I walked to the car. Laying on the driveway at my feet was a flower, pulled out by the bulb. My heart dropped. It was disturbing.
Leaning over to pick it up, I tossed it around in my hand, considering how it hadn’t been picked like a normal flower, it hadn’t been cut at it’s stem so it could sprout up next year. Nope. Instead, it was ripped up, its core yanked from the ground. Never again would there be growth, renewal, and hope for this little thing.
The worst thing – ever – happened to this little flower. Hope was gone.
The devil wants to rip us, the same way, right from the bulb out of the hearty soil of God’s love. He wants to cut us, not at our stem, so that we can grow again, but at the core of who we are. He wants to take away our heart that believes we are son or daughter. He wants to remove the mustard seed of faith. He wants to hijack the truth we are saved from our heart. He wants to cripple our ability to ever bloom again.
The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed 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. Mk. 4:14-15
His tactics happen subtly. I don’t know one person who said: I want to become an alcoholic. I want to someday cheat on my spouse. I dream of becoming addicted by drugs. I am looking forward to becoming a shopaholic. I hope to one day fall far, far away from Jesus, never to care much about his ways anymore. His tugs are slow-coming.
Little-by-little, he yanks. Little-by-little, we are removed just a little more from the soil we were planted in. Day-by-day, it happens until, one day – pop! – we’re a plucked bulb from the ground. Faith is gone.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. Jo. 10:10
What are we doing, anyway? Are we waiting and watching or are we just going – la, de, da – living as life passes us by?
Just as a predator loves a woman head down, wearing earbuds (how better to grab her) – so does the enemy love when we are distracted by the noise, commotion and the distraction of the world. Snatch!
Friends, be aware. Don’t just go through the motions of a day. Intentionally draw close to God. Come near to God and he will come near to you. (Ja. 4:8)
Don’t just wait for faith to happen. Move into it. Grab it. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Ro. 10:17)
Don’t just be a lukewarm Christian. Let God set you on fire. Go out. So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:16)
Don’t sit around and live a distracted life. Stay focused. It matters. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God… (Heb. 12:2 MSG)
The days are short. The weeks are numbered. The mission is huge. The stakes are high. God is what matters.
I replanted that bulb, by the way. That is what God does. He replants us, no matter where we’ve been ripped up in life. He grows us again. And, we show up even more beautiful.
Sin. It’s a tricky thin, isn’t it? Those of us in Christ don’t want to participate in it, but somehow we easily fall prey to it. We all know there is no hierarchy when it comes to sin. Lust is just as wrong as adultery. Anger is just as wrong as murder. It all quenches the Holy Spirit and it all breaks the Father’s heart.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15
Recently, I had 3 consecutive weekends of attending 3 ridiculously dynamic women’s conferences. I was literally on the highest of highs. It was amazing! I am very much still processing all that God spoke to me and all that He did during those 3 weeks. He marked me beyond words.
After all of that spiritual activity, the enemy hit me hard. I don’t normally attribute much to him, but this was nothing but him. He was waging war for my soul in the worst way. He attacked my mind with no holds barred.
I don’t tend to deal with outward sins as much as I do with inward ones. You know the ones I’m talking about…envy, comparison, anger, bitterness, apathy, etc… The list really could go on and on. If you’re anything like me, those inward sins can bring more shame and guilt than the outward ones. It’s quite easy to hide these sins from the world. Honestly, the shame and guilt came very close to knocking me out for the count. I felt as though I was spiraling out of control. The past few weeks of battle came out of nowhere. I had been beautifully walking out my calling. God had been opening many doors of connection and I had experienced some of the sweetest times of prayer and worship.
One of the events I attended was Beth Moore’s conference called LIT. It was geared to women in their 20s and 30s. Christy Nockels led Heaven touching worship. And Beth, along with Jennie Allen, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine and Melissa Moore all shared about this call to communicate. Everyone spoke to the fact that it is a weighty call and there is a cost to it. In order to fulfill this call, we need to first be filled. This filling ONLY comes from time spent in the secret place of God and us. This time with God is not reserved for those who may minister from a public platform. It is for EVERY believer because we all minister and share Christ in some way. We all have a measure of influence.
I’ve been contemplating how such a door was opened in my life for the enemy to slip in could have occurred. I know I’m a flawed human, but I never want that to be an excuse for me to be comfortable living in sin.
Realize the enemy will attack who God has created you to be.
A week ago, I heard a sermon about how the enemy will specifically come for us in direct opposition to who we are. I hadn’t ever thought of that before. If we are a person of faith, He will bring doubt. If we are pure in heart, he will bring corrupt thoughts. If we have the gift of healing, he will bring illness. He sees our potential. He wants to destroy that potential by whatever means necessary. He wants to destroy the impact that God wants to accomplish through us.
The key to fighting this is to pray against him breaking any strongholds he is using to keep us bound. And then, we replace those thoughts with Scriptures that call out our identity and God’s desire for us.
Don’t let the enemy bring dissension.
I am all about community, but over the past few months, the enemy has been working overtime to create division among several friends and me. He has authored confusion and offense and all manner of hurt feelings. In those times, we are to pursue unity despite our emotions. Our emotions say isolate. The enemy wants us to isolate. But the Lord’s heart is for us to be in fellowship.
We must have brave, hard communication. We speak truth in love and always share our hearts in grace.
Camp out in the secret place.
Everything flows out of the secret place. Everything we do. Everything we say. All that we are flows from this place. Anything done in our own strength will falter and fail. The Holy Spirit must be our strength. He is the only source of power in our lives. Much of that power is harnessed when we allow Him to renew our minds in His promises. This power can only be accessed when we have spent time alone with Him in prayer, worship and studying His Word.
This time is non-negotiable. If we forgo it, we forgo everything. We forfeit the word He wants to speak to our hearts. We forfeit all of the good works He prepared for us. We forfeit the ministry that would touch the lives of others so that they may come to know Him. This time in the secret place is how we overcome and walk in victory.
I want to live in such a way where I am aware of the enemy’s schemes and where He doesn’t have such easy access to me. I don’t ever want him to think he can easily deter me from my calling and purpose.
Let us live in the overflow of the secret place…
Overwhelmed by His presence Over our heads in His Word Overcome by His wonder
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
I scrolled through old photos on my phone and took notice of my face: When I turned my head to the left, I didn’t look so bad. But, from the right, I looked horrible. In every single picture, when my face was straight towards the camera, my big nose tilted, crooked.
I hated it. I wanted to erase, blur or cover my ugliness.
What do you hate about yourself?
Your hips? Your weight gain? Your crooked smile? Your type B personality? Your love handles? Your tendency to be too curious? Your hair?
I do, in fact, also hate my hair. Frankly, when it’s not flat ironed it looks like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket. Bzzt… clown hair (Note: not cute).
Add this to my complexion of rosacea that runs right across my nose and – yes – on those days when foundation doesn’t do the trick – I wear a clown-looking nose too!!!
How do you contend with yourself when you’d rather be someone else?
This is the question I’ve been considering: Because sometimes I am afraid of who I am and what I look like.
I am afraid others will think I am weird. I am afraid I will look dumb. I am afraid I will be left out. I am afraid these weird features will be compounded by a fresh wrinkle. I am afraid you will stand and look at me just a few moments too long to sum up what is so wrong with my face – or my outfit.
I am afraid I’ll know what you are up to and I’ll have to deal with a whole mountain of inner awkwardness. I can’t climb well.
What about you makes you take cover? Feel ashamed? Embarrassed?
Did you know? God loves that part of you. He delights in it. He made you that way.
What would it look like if you accepted it, the way he accepts you? What would it look like to use that very thing – for his glory? For his advantage?
Scared to talk in public? Do a Facetime video.
Feel your heart beat out loud when you are around a circle of women? Approach one of the with a word of encouragement.
Hide your face under sunglasses and a hat? Go sans make-up and wear a smile that shines God’s goodness.
Feel too intellectual or too intense? Let it loose. Let it fly. Be you.
There is something liberating about approaching the world– just as you are, just as God made you. There is something freeing about not worrying about your worst. There is something redemptive about relying on the fact – God loves you.
You find yourself.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Ps. 139:14
I said a prayer. Jesus was in me. I could almost hear the chorus of angels singing in tandem, “Laa….You’ve arrived!!!”
Now, my whole life would change for good…
I’m God’s… No problems.
I’m saved. Things will go smooth.
I know the truth. No more mistakes.
God’s my backer. People will no longer annoy me.
Did someone, like me, sell you easy, breezy Christianity?
It’s hardly the case. It’s much more like being on an elite training team. It’s like learning to be a Navy Seal or something. There’s refinement, tests and drills. There are huge growing pains. There’s an enemy to throw you off. There are loads of tired days and hard work.
There is sweat, grit and perseverance.
There is heart.
There is passion.
There is dedication.
There is vision.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because, no matter what – with Jesus, there’s always hope.
No Jesus = No hope.
Know Jesus = Know constant hope.
And there is peace.
No Jesus = No peace.
Know Jesus = Know peace.
Jesus delivers. Not just for eternity either. Many a day, I need a deliverer in a moment, and then, I need a deliverer, once again, in the next moment. Jesus holds me. He relieves the pressure. He picks up my slack.
He delivers me from evil and then delivers me from my own mind that, once again, wants to get its dirty little hands stuck in evil and conniving thoughts.
Jesus is so…good. He surpasses easy. He is that good.
And, so, our battle is good.
It makes us warriors.
Being a warrior makes us aware.
Being aware of war makes us need God.
Needing God makes us want him more.
Wanting him more makes us draw near more.
Drawing near more allows us to know joy, peace, hope and life.
Our battle is good, profitable, worthy and fulfilling.
It’s hardly about arriving, but all about journeying into holy: pinching a hem, clenching His will and riding out love, wherever it will take us.
This is where agony turns into testimony.
We remember the difficulty; they see all His glory.
God is smart. He makes things look easy. But, for the ones, like us, who have been through the wringer, we know, we know the full story.
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit… (Ro. 5:3-5)
Through trials, we search out his love.
Through pain we find inner-progress.
Through heartache, we remember Jesus on the cross.
Through persecution, we uncover real faith.
Through shame, we realize we have a new name.
Through life, we discover, Jesus is all life.
Through mistakes, we dig up the healing grace.
We become the most radiant and dedicated warriors ever. For, deep in our hearts, we know, there’s nothing better than what we have. For what He’s given us, is truly – the very best. Our commander rocks!!!
Moms know what I am talking about here. It’s that time when you are T-minus 5 minutes until junior’s lights out. It’s that time you know you’re about to be set free. It’s that time things need to move ahead with military precision. Demands and dictates must be followed and executed. Perfectly, even. Orders run like a military checklist…
Prayers: Contrite and consolidated. Check!
Kid: 1 sip, 1 question, 1 hug. Then, they must get snug as a rapid-fire bug in a rug. Check!
Door shuts: Only a confident “Good Night” is permissible with no grain of guilt allowed (lest the kid should pop his head back out again). Check!
Final Declaration of Victory: A sigh against the side of the wall you are slumped against.
War Plunder: A piece of dark chocolate on the couch to soothe away residual anxiety.
You made it!!!
I live my life like this and I feel like a barbarian for it. Sure, I know it is wrong. Yet, after you spend nearly 14 hours being the living slave to the kid you love beyond the smallest inkling of your wildest imagination, and after giving your best and then giving a spoonful more – your somehow on your last leg.
Many days, I hope by morning, everyone will forget how I acted like a jerk. How I spoke words I should have kept in my mouth. How I snapped about people not moving fast enough. How I nitpicked about the kitchen not being clean enough. How I grunted at mistakes.
Honestly, it is often easier to run away than to run straight into confession. It is easier to run fast than to slow down. It is easier to do than to be.
And, so, the insanity continues! I go through the motions. Repeat.
Yet, one night, things changed. He went to sleep. Peacefully.
Hmm…no sound. He was all quiet, all sweet. And here I was – outside the door. I couldn’t help but notice how far, far away I felt.
What if real peace isn’t chocolate?
What if success isn’t determined by a stopwatch?
I opened the door and went inside, I climbed up to the top of his bunk bed. Shocked, his head peeped out.
I sang a long song. Gently, his hand stretched around my neck. I felt its tight grip.
I relished the moment.
He whispered, “I love you.”
There is nowhere else I would rather be.
What have you been rushing to? Often our best moment is in the process of slowing down.
How many times have we missed it? How many times have we rushed to something better, more relaxing, when what we really want- is right before us?
When we slow down to let in a moment, we get a chance to receive it.
When we reach out with no demands, we find people reach in, towards us.
When we choose love we experience it.
I am learning – slowing down is paramount to receiving love.
I kick myself. Again, things seem to be falling on me. It’s not so much the entire world, this time, but it is much more – me. I know, with God, he always calls me out from under my awning of darkness. There is nothing holding me back really. But, sometimes it is easier to stay in self-pity and self-reproach than it is to move into something new.
What dark awning of guilt, shame and frustration are you staying stuck under?
You stay there when you berate your endless bad actions.
You stay there when you sum up all the ways you look dumb.
You stay there when you think that girl is miles ahead of you.
You stay there when you tell your mind it’s useless.
You stay there when you ruminate on yesterday.
When you overthink things.
When you feel caught by man.
When you declare your mistakes your identity.
When you let bitterness, anger and frustration reign in your heart.
We don’t have to stay in the dark.
If we take only 1 step, just one step – out…we’ll move somewhere new. We’ll move somewhere blessed, whole and free.
I know, it feels risky, unknown even, as we place one foot down on new ground. Sometimes we don’t even have thoughts formed about these areas. I understand.
But, here, right here, as we step out, we can see. Light above us.
It was always there, it was just hard to see when covered by the weight of wrongs. But, now, right here, we notice the immensity of a great God overhead. We look up. Stars. Lots of stars. A show, millions of them. Ahh!
We soak it in.
We are small, but he is so great.
He loves us, oh he loves us!
His face does shine upon us.
We understand if he could create this masterpiece, he can create a masterpiece out of us too.
We marvel at the vast lengths of his care that reaches further than eye can see. It reaches deep.
We notice how God extends beyond our vision. He reaches nebulas and galaxies and things far out there.
We ponder how faithful God is.
Every night – God is. Yet, some days, the clouds cover God’s best. Then, we can’t see. We run to the portico because we believe rain is coming, we are ruined. All we see is clouds.
But, no longer, do we have to hide. God’s brilliance, his flowing faithfulness -is still there – a covering of it, is overhead.
It is there on our good days and on our bad.
It is there in our best moments and at our worst.
It is there through the thick and through the thin.
It is there when people are mean and when they’re nice.
It is there when we’re mean to our self or kind.
A beautiful display of glory is. It just – is. Whether we see it or not. The goodness of God remains. HIs faithfulness never ends. His love endures forever.
Today, I am delighted to welcome Mary Carver to Purposeful Faith. I love her heart and her unique ability to link faith with the Gilmore Girls! You will love her unique perspective below…
“I’m gonna have to quit drinking coffee, and I love coffee!”
– Rory, The Perfect Dress (Season 6, Episode 11)
Gilmore Girls – or television in general – might not be the first place you’d look for inspiration or encouragement in your faith, but I’ve found it there. And on top of a list of books to add to my to-read pile and a hankering for Pop Tarts, my favorite TV show has taught me a thing or two about fear and faith.
You know things are bad when a Gilmore girl is willing to give up coffee. But that’s exactly what Lorelai and Rory, the main characters in the show, do when they’re trying to avoid someone who’s hurt them. I lost count of how many times Lorelai boycotted Luke’s diner after the two of them had argued, and Rory learned from her mom so avoiding her boyfriend Logan (and their mutually loved coffee kiosk) was an obvious choice after a break-up.
Jonah tried ignoring his problems – and God, and that landed him in the belly of a giant fish. Thankfully, my fear has never sent me there, but avoiding people to escape confrontation or further pain has never served me well. Once I missed the baby shower for one of my dear friends because I was too afraid of interacting with the hostess, a former friend of mine who had hurt me deeply. The result wasn’t a seafood sauna, but it was a whole lot of disappointment and regret.
When I thought about this – avoiding hard things or difficult people out of fear – I realized that I didn’t need to rack my brain for more personal examples. I simply needed to rewind to the day I began writing my devotional last fall.
After getting one daughter off to school and the other to the babysitter, I opened a new document and began to … think of all the reasons I couldn’t write yet. I got up and washed some dishes, then moved upstairs to clean my bathroom sink. As long-time hater of all things housework, I was obviously procrastinating this project I was supposedly so excited to begin.
I shouldn’t have been surprised (although procrastination via cleaning is a new variation on a common theme). Though I call myself a writer, I actually find writing a terrifying act of vulnerability and risk. So typical, this tortured writer’s insecurity. And also? So similar to what our Gilmore friends did every time they avoided they people they loved but also feared.
Running away and avoiding people and places and projects is messy. It’s foolish. And it inevitably hurts us much more than it protects us. Even without the siren call of coffee, that is enough for me to remember God’s promises to be with us when we face our fears. We don’t have to be afraid, because the Creator of the universe is for us and with us.
What – or who – are you avoiding today? Do you think God will abandon you now? No! He will never leave you or forsake you. Today I challenge you – and me – to take one step of faith, make one move of bravery. Let’s stop hiding from our fears and begin to face them, knowing God is with us every step of the way. And, for the love of Gilmores, don’t give up your coffee!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
I love Rachel Macy Stafford. I’m her fan – a fan of her heart, a fan of her work and a fan of her authentic pursuit of life. She knows all this. But, what she doesn’t know is, I often, desperately need her words. Some days are just too hard – and then I get hard on myself. Some days are just too overwhelming and I lose control. Some days are a punch in the gut; her words bring me back to life. They revive me. This is what her new book, “ONLY LOVE TODAY” is – it is fresh air, new hope and an opportunity to try again. I can’t rave about it – or her – enough. I am a fan.
Here is Rachel’s Story (Comment and share this post on social media to win her new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY):
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” – Brené Brown
It been almost two years since my friend lost her sister to cancer. She still talks about it—the pain and disbelief, the pressure to move on, the things that help and the things that don’t. She talks about the good days and the nearly indescribably bad days.
I listen to everything she offers. I tuck it away for safekeeping. With my friend’s help, I’ll know a better thing to say when someone hurts. With her help, I have some perspective on inconsequential problems when they’re getting more attention than they deserve.
Each time my friend shares her struggles, triumphs, and truths, I am struck with admiration and awe. She never wanted to be an expert on grief, but she is. She never wanted to know what words and actions bring a moment of solace to an aching soul, but she does. This is now my friend’s story, and as much as she’d like to deny it, she’s chosen to own it—quite bravely and brilliantly, I might add.
I thought of my friend and her unchosen expertise when I had a CT scan shortly after her sister’s passing. It was the first time I laid beneath a big scary machine and held my breath for dear life. When the machine began to inch forward slowly, I thought of my friend and her story. I wasn’t sure how my story was going to play out, but I decided I would own it. Tell my close friends. Say, “I’m scared,” when I felt scared. Ask for help when I was in pain. Above all, I knew it was important to pay attention. So I vowed to take it all in—the good and bad. Perhaps I’d discover something worth sharing in the process.
Four weeks after the CT scan that saved my left kidney and possibly my life, I was home from the hospital. I was swollen and sore. I was groggy on pain meds. I was having trouble thinking of words. I was kind of a mess, but I had something I felt must be said. I pulled my laptop computer gingerly onto my lap and typed some words to my friends and family on social media. I remember worrying for a brief moment if there were incomplete sentences, misspelled words, and extra periods. Words were blurry through my grateful, teary eyes, but I pushed ‘publish’ anyway. Here is an excerpt:
“I am home from the hospital recovering from kidney surgery and feeling incredibly thankful to be here. It’s been many months of infection and uncertainty, but I finally have peace. I am on my way to more years, more love, more life. My little public service announcement in the midst of this overwhelming gratitude is this: If you feel like something is not right in your body or mind, please don’t dismiss that feeling. Make an appointment today. If you are not satisfied with the answers you get or things do not improve, keep searching. Keep asking. Keep listening. Keep going until you get answers. You are the only one who can truly look after you. And your people need you to be here.”
An interesting thing happened. Two of my neighbors contacted me over the next few weeks to tell me those words prompted them to action. One of them made an appointment regarding a persistent pain she’d neglected to look into. Another friend said she’d been worried about her spouse’s health and my words were the perfect words to offer him.
Through my life’s mess, I provided a vital message.
Thank you, God.
In that moment, I felt better than I had in months. The uncertainty and pain I’d endured weren’t all for naught. For the first time, I saw my story not a curse, but as a blessing. It was a blessing to be the messenger.
Perhaps you sit here today in a mess you haven’t shared yet. Maybe you thought it had to be all figured out before you told someone. Maybe you thought it had to have a happy ending before it could all be revealed. Maybe you thought you had to have perfect punctuation and periods in all the right places for it to be seen. I hope I can help you see your life’s mess in a new way. This is what came out in a tiny notebook during my first walk outside after having two surgeries in one month. Perhaps there’s something here for you …
Owning Your Story
You never wanted to know how to survive divorce.
You never wanted to know the joys and heartaches of autism.
You never wanted to know the signs of addiction.
But you do.
You never wanted to know rock bottom.
You never wanted to know how to leave an abusive relationship.
You never wanted to know it was possible to bounce back after a financial crisis.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the pain of caring for a parent who doesn’t remember you.
You never wanted to be the strong one.
You never wanted to know the car could be a safe place to cry.
But you do.
You never wanted to know a family could break.
You never wanted to know how to put the pieces back together in a new way.
You never wanted to know a new normal.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the perfect response when someone stares at your child.
You never wanted to know the courage it takes to ask for help.
You never wanted to know how to find joy after having lost it for so long.
But you do.
You never wanted to know when it’s time to sever the ties in order to have inner peace.
You never wanted to know how hard it is to say yourself, “Change begins today. My loved ones deserve better.”
You never wanted to know the weight that can be lifted when you say to yourself, “It wasn’t my fault.”
But you do. You do.
And perhaps as time has passed you’ve discovered that to deny your story hurts more than the story itself, so you’ve chosen to own it.
To speak out, even when your voice shakes.
To tell the truth, even when it’s not pretty.
To encourage someone else, even when you can barely encourage yourself.
To get up and face the world, even when you can barely look at yourself in the mirror.
The tears that streak your face at the most inopportune times of the day, at the most inappropriate moments, are the lines of your story. And each time you own it, someone else is not alone in hers or his. Your jumbled mess, whether whispered as a prayer to one or shouted courageously to a room of hundreds, could be the message someone needs right now. Perhaps by sharing our story, pain will ease and hope will find its voice.
You there in your mess: Thank you for being. Your life is a message. And through your story, there is power to save.
Comment and share this post on social media to win Rachel’s new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY.
What you just read is a small sample of what you will find in Rachel Macy Stafford’s highly anticipated new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love (release date 3/7).
With a unique flip-open, read-anytime/anywhere format, this book is soulful encouragement for busy individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despite everyday distractions, pressures, and discord.
ONLY LOVE TODAY began as a mantra to overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be yours too. Click here to order.
Click here to learn the easy step to receiving your collection of hand-lettered pre-order bonus gifts! #onlylovetoday
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She looked at herself in the mirror, all 3-years of her life, and sized up her outfit. Her dress had layers of tulle, her face had a smile and her pigtails were long, nearly reaching her shoulders. She waved her head a bit and considered them as I said she looks, “Oh so cute…”
“Are they all going to laugh at me mommy?”
She’s already asking herself this question? God, please don’t let this question rule her life, like it had mine.
Oh how I didn’t want her valuing her worth on no-filter 3 year olds with mouths that sound like waterfalls of ruthlessness. Oh how I didn’t want her to determine her beauty based on comments. Oh how I didn’t want her living her life based on others opinions. Oh how I didn’t want her to pander to mankind. Oh how I didn’t want her to lose herself.
My heart sunk.
“No Madison. I think you look fabulous. But, even if they do laugh. You know who sees you? Who loves you? God does. Always.”
I deeply worried my words would fall empty, repeated words, landing in the great abyss of things moms speak, but are never truly heard. Please, God, no! I could almost see the thieves of school, boys and society snatching truth from her. Ripping it out of her heart. Claiming it as theirs.
How do I seal up beauty within her?
We headed downstairs. Me? A million questions stirred. Can I really do this? Will she ever know? She is more than a cute dress. Her small hand clenched mine.
“Mommy, do you think he will like my dress?” She looked longingly at me, inquiring about her brother.
I shrugged, already overwhelmed with the barrage of thoughts firing off in my mind.
We made it to the kitchen.
Son stared at her. She stood there.
He looked at her. She waited.
He formed his hand into a known symbol: a big thumbs down sign.
What?! What in the stinkin’ world?
And, as if every single one of my insecurities was highlighted, I felt completely and entirely angry! Furious.I felt like my very own son had degraded – me!!! Her!!! Every single woman who ever wanted to feel good about herself!
But, he hadn’t.
As he put it, he was kidding.
But, as I saw it, it was no joke. He transformed. My son was all those people who hurt me. He was every single detractor of my worth. He was completely wrong. He was messing up my daughter. He was in trouble: I badgered him. I nagged him to say he was sorry. I came down on him. I was unforgiving. I was obnoxious.
I projected my fear, to try to protect my heart from the past.
Do you ever do this?
We might be prone to project when:
We respond super sensitively.
We make comments predictors of our worth, then hate others.
We become a punisher.
We are extremely, overwhelmingly and exceedingly angry at a person.
Yes, my son was rude, but projecting had made me a monster. That’s usually what it does.
And, so, here I sit. Guilty? Yes. Totally.
But, forgiven? Yes. Completely.
I am not perfect. Neither are you.
The fact of the matter is we are all still working through our pain with God, aren’t we? We are all still realizing the areas we’ve once been hurt, aren’t we? We are all still in the process of letting redeemer redeem the beauty we once lost, aren’t we?
God forgives. And, my son will forgive me too. I will tell him my story: a story where I was put down, hurt and let down by the world, a world that can pick people apart instead of loving them.
I will let him know how I never want to do that to him. And, to daughter? I will hold her hand through life, keep my voice next to her ear, relinquish control and let God take the lead. I will trust that even in her hard moments, he won’t let go of her hand.
All through the month of February you will find freedom messages on Jami’s blog about the truth about how Jesus feels about you. From our darkest fears to our greatest folly He is with us – and for us! You can check out these posts by following this link!
There was nothing different about the day, in comparison to any other day, but what hovered over me was a generalized feeling of – “Blah!”
I prayed. Blah!
I sought God. Blah!
I worshipped. Still…blah!
No breakthrough. Nothing. Just annoyance that my spirit still felt as stuck as ever.
What is wrong with me? My heart can’t seem to embrace truth, peace, hope – God.
It’s in a moment like this, we go down one of three paths. We:
Get frustrated and angry at ourselves, declaring we are faulted and worthless. We heap guilt upon ourselves.
Decide God has left us and turn away from Him, because, we figure, he turned away from us.
Keep on seeking. Keep on praying. Keep on proclaiming truth. And, persevere.
I’ve traveled all three. Just this week, I’ve spent a lot of time on paths 1 & 2. Here, all I could see were overwhelming signs I was not doing things right for God. My heart is falling off a ravine, my feelings are stuck in thorn bushes, God’s plans for me are somewhere ahead in that vast fog.
Here’s where I end up: I need to work harder, pray better, try more and be a better person to recieve God’s love. I carry the baggage of discouragement and doubt. I sit annoyed and flustered by life.
Have you landed here too? Are you struggling to believe God? To hold close his promises because you can’t seem to get close enough to God?
I want to tell you something that will reassure you: This is likely a spiritual attack.
If you are getting after God, with your whole heart, but distraction, lies or discouragement won’t shake off you, you are likely being hit by the enemy. If you are pursuing clarity, but all you find is confusion, you are likely being hit by the enemy. If you are giving God your whole heart, but still feeling tired, worn and weary, you are likely being hit by the enemy.
The good thing about this is: Victory is as won – as you are you. The one against us, cannot effectively come against the cross. Jesus is, forever and always, high and lifted. There is no undoing his reign. His opportunities, insights and wisdom is already ours.
With this, the enemy’s only strategy is to make us believe he can undo what Jesus did. His only opportunity is a fake. He diverts us left and if we move with him, and take our eyes off truth, we lose God. But, if we stand firm and don’t give in to his fake, we stand firm. We move towards the goal of Christ Jesus.
So, with this, let us stand firm in truth. Let us allow it to sink into our mind, then into our heart and then down to our feet, so that we walk out with such assurance, nothing – no way, no how – can shake us.
Here is our arsenal, our power and our stand – these verses:
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Ps. 28:7)
Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. (Psalm 44:5)
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
… but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit … (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you … (1 John 2:27)
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)
Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me. (Psalm 144:1)
“For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. (2 Samuel 22:29)
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:12)
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. Ps. 18:32
For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. Ps. 18:39
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever. (Ps. 41:12)
The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. (Ha. 3:19)
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. Ps. 54:4