A couple weeks ago we left our house to prepare for Hurricane Irma. There were so many moving parts. We had no idea when school would resume. My husband needed to take a business trip. The storm had no real direction, and we had people telling us to leave and which houses we could live at. A million decisions were thrown up in the air, with a storm barreling towards us.
And so many worries…would our car be okay? Would our place get flooded? Would our life ever return to normal? Would power take months to go back on? Would schools ever start up again? How could I get my manuscript done for the next week with a hard deadline on my shoulders?
Add to the ride screaming kids, a phone that was blowing up with texts, bad news after bad news and it all could add up to: too much.
My husband looked at me and said, “Kelly, we need to take things one day at a time.”
These words released me from the burden of knowing it all. They spoke to me: Kelly, it is okay to be where you are today. Just stick here, in today. . .you can figure out the rest later.
Inhale. Exhale. God has this.
Where do you need to “take things one day at a time?” How might keeping your thoughts in today prevent you from rushing into quick, sandy thoughts of tomorrow? Thoughts that want to sink you emotionally?
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt. 6:34
What we have here, in this moment, is what God works with. It is what he impacts, as we trust him. It is what we feel peace with, as we address it. It is what calms us, as we know we did our part. It is what sets us free from overwhelming and heartbreaking worry.
Let it go. You have full permission, today, to take things one day at a time.
The stale air of the subway felt like her closest companion. She was surrounded by people yet no one seemed to notice her. Some passengers looked straight ahead, others seemed to look through her, and most were on their phone. A few, very few, were engaged in conversation.
I’m hungry. She cried out.
And the passengers were unaware…or unmoved.
I’m hungry! She called out again.
I heard the cry. Not just from the mouth of this fellow passenger, but deep within my soul.
I have known hunger too: soul hunger.
And I wonder how many of us join in this refrain? I’m hungry. I’m hungry!
On the days when there’s nothing left in the cupboard. For the times when the house (or inbox) is devoid of life. In the aftermath of unexpected storms that barrel through. There is one who hears, who sees, who understands. One who has experienced loneliness (and hunger) in ways we can’t even imagine.
He answers our cries with Himself: the Bread of Heaven broken for us.
He doesn’t look through us, He lives in us. He invites us to feast as He provides soul manna that never runs out. He never runs out on us. Jesus. Not a trite answer but THEE answer for our deep soul ache.
Tried and true, tested and proven, His Love saturates lonely, aching places.
Here for us; always. When others ignore, when they overlook, or when they inadvertently hurry by…He remains.
Here are 7 verses to feast on when you’re feeling lonely:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139: 7-10).
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NLT).
There is a verse here for each day of the week. May you be comforted as you cry out to God and bring your loneliness to Him. Oh how He cares for you and is more than able to provide for the hunger of your soul.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.
There is a homeless lady my kids love. She sits on the side of the road in a makeshift tent made out of trash bags, tarps and cardboard. Everyday, when we pass her on the way home from school, my kids scream out the window, “Hi, have a great day,” as we pass by.
They know her name because one day, my daughter thought we should bring her food. She thought carrots would be nice. My son thought flowers would be a good idea too. So, we bought carrots and flowers and delivered them to her. It was then we learned she had a name.
Linda. I can’t stop thinking of Linda right now. She had to leave the streets…probably by force. I hope she didn’t protest. Somehow, I imagine her not wanting to desert her carts of personal belongings. I imagine her crying because that block is where she’s always lived. But if Linda didn’t leave, she might be dead. Hurricane Irma planned to hit her, hard.
Linda likely perceived her stuff more valuable than her safety. And she probably didn’t think about how there was a better place for her.
We’re like Linda, too. We don’t want to leave “our heart stuff” behind for God’s soul-calming safety.
We don’t want to cling to the safety of what we know, forgetting the calm that God brings. We don’t want to stay in a marginal place, missing the greater place of growth God is calling us to. This is even riskier than staying where we are. To stay on our corner, clinging to the past, our faults, insecurities or worries, hurts not only ourselves but others.
We must leave our baggage behind to pick up God’s easier yoke. There is a transaction involved in this. There is a sacrifice.
I’ve certainly learned this. I could easily go through life paying no attention to what God is prompting. Or the greater love he is calling me to, the mission he’s set ahead, or the unneeded garbage he is calling me to leave behind. But I would lose so much. Everything, almost.
Left to the whimsies of Kelly Balarie, I’d be a woman in a storm who felt like she had no home. I’d be tossed to and fro, feeling powerless.
The letting go and going where God goes is safety and power. It is a powerful Christian life that permits God to decrease self, while increasing the Spirit. This woman realizes more and more she’s in love with her daddy. She sees his best beyond her worst. She uncovers his faithfulness.
What is better than that? What is a more worthy pursuit? A more honorable goal?
Every time God teaches us something and inches us in a new direction, it’s not because we are doing bad, but because we are doing good and because he loves us that much. He wants our full heart within the safe place of his arms, where no harm can touch us, because — when we let go of everything, we find him fully.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Mt. 5:5
Where is God calling you to step more fully out of your comfort zone and into his love? What if you were to believe he truly did have your best intentions in mind?
“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:24
Recently while playing back a Facebook live video I discovered an ugly truth…
I don’t have a chin in my profile view unless I smile.
I stumble when searching for the right words to say.
And I forget to look and mention each person that tuned in—how rude!
As I watch the video again, I think, I should have done better. Silently I resolve never to do another Facebook live video.
The ugly truth? Gasp—It wasn’t perfect. The realization? Ugh, I’m a perfectionist.
Perfectionist: A person who demands perfection of him or herself.
A couple of years ago I would have never called myself out as being a perfectionist because to me, a perfectionist is someone who has to make everything perfect—meaning they accomplish the task. Since I knew I couldn’t make everything just so, I surmised I didn’t fit this description.
But I was wrong.
I do try to make everything perfect but it’s according to my own standards. And I set them pretty high then I beat myself up when I don’t measure up. This often leaves me feeling like I’m good enough.
And that’s sad.
This idea that I shouldn’t ever make a mistake—mess things up, well, it’s paralyzed me and boxed me in for years. It’s kept me from trying new things, from moving forward, from chasing my dreams.
Have you ever felt like this, even partially? If you have and you are like me, you probably don’t know where this need for doing things flawlessly originates.
I believe perfectionism is a scheme of the devil. Another kill, steal and destroy game plan.
It kills our drive. It steals our joy. It destroys our dreams
Satan feeds us lies to keep us stuck. Because when we hold ourselves to this unreachable standard we keep ourselves from taking a next step—from learning.
By God’s divine design we learn by making mistakes—trial and error. If we are scared of goofing up how can be ever move ahead to the great things God has planned for us—our divine destiny—our God-given purpose?
But there is hope. It’s called grace.
And grace looks like Jesus—God’s greatest gift to us.
I am good enough and you are good enough because Jesus was good enough to be the perfect sacrifice for us. Because Jesus took our place on the cross we’ve been made perfect in God’s eyes. No more striving. It’s already been taken care of. By God’s grace it’s been done.
“For by grace you have been saved though faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
His grace allows us the freedom to be all He intended us to be.
And though I now intellectually know this, I‘ve believed the lies so long its been a slow recovery. But I am recovering. You too?
So let us perfectionist types forge our way forward bravely running head on into mess-ups, blunders, goofs and mistakes, allowing God to refine us through each one. Knowing and believing that as His children, He sees as not only good enough but priceless, blameless and beyond compare. Already perfect.
So give yourself a little grace. God has.
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball.
You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
Have you ever done something you didn’t want to, and then regretted it?
I regret being a woman who desperately wanted men to like her. I regret not standing up for who I was. I regret not standing firm when people tried to tell me what to do.
Because I think all this produced a thick heart. Skin that is like cow hide.
And now I tend to not trust people easily, believe what they say, accept things without considering the strings attached or believe people will like me – for me.
I consider ulterior motives. I consider God’s ulterior motives.
As if he says to me:
If you aren’t good, I won’t be good to you.
If I don’t think you are serving me well enough, I’ll be distant from you.
If you don’t spend time with me, I am angry at you.
If you don’t give enough to me, I am over you.
If you don’t have something to offer the world, I’ll pass you over.
I am being frank with you today.
I am also convicted that hearts covered with protective skin are not God’s best working ground. He loves a supple heart that lays in his hands. One that, when he presses on it with just the slightest amount of loving pressure, responds.
So, I’ve forgiven those who never asked for forgiveness. I’ve asked God asked to soften my heart. And I’ve requested to hear his voice. God speaks to us today, something like this:
I won’t hurt you.
I don’t need anything back from you to love you.
I’ll love you as a good, pure and holy Father, forever.
I know where I am taking you. It is not to a place of harm or ridicule.
I don’t have plans to help and then hurt you.
It’s not what you do for me. It is what Jesus did for you.
If you take off what covers your heart, I’ll reach in and heal it.
I’ll grow you because I love you.
I care for hearts, including yours, with care.
You can trust me.
I was shocked when I got the email. My friend, Jackie, said, “We really need to pray for Jennifer.”
I wasn’t shocked she said we needed to pray; this I was fully aware of. I already knew Jennifer was headed toward dangerous, murky no-return waters. What shocked me was Jackie, one I considered maybe-connected to God, was telling me to pray.
And she busted me. I wasn’t praying a lick. Instead, I was tossing up my arms, doing nothing and giving God no chance to change a single thing.
It was Jackie, the maybe-connected-one-to-God who was praying. I was just sitting there.
Guilt dropped on me like a hammer. And so did the remembrance of many other things I didn’t do. . .
Like following through with a friend who came to church with me. I never made time to return to her house with love and the right words after that day.
Or being present for a friend dealing with a life near breakdown. I was too caught up in my own movements.
Or making the regular phone calls to the friends I know who are struggling in their marriages. I only saw my life.
Or taking a mom I met at my child’s school for coffee, like God prompted me to. I got distracted with other things.
Or making the time to meet with the people God placed around me for a time of impact, such as now. I forgot about them.
When we only see our world, we miss God’s world. The one he intentionally set before us – for impact. We miss his higher calling.
God’s higher callings feel like taking a lower road. They feel like setting aside our stuff. They feel like remembering the least of these. They feel like doing something when you’re tired. They feel like acting, anyway.
What higher calling might God be setting before you, where you have to take the lower road?
There is no day better than the present day to move on what he’s set before you. Move, so one day, like me, you don’t look back and say, “Sorry God, I forgot to do so much.”
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9
I have only been blogging for a couple of years. In those years I have interacted with many amazing women. I have found that among the things we do not have in common, there is almost always one thing we do have in common.
We are the walking wounded.
I have yet to meet a woman or receive an email from someone who says, “I have no battle wounds, I have not a single emotional scar. I have never been let down, lead astray, hurt, disappointed, cheated, lied to, manipulated or violated.”
In this life, these things happen. These bad things happen. They sneak up on us, and they change us, sometimes – they define us. This is tragic but in my case, and what I am now learning, in the case of so many women, these incidents also defined Jesus.
Well, yeah. Think about it, do you have an incident where you were hurt or hurting that a human being, someone you loved or trusted said or did something that you have now negatively associated with Jesus?
At my brother-in-law’s funeral, an older parishioner came up to me and said, “God must be trying to show you something. Don’t let this lesson go to waste.” I believed this lie. I believed that God was up on high killing, cutting innocent men to ribbons to teach me… the worst person on the planet, who ate too much cheese, a harsh lesson.
But I believed this. I believed in an irrational wrath. I believed His fury could never be quenched. I was certain there was no telling who would be next. I was exhausted, paralyzed and petrified. As I typed words of His goodness and truths of His mercy, love, and unending favor His true character began to peep through my darkness. I began to question what I knew about Him.
And then I began to grieve what I had come believe about Him.
One Thursday afternoon, I fell into His arms in the most genuine of submissions. I curled up in His lap and recited scripture after scripture about His goodness.
If He is for me who can be against me?
If nothing can separate me from His love, why do I keep a list of things I believe have alienated me from Him?
If Jesus died, rose again, and then sat down… why do I think I must work to finish anything?
If Jesus came to give me life and peace and joy in abundance, why am I so stressed and sad?
The litany went on and on and when it was finished I was free. Free from the terror of believing I was doomed, that my children were doomed… that the other shoe was about to drop because I messed up my Weight Watchers points. The lists of things I believed I did wrong could never catch up with the meager list of things I did right. The things I did right? How could ever measure if they were enough?
In the midst of the revelation, I was writing my first book, which you can now find by following the link below. As excited as I am to share it here, on Kelly’s page, who was with me through every step of the journey, it is a very vulnerable time. I have cried buckets, rejoiced, and cried some more. Still, Jesus has been so real to me in these months, that is my entire focus. Although He doesn’t need me, I need to voice how wrong I was about Him. And I know this, He does want me. He craved me unto His death. Not to terrorize me, but to commune with me. He enjoys my company, I am His girl. He waits patiently for you as well, the unearthing of His true identity is one I wouldn’t have missed. He is indeed Bread and Life.
Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
The checkout counter lady turned to me, right there next to my shopping cart and said, “Can I hug you?”
I wasn’t expecting it. I hadn’t done much to warrant it. I hadn’t ushered in world peace to the foundations of her life or dropped all my shopping goods to figure out her life plan or answered her every heart question. All I did was approach her in an authentic way.
When I came up to check out at Trader Joe’s (which I super-love, by the way!), she asked, “How’s your day? You sure bought a lot…” It was an understatement. My cart was so high the stuff was nearly toppling over on one side.
“I am trying to do a better job at taking care of the family. This is my attempt at it.”
She looked at the stuff and at me. Then she opened up about her stuff. I encouraged her and said a couple little things like, “I understand,” “I get that” and “It’s worth taking a risk. Risks you don’t regret, but regret, you do. ”
It wasn’t much. Not real brainiac stuff, but it was real. And this was the point, I suppose.
A couple days later, I met with another friend. She kind of shocked me when she did exactly the same. We were just hanging out and all of a sudden, she turned towards me, out of the blue, and hugged me. “Kelly, I’ve been through so much. It has just been one thing on top of another falling. Thank you for being here.”
I was taken aback.
Why are these people hugging me out of nowhere? I am doing nothing except being here with them.
With the checkout counter lady, I was with her as she talked about her future education, her fear and her boyfriend.
With my friend, I was with her as she explained how hard of a time it has been for her.
Sometimes, the most impactful thing we can ever be is – with.
Not with – and giving advice.
Not with – and saying, “Oh you know, that once happened to me.”
Not with – and counting up what you’ll say next.
Not with – and thinking of other things.
Not with – and internally over their issues.
Just – with.
With…and understanding, feeling compassion, seeking to know, truly engaging, asking questions, responding generously, giving our true and painful story when led by God. Something I don’t do often, but I guess I did on those days.
The irony is that when you are with someone, you get touched back. God does it one way or another. People reach into your space and give you something you didn’t know you needed, but you desperately wanted. They cling to you and through authenticity, you realize you need them as much as they need you. They look at you in a way that lets you know your humility is shifting something in their life.
And one day, it’ll be you in their shoes – just needing to vent. It creates a security in your heart. Things will be okay.
With His disciples, He left the crowd behind, and traveled by boat to a new place on the far side of the lake. A furious storm suddenly raged. Waves crashed over the boat, and they nearly drowned.
Meanwhile, Jesus slept on a cushion in the stern.
If you think about what he had been doing before this little boat ride, his deep sleep makes perfect sense. At least from my introverted (and sometimes-exhausted Mom) perspective. He had been teaching crowds of people, eating meals with people, and traveling about talking with them and healing them.
Mark 4 tells us the disciples took Jesus along in the boat, “just as He was.” And what He was, was completely exhausted. Fully human…
Head to Angela’s Blog to read the rest of this post! Also, LINKUP your own encouraging post there for the #RaRaLinkup this week.
Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.
Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter?
All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”
He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”
Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.
I asked the man if I could take his photo. And I did. But after, he couldn’t get up. His hands wouldn’t support his weight. When I reached out my hand, he looked hesitant at the thought of grabbing it, but he did.
“Pull hard,” he said. I gave it my all. And all I could think as I pulled up the strength of this man, who was so weak, was how Christ gave it all. And how, at the right time, his broken body beat the ravages of earth to reign in heaven.
Jesus gave his everything to bring us all life and hope. Jesus paid it all so we could sit under the shadow of that memorial cross. Jesus gave it all so that we could end our lives, knowing all will end up being okay as we leave this earth. Jesus paid it all so we could accept a helping hand on the days we feel weak. Jesus paid it all so we wouldn’t have to kill ourselves by pretending we are strong, when we actually are weak.
Jesus fought for and bought our freedom. He won.
And he is winning today. He is winning whatever war you face. He’s behind you. He’s in front of you. He’s your future. He is your life. He is your answer. He is the beginning of your new thing. He is your help.
Live for him in a way so when you get to that memorial of your life and you look back, you’ll say, “With Jesus, I gave my all. In him, I fully believed.”