Purposeful Faith

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I almost died (3 Times): Life and Death Ponderings

Life and Death

I almost died once, actually not even once, three times to be specific. After nearly dying that often, it gets someone thinking…

After having a gas tank nearly explode on you, you inhale and start thinking, life is fragile.

After almost having a tree land directly on you, you look up and start thinking there’s a reason God hasn’t taken you yet.

After doing vehicular twirls on an interstate, you start thinking God has some things prepared by offering another hour on earth.

Not to be deathly morbid,
but aren’t we all just a hair away from dying? 

We are either dead or alive. Can’t be both.

And with all this death talk, it gets me contemplating the difference:

Death is numbing yourself.
It’s blinding self.
Hiding self.
Minimizing self.
Maximizing self.
Rationalizing self.
Guarding self.
Proving self.
Making things all about self.
Overexerting self.
Indulging self.
Starving self.
Admiring self.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ro. 6:23

Life and Death

But death never represents real life.

Present life is like:
Stripping ones self,
Or removing the sandpaper edges that rub people raw,
Or the fragmented wood planks that stick out of hardened eyes,
Or softening the 20-inch layers of callous that keep love buried.

We don’t nearly equate these kinds of things with life. Because sometimes life breaks us, shreds us and leaves us in torn strips.

Yet, to be stripped is to become equipped with new life.

Life and Death

As the scales fall, new and supple skin emerges.  It is pure, soft, pliable and empowered with complete nourishment to hike the trail headed to the far sunset of God’s predestined calling.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

It is called abundant life.
Not abundant health.
No abundant wealth.
Not abundant shoes.
Not abundant amusement.
Not abundant pleasure.
Not abundant power.
Not abundant smarts.
Not abundant gratification.

Abundant life, means you go through the fire of removing self
to find the Spirit
who remakes you in the wake of big waves,
big prayers
and big callings.

It means you fall away from self to land softly in Christ’s open arms.

It means you retreat from your instant inclinations to find retreat in God’s quiet persuasions.

It means you find acceptance in Christ instead of annoyance at self in the face of big errors.

It means you walk untouchable as you proceed to heaven – as a bride, undefined, reserved, whole, sealed and renewed.

It means you know you have more than enough, even if, by the worlds standards you have hardly enough.

It’s life. It’s vision.  It’s truth.  It’s Hope. It’s discovery and recovery, learning and becoming, traveling and sitting all the same.

It’s more than you ever dreamed of, but all the same, exactly what you never imagined. It is pain, but it is always gain. It is joy, but earned through pain. Real pain. Loud pain. Crying pain. Nailed pain. Tortured pain. Ridiculed pain. Cross-ridden, Christ endured pain that signifies our safe return. A return that proves all will one day be okay, even if the worst does happen.

Because death is really life.

Life and Death

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Being Dissed. The (real) bad – and good of it.

Being Dissed.

She looked at the girl sitting next to me, and said, “Hey it is so great to see you” and continued on not even giving me the time of day.

Who does that?

Who completely ignores someone when they completely know someone?

Boiling hot, I was about ready to make a primed kettle sound.  Wwwhhh….
Someone was going to get burned, and I had a feeling it was going to be me.

In an instant, my mind returned to a time of old,
me, the new girl, trying out for the team,
her, a potential friend that I really enjoyed being with,
all was good, until…
[walk in villian],
her age-old best friend walked in… (dun. dun. dun.)
and whispered to my potential laughing-mate,  “Don’t be friends with her.”

Things went cold, I went hot. Wwhhh!!!

Discouraged. Dejected. Demotivated. I lost my athletic swagger.
I was rejected from the team.

I felt rejected by everyone. Wwhhh!!!

Clearly, it was apparent that there was something deeper going on here.

I couldn’t help but think:

Boiling over happens because of past pain that lays under.
Yesterday returns to sear us with the markings of – unwanted today.
The devil is a avid scorcher, using his red trident of age-old shame – time and time again.

He hits us with it – and we almost can’t help it. We jump out of our seat, jump on the person and rip the person apart from the insides out. We say, you won’t mess with me or rule over me or hurt me ever again. Our eyes close, our fists move and our whole will is determined not to live on repeat. Except, when we open our eyes, the person we look at is not the girl on the field, but the thirty year old with two kids and a whole heaping lot of problems just like us.

Hmm…

I want to cut off this record on repeat that won’t stop playing,
“I think I am dumb. I think that is why. People don’t love me. They will always pass by.”

This kind of song makes you live in limbo. It makes you live believing people have one foot in and one foot out. It makes you live expecting the next diss. It makes you live wondering when you will feel hurt again. It makes you wonder if God will be out the door on you too.

Wwhhh!!! It starts to rise in you. You feel like hitting again. Except when you open your eyes you realize who you would be hitting, and you remember – he was already hit.

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Mt. 26:67

You want to get angry, but as you start to soften your face, you remember:
‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone… Mk. 12:10

The stone that keeps the unsteady fabric of beings from falling over.
The stone that was never thrown.
The stone that binds eternal life.
The stone that knows the depth of rejection.
The stone that rose up to build a church that unites hands around the world today.
The stone with a clear purpose, despite the mocks, slanders and accusations of others.
The stone that was raised on high.
The stone that the Father adored.
The stone that seals us as always accepted.
​The stone that pursues us and loves us and owns us always and forever and then forevermore.

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5 Ways The Devil is Scheming To Nab You

Devil

Hey, little child of God, I have something to tell you, so listen up.

Happiness is over there. Do you see it? Go ahead, suck in what it could be. Feel it. Relish in it. Why not? Don’t you deserve it – for all you have suffered? Aren’t you tired of being stuck?

I mean, look at you! You idiot!

You marginal fool, why aren’t you doing anything,
something,
to change everything?

You are stuck in a church that is not ideal.
You are stuck in a house you don’t want to be in.
You are stuck with a family who doesn’t get you.
You are stuck with a job that is horrible.
You are stuck with friends that don’t really care.
You are stuck in a life that constrains.
You are stuck with kids who are unruly and disobedient.
You are stuck with a spouse who irritates.
You are stuck with a body that is ugly.
You are stuck with health issues that you can’t beat.
You are stuck with pressures and problems.
You are stuck being overweight.

Look at you, your life is horrible. I think, I really think, you should have so much more.

Psst…did you know? It doesn’t have to stay this way…you can do things about it. Now listen up before your whole life is ruined, before all the marbles are dumped on your head and before you find yourself in a burnt heap of ashes, here is my charge for you:

1. Take control. What God hasn’t stepped in to do, you can do. Those he hasn’t changed, force them to change. Drive your power in.

2. Seek happy at all costs. If something doesn’t make you happy, flee from it to find frolicking fun elsewhere. You only live once, you don’t want to sit around missing out. Fulfill your desires and feel good.

3. Remind yourself of all you don’t have. 

“You dumb idiot. While everyone else is getting ahead, you are falling backwards. Do something about it. It’s not like you are that good of a Christian anyway; you always mess up. You failure. Give up.”

Speak like this to yourself and you will be bound to get somewhere.

4. If you can’t get what you want, find another way to make yourself feel good.

Drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, porn, controlling, demoralizing, taunting, instigating, stealing, worry, abusing – it doesn’t really matter – just fill your deep need to numb the real belief you are unloved, uncared for and shipwrecked. The moment of controlled power will feel intoxicating.

5. Put yourself first. You are the only one who can fulfill your deep needs. You have to fight hard to get what you want. Defend yourself, arm yourself, distance yourself and put up an armored stronghold around your body. You are a walking fortress; keep it that way or you will be ruined. Shoot, if necessary.

Other quick tips:

– Keep your eyes on what you see before you; make a snap judgement and abide by feelings.
– Don’t let the word “patience” fool; God really isn’t working for you.
– Don’t serve anything, or anyone, that doesn’t lead to success.
– There’s no one who can come through – like you can.
– You’ll miss out if you don’t grab the world’s cup tightly – and suck it up.
– Put yourself first, no one else will take care of you.
– Get super wise and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
– Mock those who are poor in spirit, “Weaklings!”
– Doubt “hope” and stick with “despair” and you’ll fill up with indulgences of the world, for sure.
– Embrace shades of grey and blurred lines between good and evil – you can rationalize things that way.

devil

With this, applause to you! Cheers for you! Great glory to your work! Great progress to your name! Great power to your charge! Great impact to your step! You will do it; you will find pleasure in all you ever wanted, in the enticements and in the lure of your eye.

You know you want it.
So, step in, grab it and bite –
it is the best apple you will ever eat,
even it it makes your blood run cold,
even if 10 minutes after you feel nauseated,
even if the shame adds thirty layers of chains to your hide,
even if you trap yourself into a box you can’t seem to claw your chained way out of,
at least you will have joy for a moment, ecstasy for a minute and rule for an hour.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jo. 10:10

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7 Reasons Why God Is Allowing Your Trial

Allowing Your Trial

Life is good.
Life is great.
Life is manageable.

Until it breaks down at it’s core and the serial killer of joy, (aka your trial) comes back to haunt you again.

Ever noticed that what hit you yesterday,
still threatens to come after you today?

Same vein, different day, but all the same pain. 

It threatens to hurt you like it did.
It threatens to arrive when you least expect.
It threatens you with the same feelings of yesterday.
It threatens you into fearing like you once did.
It threatens to pop right out of your bushes, saying “Now is the time to hit!”

Then you hear the smallest rustle of the bushes makes you think, “I am doomed.”
A resemblance to his tactics of yesterday make you cower, “I can’t.”
The scars of past cut deep, making you say, “Why me?”

Why does God allow our beaten evil to return?

Why doesn’t he annihilate them and say, “You can never touch my child again”?

Paul said, Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Cor. 12:7

7 Likely Reasons Why God is Allowing your Trial

1. To keep you humble.

Pride goes before the fall (Prov. 16:8). If Paul had fallen, Christianity would not have risen. If Christianity did not rise, it easily could have meant our demise.

2. To keep you in training.

Olympic runners aren’t built without sprinting through walls, forging through exhaustion and getting up again when they want to quit. It is in the pain that we find our greatest spiritual gains – to become more and more like Christ.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Ja. 1:2-3

3. To gift you with the grace of God.

It often takes the face of crisis to see the smile of God’s grace over you. It is here you learn to stop saying things like, “I oughta”, “Why can’t I?” and “I should have”. Instead a quiet and gentle prodding arises within; it is one that begins to know “with God, all is possible”, “no weapon forged against me shall prosper” and “I am a work in progress and I will get there”.

4.  To make you start thinking spiritually, not carnally.

When you have nothing left, you start to see all that is left – and all that matters – God.  Sometimes the stripping, is much more about clothing you with Spirit things than it is about hurting your earthly things and body.

Strip yourselves of your former nature.… And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]. Eph. 4:22-23 (AMP)

5. To show you growth.

When you hit bad, you can start to see the forming of your good. Meaning, you see how less anxious you are, how less worried you feel and how much more you know God will take care of you.  It becomes a cause for praise.

6. To change things in your unseen.

We forget that while we are living our song, God is conducting a blaring orchestra with moving instruments around us. All rise up to sing, “Glory to God on the highest and peace to his people on earth”! Our sound may play odd, but in the grand scheme of his leading, all things are working together just as he wants them to. Things are being accomplished. People are being reached. Lives are changing. We just don’t know what he knows.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Is. 55:8

7. To develop you into eternal gold, not rotting dollar bills.

When delivered, what emerges from the rot of a once selfish body? Praise. Glory. Honor. Things that are worthy, valuable and eternal.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Pet. 1:7

God uses what is coming to get you, not to ruin you, but to make you.

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When God is Punishing You

God is Punishing

You kind of figure, because of you,
because of all your bad actions,
he’s going to open the heavens,
rain down lightening like pocket knives
​and  land one straight on your head.

Maybe it is already happening. All is plummeting and God is: hitting you with health issues, cutting into finances, shredding a marriage, stabbing emotional well-being, hurting your kids, slicing out pain at work and dicing up trials for your course du jour.

And, it has to be you, right? All you have done, you deserve it. All you keep doing, it makes sense. All of your past, you get it. You are a degenerate in so many ways.

You may not hear his words from his mouth, but you certainly hear them in your head:

 “Get your bad self to your room. Don’t return until you act better.”
“Get yourself together.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“You can’t do anything right.”

Exasperated, you wait to hear from him, expecting a whole lotta words on how you are a royal mess-up and a giant loser. You expect to hear a list of practial law and rules and insights and plans that you need to stick to.

Instead, a whole different picture rises – a picture that puts God’s truth first.

It is painted.  Not in muted shades of pained grey, but with the spectrum of new life. It beckons you to step in and to feel the warmth, to participate in growth and to enjoy the ride, so you listen and hear things like: 

1. You see all you do wrong, I see so much that you do right.

2. You’re my first love. I don’t want to hurt you, I want to prosper, grow and see my glory shine through you.

3. You see your mistakes, I see how your mistakes are the starting of new.

4. You get discouraged and defeated by relational hiccups, but I see the pauses as space for me to work.

5. You’re the child I created, I love you exactly the way you are – strengths with weaknesses, weaknesses with strengths.

6. You don’t have to have it all figured out in the today, because I have it all figured out in the tomorrow.

7. Your repentance is the start of my next best thing. You turn away and then you see me.

8. Other people acting badly, is the best chance to show holy.

9.  When you turn towards me, in turn you see my kindness.

10. When you say you’re sorry (and mean it), I say, “I forgive you” (and mean it).

Staring at the image, your mind dwells on the new story:

“God’s face looks a whole lot different than mine. His love is ten times more infusive than mine. His ways are galaxies more compassionate than mine. His grace is tanks more abundant than mine.

While I look at the immediate, he sees the long-term. While I get defeated in battle, he cheers the victory over the course of the war. While I get angry, he knows that anger does not produce righteousness (Ja. 1:20)”

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Ps. 145:8

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Nu. 14:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Ps. 86:5

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. Ps. 25:8

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Ps. 130:4

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 Jo. 4:8

God calls you in.
Deeper.

God calls you out.
To head towards grace.

God dares you to hear him.
To listen to his true sounds.

For to know him,
is to know love.

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Regular Contributor, Katie Reid, is delighted to have a memoir piece published in Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond by Matilda Butler. The book launches today on Amazon for only 99 cents! Don’t miss it.

When Someone Really Offends You

Offends

Someone said some things that made me question some things – about myself.

Things that made me wonder:

Do I shine Christ well?
Do I really have anything important to say?
Does God’s mission for me count?

Their words unloaded doubt, fresh pallets of discouragement set directly on my heart- the weight of which seemed nearly unbearable.

Every part of me wanted to yell back at them, “Be nice! Don’t you know I am fragile.” 
“I just poured out my heart to you – and you’re now stomping on it?”
“How dare you? You are mean.”

But, grown people don’t normally talk this way. So, I didn’t.

What I did say, or rather hear from the Word of God was this question (which is probably a million times more impactful than my original response):  Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? Gal. 1:10

This verse plays out to us, hurt ones, in layman’s terms much like this:

– Dear child, others may try do define you, but I have made you.
– Dear child, you may not be good enough for them, but I have created you good enough for me.
– Dear child, I don’t rule according to man’s opinions, I rule according to my truth.
– Dear child, I am looking for those who follow at all costs, not those bending and breaking to man’s needs.
– Dear child, if I led you, you can’t be led wrong.
– Dear child, if you listen, you will hear my voice and can walk assured of my path.
– Dear child, if I am for you, no one can be against you.
– Dear child, if you do something with me, no grain or crumb expended is a waste.
– Dear child, take a pause, for I have told you not to seek applause.
– Dear child, you do not know their internal battle; perhaps you are the peace to their war.
– Dear child, people speak from the depravity of flesh but I speak from the wellspring of life.

When you hear these kinds of things from God, you look at God and say, “Ok. You know best.”

And somehow, maybe even unknowingly, you set that person free in your mind, figuring, in them, God is probably doing some work. You see them flying smaller and smaller in the distance and you trust that God’s will is being done – in your life and theirs.  And maybe, just maybe, you even let it sneak out – a little smile.

One that all can see as you walk. One that shows that, with God, you are just a tad bit more at peace, full and taken care of than you ever could have been without him.

Suddenly, you don’t feel so bad anymore. For you know, that this small progress is what faith is made of and that small scales up a mountain, before long, land you at the top – where you can see everything with clarity.

So you trust God, and step up by faith – knowing that, one day, you will stand on the mountaintop of eternity, where all things culminate – and where real life begins. So, until then, you stay firm in your pursuit of what matters and carry on fighting and climbing, listening and returning, hoping and trusting – until that one day comes where you find yourself, home.

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7 Verses for Relational Encouragement

Relational Encouragement

Christmas is here, but so is family tensions.
Christmas is here, but so are dysfunctional relationships.
Christmas is here, but so are old habits.
Christmas is here, but gone are people we love.
Christmas is here, but baggage of old still exists.
Christmas is here, but fears surface.

God says, “I see all that, and I can handle all that.”

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Is. 41:10

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim. 1:7

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

What looks unscalable, God boosts you over.

What seems unbearable, God brings you through unbelievably.

What can’t be managed, God says let down your guard and I will guard you.

Will you throw your cares upon God’s shoulders? He is the only one that can hold the weight of them without breaking his back.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

sustain
transitive verb sus·tain \sə-ˈstān\

  • : to hold up the weight of (something)

As you cast it over, God gets under its crushing weight (just like he did at the cross).

The weight is no longer on you, so when you walk, talk, eat or digest other’s insults, you don’t fall. You are preserved, whole and entire.

Press in and God will press his being through you.

Cast your cares and he will care for you.

Be strong and trust – God is about ready to rescue you!

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The Hidden Good in the Bad

Good in the Bad

I tried my best. I put my whole heart into it.
I sought God and followed him.
I didn’t give up despite the big barriers.
I kept my focus and kept going…
Only to hit hard times.

Ever noticed, how when you give your all,
all of a sudden, you somehow start to believe – 
God should give his all too?

Silently, longingly and righteously you start to say things like:
“I did my part. Now, you better do yours.”
“You helped me through. Now bring me all the way.”
“You are giving me this? I have done good by you.”

Somehow, I believe my following, trusting and abiding with him DESERVES some sort of sundae with a cherry on top (don’t miss the hot fudge, God) – from him. That is the sticking point. 

God’s blessings are not dictated by our demands.
God’s blessings are always good, but not always easy.
God’s blessings are given and not demanded.
God’s blessings are unearned and, often, unexpected.

Perhaps, God doesn’t always payback hard work,
because he wants to payout the better gift.

Think of Mary.

Just a young girl, did she ever expect an angel to visit her from high? Likely not. Blessing.
Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  Jesus. Lu. 1:30

Might she have thought having a baby, unwedded, was more of a curse than a blessing? Perhaps, but again it was a blessing.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Lu. 1:31

Might she have been let down by the fact that ultimately Jesus was less great and more humble? He was a King nailed up against a cross. Still – a blessing.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…his kingdom will never end. Lu. 1:32

What we see as unusual, unwanted and often unwarranted –
are often unknown blessings in the process of being baked to done.

Done to the point where:

  1. Things spiritual are cemented forever. Jesus reigns over earthly forever.
  2. Wars are won as people are pressed against difficult. Jesus proclaims it is finished – man will be saved from themselves.
  3. Things of darkness are trampled on. Jesus put everything underneath his feet; he stands above it all.
  4. Lives are saved. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mt. 20:28
  5. God is glorified. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Father, into my hands I commend my spirit. Mt. 23:46
  6. You are changed. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 Jo. 2:6

Blessings can look like nails. They can also feel like crosses being carried. Yet, at the end of the day, what springs forth from the winter of cold agony is the warmth of new Spring – overflowing with Christ’s majesty and strength.

The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Ps. 93:1

The cross was an unusual, often unwanted and unwarranted (for a perfect lamb), but it was a blessing that would change the tides of the earth forever. 

As Mary’s love was being nailed to the cross, as he cried out as and as she likely wondered why it all had to lead to this – she was being blessed.

What seems to be nailing you? Might it actually be blessing you?

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Talking Like God Would

Talking Like God

Not too many days ago, which, if I am completely honest with you – is about once a week – I have one of those pull-out-your-hair types of days.

Most of the time the impetus is my kids, and either some crazy mishap like poo on the floor, water all over the place, cooking extravaganzas gone horribly wrong or something else that is impossible to clean up.

Then I start playing the mole in the hole game as one thing after another pops up to drive me mad:

I start stubbing my toe.
The cabinets look a mess.
I can’t organize worth a small stack of T-bonds.
I needed to throw out everything (about 10 years ago).
I am the worst mom.
I can’t do things well.

Before I know it, I grab my AK-47 and start firing.

Normally the bullets hit my kids first, leaving what I assume are critical care wounds from words like this:

You are not listening.
You are not obeying.
You are frustrating me.
You are going to be punished.
You better do ____, or else!
I don’t want to be around you.
I am leaving you here until you can shape up.
Why can’t you __________?

Perhaps you shoot down your spouse this way too,
this kind of thing has been known to happen.

It’s interesting, isn’t it?

The ones we most love are the ones we most love to shoot.
The ones that are closest always land our stray bullets. 
The ones most invested in us are the ones we most often try to rob.

It is as if somehow we know that their belief in us –
is also our greatest risk.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1

God’s spiritual inclinations repel from our earthly inclinations.

He’s basically like:

If you have a house, why are you ripping it apart?
If you are building something great, are you really going to be so dumb as to ruin it?
If you are wise, get wise about the words of identity you declare –
they determine the path of the ones you love.

Then, he graciously teaches mom his love and how to speak love.

He says, My Child, watch what I do,
then you will see and know how to speak.
I say things like:

I love you always, no matter how badly you mess up (or how bad your cabinets look).
I want to help you listen and obey.
I am with you and will guide you in the process.
I won’t leave you or push you aside when you fail.
I want to encourage you in all your ways.
If you have questions about my approach, just ask.
I won’t keep reminding you of all you have done wrong.
I love how I made you; I approve of you.
I love watching your small steps of improvement.
I wait for you to be near to me; I love being close to you.

What if I was to talk – like God talks to me?

What if rather than tearing down, I start laying down new bricks of life-long security?

What might that do to a dwelling? To the attitudes inside – and to the mom who feels subpar?

Somehow, I can’t help but think, when we start speaking grace, we start believing it.

Then, when moles sneak out of their holes, rather than believing they are creating dugouts that will sink our house, we remember what we have built. We step back, we see our foundation and we know God’s words and reinforced love made it strong.

We gently hear his voice say: “I will be with you. Just do your best and I will take care of the rest.”

And, things feel okay – and so does everyone else.

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When God Makes Your Bad Day Worse

Bad Day

Faith is easy when life is simple.
Faith is tested when life gets infested.
Infested with: trials, trauma, ticks, testing, tainted people, tiny bank accounts, T-Cell Cancer

Then, we start to lose our marbles, we run after them as they spread left and right and downhill and diagonally. We think that somehow they are our source of pleasure, our primary need, our must haves to stay in this competitive game called life.  When they go wild, we go wild. We zig and we zag, frantic with the what ifs, the how comes and the if onlys. We run tired with metastasized doubt.

Just the other day, my bag spilled out.
Kids were going to bathroom in places they never should go.
Water was being poured faucet-to-floor.
Shoes were being protested as we headed out the door.
Bad news was arriving via telephone.

Later, I sat in my car, zoned, and seeking: “Dear Lord, please help me right now. Send me some encouragement that will uplift my heart.”

I stared out the front windshield, a tad dazed, yet I still saw it, a beacon of hope, a blessing in the making and a little valentine from God – I was sure this card tucked under the wiper was the answer to all my days wrongs.

“God, this must be it. What is on that card, you have written for me, to encourage me. Please Lord, let it be.”

I plucked the card out and, with excitement, read it, sure of my oncoming peace. But, what it said shocked me, it nearly broke me, “Alert: You park like an idiot.”

bad day

And, boom! There it was, the hammer that broke the frozen dam of pent up wild, the final condemnation I needed to lose and the final word on what was already written up as horrendous day.

Have you ever been there? Just needing a little pat on the back, only to get a great whack?

What I never considered, until I got the chance to consider how much of a parking idiot I really am, is that no one ever really knows our situation.

While that person placed a card on my windshield to help all mankind, they had no idea that a man of my kind was near her breaking point. They had no idea that I parked the car like that because kids will not be able to open the backdoor if the car is too close. They had no idea that leaving two littles in the center of a crazy parking lot to back up and load them in is frankly idiotic.  They had no idea that my head was going to explode from the pressure of all the marbles that were already hitting all the walls of discouragement.

How often do I judge someone before I know?

How often do I see bad moves and curse the person
for not moving another way?

How often do I miss the chance to love and lift
for a decision to kill and destroy?

That person had the chance to change my whole day for the better, I bet they had no idea.

All the same, in that moment, for a split second, another marble came loose. It was the marble with the name God on it, for a split-second it started to roll – away, far far away.

I watched it.
Would I get it?
Not sure.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Ro. 8:28

I know this verse, but sometimes it is hard to believe this verse. Sometimes it is hard to live in the eye of tornado and still keep an eye on truth.

Truth like:
God cares less about wiping our feelings clean and more about wiping our souls clean.
God sometimes let’s us go through the fire, so we get a chance to see the miraculous undoing of our self. 
God is holding our heart, even when we lose heart.
More important than earthly mayhem is spiritual peace. Mania makes us motivated to find it.
People don’t drive our standing in God’s Kingdom, Jesus did.

If I stop chasing marbles, I start to get back into God’s game. I start to think strategy, promises and peace to myself. I start to find life abounding in the face of myself rebounding.

I start to think of how all this bad is made for all God’s good.

I start to feel calm again, steady and ready to stick solidly to all that really matters in this world.

Sense starts to boil up from all the nonsense – and that is enough for me.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3

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