This kick-off post is later than I would have liked, but better late than never, or so I keep telling myself. You know that when you start running after Jesus the enemy starts rapid fire on all things in your life. That’s where I have been the past two weeks, in the trenches on the battlefield, but the fight isn’t over, and I’m not stopping the pursuit.
I would like to invite you all to jump into a group with me. A group where we do life together. Where we interact with one another. Where we love on one another, relate to one another and lift one another up.
This group will be called The Kingdom Chasers. There will be men and women in this group. We will all participate by reading, writing and praying for one another. There will not be a set schedule. Although I commit to you that we will have a weekly interaction. I do promise to not overwhelm you, and ask that you commit to reading your Bible or devotional daily, so that you stay filled with the Word of God, that you read the weekly blog posts, participate in commenting, and simply saying a prayer when led.
Together, we will be pursuing a better version of ourselves. A version of us that looks more like Jesus. Together, we will stand in agreement for one another’s calling and God-given purpose, and build one another up so that we each may have the confidence to step where God is leading us.
Love is what gives us life. It is what makes life worth living. It is because of love that we have breath in our lungs, a beautiful world to live in, the ability to relate and connect with other humans; it is because of love that we have freedom, hobbies and passion.
Love is also the reason we can feel loneliness, despair and loss. The lack of having love or not being able to express love brings fear to most.
This past week Pastor Chris Hanna, Highlands College Professor and Master of Divinty, said that the passage in scripture that we know so well as the marriage or wedding scripture, because it focuses on love, “is not about marriage at all. In its original context, 1 Corinthians 13 is actually about ministry leadership.” I found this concept perplexing and convincing.
Pastor Chris Hanna taught our Highlands College first semester evening students on Tuesday night that 1 Corinthians 13 actually tells us how to not only lead, but live. This scripture of truth (that we normally read with heart eyes) actually tells us without love all we say is ineffective, all we love is insignificant, all we believe is insufficient, all we give is incomplete, and all we accomplish is inadequate. In Paul’s letter, he tells us how important it is to love well, not just in loving our significant other, but in loving all people in all that we do, all that we say, all that we give; to love first and foremost in all things, and in that scripture he tells us how.
It is vital that we understand the importance of love and it’s role in our life. It is of the utmost importance that we steward our love well. After all, the ability to love is a spiritual gift. Our God so loved that He created (us and all that surrounds us), He loved so He gave (His son, crucified so that we have a way back to Him, despite the times we’ve failed Him); He first loved us.
Today marks 3 years since my grandfather’s eternal homecoming. He left this world on Valentine’s Day three years ago. My Pawpaw was a great man. He was everything a wife searches for in a husband. He was everything a daughter wants in a father. He was good. He was kind. He knew how to love and let himself be loved. His life and most everything he did was an expression of love.
I spent last night on the phone with my grandmother for a while. We laughed, we cried, we told stories and dreamed of what life today would be like if Pawpaw was still here. How he would have been over the moon with all of the great-grands he now has roaming the Earth. Oh, how those little boys and my little mini-me would have loved their Pawpaw.
But on this day, three years ago, on the day that the whole world celebrates acts of love, God chose to take His good and faithful servant home. This life in it’s day to day activities (especially in today’s day and age as we hustle and grind), it is easy to lose focus, easy to forget that this is not the end game, but it is the pre-game. This is only the beginning, and it is so very important to do it well and with purpose.
I pray that I get to live this pre-game long enough to see my great-grands, or see Jesus return. If He does not come to take us home during my lifetime, I pray my great-grands reflect on my life with the words I used to describe my grandfather’s life – loving, good, faithful servant.
I am blessed to come from a lineage on both sides of my family with that a man of this caliber gave life and love to women that would pour those values and beliefs into me. I have walked many trials and tribulations, but thinking of my maternal grandfather and my paternal great-grandfather, my Papaw, are sweet reminders that God is the great orchestrator. He knew what I would face, and He made sure that I had strong women in my life to lead and grow me spiritually. He knows. God is such a good good father.
As we celebrate today, Valentine’s Day, may we reflect on the gift, art, act and charge we have from God to LOVE, and love well. May we remember the motive behind this day, Saint Valentine, a man that was a martyr and a legacy celebrated by people all around the world, Christian and non-believers, by showing others kindness and generosity, and acts of love.
I share, from my heart to yours, words and an “attitude of gratitude” (#HCFamily) that I hope imprint in your heart and mind, as they have mine. May they empower and encourage you. Words to live by, “Our Life + Our Love = Our Legacy” – Pastor Chris Hanna.
We <get> to love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
What an honor it is to love and be loved.
The Greatest Of These Is Love
13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13, – Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth
I Do you want to be better than you were last year?
Yes? …In what ways?
And if your answer is no, then I am going to challenge you to dig deeper.
WHY? Because we can always get better. We can always get closer to our goals, grow closer to God, become closer to the best version of ourselves, and closer to all He has for us.
Albert Einstein is quoted having said “once you stop learning, you start dying.”
If you always accomplish, reach and obtain your goals, then you should probably push yourself harder to create bigger goals. Dig deeper, dream bigger; we can go further than most of us give ourselves credit for.
Want to know the key, the secret of you will, to accomplishing more goals, and even dreaming bigger, thinking greater and living larger lives than you are today?
A dear friend of mine, Gina, quotes our pastor all the time… with a smile and a glow she says, “the answer is always the same. It’s the three r’s.” Meditate on that first part for a moment. There is so much wisdom in that statement, “the answer is always the same.” It’s the same because He is always the same. The same yesterday, today and forever, always standing there waiting on you and watching you with a simple truth and a smile. He’s a simple God. He’s the same constant good, good Father, full of love, mercy and grace.
“The 3 R’s… they are:
To set the tone of these 3 R’s queue Cody Carnes’ Run to the Father. This song has been top of mind as of late. There is so much truth, beauty and freedom in this song. We should consistently run to the Father with everything, and fully submit ourselves, our whole selves to Him. We need to constantly humble ourselves before the cross, to be still and know the He is God and He is good, and rely on Him to order and orchestrate our will, our mind, our emotions, our bodies and our lives. His plans and His will are perfectly made for us. We have to trust Him.
Commit. Go all in. Take it all to Him. He is our counselor, our friend, the One who created us… for a time such as this.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10
Want know what you were made for?
You were made to pursue. In order to live this life to its fullest potential, in order to grow, you have to go all in for God. Pursue Him and only Him consistently. Fix your eyes and your heart on His goodness, grace and mercies. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Read His Word.
“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 22:19
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
That’s it. That’s the key. Take heart, have faith in His promises, move toward Him, and He will bless you.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
James 4:8 tells us “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex 14:4
How beautiful is that promise?! He is fighting, protecting and warring on your behalf. He just wants us to run to Him, rest in Him and rely on Him! That is the God we serve. I, at times, cannot even wrap my mind around that, the creator, author, alpha omega, Jehovah Jirah, King of all Kings and LORD of all Lords wants us to just run, rest and rely on Him… to sit in His knee and talk to Him.
My friend, He created the human race to enjoy the garden and take walks with Him! He’s our Father and our friend. He wants you to abundantly enjoy this life and He has given us the simple Truth for generations, and for our generation, He lives us so that He gave His son, and the Living Word to live by. He just asks us to read it, spend time with Him, have faith in Him and trust the process.
If you agree with me, and even if you don’t, try this – I’m begging you! Write down your goals, your dreams; for dreams are birthed from the heart. Write it all down, the outrageous and the simple, and submit them to the Father.
All throughout scripture we are taught the importance of writing things down, as if the Bible were not proof enough of the importance of making accounts of what is taking place. Take note so that you can give an accurate account of your testimony. By submit, I mean to take your written notes, your heart cries, your requests, your confessions, your healings, your plans, your money…. take it all to Him and pray… pray over each item and ask God to align the desires of your heart with what He would have you to do this year.
What would He have you focus on?
What does He want to heal?
What is He telling you to walk away from?
Ask for Him to speak into you, to breathe fresh vision and revelation on you, ask Him to ignite the Holy Spirit inside of you that you might know His ways, so that you can take your next steps with purpose, provision and certainty.
Submit it all to Him. Take it all to the cross, lay it down and leave it. This act will help differentiate what is being driven by your desires and what is His desire for you. Ask Him to orchestrate your attitude, your tongue, your time, your choices and your intentions, so that you can honor Him. And be thankful, because your beliefs shape your reality. He will bless your request and protect you, because He loves you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
Run, Rest and Rely.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
And when your mind starts doubting, when you want to go pick up what you left at the foot of the cross, remind yourself of God’s promises, His sacrifice, His love and the fact that each day is a gift from above and we should do with it as He would have us.
Ultimately, God’s desire for our life is the best life. In alignment with Him, pursuing Him, we will find an abundant life.
Do you want all He has for you in 2020? Let’s dig in and go get it. He is there, with His hand out waiting for us to grab hold. Side-by-side, let’s leap toward him, hands stretched out… together pursuing. He is going to catch us and carry us.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7
We will plea, pray, and plan together here at “His D. Light”. “For where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them” Matt 18:20. I cannot wait to see what blessings our good Father has in store for us in 2020. It is going to be the best year of our lives.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Many of you reading this are probably my close family and friends. Many of you may not know that on a warm summer’s night at 16 years old, on a youth retreat in southwest Georgia I answered the call to ministry. For me, in that moment, that meant that I would chase God harder than ever, no matter where and what that meant. In my heart it meant, “Here I am, Lord. Send me, I’ll go” just as we read in Isaiah 6:8.
In that moment at 16 years of age, I didn’t truly know the weight of my words, but the beauty of that moment is that I didn’t care how costly, I was so in love and so believed that I was willing to give all of me, all I was to the cause of being whatever, however, whoever Jesus needed me to be. (My heart looked a lot like Jesus’s desire for our hearts at that time of my life.)
My whole childhood I never took my eyes off of Jesus. I always looked for Him and to him. For as long as I can remember, I clang to the truth of the Word and believed whole-heartedly in God and Jesus. I will explain this more at a later date, but, I will say, I had to in order to survive. Church, God and Jesus were my sanity and my sanctuary.
I graduated from Samford University in 2010, and in 2011 walked through a personal tragedy that is a huge part of my testimony that I promise to share (this is a book in progress), in 2012, as I told you previously, I married the love of my life. In 2013 I felt that same pull I had felt so many years prior to be in full-time ministry. I jumped into my church’s ministry leadership development program, Highlands College. My husband and I got unintentionally pregnant with our son only months after entering Highlands College, and while difficult, I finished strong in 2015. Those were two years that hollowed me out and emptied me clean so that God could begin to rebuild me as the daughter I was called to be, a rebirth of that 16 year old girl on the river bank that sold out for Jesus. As I walked across the stage in 2015 and shook our lead pastor’s hand and he handed me my certificate, I felt the peace, joy and proud at-a-girl spiritual hug from our Heavenly Father. I often reflect on His presence in that moment. I also reflect on the many messages, values and lessons learned in those four semesters at Highlands College. I grew monumentally in that season as a person, a wife, mom and Christian.
Current and personal confession: I am a Proverbs 31 and Lysa TerKeurst fan girl. I have loved everything she has ever produced. This past year I read a book she wrote, “When women say yes to God.” Y’all… this is a must read. The book, she explains, was previously titled “Radical Obedience.” She jokingly explains that no one bought it and so her publisher had her retitle it and it flew off of the shelf. Shamefully, I admit, I probably wouldn’t have bought a book titled “Radical Obedience” either. I want to be radically obedient, but if I am being honest it just seems so hard and unattainable…. but why? Ever since the garden we as humans have struggled and will continue to struggle with obedience until the return of Christ. And while it is impossible to always be obedient ever since that choice in the garden, there is a lot of room for obedience for many of us. The obedience our good good Father is looking for is not always taking the right action, it’s a condition of the heart. We should be taking daily steps to make obedience a habit. Most of us do not take daily steps that contribute to our goals. Most of us unintentionally self sabotage on a regular basis. We, the human race, are entitled, emotionally-driven, pleasure seekers, and while most of us like the idea of being in lock-step with God, being right and obedient, very few of us are willing to put in the work it takes every day to truly make a change in our nature to fulfill the level of obedience that God desires us to pursue. That’s the key word, pursue. He wants His children in pursuit of Him and all He has for us.
Lysa’s book, 21 days of prayer and fasting, and the Word, have motivated and inspired me to put in the work everyday that will result in a year I can proudly reflect on. I am fully prepared to take 2020 head on. Someone wise once said, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” This year, I am planning to be radically obedient, and I am inviting you to come along.
A sneak peek of what my interpretation of planning for success as a Christian looks like:
Get a planner! I chose the Full Focus Planner this year! “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Prov 21:5
Bible reading. His Word is our daily bread, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto out path. It is as essential for living as water and oxygen. I am thoroughly enjoying my new Bible by my one of my favorite apps, She Reads Truth. “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt 4:4 | “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Prov 3:5-6
Set financial goals with a monthly budget in place. Tithe. “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 | “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” Malachi 3:10
Create a reading plan for 2020 and purchase books in advance if possible. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Prov 15:22
Self-care plan in place. Practice self-care at least 3 times a week. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
Create tangible weekly and monthly goals that equate to an outcome that will be pleasing at year-end. “
Observe the Sabbath and keep it Holy. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
Plan margin. Plan for attacks and distractions, because they will come. “Some are like the seeds along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” Mark 4:15 | “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
I’d love to hear some of your resolutions and planning you have put into place to ensure success. What does obedience mean for you and your journey? Comment below so the community can see!
If you have not read “What happens when women say yes to God,” by Lysa TerKeurst get it and read it this week. It is a quick and easy read, and trust me, you will not be able to put it down. Get a planner that works for you! And spend time in prayer and godly counsel to prioritize your schedule and tasks according to the Word and Will of God.
It is my prayer that as we usher in a new decade that we all look more like Jesus this decade. What would the world look like if we all had the Isaiah 6:8 (send me, I’ll go) and John 3:16 (He loved the world so that He gave… and he just didn’t give anything – He gave His best, his son) mentality?
Deuteronomy 11:26 says “Obey and you will be blessed.” and John (14:21) states “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Together let us enter into this decade and mark this year as the most obedient year of our lives. It’s not going to be easy. We need one another. We need accountability and a partner when things get hard. I want this place to be that for you. Let’s hold one another up and help each other dance through this next decade.
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matt 18:20
My name is Danielle Womack. I have a million and one nicknames, but most in my circle at this phase of my life call me “D” (mostly because it is a short abbreviation of Danielle when texting and emailing) and my nephews named me “Dee Dee” hence the inspiration for the title of this blog, “His D-light.” In this space I plan to shed light on my testimony, story, be a place of light, a place where we cling to His Word, and take steps closer to Jesus and His plan for our lives in transparency and community.
I am not a native of Birmingham, but have called Birmingham home for over a decade. Home will always be tucked in the SouthEast corner of Alabama, the city and people of Dothan. However, Birmingham has been fertile ground for me since 2006. I fell in love with Samford University at the age of 18, and have been chasing my dreams in Birmingham ever since. I have experienced a lot of life and lessons in Birmingham, which is what I am looking forward to sharing with you here at His D-Light.
I married my wonderful husband and love of my life, Brandon, in 2012 and have two beautiful children, 5 year old son, Braxton Stone and, 2 year old daughter, Jade Karis. God has truly blessed me with my family and the people in my life far beyond what I deserve and greater than I could have imagined, and the city of Birmingham and our home church, Church of the Highlands, has been the foundation we have built our lives and love on.
For those of you who are personality junkies like me, I think it is important for you to know with whom you are speaking; I am an ENFP/2w3. For those of you who are not as familiar with that means I am a bit of a free spirit. I am a go getter. I love to dream and bet against the odds. I think out-loud; which means I say more than I should, and I have to apologize for not thinking before I speak… a lot. After a conversation I will play the words exchanged over and over and over again in my head, hoping I did not offend or worse discourage the person with whom I was speaking. I thrive on social and emotional connections. I spend far too much time reordering my task list and debating on which I should do first, or pondering on the intent for making the list and the purpose and meaning behind each item. When I get fresh vision that inspires me, my husband and close friends can attest, there little that can stop me from pursuing that vision, even with all cards stacked against me.
That being said, I am really excited to share with you the purpose and vision behind this space… 2020 being the year of 20/20 vision has me fired up. I had the most radical 21 days of prayer and fasting. I cannot wait to share it with you. I pray and fast with my church twice every year (and intermittently as needed throughout the year), but this year was by far the most powerful, coming in only second to the year I got married, which is a journey I plan to share here as well. My hope is that this would be a place where you can come to get a fresh word and be encouraged. God placed it on my heart to share my story almost a decade ago, and this is the year of transparency, and for personally for me, the year of radical obedience.
The vision behind this space is not to be another link where you can mindlessly scroll, looking at the photos and bullet points. This is a place where we dive deep… together. I plan to have featured writers to also share their stories, and I will be looking for feedback from you all on what you’d like to read about, where you are struggling and how I can be praying for you. Yes, this will essentially be a small group that you can participate in as your time permits. The goal here is to encourage and engage.
So get ready, we are about to dive in. We are going where the Lord takes us, together, one step at a time: reading, writing, laughing, loving and building relationships every step of the way. I am excited to seek and walk the journey God has in store for us in 2020.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7
Photo Credit to the ever-so talented Meshea at Olive Gray Photography, Destin, FL family photographer in Summer of 2019.