross off days sometimes without thinking. We look forward constantly, working up to an important day like a birthday, and instead of taking the time to truly celebrate and revel in the day and the person, we often are looking ahead to the next one before the sun even sets.

This particular child’s birthday is in two days. And while he has mentioned it, and been praying and thanking God for it for months (which, by the way, hardly anyone thanks God for birthdays…), he is still celebrating the most recent birthday, which happens to be the most important one ever. He is celebrating the birth of his Savior every day.

Shouldn’t we all be doing this? Instead of looking ahead to the next big event, we should revel in the present one, and remember that without His birthday, we wouldn’t have anything to celebrate.

Immanuel, God With Us

Anticipation. I can’t sleep. Even now, at 31 years of age, I still look forward to Christmas morning as if I’m 7 years old. It’s not about the gifts I’m getting. It’s not even about the gifts I’m giving. It’s so much more than that. To be able to capture the looks on the faces of my children when they “get it” for the first time, what Christmas is all about, would be the best gift this side of heaven.

As I anticipate my children’s reactions to Christmas morning, I’m reminded of how simple and peaceful the birth of Christ was. He is a King, born as a baby, to a teenage mother. I find myself thinking about Mary and how she responded, the anticipation she must have felt.

Small town Nazareth
Small town Bethlehem
Tiny animal trough in the corner of a barn
Born without fanfare, born out of town, away from the familiar, away from family
Fully God but painfully human. To the unknowing ear, another baby was born. Another person to count. Another mouth to feed.
Nothing in the world’s standards would make Him noticeable to an outsider.
Yet Mary, unwed teenage mother, understood that her job was incredibly important.
Either it was true or she was crazy. She didn’t question. She didn’t worry about what others would think. She didn’t try to get her beloved Son noticed. She didn’t ask for any of it, but she did it anyway.
She wrapped Him in a cloth. She made a bed out of hay. She shushed Him when he fussed. She rocked Him to sleep. She sang lullabies to Him.
Did it break her heart to know He would die for her? Did it break her heart when He ignored her or treated her the same as everyone else? She accepted the call, knowing that He was not hers. She mothered Him and let God do the rest.

I am reminded daily of the incredible gift that Jesus is, and I’m reminded daily of all He came to Earth for. Without Christmas, there would be no Easter. And without Easter, there would be no point to life, there would be no life. Jesus could have shown up already grown. He could have declared His kingship over all mankind. He could have demanded people to follow Him. But He didn’t. He came as the most vulnerable and dependent creature in the world, grew up among the very people who would one day reject Him, and lived every day knowing the end of the Story. He loves people where they are, and lets God do the rest.

“How many kings stepped down from their thrones? How many lords have abandoned their homes? How many greats became the least for me? How many Gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that’s been torn all apart? How many fathers gave up their sons for me? Only One did that for me.”

Redeeming Baby

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:68-71, 78, 79 NLT)

The above words were spoken by Zechariah just after his son, John the Baptist, was born. John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Christ. Zechariah knew this, and as he is speaking about his son, he says these words about Jesus. Jesus is God’s solution to the problem of sin and eternal separation. He is coming to redeem all mankind from the hands of satan. To take back what is rightfully His. To put us back into a right relationship with God.

As Christmas Day quickly approaches, amidst the hustle and bustle, I pray that you are able to take time to be still, and prepare room in your heart for the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Redeemer.

Preparing for God to show up

The song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” has been one of my favorite Christmas songs for some time. It is pretty, heard rarely, and has an incredible message. It’s typically sung earlier in the Christmas season, for the Advent focus. It invites Christ to come, to ransom Israel, His people. Emmanuel, meaning “God with us”, comes to Earth to save us. Ransom us. Redeem us. Live among us.

As I was thinking about the upcoming weeks, with preparations and endless concerts and parties, I realized that this Christmas will be much different for us as a family, being the first one in many years that I will not be working. While this is welcome and exciting, it also made me realize just how much I want God to show up and insert Himself into this season this year.

Every year, we celebrate the birth of Christ, or “God showing up” as the solution to the problem of sin. We prepare our homes to be pretty and festive, and attend concerts, plays, and candlelight services. We reach out to others and look for ways to help those in need. These are the reasons I love this season so much!

As I was thinking about the things coming up in the next few weeks and thinking about decorations and presents and other preparations, I thought about how preparing for Christmas this year, in the normal way, is preparing for God to show up in our home, family, and finances. Giving God this space of preparing our minds and hearts for His arrival this season takes on new meaning for me this year. This year, more than ever, I am recognizing my need for Him, for hope in this dark world, and I’m recognizing the need for Him of those around me (my kids, friends, family members). In celebrating “God showing up” as a baby two thousand years ago, we are preparing for God to show up again, to change the way we view this season and this priceless gift we were given.

In this season, are you just trying to make it through, going to bed exhausted nightly from preparations, decorating, and parties, or are you preparing for the God of the universe to show up? Create space in your heart and mind for God to do a miracle in and through you.


In one day, I will begin the biggest step of faith I’ve taken so far in my 31 years of life. After working in some full-time capacity for most of my 7 year old’s life and all of my 4 year old’s life, I’m following the prompting of God to stay home full time for a while. I don’t know how long; it may very well be very temporary. However, I know that God is calling me to something better for my kids and my family. My working full-time has hindered this tremendously. I haven’t been present, physically, emotionally or both, for quite some time. Sure, I’ve attended the really important things, and have made my days off pretty much completely family-centered. But, I’m tired, miserable, and antsy a lot of these days, to the point where I can’t enjoy them very much.

About 2 1/2 months ago, my husband and I started discussing/dreaming about the time when I would be able to stay home full time. Those discussions led to quite a few conversations with trusted mentors and friends, to ensure that we weren’t crazy and really were hearing from God.

I came to the conclusion first, that I should quit my job to stay at home. There were tons of confirmations, and I knew in my heart that this was the right thing. I told God, however, that He would have to convince my husband. Our rational minds don’t like to be presented with seemingly irrational thoughts, and God is the only One who can change our hearts to want to follow His prompting.

He made it clear to my husband that the timing was right, and though it is extremely scary financially, we know that this is the right and perfect plan. He will provide. He is faithful. He is loving. And He ordained this. I am so excited to see what He will do!


Do you ever struggle with feeling like you aren’t good enough? Do you feel like everything you try, every achievement you make is just average, that someone can always do it better?

In this age of Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and constant blogging, it’s really easy to feel like someone else can do everything better. Everyone posts pictures of their handmade crafts, and yours pale in comparison. Your food isn’t as delicious. Your parties aren’t as fun. You’re just average.

That’s where I’m at today. It has been months since I’ve posted something, but I guess this is therapeutic for me. Lately it seems like everything I try to do is average. Nothing spectacular. Even those things I mean for encouragement seem to pale in comparison to someone else’s gift of encouragement.

So do I give my gift anyway? Do I make the average meal? Do I take the not-so-spectacular picture?
How do I deal with feelings of being average? How do I balance the desire to grow and be better with the reality that I’m not the best at everything, no matter how hard I try? How do I figure out what I’m made for, really good at, gifted with? How do I find my niche?

My Private Battles

I realize that by saying in a blog that something is private automatically makes it public. But even if I were to be only vague in description of my internal struggles and battles, which really isn’t my style, I still would be airing some things that have been, to this point, strictly private and internal.

I’m feeling led to tell my story, both the past and my present struggles, as little has changed in the type of struggle. Perhaps just the intensity of the struggle itself, and the maturity through which I see my life, have changed.

Let me begin with this: it took me, sadly, too long to realize the ways in which Satan tries to gain a foothold in me. He doesn’t keep trying tactics and eventually give up if a few don’t work. He knows my weaknesses. He has figured out how to get just the tiniest toe hold, and keeps kicking at it, little by little, until suddenly, he has shoved his entire foot into my back, and I never feel a thing until it’s too late.

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I have struggled with significance. My entire being shakes sometimes with anticipation of doing or being something great-not necessarily fame, but legacy I guess- just to decide that I’m incapable of doing much of anything, let alone something of great value and significance. I know this is a lie straight from Satan. That in itself should give me motivation, just to conquer him again and again. But it’s the part of me that I struggle with so deeply, this thought process has become ingrained. I don’t want to start something that I can’t finish or follow-through. If I do begin something, and then don’t finish it, the guilt is so thick, I could suffocate. I try so hard to do things with perfection, and I find that I have done very little, honestly, because I’m believing that everything I do has to be perfect or it’s not worth doing.

This quest for significance leads me, often, to question the value I am to others, especially those closest to me. I’m realizing that my inability to love myself before I’m perfect causes me to question how anyone else could love me before I’m perfect.
To say that I believe God loves me this way is truth. However, I then start to justify it “He’s supposed to. He’s God.” I dont have trouble believing He loves me unconditionally. That I know and am assured of. However, I have trouble not holding myself to a standard of loving me despite being imperfect. And because I hold myself to this standard, I have a hard time believing that any human, as flawed as I am, could possibly love me despite being imperfect.

My expectations of myself cause me to obsess about making sure that everything around me is as close to perfect as possible. When things seem perfect to me, I finally feel like I’m achieving something of significance and worth. This mindset goes for everything from my house being clean to my kids having awesome clothes and birthday parties to wanting my kids to act like mini-adults instead of kids with their own personalities.

I pray constantly that my critical nature of myself does not rub off on my kids, but I find myself being especially short and critical with them when I’m feeling less in control or when I realize I’m not measuring up to the impossible standard I’ve set for myself. As if it is somehow their problem or issue.

And then there’s my incredibly gracious and forgiving husband. I find myself doubting his love for and faithfulness to me when I’ve been especially critical, sarcastic, or hard on myself. I find when I’m struggling hardest with significance, like when I didn’t get a better position at work or when my kids act in ways that are frustrating or embarrassing, I begin to fear that I will be rejected. It’s so crazy that I feel this way, and Satan knows it is the one way he can try to break me, and in turn, cause riffs in my family.

At times, instead of fighting this constant battle raging in my mind, I want to give in, because it’s easier than facing the battle. There have been many times in my life that it’s all I can do to crawl because I’m too wounded and battle-weary to stand up, let alone fight.

Often, instead of measuring myself against how the God of the universe sees me, I’m stretching on my tiptoes to reach that impossible place where I think significance hangs. If I could just accept that I’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, I’ll never have to face that pole vault bar again. My worth would lie in Christ alone, who came to Earth in an imperfect body. Who hung around very imperfect people. Who taught people to see the worth not only in others, but in themselves. That’s the standard I need to hold myself to: it’s achievable, and in it, I am free to be who God created me to be, a work in progress, an imperfect person being made perfect. A heart redeemed.

Fear of Rejection

For as long as I can remember, I have been highly concerned with being well-liked and fitting in. Even now, at 30, I still find myself trying to please everyone and trying not to offend anyone because I want them to like me. Probably many of us struggle with this, or have struggled with it at some point.

I thought I was getting better at facing my fear of rejection and working through it. Several years ago, I spent a great deal of time praying through elements of my past that had started defining me. I thought I had rid myself of the fear of rejection, and maybe I did. Or maybe I mistook being freed from the unforgiveness in my heart surrounding rejection situations for being free of my fear of rejection.
Whatever the case may be, somehow this fear has crept in again, and as Satan does so well, it has started slowly debilitating my ability to reason and think outside of this fear. I recognize Satan in the midst of certain thoughts and fears, and I cast him off. But I’m still struggling with breaking that overwhelming fear that I’m not good enough, never will be, and might as well give up on everything that requires faith and trust.

Satan would love nothing more than to see me give up instead of overcome. He wants me to live in constant fear and paranoia, instead of passing it all over and trusting God with my everything. Because in the end, if I don’t have God I’m nothing. If I give up striving for greater faith and trust, I become useless. My purpose is lost and I’m no longer needed.

In the end, isn’t my purpose to glorify God? Aren’t I supposed to strive toward greater faith and trust? If I allow Satan to keep debilitating me with fear of rejection, I’m not even close to living up to what God has for me.

Father, please break this fear of rejection. Help me to seek you and strive for greater faith and trust. I want to honor and glorify You and stop allowing Satan to keep me captive to my fears.


Right now, I am going through one of the most difficult waiting processes in my life so far. Some days are easy to wait, some days take everything I can to keep from fretting all day about something I have absolutely no control over.
There is a song called “While I’m waiting”. In this song, it says “While I’m waiting, I will serve You. While I’m waiting I will worship. While I’m waiting I will not fade. I’ll be running the race even while I wait.” I think the hardest thing to do while we are waiting on God is to continue to serve and worship Him. It’s easy to think that by sitting back and waiting on God, without doing anything to grow in Him, we are going to hear from Him quicker. We think we will be less likely to “miss” what God is telling us. However, God tells us to wait expectantly. That means to be watching, serving others, worshipping, and waiting all at the same time.
God has shown me, already, things that I would have missed if I had just sat back and waited for God’s plan to unfold. These were things I learned through serving Him, worshipping Him, and watching for signs of Him. God doesn’t want us to fret and worry during waiting periods, but He wants us to trust that He is working. He is God, no matter what, and He deserves our praise, no matter what.
Next time you’re faced with a waiting period, remember that sometimes the lessons are in the midst of service and worship. If you sit back and expect God to work, you may miss what God is trying to teach you.

I need you to do it

My three-year-old is going through a “phase” (that’s what people say it is) where he wants to be completely independent, except on his terms. When he needs or wants help, he whines or begs for help. If I tell him no, that he needs to do something himself, he screams at me. These are things that he knows how to do, so he shouldn’t need help to do them. It’s frustrating and annoying because he becomes angry with me if I help him do something he wanted to do himself, and he becomes angry when I don’t help him do something, whether he asked for help or not. I am often to the point where I don’t know what to do, because it’s always the wrong decision.

As often happens after interactions with especially this particular child, I started to realize that often I act much the same way toward God as my son acts toward me. I want to do everything on my own, and only ask for help when I’m too tired or just don’t feel like doing something. I get angry or frustrated when things don’t go the way I want them to, I get annoyed or angry when God tells me no, or that I need to learn to work through something.

I’m so glad that God doesn’t throw His giant hands in the air, shake His head, and tell Jesus “You deal with her because I’ve had enough for one day.” I’m thankful for His never-ending grace, and how He is constantly making me new.
And I’m thankful that He gave me my beautiful, sweet, endearing, and (mostly) good-natured son. I’m even thankful for my son’s stubborn streak, because God uses it to teach me, while I’m teaching him, how to be better.

Page 1 of 41234»