“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

In January 2017, I was challenged. My challenge was to seek God for a “word” for that year. After much thought and prayer, God led me to my word. I didn’t set out for this one, but it found me. My word was Judah. Judah is a Hebrew word that means praised and full of love. After a very challenging year (of which that is an understatement), I began to see God bring this to pass in my life. I was able to praise God through the hardest, most difficult, and heart-breaking thing that I could ever go through. So many times I had to praise God in faith because I just didn’t feel like it nor did I have the physical, emotional, or mental energy to press through this dark time.

I also had to begin to learn how to love others once again, but the most difficult person I had to learn how to love again was myself. Somewhere along the way, my identity got lost amidst serving in ministry positions, serving my family, serving in churches, and a million other things. I had to find out once again who I was in Christ and build my identity upon who He said that I was and not what any other person said, whether good or bad. So many times during 2017, I would hear that booming voice inside of me telling me horrible things about myself. Sometimes it was just Satan telling me what a worthless person I was. Other times it would be painful memories of hurtful and degrading things that people had spoken over me.

I also had to learn how to let God love me as His daughter once again. Somehow that got crushed over the years. There were times that I just had to sit still and quiet because I had no words to utter all that I felt inside. These were the most healing times for me. I had to learn how to just “be” His daughter all over again. He showed me that all of my service to Him over the years meant nothing in comparison to my relationship with Him. He began to teach me what it meant to be a “Mary” and just sit at His feet. See, I was really good at being a “Martha.” He loved Natalie just because – not because of anything I could do, but simply because I was His daughter.

As I learned to let God pour His love into me, then He showed me how to pour His love onto everyone that He put in my path. He showed me that His overwhelming love was meant to be shared with others. You can’t pour from an empty vessel, and my vessel was pretty empty prior to 2017. But that all changed for me when He revealed His truth to me. I am not the same Natalie that I was prior to 2017!

God continues to challenge me with this during 2018. I grew so much last year. I’m a different person today because of everything that I have experienced. There were so many times that I didn’t want to walk that horrible road that I had to walk, but I made it! I have some scars, wounds, and bruises, but today I stand as an overcomer and a victor.

I am Natalie, the daughter of the Most High King. I am loved, honored, cherished, and adored by The One who gave it all for me! I am Judah, full of love and ready to praise. This is who I am!

Natalie Howard ❤️

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