Purposeful Faith

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On Numbing Out

Post by: Karina Allen

A few weeks ago my Pastor began talking about all things summer. Summer is great and all, but as a single with no kids, my summer pretty much just looks like the rest of the year. My church schedule does lighten a bit. But long gone are my college days where I had summers off. For so many of my friends, however, a summer schedule is a real thing. Summer can be amazing! It can hold endless down time, late start mornings, night owl bedtimes, unhurried rhythms, traveling adventures and untapped brain power.

On the other hand, summer can bring a whole new set of unintended circumstances. I have learned that so much idle and unpurposed time can be just the open door the enemy desires. My Pastor has been determined for our church to not fall into a summer slump or to fall victim to the schemes of the enemy or simply going through the motions. I love that his heart is for us to experience as much of God or more of God than we would during the rest of the year.

Summer doesn’t discriminate, nor does it hold back on the issues of life. Relationship drama, financial distress, all manner of loss, hurt feelings, etc… can all be experienced during these hotter than necessary months. It is just as important to stay plugged in to both the Lord and to community.

Do not forsake the ‘Secret Place’.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

The upside of summer, if your schedule does become laid back, is just that, it’s laid back. There is no need to be somewhere all the time at a certain time. That sounds like the perfect opportunity to dive deep into time with God, even if you have littles running around. My amazing friend Lindsey has literally been living this out with her 4 kids. She is a single, stay at home mom. She has been walking through really hard marital challenges, but she decided to let that bring her closer to God instead of push her away. Then, she made the best decision. She decided to bring her kids along on the journey. They read devotions together along with books about missionaries. They pray and worship. It is beautiful to watch her kids fall in love with the Savior simply because she has chosen to put God first and cultivate an atmosphere of intimacy with the Lord. She doesn’t know where this extra time comes from. All she knows is that He multiplies it as she continues to be obedient in keeping Him the center of her family.

Do not forsake a persevering spirit.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Seeing as how, trials and hardships don’t take a break during the summer, it’s key for us to keep up the fight. The enemy is after our minds and emotions and callings and lives. When we become complacent or too familiar with God and the things of God, he takes full advantage of those moments.

It is extremely tempting to become inactive and forsake our time with God or serving or being committed to the Church. I want this summer to be the opposite. I want to have some of the most intimate times with God. I want to have some of the best times in corporate gatherings. I want to have some of the wildest adventures with community. I want to have some of the sweetest times meeting the needs of those around me.

Summer is not the time to give in to an anything goes mentality. It is not the time to numb out. Now is the time to press in and watch a mighty move of God take place.

How are you or can you keep from numbing out and pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord this summer?

 

About Karina Allen

Karina AllenKarina 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.”

 

 

When God Goes Silent (& 3 Ways to Reconnect)

God Goes Silent

Ever opened your bible to only hear crickets from God?
Ever felt like you and your Father were neighborhoods apart in connection?
Like you somehow lost your close standing next to your high King?

I feel this small creep. The creep of “something is not right,” the creep of pulling away, the creep of “I am not hearing as much.”

Small creeps away from God over days, turn into giant mile gaps over months.

What I have noticed is, the sooner my heart checks it’s receptivity to God, and adjusts its channels the more of a chance, I have of hearing his voice. Usually, I can avoid the “slow creep” seep – but I have to first start by being aware of when it.

The slow creep seep can be sneaky – if you aren’t aware that it can move in at any time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times God does go silent.

Sometimes he shuts down the music, the connection and here is why:

1. To help us remember God is God and we are not.

When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. Ps. 50:21

2. To settle our hearts in the deep places his trusting love.

The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zeph. 3:17

3. To handle “Kingdom causes” outside of our comprehension.

Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they? Hab. 1:13

What I want my heart to finally learn is that: God does what he does, but he always reigns from above, out of love.

This is always God’s MO, battle plan, driving force, and charge – every time.

On the other hand, sometimes the issue of silence is not founded in God’s plan it is founded in us. Like a cavity, we may have stored up so much decay that our faith bite loses its power.

Here’s how we remove decay and get back to the fullness of pleasure as we digest all the goodness of God:

1. We beat out bitterness.  

Bitterness can be a byproduct of unforgiveness.
Who do you need to forgive – God, yourself or others?

2. We ask to hear and plead for God to come near.

O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. Ps. 83:1

When we ask, God listens.

3. We dive into the Word of God, to be replenished by his Words always read to bring truth.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Lu. 11:28

When we hear the Word of God, we hear God.

4. Worship the one who surrounds you with his glory.

…God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Ro. 1:20

See God around you and you will start to feel God well up in you.

5. Seek and serve up love in all you do by giving, helping, serving, opening up, receiving and pouring out.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 Jo. 4:12

The more we learn love (including the receipt of it), the more we feel God’s love.

The truth is – God is love. If we are operating from love, we are operating from the tabernacle of God’s goodness. Different days, call for different strategies. Sometimes, we are restored with his love, sometimes we are restored by a love of his Word and other times, we are restored to share

Different days, call for different strategies. Sometimes, we are restored – to love, sometimes we are restored – by His love and other times, we are restored – to search out greater love.

No matter what his call for you today, one thing is for sure, slow creeps are simply not from him. So, lets allow our hearts to creep back to the throne of the King of all care. He waits for us – with love.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Filtering the Voices You Let In

Filtering the Voices

Two moms duked it out, while I tried to pull a floppy wet shirt off my body in the pool stall. I’d tell you all I wasn’t eavesdropping, but I’d be lying; I was 100% listening to every word that flowed from their mouths from the safe-confines of my bunker.

“Harvard is going to be such a far drive for my son come Fall. I don’t know how we are going to do it.” Said mom voice 1.

“Well, thank goodness, He’s going to Harvard because Stanford is farther and I get sick flying on airplanes, even in first-class.”

Now, these two, who I was sure were perfectly toned, impeccably made-up and outrageously beautiful, brought to the surface my every insecurity. And based on their words, I was scheming… trying to internally figure out how to corral my son, tie him down and drag him to the local tutoring session post-school… It’s not too much to ask a kid to do SAT questions at age 6 is it? A mom’s who starts early, wins.

My competitive juices were flowing. My mind racing and twisting and…all of a sudden – Godly wisdom struck: I don’t have to enter into this life-killing race with these women.

I can choose not to be a part of this rat race. I can unsubscribe.

Unsubscribing sounds like this: They can do what they want to or say what they say. They can work hard to acquire wealth, goods or status. They can talk about it. They can make it their life goal. But, just because that is what they are doing, doesn’t mean it is what I should be doing. What I should be doing is: making Christ my aim, making Christ my thoughts, making love my goal. 

I can’t change people, but what I can change is: my mind, my thoughts and my goals.

This feels like freedom.

I sense there are some of you who need freedom right now too. Maybe from a person who is causing your mind to go to places God hasn’t invited it?

Right now, join me in asking God, “What words, goals or pursuits have I been allowing to take hold in my heart that are not from you?”

Listen for his response. Be aware of how God might be leading you.

Then, ask him, “How can I protect my heart in a better way?”

I believe he’s saying to me: “Kelly, everything you hear doesn’t have to go to your heart.”

And, I agree. Starting today, I’ll filter what I let in.

Thank you God, you are faithful.

 

 

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Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Don’t Wash Your Own Feet

Wash Your Own Feet

Post by: Candice Curry

There’s a picture buried deep in a box somewhere, stashed away in my mom’s closet. Staring back at you, from a worn out Polaroid picture, is a family who seems put together. The little girl squints her eyes to lessen the glare of the sun. She’s wearing a striped dress and her hair is carefully combed into two, long ponytails. The picture is filled with pinprick holes from someone moving it around the church bulletin board more than a few times.

It was one of the few occasions that I would actually wear a dress. I was a jeans and t-shirt type of girl. But, on the rare mornings when we actually made our way to church I thought I had to wear a dress or I wouldn’t be allowed in. I don’t remember a single thing about being there except that I felt we had to act a certain way and dress a certain way to fit in.  I knew very little about what church meant or why we even went in the first place.

I thought Jesus was only for certain people. I thought Jesus was for people who had their lives together and never messed up.  I thought Jesus was just for the people who spoke with eloquence and dressed like they had just walked out of a designer store. I wasn’t sure what sin really was or whose was worse, but I knew I didn’t want my dirty sins exposed. I didn’t want to go to church and let everyone see what a disaster I was. I didn’t want to face rejection.

The same feelings carried over into adulthood and I continued to fear Jesus for all the same reasons. I thought Jesus was only for the good people. I thought Jesus was for those without sin and those who navigated through life effortlessly. I thought he only shined on those types of people who were more like him and less like me.

So I stayed away.

I hid from church people.

I hid from Jesus.

I had walked through so much in life that the dirt on my feet was heavy and weighed me down. I dragged my feet everywhere I went and did everything I could to hide the evidence from other’s eyes. I promised myself I would wash them one day and present myself to Jesus when I was good and clean. Maybe then he would open his arms to me. Maybe if I could just be good enough, clean enough, rich enough, married, educated, the list was endless. Maybe if I could just wash the dirt off of my feet so he wouldn’t know where I’ve been.

When I was well into adulthood, married and a mother of 4, I started to attend the church near me because my cousin had signed my oldest daughter up for their choir program. I went out of support for my daughter and not my desire to be in church. I sat quietly in the very back of the sanctuary, under the dimmed lights, and tried my best not to be noticed. The congregation might not have seen me but God did.

And then I met him.

I met Jesus.

And he washed my feet for me.

I spent most of my life thinking I had to be perfect for Jesus to love me. No one ever told me that I could come to him just the way I was. No one ever told me that Jesus already knows about the dirt on my feet. I thought I had to transform into someone better for Jesus to be in my life. I didn’t know that I could come to him the way I was and that he would transform my life for me. He would be the one to wash the dirt off of my feet for me, gently and with mass amounts of grace and mercy.

You don’t have to wash your feet to be loved by Jesus.

You are accepted and loved exactly the way you are right now. No sin is too big, no failure too deep and no past is too dark. Jesus is for the broken and the lost. Jesus is for the underdog, the guy struggling to find a way. He’s for the broken hearts and bruised bones. He’s for the sinner and the thief, the liar and the cheater. He is for us, me and you.  He loves us in our mess and through our mess. All we have to do is show up.

You don’t have to wash your feet.

Come as you are and Jesus will wash your feet for you.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.


Candice Curry, the author of the book The Con Man’s Daughter
spent years working in sales doing what she felt she had to instead of what she wanted to. Then she put her faith in God and gave it all up to share her story through writing. The daughter of a con man and convicted criminal, Candice started a blog as a form of therapy, which has grown into a worldwide ministry and landed her on TODAY and Good Morning America. A speaker and a contributor to The Huffington Post, Today.com, and several other sites, Candice has a passion to give hope to those suffering the pain of rejection, the burden of unforgiveness, and the emptiness of great loss. Candice and her husband, Brandon, have five children and recently welcomed her teenage sister into their home. They live in San Antonio, Texas, in the former home of her childhood best friend. Connect with Candice at http://candicecurry.com/.

Learn more about The Con Man’s Daughter.

The Choice Before Us

We sat in the parking lot staring blankly ahead with the doctor’s words still ringing in our ears.

“Some people just can’t have children. Now is when you need to start working on accepting that.”

We were stunned in spite of the clues. The previous years’ experiences had pointed to this moment – the months of negative pregnancy tests, the losses, the testing and exams and poking and prodding, they all pointed to the possibility of infertility. Except now it was real. Now it was our story.

In the weeks that followed our diagnosis I found myself facing a critical juncture in my faith. I could refuse to believe that God might have plans for my future that include infertility and I could live in a state of anxious denial (a place I’d been sitting in for too long already.) Or, I could do as the doctor suggested, and work toward finding acceptance and faith and peace. For several weeks I chose the former and it twisted my stomach and heart in knots. Then one day I chose the latter.

Sometimes peace is a choice. Peace is a choice that doesn’t always come naturally for me, though. I tend to be an anxious person who likes to be in control of, well, everything. I want to know exactly how the day will go and I want to be able to manipulate my surroundings to fit what feels safe, secure, and right to me. But life doesn’t often comply with my version of how things should be. This is where faith and fear collide for me.

Life has taught me I have a choice in how I respond to things outside of my control. Things like infertility. I can’t always control how I feel about these things – if I could take away my grief and pain I would… who wouldn’t? But I can choose to believe in peace and love and hope.

On one of the worst nights of my life – the night I returned from the hospital after losing our first baby – I turned to my Bible for something that would bring me comfort. I don’t think I really believed peace was possible in my grief, but I just wanted something to get me through the night. I flipped the pages and they eventually landed in the book of Isaiah, chapter 54. My eyes fell on verse 10 and I began to read…

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

In those words, I found everything I didn’t know I needed…

Unfailing love from the Father in the midst of tragedy and loss.
Peace that will never leave – no matter what.
And compassion for my broken and baffled heart.

In the months that followed, I found myself navigating the often lonely waters of grief and learning that I often wouldn’t feel peace, but Isaiah had told me it was there. So I made a choice to believe it, whether I felt it or not. Still today, I choose to believe that the peace that surpasses all understanding still covered my life even in times of turmoil. I choose to believe that hope is a fact.

I believe this is what Horatio Spafford had in mind when he penned the words to famous hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. After losing his son, his business, and then his four daughters (who drowned in a shipwreck) he wrote,

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know*
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It is well. Or, as my son has taught me to say, “It’s Okay About It.” Saying, “it’s okay about it” or “it is well” doesn’t mean declaring that we are unaffected in the face of hardship and loss. It is simply choosing to believe that love, peace, compassion, and hope are true. That they are promises we can believe no matter what comes our way.

So though my heart broke in the pain of infertility and the grief of miscarriages I choose peace and hope, knowing that God will redeem my pain.

When my children suffer I remember God’s compassion for us.

When I face disappointment and rejection I declare the truth of God’s unfailing love.

When I face anxiety and panic over an unknown future and circumstances beyond my control I choose His covenant of peace.

Because of the truth of God’s word and the hope of heaven I can say with assurance, “It’s Okay About It.”

Lauren Casper is the founder of her popular blog, where she shares her thoughts on life, parenting, and faith. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo! News, and several other publications. Lauren speaks in various locations around the country at conferences, retreats, and church events. Some of her topics include: adoption and foster care, infertility, parenting children with special needs, building meaningful community, and facing fear.

Lauren’s first book, It’s Okay About It, released May 2, 2017. In it, Lauren shares poignantly simple yet profound wisdom about removing the barriers we construct around our hearts and doing life full-on, all from the least expected source: her five-year-old son, Mareto.

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Making Marriage Strides

marriage strides

Pop Quiz: What is 1 thing you likely take for granted, yet could bring monumental joy, growth and connection if paid attention to it?

Answer: Your marriage.

Friends, most days I hardly look at it: I rush through breakfast, trying to start my day; I give a little hello near the Keurig; I listen and quickly respond; I go through the bare-bottom motions, trying to make sure I’m at least good enough to get by; I get ready to watch TV instead of to connect; I respond based on my own opinions, rather than hearing his; I focus on the kids and then remember he’s there too.

Uh-oh. Can I admit to you all? I am not the model wife.

And, while it pains me to write this, I have found such encouragement in the book, “A Wife’s Secret to Happiness” by Jen Weaver.

Right off, in the first chapter, her words meet my heart: “God will not call us anywhere his presence does not go with us,” she says, “He will not ask us to do what he has not equipped us to complete. The Lord longs to lead our marriages into spacious place, interwoven with his peace and strength…the day you made your vows He participated in an active agreement, invisible, yet majestic in glory.”

Thank you, God…we are not doing this thing called marriage alone. The Creator of our universe is creating something new, as we listen, go and respond with him. He is working within the confines of our arguments, annoyances, and mishaps to create space, love and peace. Bring it, God! I need that.

To ignite his power, one question remains: Will we let him in to work – by listening, seeking and following or will we continue doing the same ‘ole stuff?

What does it look like to let Him work?
I’m finding, it’s:

Prayer over panic.
Listening rather than responding in flesh.
Trusting God’s timeline to change, rather than my own.
Seeking to notice his good, before his bad.

Jen Weaver breaks down specific ways to see these high and lofty goals through (Thanks Jen!):

  1. Write down index card prayers. Carry them with you.
  2. Ask God to bless your husband right when you’re in the heat of battle.
  3. Remind yourself to welcome God’s presence. Put reminders around your house with verses.
  4. Scribe 5 pain points you have about your marriage. Bring them to God and ask them how he wants you to work them out.
  5. Remind yourself, through scripture, how God has been there for you and won’t abandon you now.

Marriages that work, take work. If I’ve learned anything – it’s this.  But, I’ve also learned, when God is at work, things seamlessly fall into place. Like Tetris. Bing! Connection happens.

Where do you need to let God take the lead? How might he want to put things together again? How might his small nudges be leading you to a greater outpouring of love?

Love that looks like:
A hug.
A listening ear.
An open fist.
A generous portion of time.
An opening of your whole heart.
A letting down of guard.
A soft-spoken word.
Open arms.
Undue forgiveness.
An offering of grace.
A handing-over to God (Re: the past).
An excitement for the future.
Reliance on the Sustainer, Overcomer, and Creator.

Wherever God is calling you – if you step in, He’ll meet you there.

Learn more about a Wife’s Secret to Happiness!

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

What it took me to Listen

Post by: Christy Mobley

I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.

I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.

Well said, I thought.
I went to hit the send button but stopped short. Something felt vaguely familiar about this scene.

I heard a whisper in my heart, Don’t send it.

Hmm, I thought to myself, I haven’t talked to God about this yet have I?

I shut my laptop, pushed it aside and prayed over the email I was about to launch.

You know the saying, sleep on it—give it fresh eyes in the morning. Good advice.

Before I shut my eyes, I asked God, Is this what you would have me send?

There have been times when I’ve heard God whisper and ignored it. 
The still small voice—the warning. Some might say, “Oh it’s just our conscience talking” but I’ve learned the difference…the hard way.

I’ve brushed off this heart whisper enough times to know when I do, it can prove painful. One such experience is still branded in my memory like the scar left from a run in with  fiery stove.

It concerned another email from years ago. It was innocent really. At least I rationalized it was.
Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
And isn’t that what the heart does? It deceives us by telling us lies we believe.

My heart is no different.

There had been a long thread of correspondence within a group I leading. People had been adding to it for days. There was one decision maker with whom I was to consult with and then let the group know the results.

Without thinking, I added my comment to the consultant at the bottom of the ongoing thread instead of starting a new one. My remark was harmless enough, although selfish in nature and could have misconstrued if seen by the wrong eyes.  I knew this to be true but again I rationalized, I was getting my point across.
 I thought, what’s the harm?

Then I heard it. The moment before I hit send, a whisper ever so softly, gently.
A voice of reason calling out to me to think twice.
Don’t send it.

I brushed aside the delicate call to stop and pushed the button sending my pixellated words into cyberspace permanency.

Sure enough, a certain person in the group who was the curious type scrolled through the multiple threads of conversation and landed on mine. She read through my innocent motive straight to the self-seeking one. She exposed the inner workings of a fallacious heart. And then  proceeded to unleash a furry of epic porportion all over the information superhighway.

I was done for. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Scarred for life.
Yes, that about covers it—all the emotional daggers that could impaled me, did.

I hadn’t paid attention to the tension of God’s warning.

Pain however does get our attention. And sometimes God allows it. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Friends, God doesn’t speak to hear His own voice. No, He lovingly will use whatever it takes to protect us from our own undoing.

His voice is not only one of correction but a voice of protection.

 

God could have kept this person from exposing me but because she did, I learned to listen. Getting burned on a stove a few times might hurt but it serves to save you from the real fire later.

After praying over my most recent email situation and putting it to a good night’s sleep, I woke afresh with a new attitude knowing what I was to do.

I opened my laptop, looked at the blinking cursor, highlighted the majority of the piece and pushed delete.
I thought, God will take care of it from here.

There have been multiple, “Don’t do its” in between these two experiences and through them I’ve learned to discern His voice better but moreover I’m remembering to ask for it.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Listen and obey. Simple as that.

And when it comes to emails, letters or talk I ask myself daily…

Am I using my words to make a point, or am I using my words to point to Christ?

Enough said.

Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump ad twist in the road.

Christy a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and brand new grandma!  Her passion is to help women find their joy by experiencing God at work for them in their all their circumstances.

You can connect with Christy at Joying in the Journey, on Facebook, and Twitter.

When You Hate How You Look

Hate How You Look

It’s the last thing you want to do on a day where you need to do everything, and hardly want to do that. But, there I found myself, at the drug store posing half-heartedly in front of a white pull-down curtain. I needed a passport photo.

Mugshot.  Mugshot- was what ran through my head he clicked. That – and the idea that I really should have put my hair down and tried to improve myself a bit, like most moms do. Most moms throw on the lipgloss. Most moms might adjust their hair rather than keeping it in this weird outdated bun look. Most moms might try to smile a little bigger.

Not me. I was tired. Daughter woke at 3 AM with a wet bed. My eye is still not done with pink eye (what are you supposed to do – throw out every last inch of makeup?). Husband is gone all week and I am womaning the house. So, yes, when the “click” happened, well, my face? It didn’t really happen that much.

I just stood there.

He finished the job.

I looked at the photo.

And saw what I am fully convinced must be the worst mug shot ever of me. It was as bad as those pre-jail photos – you all know what I am talking about. It’s the one we all see on TV – “And…today, a mom went rogue in CVS”. The image shoots up on screen. We all know it. The light is bad, the face looks horrible, the smile is gone and the woman looks like death just visited her.

This was me. Bags under eyes. Eye red. Smile gone. And, to add to all this, an outshoot of hair wanted to show off right above my ear. How does this even happen, anyway?

The picture is not cute, not cute at all, I thought as I stood outside the drug store contemplating whether to go back in and hassle the photo guy until he made me beautiful, photo-shopped, wrinkle-less, perfect and all that I ever dreamed of being 8:00 am on a Wednesday morning.

But, I didn’t. I just stood there. Why? Because on my heart was this weird inclination of revelation. Like God wanted to do something with me and this photo. So, although I almost walked back in the store 4 times, I didn’t.

If I’ve learned anything in my short life it is this: You don’t want to turn down God, when He’s working on something.

Frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine if Jesus turned down his role. “Change of plans, I’m not dying on the cross.”

Nope. Not good.

With this in mind, I try to stay on God’s path and when I hop off, I fight with all my might to get back on. So, I just stood there on the sidewalk – a freak with a photo – and stared at it. Two steps to the door, two steps back.

Come on, God….any time now.

Friend, maybe, like me, the ugly thing you can’t get through, God is trying to speak through…

And finally, it came to my heart: Kelly, on your worst day, on your ugly days, on your tired days, on your worn days, on your pain-stricken days, on your unsure days, on your bad hair days, on your I-don’t-have-a-smile-days – still, Kelly, I love you. 

I love that picture.
I love your realness.
I love your wrinkles.
I love you.
You don’t need to be more for me.
I don’t love you less when you look less or appear less.
I choose you – just like that – eye bags, red-eye, smileless and all… 

When you see that image, imagine me, wanting you – in all your ugly-, frumpy- and grumpy-ness. 

So, I took that square photo, tucked it into my bag and walked to the car. I’d lie if I didn’t tell you I gasped at it one more time on my way home. I did.  But, I also let that passport stand for what it really was – a reminder: No matter where I go, I always am in God’s love.

I’ll look at this image again. And again. And, my prayer – for when I do – is this: God, let us always remember our worst images, are made beautiful because you simply love us as we are. And, in that, we can rest. We don’t need to work up your love. Help us to remember your goodness, your kindness and your unconditional love towards us, God. Amen.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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5 Ways to Love God More

Love God More

I’m stumped. My heart is far from God. Problem is, I don’t know how to pull it close again. It runs off. It’s a stray dog, trying to smell it’s own pee, rather than the roses of God. It gets antsy. Pushy.

The fact of the matter is it’s a determined, distracted, annoying little thing. It tries, but, I fear, it gets it all wrong.

How do we really love God more?

We love because he first loved us. 1 Jo. 4:19

This verse teaches me, we so often have it backward. We run out to love, with nothing. What love can we give, if our love compartment is empty? What gifts can we bring, if we allowed God to wrap and deliver none within us? What can we share, when we feel empty.

God’s love in us is paramount to his love flowing out from within us. We must let in, what he desires to send out. We must open the confines of our comforts, to allow his voice, truth and life to console us first.

How? We draw up next to God.

Not like a stray dog, but like a close companion. We stay right next to his heart, because we want to hear his words, his tender mercy, and his uplifting charges. We naturally pull in tight. It only makes sense.

We do it in these 5 ways:

  1. Get alone with God. Meet him in your place of refreshment: a walk, painting, journaling, singing, dancing, being alone.
  2. In every situation, choose not to work hard, not to do more, but simply, to love God. Posture your heart towards him.
  3. Imagine him delighting in you. Imagine him smiling down upon you as you invite him into the hiccups, hurdles and the down moments of your day
  4. Seek his guidance and leading in the little decisions, the words you speak and even your thoughts. Keep returning in need and he’ll feed you with his wisdom.
  5. Let God’s heart become yours. Do your work, do your life, allowing his goal to be yours. Let the outcome of love, rule your intentions. Let the pursuit of peace be your ultimate cause.

The more we do this, the more we realize, the story of the prodigal father, is not just a story for a wayward believer. It is a story for all of us. Each day, we stray. Each day, we go our own way. Each day, we fall away. And, each day, God waits, arms wide open waiting for us to run to him. He stands there, I believe, hoping we’ll sprint like a bullet into the fullness of his all-consuming love that eats away at what’s eating us.

His love heals our love-empty heart. His love reworks our capacity to love. His love placates our wandering soul. His love draws us home. His love sets a table for us. His love welcomes us to eat. His love sends us out into the world – full.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

I’m Being Honest: This Bible Verse Ticks Me Off

ticks me off

I wouldn’t admit this in church, but there’s one verse that continually ticks me off. It’s this: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:6

I guess you could say I have multiple issues with it:

  1. In all ways acknowledge God.  When you acknowledge someone it’s as if you’re offering a late gesture. Like, they did something for you, and you can’t forget to bring them up, lest you feel guilty that you didn’t pay them back well enough. I mean, you certainly don’t want them to feel slighted or, even worse, to punish you afterward. “Acknowledge” plays out like an after-thought. I did all this stuff…oh, shoot, can’t forget – I’ve got to acknowledge so-and-so. It lacks authenticity.
  2. Make straight your path. I imagine someone walking down the sidewalk, picket-in-hand, yelling in my face, “You better acknowledge God, or else! You better let him make straight your path – or you’re a goner!” This thought entirely stresses me out. It burns my insides with the fear that no matter how good of a daughter I think I am, I’m going to burn in hell one day. It somehow makes me feel like there is no good that is good enough for God. Why try?

Sitting today, just me and this verse, I decided to decode it. If I’ve learned anything it is this: If God’s Word doesn’t give you more vision, it’s probably because you’re looking at it through the wrong glasses.

God, give me new lenses to see. What does acknowledge really mean?

Yada. That’s the Hebrew word for it. It means to “come to know someone by observing, reflecting and experiencing.”

Now this makes sense.

I can almost hear God saying, “In all your ways, come to know me by observing me, by reflecting on me and experiencing me…”

And, I want to. I need to.  Because to acknowledge God is to hang a welcome sign on your heart. It is to open your heart to his movement, rather than to demand your mouth to give him due credit. It is being a hostess rather than a hopeless speaker of things, even you aren’t even sure if you yet believe.

Here, there is no pressure, but peace.
No self-demands, just connection with the love of your life.
No hard work, but an easy yoke.
Less striving, more relaxing.

I feel content with the answer to my gripe #1. But what about #2?

What about the path?

God, do you yell in my face, “make straight your path, girl…or else!?

And, where God focuses my eyes, is here, on this very verse: “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Ps. 23:2-3

When we “acknowledge” or “experience” God, He sets us on a path of refreshment, restoration and righteousness. Where we are, the path is so straight, we get more of a glimpse of him at the end of our every road. Our vision, even more, focuses, targeted and clear. We know what we are running after. We see the end goal. We pursue eternity.

God is right before us. And, all we want is more. We’ve found our straight road.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.