Purposeful Faith

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3 Ways to Stay Close to God (& 10 Faith-Squeezers)

Stay Close to God

I love God. I love him a lot. So, why do a whole bunch of common things, seem to draw me away so easily? Not all these things, in themselves, are bad. Many are not damaging. Almost all, are not sinful, and perhaps this is just the problem. They go undetected as their current moves me out.

Do you feel yourself slowly drifting?

What normally goes undetected as it floats you miles off?

10 Faith-Squeezers that are Likely Happening in your Day:

– Going gangbusters on family activities
– Getting caught up with life’s incidentals
– Becoming all wrapped up with another person
– Planting my face on TV, iPhone or iPad
– Driving like a routined robot on a schedule
– Expecting things to happen
– Getting frustrated when they don’t
– Allowing anxiety and worry to seep in as a result.
– Letting the monotony of life, make me monotonous

When we float by the tides of life’s demands,
we sink into a rip-current that seemingly sends us miles from God.

So, how do we stay, as we always were? How do we stay on fire?

3 Tips To Stay Wild About Your First Love:

1. Put God first – and keep him there!

Just the other day, I was outside. I was taking a second to bask in the wonder of Spring budding. I was observing. Until, someone called my attention away. They needed me. I couldn’t say no. I felt awkward saying, in a random moment, “Hey, I’ll get back to you in a bit, I am spending time with God.” Sometimes, our need to please gets in the way, of our need for God. It doesn’t mean, we shouldn’t value those we most value, but it means we must always value God first.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

Apply this:

– Set aside time with God, and reserve that as his.
– Devote your first portion to God in the morning. Wake up and be with him.
– Ponder God’s Word throughout your day.

2. Experience him.

When I am in my car, sometimes the most restorative thing I can do, is worship. It is my time to turn up the music, to focus my mind and to literally see Jesus as the music plays. Whether it is in a car, at your house or on a 5-minute walk, Jesus is always waiting. Experience the fullness of his life, death and resurrection. When you find yourself in the center of God’s amazing, it is hard not to more and more drawn to it.

Apply this:

– Turn on worship music.
– Observe nature on a walk and thank him for his creation.
– Close your eyes and see Jesus, hear his words and ponder his parables of old.

3. Ask.

I used to tell my brother (yes, I was the bossy oldest child of six), “You don’t receive, because you ask not.”

I don’t have any idea who says something like this, but apparently – I did! But, I can’t help but think how often this is the case with us. In our relationship with God, we often ask not and then we get not. It’s not that he doesn’t want to give, but just that it is hard to force a giant gift into someone’s hands that are closed. Are your hands closed?

When we ask, we sending God a message of acknowledgement
that he is provider, sustainer and giver; his reply often – confirms it.

Apply this:

– Say, “God, I want you first of all and above all.”
– Ask again, all day long as things go wrong – and right.
– Ask for wisdom on how to respond to those who bang into you.
– Ask for a mind set on all things Spirit.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7

God has not left you, most likely, you have left God. But, be not discouraged, you are raising your arms, pulling together your strength – and with these three tips – are well on your way to swimming back to him.

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7 Biblical Benefits: Why You Must Get Quiet

Get Quiet

The majority of the time I can seem to keep quiet.

It is not so much that I am always talking, but it is much more that I am always retorting, rebutting or formulating in my mind.

They should do this…
I wonder if he has considered…
I have to say this next…
I can’t forget to mention…

When talking, it is very hard to be listening.
When planning, it is very hard to be receiving a plan.
When speaking over God, you simply can’t hear him.

Yet, when you allow your selfish ways to create space for his sacred will – God has a stage to show off. When you allow dialogue to give way to deep seeking – direction makes an appearance. When you strangle fear – fear of God lets you breathe again.

7 Biblical Benefits of Getting Quiet Before God

1. When your mouth shuts, you appear wise and discerning to others.

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Prov. 27:28

2. You dwell in the the comfy and cared-for knowledge that God cannot and will not leave or forsake you. Not only this, but you find Godly prosperity and good success.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Josh 1:8

3. The filing cabinet of your mind has room to store fear of the Lord – and all the resulting wisdom that accompanies it.

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Sam. 12:24

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov. 9:10

4. By listening, considering and blocking the VIP door to your mind, you make space for things that bring peace, life and renewal.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and  received and heard and seen  in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:8-9

5. The impossible becomes possible by the strength of prayer. You can walk down the painful, but glory-filled, roads you’d normally run from.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mk. 1:35-36

6. You land at transformed, rather than conformed. With more confidence you head towards what is good, pleasing and perfect in this world.

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God–what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Ro. 12:2

7.  You ponder, praise and get passionate about your fist love – and then God delivers you.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Ps. 34:7

Solitude gives way for the magnitude of the gospel to resound.

Rather than God fighting the rush hour of the world, trying to move above fray of a believer’s heart and or squeezing into the small space left for Godly awareness – quiet makes space . In the quiet, God bakes activated love.

We find more than we could ever ask for.
Not by posturing for it, but by seeking him in it.
When we seek him, we find him.
When we find him, we can’t help but share him.
We open our mouths, we speak life. 
We speak life, because we found life.
​Loudly. Confidently. Boldly.

“Quiet” works out loud proclamations of glory.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mk. 16:15

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When We Smother God’s Fire With Well-Meaning Activity

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I poked at the fire, frustrated that it wouldn’t stay aflame. This girl was no scout. The temperatures outside had reached single digits, and our furnace was having a hard time keeping up.

After spending an hour trying different techniques, adding wood, scraps of paper, and using more fire starters than any person should, the flame blazed hot enough for the wood stove’s fan to cut on, circulating the heat throughout the house. My mouth spread into a victorious smile.

The problem was, I didn’t know what I’d done right.

Later, after my husband returned from a business trip, he explained the basics of fire building to this city girl. I listened intently, determined not to have the predicament repeat itself.

Even my son, the cub scout, knew the basics of fire 101. I guess I should have asked him, right?

As any seasoned camper may know, fires need three basic components: heat, fuel, and oxygen.

It turns out, I had given my fire plenty of heat and fuel, but I’d neglected oxygen almost altogether. Instead of giving my flame room to breath by spreading the wood in a triangular shape, I’d smothered it.

Fires need room to breathe. And much like the flame I’d suffocated with its own fuel, I often adapt the same pattern in my spiritual life.

I know my heat comes from the Holy Spirit living inside me. I feed the flame with his Word and plenty of good reading material, podcasts and worship.

I gather with other believers. I lead and serve.

But often, I don’t allow space to breathe. To digest what he’s teaching me. To sit in his presence and be still with no agenda, no checklist or index of requests I need to present.

While we fixate on the lines of our life story, God often speaks in the margins.

In the spaces in-between the carpools, the play dates and the prayer meetings. In the moments where we slow down, we sit and we wait. Because the voice of God is always worth waiting for.

“Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 NIV

So instead of piling more stuff onto my never-ending to-do list, I’m carving out time to listen. Even if it starts with fifteen minutes before my kids roll out of bed, it will be worth it.

I’m creating a space to not simply read the Word, but hear from the Word.

Have you stacked too many scraps on your fire, suffocating it so it has no room to breathe? Have you placed a list of chores on the altar of life, forgetting what God wants most is our hearts?

I have. I am guilty. But thanks be to God, his mercies are new every morning.

It is never to late to realign our priorities, to make a change or create a new beginning. Today is the day.

Fan the flame.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, 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.

How I Saw God Last Night (and you can too)!

I Saw God

Do you miss it?
It is right before your eyes.
Waiting for your astonishment…

It is God showing off.

If you are head down in iPhone…you won’t see it.
If you are worrying your pants off about what is to come…you won’t see it.
If you are yelling to that person next to you in traffic…you won’t see it.
If you are looking at what everyone else is wearing…you won’t see it.
If you are more concerned with your ways than his…you won’t see it.
Not because he doesn’t care for you, because he absolutely does.
Not because you aren’t his loved son or daughter, which you hopefully are.
Not because he is angry at you, because he is not, he just waiting for you to run back to him in repentance.

You won’t see, because you don’t allow yourself to see.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13 

Eyes that are looking for God, find him. Eyes that are distracted, miss him.

Last night, my son ran into my room with a mid-night dream he wanted to share. I hushed him up and pushed him back to his bed, deathly afraid I would turn into a walking-zombie mother the next day from lack of sleep. Success! He returned to bed.

Until, he came back. He woke me again, but this time I hugged him. I loved on him as Christ might. I enjoyed the quietness of the moment. Then, I looked out the window…and saw it. Bright as day, as close as the breath of my own child, as bold as a phone call in the middle of the night – it stood. It was the moon, except for one thing…this moon’s rays shined only two ways – horizontal above the earth, and vertical – ground to heaven.

This moon was emitting rays in the shape – of a cross.  A cross that owned the world.

FullSizeRender (2)

(This picture does the cross no justice, because its rays extended far and wide, long and distanced, crisp and sword-like, prominent and powerful. They went straight down to the ground and straight up to the sky…it was gigantic and breathtaking.)

This moon declared Jesus’ victory over the plains of the fearful and the plans of evil.
It proclaimed the earth as belonging to God.
It blazed like a victory flag over our mayhem-ridden land.
It shined eternal sovereignty, which will never, ever, fade.
It confirmed it can’t beat the the sacrifice that will always endure.
It magnified Jesus’ ability and desire to cleanse the world of all pain, agony and hatred.

But, what if I had missed it?

What if instead of stopping to let my eyes adjust to the light of God outside,
I let sleep lure me inside?

Awaken! God is all around, but when our eyes look down, we miss the exact places where he is found.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Ps. 33:8

If we stop in the middle of rush, we will see – that it is us that God wants to touch.
If we look for wonder, we will find ourself wondering how we have such a great God.
If we pray to see, God will open our eyes up wider than they are after our third drink of coffee.

God waits to awe our socks off!FullSizeRender (3)

Nature testifies to the natural goodness of God. It is the present testament declaring both testaments of our living King. It confirms his majesty, administration and intentions.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Ro. 1:20

If you only see the white noise hum of “bore” before you – you’ll miss the “tremendously more” that God has – for you.

Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Ps. 2:11

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The Myth Of Control

I am more than delighted to welcome a true woman of the Lord, Karina, to the Purposeful Faith blog. From the minute I met her, I could see love, joy and passion written all over her. Karina is an example of transparency and authentic pursuit of God. I couldn’t be more happy to have her on Purposeful Faith as a regular contributor. I hope you enjoy her heart as much as I do.

Post by Karina

I have this struggle. I’m sure I am probably the only person who struggles with this issue. I kind of, sort of, maybe, like to be in control. Just a little bit. When a say a little, I mean a lot!

The last 6 months or so have been a bit paradoxical in nature. What I mean is that many amazing things have happened to me! I went out of town several times, have had a few exciting writing opportunities, connected with dear friends and met some new ones! During those exact same months, I have been searching for a roommate. I’m 35 and single and living alone is ridiculously expensive. I normally have a sense from God in which direction to go in when making decisions, but this time around, I had no direction.

I, under no circumstances, like the way that feels! I did my part. I exhausted every avenue to find a roommate and searched high and low for other housing. Nothing made sense. Countless options came and went. No other housing option fit my budget. Again, still no direction. My sweet friend Holly prayed for me one night a couple of months ago after small group. She told me the Lord wanted me to know that this situation was not my fault. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That filled me with such peace and yet still, there was no direction.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me of the truths that I so easily forget.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God is God. I am not. He is omniscient.

He know all things…the past, the present and the future. His timing and mine are rarely the same thing. After all, He is the one who created time itself. I can effortlessly believe the lie that what I see is all there is or that my time line is perfect. That is NEVER the case. There is a great deal happening in the supernatural that I cannot see and may never see. I am learning to embrace the mystery in knowing God and trusting His ways and His heart especially when I can’t see Him at work.

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

The never changing truth is that God loves me deeply and He loves you deeply. What He does or doesn’t do, what He says or doesn’t say is always for our good. That is what He does and who He is as our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t send pain or suffering or doubt or confusion. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When our circumstances are not good and perfect, it breaks His heart. And His desire is to come in and bring healing, purpose and restoration to our lives. I am learning to let Him do just that.

Are you? Is there an area of your life where you have been believing the myth that you are in control?

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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.”

Help Me Catch My Breath

Catch My Breath

Post by: Katie M. Reid

I am running. Panting hard, unsteady breath—not effective.

I need air. I need to breathe deep and steady or I’ll double over from exhaustion.

I am covering ground but I am losing it at the same time.

I’m exerting an excessive amount of energy and depleting my reserves as I take shallow breaths. I am flying past the scenery and missing out on the depth of beauty found on these country roads.

As I mentioned before, I am training for a half-marathon. The task is beyond me. I can’t do it without the help of the One who put this body together and is able to sustain me when I reach my limits.

In just a little over a month, I’ll come face to face with cold November air and more than a dozen miles stretching before me.

I have been living as if life is a 100 meter dash, not a marathon. I need to grasp a marathon mindset or be injured or maybe even taken out of the race.

But I’m not just talking about this literal race.

Covering Ground

Have you been training? Have you been doing time on your knees? Have you been stretching your faith muscles through prayer, so that you are prepared for what’s to come?

Are you giving your body a rest?

Have you been taking time to slow so that your body can be repaired?

Are you caring for those in your charge or are you pushing them to the limits as you race ahead?

Are you relying on your strengths to push forward or are you receiving His grace for your lack?

I am not proficient in prayer or rest—in fact sometimes I’m a downright pathetic pray-er and a restless rester. I want this to change. It has to change for the sake of my health, family and spiritual life.

For the next 31 days I am focusing on this dynamic duo—prayer and rest—and asking God to help me grow.

I like to plan my course, but I want God to lead these days instead.
I like to know what the outcome will be, but I want Jesus to overcome me instead.
I like to avoid pain, but I want the Holy Spirit to burn through my weaknesses instead.

Are you following His pace for your path? Are you leaving space for grace?

As we settle into our stride may we keep in step with the Spirit. May we not lag behind nor run ahead. May we stop running ourselves ragged and run instead to that old rugged cross—wrapping ourselves around His love.

May we enjoy the route that He has ordained for us—even when it’s uphill, even when it’s muddy, even when there are detours.

We will likely stumble on this journey, but instead of throwing in the towel, let’s receive and extend His grace for ourselves and those around us.

There is beauty to be found at our feet, let’s not miss it. Let’s embrace His pace for each of our lives.

Let’s Pray

Dear God:

Help us to catch our breath and wake up to Your Presence. We are not able to breathe without you. May we not take the next breath for granted but “breathe in Your grace and breathe out Your praise*.”

May You recharge us as we go down the road that You have laid. Help us to drink in Your grace as You set the pace. Help us to lay down our hurry and scurry and grab hold of Your Body and Blood, broken for us.

We repent of wimpy prayer lives and ask You to strengthen our resolve to cry out to you, often, and with great faith. Help us to unwind in Your Presence, through prayer and rest, as we grow in trust that You will be with us each step of the way. Help us to run the race set before us, faithfully.

Thank You that You are able to take our frazzled and harried days and transform us—free and healed.

Amen.

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*adapted from Your Grace Finds Me lyrics by Matt Redman

Katie M. Reid Headshot by Adopting Natinos

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Katie is a contributing writer here at Purposeful Faith and also over at God-sized Dreams. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com

The Secret Well of Continual Peace

Well of Continual Peace

Now.

These 3 letters signify all we have. They signify husbands who hope to receive a smile. Children who simply want our presence. Parents who are eager just to hear our voice. Friends who deeply desire to be understood.

They signify the only thing we are guaranteed and the only place where it is possible to make change. They signify our present purpose. They signify the meeting ground for our heart and God’s – a God who stands waiting, hoping and eager to meet us.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps. 16:11

Yet, what I also notice is that staying in “now” is just about as hard as staying in constant peace, which I figure may be almost one in the same.  And, just this thought, this pressure of staying in peace, nearly sends me into a tailspin where that notorious hook comes to pull me off the stage of God’s purpose and peace.

Adios, bad girl! Where are the tomatoes?

As I step away from the faces, the eyes, the hope, the joy and the love longing for me in the here and now, I almost can’t help but dwell in the two places no human, known to man, has ever been able to ever control: the past and the future. I start to see all that I am not and all that God can’t possibly do for me: He can’t possibly be with a girl like me, he can’t possibly promise to help in this situation, he can’t possibly do good things here.

Feet that walk from the vibration of God’s
truth, love and presence

walk into the trepidation of discord, doubt and defeat.

I’ve done it one too many times; I should know.

One too many times that makes me think one more time about my approach (And, yes, observant friend, I realize this is going to the past, but occasionally we go to the past, with the goal to move past the past) and something is stirring.

Living in the moment and living in striving
are mutually exclusive. 

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14

Notice God does the going and we do the resting.
We just behold him and he holds us.
We be with and he works in. 

Simple stuff. And, that’s how it is to live in the “now,” it’s simple. It simple laughs, simple tears, simple words heard, simple hearts held, simple games played, simple words shared and simple love bestowed. But, what it all adds up to at the end of ones life, far surpasses simple and far beyond normal. It ends up nearly exceeding glorious, or perhaps being the sum of it – because what we see in our future, a day that will finally come to a close is that we really loved. We loved deeply and wildly and passionately and greatly and meaningfully.

But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13

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Linking with #DanceWithJesus, #FiveMinuteFriday and #LiveFreeThursday.

International Stop And Share Day

stop and Share

It hit me.
I don’t like sharing.

As I sat in a group of women chatting one-hundred miles/hour, all I could think was what I wanted to say next. All I could think was how my story was going to impress and bless – so much so that couldn’t pay attention or think about retention.

How do you share with others when your thoughts
seem to cover the full parking lot of your mind?

Wow, God. I think about me a whole lot.

My emotions kind of make me want to throw myself up against the wall to say, “What is wrong with you, you selfish little girl,” yet my God would never approach me this way.

His love is patient, his love is kind, his love doesn’t seek to chastise, condemn or criticize my failings. His love stands to heal. Step-by-step, moment-by-moment, he reaches and teaches anew.

He pours out patience and gentleness as I move towards him.

So, today, with this idea in mind, this is why I am proud to introduce to you – International Stop and Share day! I am linking hands with Candice Blomeley for a day that is simply about small beginnings.

For me, it means less me and more love.

Perhaps you want to make a move towards selflessness today too.

It be as simple as sharing…

  • a cup of coffee
  • a parking space
  • your seat on the train
  • a kind word
  • a meal
  • your favorite shirt or pair of shoes
  • a visit
  • your time to help someone in need
  • a $5 Venmo to a friend
  • your cab
  • an extra tip on a receipt
  • your place in line
  • a tank of gas
  • your time to help someone move
  • a text or call to someone who would love to hear from you

Sometimes, changing over night seems impossible, but doing one small task, on one small day, looks entirely possible. This small movement makes all the difference.

Follow The Stop and Share Project:  Facebook & Twitter (#stopandshare2015 )

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A Moment We All Need to Give Ourselves

A Moment We All Need

Occasionally you meet a person you know is an instant friend. Location doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t care and methods of communication aren’t valid – what you know is that this one counts for something. This is how I feel about Rachel Macy Stafford. She shines all things pure and beautiful and it is my delight to know and love her.

R.Stafford headshot

In other exciting news, Rachel’s latest book, HANDS FREE LIFE, has permanently marked my heart with awe-inspiring and heartfelt life change. I feel my life going from bouncy ball crazy, to focused and intentional. I feel my attention moving from scattered to attentive. I feel my heart charging from empty to full again.  I feel grace speaking, rather than condemnation. This book has reserved a permanent spot on my bookshelf of “keepers;” I will be referencing her words for my whole life, I know that. Thank you Rachel, just thank you. I feel your love in this book.

Welcome to Purposeful Faith as a guest contributor for a day.

Post by: Rachel Macy Stafford

Understandably, many people want to talk to me about distraction. More specifically, they want to tell me about the distraction incidents they witness in their neighborhoods, at restaurants, parks, and sporting events. They want to tell me about the texting drivers sitting next to them at stoplights. Many well-intentioned people want to tell me how sad it makes them feel to see distracted people oblivious to their loved ones.

I must admit, these comments make me uncomfortable.

My mission for sharing my Hands Free journey is not to bash the distracted people of the world. My mission for sharing this journey is to bring awareness … namely, self-awareness … the kind of self-awareness I was lacking a few years ago.

Because you see, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about where I came from.

I was that distracted person oblivious to her loved ones.

I was that distracted person texting at stoplights.

I was that distracted person who made excuses as to why I was too busy to spend quality time with my family.

I was that distracted person who couldn’t see my beautiful life slipping right through my busy little fingers.

But I can assure you the judgment was harsh. The judgment was cruel. It was downright unbearable at times. But this condemnation didn’t come from an outside observer, well-meaning friend, or loving companion. Oh no, this ridicule came directly from me.

If you have read my “About Hands Free” page then you know that taking an honest look at the way I was living (or more accurately, not living) was a necessary step in my Hands Free life transformation. In fact, meaningful efforts to let go of distraction would have never happened (or lasted) without honestly evaluating the cost of my distraction.

But despite the fact that assessing my behavior was a vital step in changing my distracted ways, living in regret was not. I’ve come to realize that continually berating myself over what I missed is a waste of precious time. Self-forgiveness and healing have been just as much a part of this journey as my difficult truths.

But every now and then I get waves of remembrance—a taste of “life overwhelmed”, just enough to sting me, just enough to bring tears to my eyes.

It happened the other day. I’d stayed up too late working the night before. I had several deadlines to meet, and I was not as close as I hoped on any of them. I needed to get the kids to a swim meet. We were late. I was tired. The word “Mama” began every single sentence that came from my children’s lips whether I was actually needed or not.

And there I stood in front of the pantry, unable to remember what I came there to get. Part of me wanted to shut the door to that little space, huddle under the boxes of Fiber One cereal, and cry.

That’s when I heard it.

That voice.

It didn’t use the exact phrase that originated in the years of my highly distracted life, but it came painfully close.

“You are a bad mom” was the token phrase my inner bully liked to hiss during my highly distracted years whenever I felt like I was falling short in the parenting department. I’d almost forgotten I used to say such hurtful things to myself.

But then again, I don’t think I will ever completely forget.

I gave up on whatever it was that I intended to get from the pantry and told my children I needed a moment. I went to my bedroom and turned on my fan for soothing white noise and began reminding myself.

I reminded myself that The One who loves me, The One who took my hand and placed me on this transformative journey, still loves me even when I fail miserably.

I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that even the “best” parents have their moments of self-doubt and frustration.

I reminded myself of how I reacted when a tornado came scarily close to our house. It was the day I realized the fierce love I have for my family outweighs my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections.

I would run through fire to spare them.

I would beg kidnappers to take me in order to free them.

I would offer my plasma, my organs, and every single one of my limbs to save them.

I would sacrifice my life without hesitation, without question, if it meant allowing my loved ones to live.

Even in my most distracted, overtired, stressed-out state, my fierce love for my family is always ready, willing, and able.

Once I was finished reminding myself of these important things, I said a prayer of thanks and released a heavy sigh. I centered my disheveled, puffy-eyed self directly in front of the bathroom mirror and said one word.

“Grace.”

As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.

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A few minutes later, my children and I were on our way to the swim meet. I turned on one of our favorite songs, which beautifully articulates the value of human scars and imperfections. I felt a slight smile come to my lips as I listened to my children belt out the chorus from the backseat:

“These bruises,
Makes for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
I
t’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”

~Train

I suddenly feel better.
I just needed a moment.|
Don’t we all?

I think we all do—at some point in our day … our week …  our life—need a moment.

And so when I hear someone describing the unbecoming behavior of a distracted person, I cannot join in the condemnation. I once was that person and remain a work-in-progress.  And that is okay. That is human.

The other day, someone I love and respect as a parent and human being said something powerful to me. My mother said, “Rachel, even at your most distracted, you were always a good parent.”

With those words, the divine light of forgiveness shined like a beacon for my misdirected soul.

Even on days when I can’t tear myself away from my distractions …

Even on days when I overreact over something trivial …

Even on days that I obsess over bulges and wrinkles and things that don’t matter one bit in the end …

Even on days when I want to lock myself in the pantry and weep …

Even on days when I am at my worst,
I remain that person who would sacrifice her life
to spare her loved ones from pain and tragedy.

Perhaps you know someone who would make the same sacrifice. I bet you do.

So when you see that less-than-perfect woman or man staring back at you in the mirror … or the one at the restaurant who can’t quite seem to put down the phone and see the gifts in front of him or her … I ask that you extend grace, rather than judgment.

We are not the sum of our distractions.

Sometimes we just need a moment.

And every moment is a chance to start anew.

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BIO:

R.Stafford headshot

Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of www.handsfreemama.com where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA. Her highly anticipated book, HANDS FREE LIFE, releases in one week! It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to live better and love more despite the daily distractions and pressures that try to pull us away.

 

Those who pre-order Unsaved Preview DocumentHANDS FREE LIFE from now
until September 7 receive the FREE e-book of HANDS FREE MAMA
.

Click here to learn more about the book and pre-order bonus.

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Finding God in Fast Forward Motion

Finding God

Have you ever watched a movie in fast forward? Sometimes that is how I live my life. People are running like maniacs, cars are moving at high-speed chase speeds, words are mouthed wildly but not heard and people pass by each other, like ghosts in the night.

It’s a hectic place, a place full of to-do’s, will-do’s and should do’s.
It’s doesn’t run at a sit-down pace; it’s more of a you-better move-it-along place.
I can’t even tell you why I have made it into such a race – other than, that is my normal pace.

Yet, I am noticing, a busy heart,
doesn’t sit down so well with a still God.

Have you ever noticed this?

When our eyes are so busy watching the mayhem, the commotion, the movement, the loudness, the TV, the schedule, the hours, the children, the laundry, the job and the bills the small whispers from God tend to go, like a paper airplane right over our head. They were sent, they were apparent, but we were so in our own moment – we missed them  – we missed him.

We can’t hear.
We don’t seek.
We won’t find.

If we do, it is often ushered away by lunchtime.

Mt:7:7: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Is someone at that door? I will complete this dishwasher job and then see who it was? 

I am struck by the idea that we can’t find what we never looked for.

We can’t be touched by what frantic days block us from seeing. 

We can’t be changed if we are running so fast gentle nudges of God fly by with the wind.

Sure, we think, “If we are in the Word, we will be of the Word.” Yes, but not always. Our mind may hold fast in the morning hour, but completely lose touch by lunch hour. The word sits on fresh soil only to be washed away by the mayhem of problems later. Our feet stand on the rock, only to move to quicksand at days end.

How do we get past this cycle of distraction,
this wheel that has no end,
this tiring race of life?

3 Ways:

1. We follow this equation: Every minute + Every day = God First (always)
If we seek God above all, all will be added onto us. Mt. 6:33
If every day is founded and set “in belief”, imagine what the structures of our day might look like?

2. We see God above iPhones, iPads, iBooks, me, myself and I.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13
If we truly open our eyes, God will stagger us with a vision of him.

3. We begin to see that not knowing or understanding does not equal:
– not having it together

– not having a way out

– not being smart

– not having a plan.

Not knowing = the way TO a straight path.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6 

When we realize we don’t understand, we are getting to the beginning of wisdom.

The posture of our heart, will predict the progress of our day. It will determine how much of Savior we funnel into our days.

Let’s funnel even more.

As we open the door of our heart in bigger ways to these 5 R’s,
we will create more space for our big God to pass through: 

1. Release. Let go to find he grabs hold. God is never a catch and release type, every time he catches and keeps. He understands that the best fisherman love to take home their catch.
2. Reliance. Choose to walk in humility instead of futility. Step over the cliff of safety, God will catch you.
3. Renewal. Ask, seek, knock (repeat). Then, find.
4. Reality. God is the only truth, not your perception of the world, not your summations, not others predictions. Soak in his presence, his life, and his love.
5. Recognition. Praise him in the sanctuary, which is your heart. Praise him continually.

Break through the white noise of these steps, breakthrough the normalcy, breakthrough the tendency to say, “I know those already.” The truth is – that mentality is what keeps you back – from him.

Think of these words and how they apply afresh to your day.

Then, when we breakthrough arrogance, busyness and complacency, we will find our first love, Jesus.

Then, we can offer our whole self for the one who already did.

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