If you want to know how I found Jesus, know this: He found me.
Sure, pre-Jesus, I was religious. I knew how to go to church well. I knew how to say prayers. I knew how to follow rules. I knew how to make sacrifices. What I didn’t know was, love so great it would send you down to your knees because you wanted to go there. Because it was your joy to fall down. No. I didn’t know that.
I only knew striving hard and working hard to earn favor that felt about as unreachable as a life that mattered. It all frustrated me so. The idea of figuring out how to prove I was a prized daughter. The unquenchable desire to be seen and the corresponding desire to do everything right. The endless guilt and self-contempt. I always felt busted; I knew he always knew I wasn’t worthy enough.
And, it was tiring. I wore my body out doing all this. My weight dropped like a rock, my stomach turned knots in the night and my mind swung wild circles in the fog it lived in. It’s called Anorexia.
That’s where I went. We all go somewhere. Without God we all go somewhere to escape the vicious thought: God might hate me. I went there.
It was painful. And, to add pain to this injury, the drinking didn’t help. I nearly hated myself.
Have you been there? Perhaps, you’re there now. Perhaps, you are trying to pretend you aren’t there, while everything in you – knows, you are there.
Do you feel the distance between you and God?
Do you sense the anger at yourself?
Do you feel the pull towards old addictions?
Do you try to meet all God’s expectations, but feel helpless to do it?
Today, I want you to know there is no shame. We tend to look at life as colors of black and white, good or bad, God or Godless. And, while, absolutely, truth is truth, often our own spiritual progression is not so easily delineated.
Faith is a journey; you are the sojourner. Beyond this, greater is a truthful heart to God, than a story contrived to the world. A fake.
God wants your truth. He wants your heart and he wants your truth. Will you bare it to him? Reveal it without shame? Let him unravel it?
That is what I did way back when (and I still do today). I called out to God. I said, “I don’t know what I am doing anymore. I don’t know who I am Jesus. Will you help me, save me?”
It’s a prayer we should use often; it works. God always shows up. God always saves. God’s love completely endures, no matter how many years past a vibrant faith you are.
You are never too lost to be found.
He found me.
So, no matter where you stand on the spiritual spectrum, consider this: God is ready to save you, today. Why not let him?
We have a broken fire alarm in our house. It’s either that, or well working. At the first hint of bacon, or scents of meat or scorch in a pan the thing fires off.
At first, we freaked. We didn’t know whether, with this obnoxious sound, we should run outside to grab a hose or just sit around and chill out. But, after the 11th or so time, we realized – all will be okay. We just have to address the issue and move on with our day.
Some of us, need to do the same: We need to hear a fire alarm sounding in our mind, address the issue with God and know it will be okay.
What fire alarm should be sounding off in your life? Is it harsh words? Is it a mean attitude? Is it a shut-down heart? Is it a busy lifestyle? Is it a spending habit?
Usually, we try to go through our house, our life, acting like everything is okay when it really is not. This is not okay. We need to hear that fire alarm, the sound of God reminding us – Hey, look over here, there are some things you need to address. There are some areas that I want you to see, so you can better see me.
It is not a sound of condemnation, it is a sound of restoration, meant to bring us to Jesus’ consolation. Jesus loves us. He wants to help us. He is for us. He is with us. He is our advocate. He is our relief. He is our way. He is our life.
Why not let him heal us from what hurts today? Why not call out to him, instead of trying to soldier on with bandages around our knees and a limp to your spirit? We were meant for more than this kind of living, weren’t we?
You’re not faking him; I am not either.
And, even though I try to “fake it” in my house, today I admit: My heart feels fragile. It feels needy. It feels wanting.I am a little weary.
But, no weight is not too much for God to carry.
In fact, renewed power and passion comes to types like me and you, who admit need. For, with Christ, our weakness becomes our strength. We need not feel ashamed to abide in the place of wanting, of longing and of helplessness. Here, he who is help, brings help, speedily. He rescues us. He rushes in. He saves.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18)
Be not ashamed if there is an alarm sounding in your life; he who saves will show up.
Air conditioning. It is such a beautiful thing, such a wonderful reprieve from sweltering heat. I was glad to be in it and away from the heat that had been dripping down my skin. Plus, we were finally in the car, me and my two toddlers. In my victory place. . . I call it this, because it means I’ve dressed them well, ensuring their underwear are on their bodies and not their heads. It also means I’ve successfully harnessed them in the seats with octopus tentacles, I mean, straps. . .
All this to say, now we could successfully move from point A, home, to point B, camp. I clocked in my speed exactly 5 acceptable miles over the speed limit and fell into my thoughts. How does one find God when life gets moving so fast?
In the morning, before life started going and hustling, I was all rock-solid-in-Christ. In the quiet I was full, sure, readied and bible-loaded. But, then, somewhere into the first 10-minutes of morningtime momma-ing, I was depleted.
I drove on, letting my mind wrap its arms around this ongoing struggle. I’m all alone. I have to do everything myself. Where’s the love for the woman who works so hard? Where’s the replenishment in these places of “worn out”?
My eyes surveyed the flat, long road ahead, all the way down the next 5 stop lights. If I drive a little faster I can make that light. If I switch lanes I can get ahead to do it. If I get the kids unbuckling by the time I hit the parking lot of the school, I can more quickly transition them at the door.
My eyes stared off into the sweltering horizon down the grey asphalt road, but what they never did, at least not for a long time, was – look up. This, I later realized, this was my problem. It often is: I see what is in front of me, missing the God above me. I manage, control, fix, suppose and compound issues. God just waits to be found.
Yet, by shifting my mind to see what’s above I can actually see. In this case, I could see light pink, hot pink, off white and splashes of every color. . . painted accross the sky. God is awesome!
His light reached towards my car.
God does see me. He is always here. He knows my situation. He sees my way.
Encouraged, I searched out more. I noticed the birds. They weren’t all flying around; they were relaxed, sitting and surveying the glory from a phone line. Turned towards the sun. At peace.
Rest is here. God is rest. I can choose to rest in him.
His love waits for me.
This situation stood as the perfect reminder: if instead of dwelling on what is in front of me, I dwell on what is above, I will find God as I seek him.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:13)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Mt. 17:7)
We can be like tires, after a lot of mileage, we run down. We loose our traction to God’s Word. We slip and slide into worldliness. We can feel it happening, we sense the tug, we know we are a little out of control, the problem is, sometimes, we are not so sure what to do about it.
I feel it in my life. I’ve had a series of frustrating situations: the babysitter backed our car into the mailbox, my feelings got hurt by a friend, and my prayer life with God landed in the doldrums.
Fortunately, I’m beginning to get eyes to see, if I don’t change something at the first sign of a slide, I’ll land in a ditch of faith. I don’t want this. Neither do you, I bet.
And, what about you? Are you, like me, slipping and sliding today?
– Letting arguments or distance with another dictate your worth.
– Finding yourself alone, tired and doubtful in your house.
– Resting on your own abilities to accomplish things, and not God’s.
– Endlessly worrying about your “situation” and having a hard time giving it to God.
– Recounting all that went wrong and not knowing how to get your mind off it.
– Returning to the sense that you are not really cared for by God.
– Battling your own will to avoid the temptation before you.
– Forgetting your quiet time or prayer time with God.
No matter where you stand, even if you feel completely on fire for the Lord, our goal is to boost your traction. So you cling on to the King of Kings, grip his paths, and stay on them.
The first step along this path is to:
Offer Forgiveness: Even if you need to forgive the same person 50 times. God endorses this behavior. He tells us to forgive 77 times – times 7 (Mt. 18:22).
Ask God: Will you help me to receive your Words and believe your words in a way where they relieve my heart?
Proclaim Godliness: Speak the truth (out loud). Speak it over yourself. Now, don’t fear, while you might feel dumb, you don’t look dumb to God, you look quite wise, actually, for getting your little self back on his path.
Speak this:I am beloved; I am God’s child and nothing can ever change that.
I am chosen; Father God never turns his back on those he wants.
I am helped; in everything I do, God will help me.
I am equipped; the Lord gives me what I need to accomplish his will.
I am restored; Jesus didn’t come to earth to leave mankind broken and he won’t leave me this way either.
I am forgiven; what was done on the cross is as permanent as marker –
there is no erasing its power.
I am renewed; I am being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.
I am not perfect; I am growing and moving from glory to glory.
I am strong. In Christ Jesus, I have all I need to walk into this life;
his grace is more than enough.
I am able. There is nothing that God can’t help me do;
there is no mountain I can’t move, through prayer.
I am destined. I am destined to the fullness of heaven and
no scheme of the enemy can take that from me.
I am alive. This is my one life to go all out for God – and I will.
I am talented. God has given me works to do in advance,
not so I can doubt them, but so I can unleash them.
I am in love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are my affection. Through them, I spread love.
I am called. I will go as God calls me to go.
I will lay it all down to follow my King, Master and Prince of Peace.
I am daughter; I am cared for in the kindest ways.
I am covered; God’s faithfulness will bring me through.
I am safe; God’s protection never breaks.
I am whole in Christ Jesus and if he is for me – no one can be against.
Believing and speaking these words restores tread and traction in our heart. We reattach to the vine and abide in his love, so much so, our mind realizes, we are not operating in this world but in HIS world. Getting to this place, to the place of spiritual eyes, is what brings us back to a heart that is on fire for God. It is what makes us go out in the world and pass the torch to another person. Rest here.
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 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.”
This past week, I sat there. There were no texts, no calls and my husband was working late. Everything was dull. Facebook, a vast echo chamber of voices sounding off with complaints, thoughts and little questions posed on colored backgrounds. Empty. TV, a wasteful pursuit of the same old stuff – guns, reality gossip and divisive politics.
I breathed in. I looked up. God, are you here in all this? Sometimes, days just seem – fruitless. Dumb. Wasteful.
And, with this, more questions started flying.
I wonder, are you in this place too, of questioning? Perhaps you are… Let me assure you, there is nothing wrong in the asking, in the pursuing. So that is what we will do here today. We will ask our hard stuff and then we will hear, what I believe is God’s heart back to us….
Where are you, God?
I love you. I’ve always had you, this, a plan. Wait on me and you’ll hear me. Listen for me and you’ll find me. I have not given you a spirit of fear and timidity but of power love and a sound mind. Great is my faithfulness and my ability to change, help and restore. I have a plan. You will find me when you seek me with all your heart. Get ready. This is only the beginning and where we are going no man, evil and the world cannot stand against. Yes, you may encounter hard times along the way, but I am in them and with you. Be not afraid. You will find my joy in unexplainable ways. You will find my peace surrounding you. I am the fullness of all you need. Rest in me. Walk with me and find me. There are days when you won’t know, that is okay. I know and that is all you need to know. Come follow me. I am the way, your way, the truth, your truth and the life, your life.
God, how to I proceed? I need direction.
Wait on me. Listen. Stop and hear. Ask and discover. Seek and I’ll open the door to you. Watch and I’ll appear. Immerse yourself in my mind and I’ll immerse myself in you. Pay attention to the little things. Open the door of you heart wider. Unfasten the fear and the shame that is keeping you from the fullness of my glory. My wanting you to let go of this is never about shaming or guilting you. Do you want to pass it over to me today? Do you want to hand over what you see as condemnation, so I can begin a grand reformation? Why not take off the burden and pass it along. I am teaching you and leading you, but you need to be able to hear me and my Word.
God, why aren’t I doing more for you?
A baby doesn’t run until the training days are done. Often, you think you are ready to sprint before you’re developed. I am growing in you the spiritual muscles to do the things I’ve prepared for you. Daughter, I AM at work. If you will just be faithful in the small things, in the meaningless days, in obedient ways, you’ll find I am taking those underdeveloped places and making them strong, so then we can go and do bigger things. Just think, if you are a baby, or a child and I allow you to pole jump too early, you’ll land on your face. I want you to fly, at my appointed time, in my appointed way. I want you to be ready in full with all my equipping. Here is what you need to know: be faithful in the little and big doors will be opened unto you.
As I asked these questions of God, his peace fell on me. Are there some questions you need to ask of God? He doesn’t hate you for asking; He delights in your pursuit of Him, of truth and of life. Press in. Seek. And, find.
I wasn’t sure what happened. One day we were the best of friends and the next… I don’t know, there was this immeasurable distance between us.
For two years my friend and I were inseparable. Our kids played together, we vacationed together with our husbands and now, I couldn’t explain it but something was terribly wrong.
The person I spent hours on the phone with sharing heartbreak and joy, now wouldn’t give me a minute of her time.
After days of chill between us I worked up the nerve to ask her.
“Is something wrong? Is it me?”
As if she had no earthly idea what I was talking about she coyly answered,
“No, I’m good.”
But something wasn’t good. Something was terribly wrong. I felt like I was left alone in the middle of a dance floor. Abandoned.
And then I felt suckered punched. Betrayed.
She knew all my secrets—where my bones were buried.
As the days went on I prayed to God for answers while I tried on my own to figure out what happened. Every morning I woke up with a big fat knot in the pit of my gut while in my head I scoured each word of every conversation we recently had for a clue.
Was it the joke about the gas station, not knowing which grade of gas to choose? I was only teasing her. We joked liked that all the time.
Was she put off because I gave her advice in the gym? But she asked.
There’s nothing quite as devastating as losing a close friend and not knowing what took her from you.
Every day I grew more desperate for answers. I prayed. I waited. I cried. I prayed. I waited. I bawled. I prayed I waited. I wailed! Why wasn’t God answering my prayer? What could be the harm in answering this prayer?
I never stopped to consider it wasn’t all about me.
Eventually the tears dried up and life moved on. Moved on without answers.
And we moved on—my family, away to another city.
In my heart of hearts I knew God knew what happened between my friend and me and that in and of itself gave me peace.
My ex-bestie and I exchanged Christmas cards for a few years and talked few times. But months turned into years and I came to the realization there are some things perhaps God just doesn’t want us to know. Secrets that are to remain hidden.
Several moves and eighteen years later, my husband, David and I attended a wedding for the daughter of another dear friend. At there at the reception across the room between the coconut shrimp and the carving station stood my ex-bestie. It had been years since we’d seen each other.
I walked over and we exchanged hugs and for the next few minutes did what old friends do when they haven’t talked in years. We caught up making small talk about our kids, husbands and nothing. Around the time I thought, that’s that, the conversation took and unanticipated turn.
“Christy” she said, “I need to apologize to you.”
I was truly taken aback. What is this about, I thought?
She went on.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ruining our friendship—one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m sorry for pulling away. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. It wasn’t about you. It was me.”
She went on to explain what had been going on in her heart and why she grew distant. The “what” I didn’t know.
I stood in relief of my 18 year old question and more so marveled at God’s handi-work of the process.
In this hurry-up and fix-it world, we want what we want when we want it. All those many years ago I was hurting and wanted answers.
But God is not as much concerned about time as He is about the timing. We want a quick fix. He wants to fix hearts.
He wants to heal us.
He wants to change us.
Grow our character to be more in-line with His. And that takes a providential process.
Maybe you’re dealing with an unanswered prayer right now. It could be a broken relationship or maybe it’s something else entirely. I assure you the moment you prayed a plan was laid. Just because you don’t get your answer right away, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.
Because sometimes it’s not all about us.
“He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.'” Acts 1:7
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
Has your heart ever been broken? Mine has – by a woman nonetheless…
I remember standing on a field so many years ago – new at an all-girls school where bonds from middle school past already seemed tightly formed.
Could I make my way here?
I gave it my best shot. I practiced with intensity, hit every ball with power and ran so hard I felt like I might faint. Near buckling at my knees, I didn’t care – every move was a silent message to this new world: I am impressive, beautiful and desirable.
My effort will make them love me.My worth here will prove me lovable. I will belong to this club – even if it kills me…
Sweaty, panting and constantly smiling, eventually I made headway with the girl with the constantly swinging brown ponytail. She was nice. I was happy. We continued talking.
We will be great friends – me and brown ponytail girl. I was certain of it.
But, that wouldn’t happen, I would come to find out. You see, blond ponytail girl – the real all-star leader of this pack, had other plans: plans to point a finger at me from afar, plans to whisper, plans to grab brown ponytail girl’s hand, plans to pull her away, and plans to crush me.
Brown ponytail girl no longer gave me the time of day.
So, I gave up and stopped trying.
I was cut from the team.
Then, I gave up on the school.
I left it the next year, taking home with me the lesson: Women hurt women. They are scary and always will be.
Have women also scarred you on the inside?
In that place where no one can see, but you can always feel? In a way that makes you fear being hurt again?
You are not alone with your scars, this I know. Women hurt women, but here is the amazing part: women, through Christ, also heal women. Our stories, our lessons, our insight, our biblical truths – they bring light and life.
There is power in the radical realization: we are not alone in our struggle.
This is, in part, why I started the Journey Together Summit. I believe, we women are better together than apart. We best fight fear, when we remind each other God is near. And, through vulnerability, we access new dependability on God.
Healing happens in comforting quiet with God, but it also happens in the common conversations with women.
Might you want to discover the freedom God has for you, through the courage- building stories of other women?
And find healing today? Join me and 34 author experts (including a couple New York Times Bestsellers) for The Journey Together Summit. It is a free online event (Starting TODAY, but viewable after today) where we chat openly and transparently about fear, worry and anxiety. There are topics for everyone, including: unmet expectations, an unfair life, shame from the past, uncertainty of the future, worry, anxiety, feeling like a bad mom, marriage, intimacy, work issues and so much more.
Can’t attend these dates? We have a way for you to access everything on your own timeline. Discover more.
My son approached the buffet like a kid in a candy shop. He wanted to devour it all. It all was his for the taking. He could approach it as many times as he wanted. He could fill up his plate to the point where it was overflowing off the sides. He could eat and then go back to the dessert taking and try a bite of each pie.
If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the kid died and went to heaven.
I know better though. He was very much still on earth and this was very much a Mother’s Day brunch I was delighting in. Everyone was all – smiles, sugar and sweetness. MMMmm…I wish you all could have been there with me.
You would have died for the key lime pie, but I digress…
Kid ate so much. And, I just allowed it… You know, there’s a tendency to want to take away in abundance, but I didn’t. I encouraged him to just enjoy. There’s a tendency to want to comment on his sticky hands. I didn’t. I let go and let him eat in peace. There’s a tendency to want to wipe up and pick up the area around his plate. Nope. I didn’t. It would have ruined his moment.
He loved it.
So much so, he did what he usually never does. He looked at his plate and said, “Mommy, I want to share the best with you.”
He wanted to give me tastes of his best stuff. He wanted to give to me from a place of abundance. He no longer, like usual, saw what he had as limited, he saw it as unlimited and that changed his entire view. It made him a giver instead of a horder.
As he thrust his plate of coconut pie towards me, I thought, “When we live from a place of God’s abundance, we so much more easily share it and spread it.”
Are you a giver or a horder? Are you living from a place of abundance, where you believe God is providing all you need (and then some), or are you living from a table of lack, where you concentrate on how little there is? Where you see all you don’t have? Where you can’t give anything away? Where you don’t believe God will provide?
Switching our mentality is powerful, because when we believe God is giving we start giving. We loosen our grip and come towards people with open hands. We let go of the stress and find rest. We stop counting and keeping our pennies close to our vest.
We see the poor and we approach them.
We invite people over and make left-overs.
We pull out cash and church and give the whole wad.
We hear no words of affirmation in our ear, but hand them out anyway.
We notice a person alone and give of our time.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… (Lu. 16:10)
Don’t Miss The Journey Together Summit, June 5-8! Join 34 leading authors with the sole mission of helping you discover new bravery. Whether you desire to be brave at home or at work, in your marriage or with your children, in ministry or in the mess of the day, dealing with a surprising life or just organizing it – this is the event for you. There is something for everyone with over 34 topics of fear covered (wait till you see them all!).