Purposeful Faith

Category - blessings

Do you Need a New Perspective?

New Perspective?

Post by: Karina Allen

To say that the last few months have been tough is an understatement. I live in Baton Rouge. In August, my city was devastated by a severe, historical flood. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost EVERYTHING they own…homes, cars, jobs and possessions. I, unfortunately, am one of those people. I’ve lost much of my furniture and my vehicle. Now, I am trying to figure out how to maneuver a move to a new home. I am BEYOND overwhelmed and BEYOND tired!

Some of the most arduous seasons in my life have caught me completely off guard. And boy, did this one!

I know that I can trust God, but sometimes I struggle with fully grasping why a reprieve doesn’t come. However, God, in His infinite wisdom had already been speaking some truths into my life that would prepare me for this time.

I tweeted this a while back during another difficult season…

1.) God’s ways are higher.

2.) The joy of the Lord is my strength.

3.) God is good and does good.

A fourth truth did occur to me but this was all that I could fit in 140 characters. Nevertheless, God in His faithfulness used my friend Krissy who replied to my tweet with…

4.) And He loves you deeply.

It was the EXACT thought that had crossed my mind but was unable to include in my tweet. God solidified some parts of His character through her response. He showed me that He cares about the details of my life and is always at work.

God’s Ways Are Higher

Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

As much as we think we know what is best for our lives, God knows infinitely more. My best plan pales in comparison to His plan. My job is to trust Him. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows precisely what needs to or does not need to happen in order to bring us into the destiny that He has planned for us.

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

In Nehemiah 8:10b, he tells us, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”There are hardly enough words to express how much I need to know this. God’s joy is my strength. I don’t have to try to manufacture joy on my own. I just need to grab hold of who He is and what He has. His promises are for me.

God is Good and Does Good

The first half of Psalm 119:68 gets right to the point and tells us that God is good and does good. That is who He is. He cannot be anything other than good. I absolutely LOVE that, because out of His goodness, He does good things. In good times and in bad times, He does good things. We may not always see the good or think what He is doing is good, but it is. He causes all things to work for our good and for His glory.

He Loves Me Deeply

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

We have all heard this verse a number of times. It is the very foundation of our faith. How can God possibly love us this much? I don’t have the answer. I just know that He does and I am so incredibly grateful! How could I not be? How could we not be?

I want to live in such a way that it is a response to His love. That means that I need to view every circumstance through eyes of faith. I need to trust in His ways, let His joy be my strength, believe that He is good and that He loves me deeply.

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Twitter:@karina268
Instagram:@karina268
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When Mistakes Get You Down

Mistakes Get You Down

I am delighted to welcome Dr. Stacy Haynes from Gloucester County Community Church to this Women’s Ministry Monday guest post series. Her words bring life and encouragement to my heart.

Post by: Dr. Stacy Haynes

Sometimes as a wife and a mother, I reflect too much on the mistakes I have made in my past. I think about the days when maybe I am not as nice as I should be to my husband or I respond to my children in a short tone.

There are moments that I feel guilty about, as a mother and wife.  Then God reminds me of many examples of women in the Bible and the past mistakes they had made in their walk with the Lord.

We can easily think of Eve, why the first woman in the Bible who made a pretty huge mistake because of sin and temptation.  And yet she goes on to be the mother of all living things and raises her children to love and worship the Lord.

One woman stands out to me, as her past created her future.  Rahab the harlot as the Bible calls her was not aware how two spies would change her past and bless her future.

Joshua 2 tells us the story of how Rahab hid the spies, made them promise to save her and her family and she vowed to profess her faith.

  • She believed in God despite her circumstances.

Rahab- whose first part of her name Ra- the name of an eyptian God, was a pagan. She was not a believer and yet she is proclaiming here her faith to these spies.

Rahab was not concerned about her past and what things look like.  Sure she was not worthy to house these spies- but she believed.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

I remind myself that circumstances sometimes are not the best and behavior may not always be Christlike in the moment, but God has chosen me to be a mother and a wife in this season for His glory.

  •  She trusted in the promises of God.

The Bible has a Hall of Faithers list if you will and Rahab is listed in the Bible Hall of Faith in Hebrews- with folks like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and David.

Hebrews 11:31  By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

A prostitute was spared, and did not die with those who were disobedient.

God can forgive my past and give me a future.  God is not sitting up in Heaven, counting our mistakes as mothers. He asks us to trust Him, to confess our faith and ask for forgiveness when we sin.

  • She brought others to salvation.

One thing I love about Rahab – she immediately became a disciple and brought others to the Lord.  And yet God saved her and her family.  All because of Rahab.

A woman who decided her past would not determine her destiny.
A woman who decided her life was worth giving up for God.
A woman who will always be remembered in the family lineage of Jesus Christ himself.
A woman who made mistakes, and lived to tell about it.

As the story goes, one of those spies, Salmon- decided he loved Rahab and married her.  She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth from whose son, Obed, Jesse the father of David came.

Salmon was a prince of the house of Judah, and thus Rahab, the prostitute became a princess.

You see in those moments when I doubt my imperfections, my mistakes as a mom and a wife I am reminded of how good God’s grace and mercy is.  I am reminded that God loves us, He created us and He has forgiven us.

I am reminded of the lessons that can be learned when we go through trials and the patience that God is building in my character with each new experience.

Jesus healed a man demon possessed in Mark 5. And when the man wanted to travel with Jesus, Jesus replied, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)

You see I am able to share my faith through my mistakes with others. My life is not a story of perfection, it is a story of Great God whose grace and forgiveness allows me to serve Him each and every day.

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About Dr. Haynes

mistakes

STACY HAYNES, Ed. D, LPC, ACS, is the Chief Executive Officer of Little Hands Family Services, LLC. located at the Washington Professional Campus in Turnersville, New Jersey. Stacy is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and an experienced therapist, teacher, and counselor with over fifteen years in the mental health field.

Dr. Stacy Haynes is a specialist in the treatment of behavioral and emotional disturbance of children, adults and families. Stacy uses evidenced based practices in working with children and families to help strengthen children and families. Stacy has lectured on topics including ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Effective Classroom Management Skills, Anger Management and Conduct Disorders and is also an Adjunct Professor teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Child Psychology, Intro to Counseling, Abnormal Psychology and other Human Services courses.

Dr. Haynes received her Bachelors Degree from Liberty University, her Masters Degree from Bowie State University and her Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Counseling Psychology and a specialization in Clinical Supervision and Teaching in Higher Education from Argosy University. Dr. Stacy Haynes is a clinically licensed professional counselor in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.17

The Only Sure Way to Multiply Your Time

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“We recommend an ultrasound around thirty-two weeks for women thirty-five and older,” the doctor said as he helped me sit up on the exam table.

I wanted to see baby girl’s sweet face, but my first thought was, “Do I have time for this?”

I had to pick up my son from school, and the procedure wasn’t scheduled.

I wish I had more time.

I looked at the time on my phone and decided if they were quick, I could make it. And less than fifteen minutes later, I marveled at growing life, seven months young.

Don’t blink.

I stared at the tiny figure on the screen, amazed at how her features had changed in twelve short weeks. She was almost ready to make her entrance into the world. I ignored the growing pressure on my bladder and enjoyed every inch of her.

The tech noticed my discomfort.

“Don’t worry hon. We’re almost done.”

At this point, the clock was no longer important.

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said, shifting my position slightly.

Take your time. This moment will never come again.

After a few minutes, she finished up and wiped the sticky gel off my belly. I held the series of snapshots she’d captured, grateful to have a keepsake of this time.

Time is all we have in this life, isn’t it? And lately, pregnancy has me in a constant flux of slow down and hurry up.

I’m so tired of being pregnant. I can’t wait to meet our little girl.

Oh wait! The nursery isn’t ready. Slow down, baby. Just a little while longer.

A few days after my doctor’s appointment, my oldest son lost another tooth. His first one on the top and another milestone. I snapped a picture of his smile with my iPhone and thought about the first time I held him in my arms.

Now I can’t pick him up without paying for it with back spasms.

In every moment I want to grab and freeze a while longer, I realize that I can’t slow time. I can’t stop my kids from growing up or keep them in their toddler beds until they’re teenagers.

I can’t stop them from asking questions I am completely unprepared to answer like, “Where do babies come from?” or “Can I be in the delivery room when she’s born?”

When a dear friend is offered a job in another state, I can’t stop her from moving away. I wouldn’t want to.

And as the warm air turns brisk and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, I know I can’t slow their fall.

Time will not slow down, but I can.

I can stop and look people in the eye. I can put down my phone when someone is talking to me and listen to what they’re saying instead of rehearsing how I’ll respond. When someone seems distant, I can reach out instead of pretending nothing is wrong.

Time is all we have.

When you’re growing a little human inside of you, you’re made painfully aware of the ticking clock. Each kick and discomfort reminds you time is not only precious, but short.

I see countless articles on social media about ways to multiply your time, multi-task and get the most out of each second. But the longer I carry this baby, the more I see the truth.

Perhaps the only sure way to multiply our time is to savor it.

It isn’t by rushing from one activity to the next or trying to do twenty things at once. It’s by being intentional, slowing down, and seeing the blessings right here in front of us.

A well-known passage from Ecclesiastes beautifully describes the seasons of life and how there’s a time for each one. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3)

As I read the passage today, what struck me is how the writer doesn’t say, “A time to rush through life. A time to multi-task.”

Because a life spent rushing isn’t a life at all.

Time is all we have, friends. Let’s spend it savoring the things that matter most.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Don’t Get Lost

I am delighted to welcome Donna Sisler to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words speak directly to my heart today!

I’m not sure why, but years ago I started saying “don’t get lost” as my loved ones walked out the door. After the usual goodbye sayings—you know, “have a good day,” “I love you,” etc.—the last words to my kids were “don’t get lost.”

If they were going somewhere with the possibility of them getting lost, it made sense. But then, at other times, it really didn’t make sense, like when they were heading to bed.

My kids have heard this phrase throughout their lives and they aren’t surprised when they hear it. However, my husband of fifteen years hasn’t quite figured it out. Why would I say “don’t get lost” when he’s heading to the local grocery store or off to work? He goes to these places quite frequently and he knows the way to all of them.

I would like to say that I began using this phrase to remind my kids and family of what was expected of them. Of what our family valued. Of who they were in Jesus. But to be honest, I don’t recall determining one day to say “don’t get lost” for these purposes. In the beginning, it was a way to make my kids smile as they walked out the door.

However, through the years, “don’t get lost” began to take on these deeper meanings. They became words that my children expected to hear and I would hope have grown to cherish as adults.

“Don’t get lost” was and still is Jesus’ message. We are so easily distracted in our spiritual lives. When we find ourselves in these situations, Jesus is there to remind us not to get lost. He reminds us how to get back on track. By following His way, listening to His truth and being filled with His abundant life.

In John 13, Jesus’ disciples seemed to be losing their way. They wanted to follow Jesus to the death, but Jesus knew they would get lost. Jesus offered words of encouragement to His beloved group of followers in the beginning of John 14 and then Thomas asked this question that perhaps you’ve expressed.

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going,
so how can we know the way?”
 (John 14:5 – NIV)

Have you been so lost that you didn’t know how to get “unlost?”

I know I have. And even when I knew the way, when I knew how to get myself “unlost,” I just wasn’t sure that I would be able to find my way or that I would be accepted once I returned.

It’s during these moments when Jesus’ words from John 14:6 (NIV) are exactly what we need to hear. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the way to get “unlost.” He is the way to the Father. He is the way to truth and life. Jesus is the Way.

I heard a long time ago that if you’re ever lost it’s best to stay put and let rescuers come to you. It’s the same with Jesus. If you’re lost and know you can’t do any more on your own, stop. Wait for Jesus to come and rescue you. Walk alongside Him in His truth. Jesus will help you get “unlost.”

Let’s make today a great day for Jesus and remember, don’t get lost!

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About Donna Sisler

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-11-59-43-amDonna Sisler is a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She lives in the beautiful state of Colorado where she finds great inspiration for her novels and devotional writings.

Donna is passionate about helping women find their way to Jesus through Bible study, teaching, speaking, inspirational writing and creative Bible journaling.

Donna is the Niwot Women’s Ministry Director at Rocky Mountain Christian Church, where their mission is to equip, inspire and empower women in their pursuit of Jesus.

Want to read more from Donna? You can follow her through her blog atwww.fullmeasureofjoy.com.

Love In Training

Love In Training

By: Christy Mobley

Today while driving home from a meeting I had a revelation. I’m living on the training grounds for love.

You’ve heard what praying for patience gets you, well I want to explain where praying to love takes you. However, before I got to this place of truth I first had to pass through a few painful phases…

Maybe you’ll be able to relate.

I know it’s hard to believe but not everyone loves/likes me. I’m pretty sure I know a few people who don’t (and some of them may be relations)!

There was a time not so many years ago, if someone said something to me off-putting, unkind or otherwise just plain mean, I would pick up the phone and call my mom or one or two, okay maybe three of my “true” friends (who would side with me) and I’d dice, slice and dissect the cruel words ten different ways until I was worn slap out and tearless. I suppose this kind of talk could be interpreted as gossiping… about myself. And it never truly made me feel better.

This was my phase one.

Finally after exhausting my friends and when I couldn’t solve the mystery of the perpe-“traitor’s” meanness, I might take it to God and dump on Him asking Him to make certain necessary changes in said mean person.

This was my phase two.

Phase three went something like this…

As I grew in my relationship with the Lord, talking to Him (praying) and listening, I started recognizing how He was working in my life. I came to trust Him, really trust Him. That’s when I started taking my hurts to Him first—a big move for me. When I’d be tempted to pick up the phone I’d feel the Spirit nudge me to stop.

I finally did.

This graduated me to the phase three.

As I started aspiring to be more like Jesus, my desire grew to be obedient to His Word in every way, which meant I needed to love like He loves.

A tall order.

I began to pray a specific prayer for each difficult person I came across. A prayer I still pray today and It goes something like this.

Dear Lord, help me to see ______ the way you see them so that I may love them the way you love them.

This phase lasted many years. I thought I was making real progress but I had to go a step further. I needed to recognize my part in the equation. And God waited until I was ready to hear it.

Phase 4…

I came to a place where I would pray to see the hard people the way God saw them and pray to love them the way God loved them but I didn’t want to have to deal with them.

My thoughts would be, away with you hurtful person. I want nothing to do with you. I can pray for you and love you from afar but you can’t hurt me if you can’t get close.

It was after a painful rejection, while I was having this conversation in my head, I heard God say, what makes you any different from them? Do you not treat me at times the same way they treat you?

It was honest, it was convicting and in God’s infinite wisdom, the right time for me to hear and accept this truth.

And the Truth changed my perspective and brought me the next phase and the training ground for love.
Here my eyes can see, these hard people in my life are not part of the problem, they actually provide the solution.

They are the training grounds for love.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.”1 Corinthians 1:7

It’s easy is to love those who love us, share with us, give to us? On the other hand, it feels almost contrary to reason, foolish even, to love those who snub us, hate us, ridicule us, whose mouths drip with sarcasm aimed at us.

And yes, if I keep my eyes focused upward on Jesus, I can see these hard people the way He sees them; the way He sees me—a hurting soul in a broken world.

Today I can say it’s an honor to come to this place. The battle ground where I lay my life down for a better one. On the training grounds for love.

What ground are you standing on right now?

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Purposeful Faith Contributor

Christy is a girly girl who chases tennis balls for recreation and at the end of the day does her best thinking in the tub.

She’s also a wife, mother, mother-in-law, soon to be grandma, speaker and mentor. Her passion is to encourage women to move forward, and press on while seeking God’s presence in every bump and turn in the road.

You can find Christy at Joying in the Journey,  christymobley.com, Twitter, and Facebook

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The Gift I Have Refused…

Post by: Jami Amerine

My dad and his older brother have a favorite tale they expose about their youth. Their younger brother was a studious boy. He would finish his homework and then go to bed before the sun went down, in an effort to be well rested for school the next day. After he’d been sound asleep for about an hour, my dad and his brother would wake their younger brother for school.  The poor boy would get up, dress, and scramble upstairs for breakfast.  Their mother would be the first to alert the poor dupe of the prank.

Recently, alone in a hotel, I was so duped. I fell asleep at 8:45 in the evening.  We have seven children, and I had been hectic away from home at speaking engagements. I was exhausted.  When I woke I barely recognized my surroundings. I got up, made a pot of coffee, pulled on my cozy robe and opened the light blocking drapes. I was pleased to see the sun wasn’t up yet. As I opened my computer, I smiled to myself; I would have an entire day to work alone in the hotel and I was eager to get started.

That is when I saw the time.

It was only 12:15 am.  I had been asleep less than four hours.

Granted four hours of uninterrupted sleep at home is nothing short of a miracle. Between the teens texting to ask me if I am awake, the toddlers requiring comfort after a nightmare, and the baby demanding a bottle – I rarely get unremitting sleep.

I turned off the coffee pot, closed the drapes, and climbed back into the crispy, hotel grade, Egyptian cotton sheets.

It was both a relief… and a burden.

I lie there giggling to myself.  And then, I worried about my husband, home alone with our brood.  He was probably exhausted too.  I felt dejected I wasn’t there to help him.

Unable to fall back to sleep, I got up and worked until 5, fell asleep on my keyboard and was startled awake at 7:20 when the neighbor in the adjoining room started his shower.

I felt all the pangs of a protracted night and my keyboard was firmly imprinted on my left cheek.

I drug my weary body to the shower and stretched the kinks out of my neck and back.  Steam chased me from the bathroom and I poured a cup of stale coffee into a sorry little Styrofoam cup and added powdered cream. I stared out of the window at the foreign town, straining to spy a Starbucks on the horizon.

As bitter java assaulted my tongue, I bemoaned the day before me.

The sun poured out the freshness of a new morning, yet I felt less than fresh. Scripture floated into my mind, “Come to me all you who are weary, I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Yet, in spite of the rest, He offers me, I sleep on my keyboard and then bathe in culpability when I put my feet up to take a break.

Rest.

I associate rest with something shameful rather than a blessing.

Curious, the Maker of Heaven and Earth produced this body for survival in an unconscious state. Eyes closed, breath steady, mind in a playground of non-sense, unprovoked folly, escapism, and suppressed considerations.  Occasionally, darkness creeps in and a chase ensues or great terrors play out, still, He fashioned me for slumber.

To rest.

Society demands I work harder, invest more and rest less. He waits for me. The blessing of rest in His gentle hand, and instead of wrapping up in His majestic creation of slumber, mind, and body – I analyze, supervise, and contrive.

I am weary. And I am most weary of the weariness. Self-induced standards of being most effective, crowning production, and the bragging rites of minimal repose.

If He were here now, if I stood before my Lord and He presented me with a lovely package; a medium sized box wrapped in shiny paper, an enormous bow, glitter, and streamers, would I decline the offering?

Would I boastfully retort, “I don’t need that from you.”

Oh, my stars! The mere thought slays me. Yet, I refuse Him… often.

But not today. Today, I closed the heavy swathes of my room. With lotioned flesh and a soaking wet head, I slipped back into the pajamas I had tossed aside before my shower.  I hung the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the outside doorknob.  A mischievous smile crept across my face. I poured another cup of coffee and snickered when I uncovered two tiny cups of liquid creamer underneath the packets of dehydrated Coffee-mate powder. How had I missed those?

A gift.

A gift of rest.  I might write.  I might watch the I Love Lucy marathon on channel 18.  I might nap. A package of crackers and bottled water sit on my nightstand. Today, I accept the gift of rest.  This is a rare occasion, still, I wonder, how many days I neglected the gift? A load of laundry dominates the opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my babies. Running to the grocery store in lieu of a lunch date with my husband, or staying up another hour to catch up on that which will never actually ever be fully settled.

Coffee with a friend; bubble baths or just a moment alone on the closet floor begging His help maneuvering homework and dinner – so that I might sleep just an hour before the baby wakes.

A good Father, Creator of the gift of rest.  And more than this rare occasion where I celebrate loneliness, I know I will need the rest He offers in times of worry, heartache, and grief.  What will I say then? Lord, I pray I remember you stand in wait with the majesty of rest. Rest only you can bring me.

Thank you for that, my Lord.  Thank you.

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547592_3961306391397_890561921_n (1)Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

When People Complicate Things

People Complicate Things

I thought about bringing them in. But, if I do everything will get turned upside down. There will be questions, problems, ideas and suggestions about how I should do things. There will be recommendations for how the games should be played and different ideas on how the event should look. There will be deep discussions on outfits. Whether to serve mushrooms or asparagus. There will be rabbit trails I am too busy to commit to – and honestly could care less about.

I want to move alone. I want to lead the charge.  Is there anything wrong with that?

People = Problems

I like:

Kelly = Leader
People = Quiet doers

Hate me if you will, but I am being completely honest. Sometimes I can’t handle people. I’ve always had an issue with them. They get loud. They get opinionated. They get political. They get whiny. They get long-winded (you open your mouth to speak only to have the words stolen from you). They get advice-oriented, especially when you already have a good plan in motion. They diss your ideas. They judge all the time…! They get critical. They hurt you.

Sometimes it feels better to shove people
down a rabbit hole and cover the top,
then let them give voice to things that might hurt you.

Ever noticed?

I throw them a carrot every now and then if they’ve been good. If they’ve been obedient and rule-sensitive down there.

But, if they’ve been a vwery bad rabbit, I tend to:

– Ignore them.
– Try to advise, derail or shush them.
– Avoid them
– Squeeze them out.
– Talk about them behind their back or in my head.
– Get filled up with so much steam, I exhale scolding words.

I punish those disobedient rascals. Mostly, I punish them because I am afraid of them.

Oh, boy…it’s true.

I am afraid they’ll: look better than me, come up with better ideas than me, steal my show, be liked more by other people, grace the world better than me, make me realize the ugly parts of myself.

Can’t have Kelly feeling uncomfortable! No way, friends. That is the first rule of avoidance. 

Better to diss than be dissed, right? Better to be the first one to walk out on that boyfriend, than to have him dump you. Better to let your eyes roam the room with your eyes, than to have others do it to you. Better to step away than have to deal with your friend liking the other girl more. Better to disassociate than associate with potential pain.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Phil. 2:3

There’s that…

It looks the opposite of my approach. It’s one of those verses you recite because it sounds so beautiful. It sounds so Jesus. It sounds like, “Yes! I am great and humble and self-sacrificing and writing for Jesus (or fill in whatever holy excuse you use to not really love).

Self-protection is not holy affection, friends.

It’s a sack of nasty pride.

Am I being too hard on you – and on me?

Maybe. We’ve been hurt. It’s been painful. People have played – not nice. I know, I really know. It stinks.

Let’s throw a pout-party and squeeze our face muscles real tight and remember their icky-ness. Let’s.

Then, let’s toss them to the wind. Let’s let them fly away from us, because those past pains are holding us up from receiving present love. We are missing moments. We are losing joy. We are hiding away and into ourselves. We are losing the depths the real warmth that comes from letting someone really knowing you.

Our pride party is pointless.

Our joy is incomplete.

Our glass isn’t half empty, it is depleted.

He who is faithful to love operates in the gaps of people’s messes. If we are looking for pariahs of perfection, they don’t exist, but He does. He will layer in love, where they have left holes. Friends, it is not a person we are looking to fill us, it is God. We find him in the holes of man, for that’s where he leaves us – holy.

Prayer for Recovery of Relationships:
Dear Lord, today, I confess, I get scared. I get scared that someone will hurt me the same way as yesterday. It feels like a very real, present and oncoming threat. Help me trust you. Help me leave my heart in your hands, knowing that your wrapping of it is a covering that no man can penetrate. Help me believe that you are good, even when man is messed up. Help me know that my identity is in you and it is not indicative of man’s opinion. Lead me in your grace, mercy and fearlessness. Amen.

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Related Reading:

When People Are Disgusting

Broken Perfectionism

Pour Your Best on Jesus

pour out

My son dug deep in the car, pulling out a prized and loved possession. He smiled. X marked the spot; he found his treasure – his special quarter. Not only that, but he found a trinket for his sister too. Even better!  Things were going smooth as fresh brewed coffee on Friday morning, at least for a little while…

Walking into school, an oncoming kid approached.

“Want my quarter?” My son said.

This moment of generosity, made me curl up in anxiety. Why? He’d hate his decision after they boy walked away. He’d be angry that he let go of his favorite quarter. He’d throw a fit all the way to the front door of school, wanting me to go classroom-by-classroom to hunt the kid down. Then, I’d have to demand the thing back. My heart clenched itself and quickened.

He shouldn’t give that loved treasure to a boy he doesn’t know.

He’s going to pant and panic after he gives it away.

I’m going to suffer because he had a do-good idea.

While I tell my son to love like Jesus,
loving like Jesus is completely inconvenient.

This thought gets me thinking…

How often do I go to places inconvenient to pour out love?

How often do I push the boundaries of giving,
by offering a radically spontaneous gift of blessing?

Not often. I think about the Christians being persecuted; I don’t give much. I think about a friend going through a hard time; I forget to call. I consider an act of kindness; I get embarrassed they might think I am weird. I stay comfortably comfortable. I choose safe-Jesus.

But, I wonder? What if I get off my beaten path, to travel down roads of discomfort – where the likes of leprosy, blindness and poverty – reside? What if I, rather than thinking of comfort, intentionally move into uncomfortable – and extend not just small quarters – but abundant sums?

I sit next to the downcast woman on the city bench – and encourage her.

I walk up to the homeless woman and buy her lunch.

I pursue the depressed one who should have been over it by now and state, “I won’t abandon you.”

I dump money on causes that are closely aligned to Christ’s heart.

I pray wholeheartedly for the person who has deeply hurt me and bless them in secret.

God wants to provide a love transfusion from us – to them. Will we allow it? Will we outpour our very best?

 

A woman came with a special sealed jar. It contained very expensive perfume made out of pure nard.
She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Mk. 14:3

This woman just came right in, no hesitancy is noted.
She just broke the jar, no doubts are described.
She just poured it over Jesus, no worries seemed present.

She saw the opportunity & she acted. BOOM!

Did Jesus have an overwhelming need for perfume? No.
Did she have an overwhelming desire to pour out blessing? Yes. BOOM!

She broke it.
Right then.
Right there.
With people watching.
With critical eyes observing.
With a personal cost – and a financial one.
It moved from her heart.
Her best.
Her love.
Honor.

What are you pouring out for Jesus?

Is it mundane or the magnificent?

Is it basic or breathtaking?

Is it ordinary or extraordinary?

Are we dumpers? Love transfusers?

Friends, I won’t lie, 10 times out of 10, I am selfish. But my encouragement is, 10 times out of 10, Jesus is a love transfuser: Christ’ blood poured out – to cover my sins – and yours. (Heb 10:12).

This is our hope today. It is our fresh life. Our beating heart that beats for others.

BOOM! Jesus did it! He acted. Walked. Healed. Loved. Died. Without reservation. Without failing. Without procrastination. Without tallying losses. He didn’t stall.  He died.

Why? Because he loves you and he loves me – and then he works through you and through me.

Who are we letting Jesus love?

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Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Post by: Jami Amerine

It was an ugly cry; nostrils flaring; with an occasional snort/hiccup/whimper/wail.

On my white blouse, there were traces of snot and black tears.

I knew full well, this meant mascara was streaming down my cheeks and that I looked – dreadful.

This made sense because this how I felt, dreadful.  And vain as I am, I didn’t care that I looked a wreck. Pieces of my heart were going to being left in this “men’s” dorm. My sons would now live here, in halls that smelled like feet and corn nuts.  Here on the second floor of a dormitory I had blazed past 1,001 times during my studies at Abilene Christian University, I was about to leave not one son, but two.

The “man-babies,” John and Luke tried to pity me, bless them. But truth be told, their demeanors could not hide the thrill.  A new episode, a world they have not known, outside the confines of our rules and our ideals. To the man-babies the halls did not reek of burnt pop-tarts and jock itch spray, to them it smelled of freedom. The future was labeled clearly over the doors of Mabee Hall, rooms 208 and 255.

Luke pat/hugged me and kissed our foster daughter that sat casually on my hip. She was oblivious, but I couldn’t help notice that the hug was accompanied by a gentle escort out the door. “I’ll call you mom, and thanks.”

The door shut and a sob escaped me.

And my blurry eyes were relieved to see him as he ambled toward me. At nearly 6’4” my baby boy was as unacquainted as acquainted.  John lifted his cleft chin in my direction with a casual “hey, I am around the other side.” The corners of his mouth quivered as he tried to be cool and not appear too giddy. In a swift movement he lifted his foster sister from my arms and in lanky, cowboy booted strides escorted us to his new room.

Just like Luke, my hug goodbye was laced with a gentle shove out the door.  John had to run back to his car and then meet friends, so he was a little more abrupt. I stood surrounded by student workers hauling mini fridges, parents no better off than I, and the buzz of adventure vibrating in the stale air.

I thought out loud, “I didn’t get a picture of them in their rooms!” I looked toward the exit and yelped, “John! I wanted…” and caught the last glimpse of John’s back before he swiftly turned onto the staircase.

And that picture is burned in my mind.

I keep looking at it. I can’t stop replaying it.

Soaked with tears and the heavy weight of the end of a cherished chapter, I made it to my car. I buckled the baby in her car seat and waited for my husband. In the distance I could see Justin and our two youngest sons heading toward me. We would leave here and go home to our new normal. We’d done this before when our oldest daughter moved into the dorm, on the same campus two years before.  But this was different.  Maggie is my friend, with John and Luke, I know the man-babies wouldn’t be around or text or call like Maggie does.  I know… nothing will ever be the same.

I turned up the radio to blaring toddler tunes so the littles would not be alarmed by my sobs.  I made grilled cheese for the boys; I choked down a salad, and bedded everyone down for a nap. I kicked off my shoes, grabbed a box of Kleenex and climbed into my bed.

I know you think I wanted to stay there; to hang out a little longer at that dorm and make sure they had everything they needed.  Alas, it was time to go. And here, now, in cool sheets with a red nose and swollen eyes I let loose in the place I longed to be. Alone with my God, I cried and prayed. My phone buzzed, I needn’t look to see, words of encouragement, messages of “been there… it will be okay, they’ll be fine…” Had I responded I would have said, “Please leave me alone, I just want to stay here a little longer.”

I didn’t want encouragement. I didn’t want to pull it together or stop the waves of heartache.  I wanted to weep and reminisce.  I wanted to lie there, imagining my head in the lap of my Comforter – my only Hope.  As sad as I was, and as much hurt as I felt, I was right where l wanted to be.

Our society doesn’t grieve well.  We pick up and trudge on to the next thing. We hate to hurt. We despise the low places and we do our best cover the agony with sensory indulgences… an ice cream cone, wine, or new stilettos.

Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Will you let me own this hurt?

Here I lie crumpled at the foot of the cross. In this place of my brokenness, there is a view that I can only see through the eyes of my suffering.  Let me stay.  Not to wallow in self-pity, but to weep in the arms of my Father.  Just for a while let me hurt. Just for a little longer let me embrace the great Healer.  He knows me, He remembers what I remember.  I know the man-babies have to go, I am not so dull. But just let me stay here a little longer and visit with the only One who can see the snapshots stored in my heart and head. Here in the quiet, surrounded by decrepit tissues and a tear soaked pillow case I need only to grieve without excuse. No condemnation, no pity, no “pull yourself together.”

Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Please, for here with my God is my favorite place to be.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

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547592_3961306391397_890561921_n (1)Jami Amerine
is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.

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3 Ways to Remain In God’s Love

Remain In God's Love

In the movies I watch, they tend to throw out the command, “Stand down!”

It’s this moment where the person in charge, usually some Captain or Corporal or Chief gives a word that calls all effort to halt. It calms the strong ambitious and unruly one wanting to push ahead with might, power and strength.

“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand Down.” 

There is a Creator, a Captain and a Care-taker, who has a much higher view than we do. God sees the good ending to our present moment, far more clearly than we do. He also sees all the steps we need to take to get there.

The Captain knows, what you do not know.

Where are you prone to push ahead?

To overexert yourself – speaking a rash word, entering in when you should step out,
getting angry, rather than getting alone with God?

The commander has a word for you too: “Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.” 

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Jo. 15:9

Standing down is remaining in God’s love.

I don’t do this. Remain.

Even right now, I am thinking of all that I need to do. I am writing these words, but my heart is thinking of the house I need to rent, the kids I need to get enrolled in school and the work that I need to do today. I only have 2 weeks until school starts. I want to start working. I need to get this post written. I am a hypocrite.

“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.” 

What might it look like to leave – seen stress for God’s unseen love?

To just walk away from the overwhelming nature
and let God’s overwhelming nature pacify the fears?

I can’t help but think, where God is, light is. And, where light is – clarity focuses.

Are you, like me, looking for a way to go?

Perhaps, you and I are approaching it all wrong. What if instead of flicking on every light, we stayed in the dark and waited for his light to lead?

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:3

Power is not in forging ahead, it is in standing down.

I don’t need to do, Jesus already did.
I don’t need to act great, Jesus is.
I don’t need to hide lies, for grace lies in repentance.
I don’t need to pretend I know, God knows.
I don’t need to fix, God already has the answers.
I don’t need to hide, unless it is in God’s shelter.
I don’t need to perform, the curtain closed and love won.
I don’t need to fear his leaving, God is steadfast and good.

“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.” 

To stand down? It looks like this:
1. Lay it down: To give God what you’re trying to own.
2. Give it up: To step out in faith, knowing that his goodness will lead to a good result.
3. Cease-fire: To stop blaming other people, problems or circumstances.

In Christ, I rest.
Needing nothing less.
Nor nothing more.
For He is the door to my more.
He sees the battlefield.
He knows my way.
His battle is won at the end of my day.

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