Purposeful Faith

Category - Comparing

What Pours Out from within You?

Outpours

Marcia Kuyper is joining us today for Women’s Ministry Monday and, boy, am I delighted about it. Her words struck a chord with my heart. They are both encouraging and thought-provoking. I am confident they will bless you as much as they did me. Enjoy!

Post by: Marcia Kuyper

I could see he was annoyed with me.

My husband Tom set our vitamins out on the counter, and I, knowing a better system, “politely” questioned his arrangement.

The tension was subtle, but I was keenly aware of his frustration with me. It makes me mad when he gets annoyed with me.  I was thinking, “What right does he have to be irritated with me, after the way he hurt me?”

I say out loud, “You are so bugged with me.”

My conflict avoiding husband gave it to me straight.  He courageously began to tell me about the way I affect him.  I knew he was talking about more than the arrangement of vitamins.  He was talking about our life together.

I didn’t want it to be about me.

I looked down at my Bible, which was open to Luke, and I paused, asking Jesus to help me have ears to hear.  “Lord, help me listen, truly listen. Help me listen for what’s being said beneath the words. Let me listen the way you listen… love the way you love… lay down my life the way you laid down your life.”

I looked at the words before me in Luke 7:36-50…

“And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”

And I hear it loud and clear…

“Marcia, I have something to say to you.”  I pause…ask again for His help in my listening,  and then I reply,

“Say it Teacher.”

I’ve read this so many times.  I get the meaning of these words, but this time, His message hits home in a more personal way.

To love the way Jesus loves,
I must receive all the love and forgiveness He offers.

I must let the blood of the Lamb cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness,
which includes my SELF-righteousness.  

I’m  listening, so He gently shows me that I am the pharisee in this story.

I realized I was saying : “I would never do that.”

I didn’t say it out loud, but in my heart, I was saying, “I would never do that.”

It’s pride. I hold on to a small sense of superiority, and that is what comes out when pressed.

Tom was courageously being more direct and bold, because he loves me and values our relationship.  I was tempted to react in a self-protective way, turning the fault back on him, but this time, by God’s grace, I was able to have ears to hear what He wanted to teach me.  I am learning that, until I own my part, until I own my sin – my inability to come under him, my resistance to letting him lead me, to learn from him, to listen without pushing my words  – we will only get so far.

Is there something God wants to say to you?

With Jesus as our teacher and guide, like the woman in Luke 7:36-50, we have the opportunity to let Jesus love us fully by giving Him access into every corner of our lives.  Even the things we don’t speak out loud.  It is here, in this place of admission and confession, where we experience His loving forgiveness and respond with extravagant gratefulness, just like this exposed woman did.

She, the woman, poured out her most costly possession (perfume), He poured out His blood for our redemption.  As I wrestled with Jesus over my unforgiveness, He helped me identify and spill out my pride, which released in me an outpouring of love and forgiveness for Tom.  What might your spontaneous outpouring of gratitude look like?

May you receive His love and forgiveness today in a way that overflows in love, forgiveness and gratitude.

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About Marcia Kuyper

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.14.39 AMMarcia Kuyper is the Women’s Ministries director at Open Door Fellowship Church in Phoenix Arizona. She leads Bible studies and Retreats, counsels couples and women in marriage and family and has a deep passion for God’s Word and His people

Marcia teaches with her husband at the A Time for Us Marriage retreats and Marriage preparation classes for engaged couples. She also shepherds and teaches a class for young marrieds and singles called C’est La Vie.

Marcia is a wife to Tom, mom of four, and grandma to seven, soon to be eight…

She spends a lot of time… planning vacations.  🙂  She loves reading… (Favorite authors: Oswald Chambers, Henri Nouwen, Elizabeth Goudge… too many to list.) the beach, snow skiing…

Raised in a Jewish family, Marcia came to know Jesus as Savior in high school.  She is so deeply grateful that Jesus pursues her and never stops loving her.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 10.14.48 AM

 

When Someone Is Better Than You

When Someone Is Better Than You

I have this thing that I promise myself, “If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t end up far from God.”

This is actually a battle mottto, because no less than 100 times a day, I have to fight to keep the forces of my mind moving in tandem with it. 

Kids go haywire. Battle.
Someone speaking things that threaten me. Battle.
Anxiety creeping in. Battle.
Girl disses me. Battle.

One thing, I always promise myself not to do, is to look at other people’s journeys and compare them to mine. I know this is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. Suddenly you can’t get anywhere.

The blessing you believe is yours turns black, tainted. The progress you felt you were making looks like lint. The value that God places on you resembles a jail jumpsuit, lettered: CAPTIVITY.

someone is better than you

Comparing is the quickest way to go about killing spiritual progress. It really is.

Suddenly, you believe you are:
A. Never going to get anywhere.
B. Never, ever, going to be as good as that other girl.
C. Going to fail, so you might as well pack it all up now.

Comparing is a kid on Christmas who only sees the one toy he didn’t get and sissy did. It is his red scrunched up face that glares at  – he misses the 19 others wrapped goodies intended to bring joy.

Maybe you are like me saying, “Whoops! That is me. What do I do now, God?  “

Friends, I want to offer you a solution here, but let me tell you, I’ve never been that good at giving myself the benefit of the grace (my inclination is to give myself a smack on the face).

I had a friend who knew how to love herself with grace. She got shunned by a boy, she said, “Oh, he is busy.” She had a teacher be rude to her, she said, “Oh, she’s having a hard day.” Me? No. He hates me and she is about to fail me.

Thinking of this friend, though, it inspires me. She lets love – love her.

When it comes to comparing, I am not unliked by God, nor deemed the bad child, but am the selected child. Hand-selected to impact the world in my own way. Hand-selected to dwell in his love.  Hand-selected to minister to my family around me.

When Someone Is Better Than You

He is paving a way for me; that only I can walk through.

He is doing the same for you.

Just opening that small door of grace, let’s new ideas walk in:

People can succeed and I can too.
God has enough to go around.
Every woman’s journey is different but equally as important in God’s eyes.
God cares far more about big faith than he does about big progress.
What is good for her, can be good in me too, as I applaud her.
No one has the power to subtract joy from me unless I let them.
God’s singular mission carved out for me – is mission critical in his eyes.
I am always approved, no matter how much my feelings may disapprove my work.
I am not the sum of accomplishments, I am a testament Christ’s love.

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3. Join the Cheerleaders for Christ Facebook page for continual writing encouragement.

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HGTV, Pinterest, and the Things That Matter {Link-up}

the things that matter

I have a love-hate relationship with HGTV. And Pinterest. And all of those fixer-upper shows.

My husband and I moved into a fixer-upper several years ago, and while we’ve done a lot of cosmetic upgrades, there are still things I’d like to change. But life doesn’t stop for remodels and the kids don’t stop needing new shoes, so for now we pushed the pause button.

Most days I’m perfectly happy having friends over to eat in my 70’s kitchen. But every now and then, I hear those voices saying what I have to offer isn’t good enough.

It’s a dismal truth, but it’s there.

Those voices interrupted my thoughts several weeks ago when I was having a dear friend fly in to speak at our local MOPS group. She was staying overnight, and in the weeks leading up to her arrival we made some preparations to ensure she was as comfortable as possible.

I was excited to have her visit and for the chance to connect in person, since she lives several states away. That is, until I visited her home. A couple of weeks before her visit, I joined some friends at her house for a weekend retreat.

Today the #RaRaLinkup is being hosted over at Abby McDonald’s place. Click here to join us!

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Living Beyond Comparison

Living Beyond Comparison

I am delighted to have the fabulous Kristine Brown join us today as she shares about comparison. This can be sure-fire way to lose perspective and her blog reminds me to keep the focus of my eyes narrow and the intentions of my heart clean. Thank you Kristine – and welcome today! I hope you are blessed.

Guest Post by: Kristine Brown

She lived in the shadow of someone else. Someone pretty important, as a matter of fact. Day in and day out she watched this graceful lady. From where she stood, it looked as if this other woman had God’s hand of blessing on her all the time. Of course, it was hard to see clearly when walking behind her at a distance.

She couldn’t get used to her new life in the shadows. And on top of that, she endured ridicule. If only I had a friend, she thought. She struggled to see beyond her bitter circumstances.

Her name was Hagar.

Hagar found herself in a new role as servant and handmaid to Sarah. Conflict started early in their relationship. And as the family dynamic changed, tension grew between the two women.

Sarah sat in a place of honor as Abraham’s wife. Abraham had heard a solid promise from God that he would be the father of a great nation. God also assured him this promise would begin with a son from Sarah. But Hagar’s position as the mother to Abraham’s first-born only increased the difficulties between Sarah and her servant.

Soon that son arrived. Sarah gave birth to Isaac. And with this new addition to the family, the comparison voice grew louder and louder. Hagar felt unnoticed and unimportant compared to Sarah. Without realizing it, she allowed comparison to lead her away from the God who saw her.

Our situations may be different, but Hagar and I have a lot in common. We both let the destructive voice of comparison whisper into our hearts.

I too have felt the compulsion to compare myself to another woman. I’ve listened to the lies comparison tells me – lies that sound something like this…

She is more talented than me.

She is more capable than me.

She is noticed more than me.

Maybe you’ve heard them too.

If so, then you understand how devastating this voice can be. You know the doubt it causes. And maybe – like me – you’re ready to silence it once and for all.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2 ESV

The comparison battle once affected every area of my life.

My parenting. My role as a wife. My work. My ministry.

I couldn’t see the beauty of God’s plan. Comparison distracted me from the path He created just for me.When I realized how much I’d let its condemning words alter my thoughts, I resolved to find a solution. I went straight to God’s Word, and my discovery began in Hagar’s story…

When Hagar had enough of the hurt, she called out to the God of Abraham and Sarah. That day she learned a vital truth.

God desired to be the friend Hagar so desperately wanted. He was not only the God of Abraham and Sarah. He was her God too, and He made her a steadfast promise just like he did for Abraham – a promise she could count on.

Tweet: Relying on God’s promise is my first step in conquering comparison. – #OverItBook

“The angel added, ‘I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.’” Genesis 16:10 NIV

God had a plan for Hagar. By listening to His voice instead of the destructive words of comparison, she took a bold step. She believed the promise.

Sometimes that first step is all we need to get back on the right path. The question is:

Am I ready to take that bold step? Am I willing to rely on God’s promise and let go of comparison?

My answer is a resounding yes. Will you join me? I’d love to share with you more about Hagar and two other remarkable women in Scripture. Through their stories we can uncover the secret to overcoming comparison.

And when we do, we will also discover God’s plan for us is more than we could ever imagine possible.

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Over It SPINE (1)The Over It book is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.  To purchase your copy, click here. ***Proceeds from the sale of each book will benefit the More Than Yourself, Inc. scholarship program.

Author Bio 1Kristine Brown is a writer, dramatist, and teacher. She helps women and teen girls navigate the ups and downs of real life. Kristine devotes her time to family, freelance writing, and her non-profit ministry, More Than Yourself, Inc. You can read more about her book at www.morethanyourself.com/over-it. Connect with Kristine on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Define • er • ed •ism•able •est •ly

By Jami Amerine

This is my word. Defineredismableestly. Granted, I made it up. And granted, it is slightly ridiculous.  But let me explain. I am at a crossroad; another adoption, another child launching, a new career in the making.  We all come to them, repeatedly.  For example, when I got married. I was no longer only defined as Don and Glenna’s daughter, I was now Justin’s wife. Later I became Maggie, John, Luke, Sophie, Sam, and Charlie’s mom. Grad student, blogger, Catholic, displaced Catholic, Spin instructor, injured Spin instructor, Chronically ill. Then, I became a foster mom and adoptive mom.  I have been defined, redefined and undefined.  I have added prefixes, suffixes and then, deleted and added again.

A woman on Twitter started following me the other day.  I clicked on her profile to see who she was and this is what it said: Overweight, widowed, divorced, childless, unhappy, atheist. Working as a secretary for an arrogant windbag attorney. Living in a cramped apartment with a grumpy cat, two fish, and my dying mother.  Follow me. 

Hmm.

Click.

Follow.

Cause I respect the honesty, and I commit to pray for her.

I haven’t heard much else out of her. Although every time I get on Twitter I click on her profile to see if any of her adjectives have changed.  They haven’t. Aside from some funny cat memes and derogatory comments about Christians, these definitions are all that I am left with in my assessment. And I could pity or judge her, but she could pity and judge me.  And if I was asked to write a profile for myself similar to hers what would it look like? What defines me?

Simply stated?  Tall, busty, married, blonde, 7 kids at the moment, happily seeking Jesus Christ. Stay at home mom, author, in love with my husband. Living in a large home with large family, two dogs, lots of laughter. Follow me.

And it does sound a bit more fanciful and bright. Well, I would have rather typed tall and rail thin, but that’s not the point.  The point is the definitions we take on and the definitions we portray as truths of ourselves can both explain us or cripple us.  And I wouldn’t want to represent myself to the masses as a complete failure or mess, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do that and preface or conclude with “Christ-seeker.”

There is both the societal and self-imposed assumption that I am better than or whole if I am a follower of Christ. And as Christians, we believe our souls are better off – as human beings we know the definition of Christian doesn’t crown us the definition “flawless.”

So maybe I followed this brutally honest and seemingly dark woman because I envied her rawness. And, I want to be frank, and raw.  I recently ripped the Jesus fish off my van. Not to deny my Christ, but because I am a distracted driver and you can’t judge a Christian by their inability to maneuver a 12 passenger van.  I honestly don’t want to portray Christians as lousy drivers.

The things that adorn my profile or my biography on my blog are definitions of the human Jami. The feathers in my cap or the bumper stickers on my van don’t convey the profound truths of what it means to be wholly seeking Jesus. At first glance, you might define me as funny, lighthearted, sweet, fanciful, vain, and bouncy. From inside my head I am a one-woman circus – desperately seeking Jesus.

And that is the most relevant definition of being me.  My general identity can be found in excerpts on websites. My husband and children could give you a quick run-down of singular adjectives that would give you a universal idea of who I am.  My parents and my siblings have an adjective or two. I have friends who think I rock. I have enemies that think otherwise. And I get down and can rip myself to shreds. Or, I can drop a couple pounds, get a syndicated post, and make a perfect pot roast and think I am the “grandiestly” momma on the block.

But all that fades without my Jesus.  What I must remember and what I must cling to is my identity in Christ.  This character never changes. No matter the number of children under my roof, the size tag on my jeans, the rejection letters in my inbox, for that matter, the acceptance letters either. My identity in Christ is an unchanging description. I strive to be better, and I ache to please Him – and He consistently loves a fearless, grand, unending, boundless, undefinable, indescribable perfect love.

He sees me as infinitely – HIS.  Maybe that is what I’ll change my Twitter profile to read, just: HIS.

For in Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 

And in Christ, you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Col. 2:9-10

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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 on Facebook or Twitter.

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Purpose

comparison steal your purpose

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

The morning was full of potential. I got up on time, didn’t check social media, and made the kids breakfast.

Then, after dropping my son off at the bus stop, I checked my email. And everything went downhill.

The intent of the message was positive. My reaction to it was not.

This successful blogger wanted to let me in on all of the secrets to success. And I’m sure deep down somewhere that I craved this knowledge.

But what I saw? The numbers. How many readers visited her site. How much income she brought in each month. It was though these stats represented some invisible gate-keeper and I was stuck on the outside, pushing a door that wouldn’t budge.

Comparison turns our vision into opposition. It turns our joy into jealousy.

As I sat there that Tuesday morning basking in self-pity, and knew I needed an attitude adjustment. And do you know what’s beautiful about asking God to change your attitude?

He always answers.

Sometimes he asks us to take a good long look at ourselves. Other times he sends a word of encouragement through a friend or family member. But he never fails to deliver.

On this particular weekend in mid-winter, he drew my attention to my kids. Particularly my oldest son.

My firstborn delights in new responsibilities, no matter how small. You can give him the house key to open the side door as you labor up the steps with groceries, and he will skip to complete the task.

But more than that, he does it with love. Which is something I forgot in my moment of temporary insanity and comparison.

As my son grows older, my husband and I increase his jobs around the house. He takes care of the pets and helps clean up around the house, and we reward him for his efforts. But we don’t start him off with a huge list of chores to do. Nor do we trust him things we know are beyond his ability.

If we look at scripture, God follows the same pattern. When we first read of God’s call on David he is out in the middle of a field, tending sheep. When the angel of the Lord appears to Moses, he is tending the flock as well.

The Lord is pleased when we take the same care with the small as we do with the big. As a matter of fact, the Word tells us he “rejoices” in it.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Friends, God does not see our work in the same way we do. And aren’t you glad? With each step you take to glorify his name and make him known, he is honored. He rejoices over you.

The absolute best words we could expect to hear from God on the other side of this life are, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Not, “Congrats on all the followers you had on Twitter,” or “That was a really solid platform you spent all those years building.”

It’s his platform, not ours. Let’s remember that even in the small, he is always faithful.

Even when we misstep.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015

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.

Does Facebook Make You Angry?

Facebook Make You Angry

I looked at this girl, who I thought was my friend. In person, she was fun, inquisitive and giving. Yet, on Facebook, she was straight up opinionated, degrading and arrogant.

Facebook made me want to hate her. It made my sweet-as-pie, good-as-gold, mother friend morph into an under-the-radar malevolent dictator. Suddenly, she was a ruse sent by evil forces, a propagandizer working for unseen purposes and a tyrant sent to take over online rule.

What do you do when the person you like
becomes the person you hate – on Facebook?

When everything wants to make you defriend a good friend?

I wasn’t sure what to do.

She was telling people the best food that they should be eating. 
She was writing political disclaimers and guidelines.
She was shaming people left and right.
She was boasting about her wise decisions.
She was highlighting stupid things others do.
She was acting holier than thou.
She was pushing agendas, annoyance and aggression onto others.

Who does she think she is?!

And, really, who do I think I am? Look at how I am judging her. Look at how I am hating her. Look at how I am being just as bad as she is. Look at how I am ready to write her off in a split-second.

My anger turns towards Facebook.

4 Ways Facebook Makes you The Person You Don’t Want to Be

1. It makes you judge.

“You show off! Political Idiot! Get off your soapbox! You call yourself moral?!”

When we find the wrong in another, far more often than not, it has much to say about the wrong in us.
Seeing all the wrongs in the world, helps us avoid ours.
Finding yourself above another, has never been the way of Jesus.

2. It makes you compare.

I can never be as good looking as her.
He got that job, while I have this one. I stink.
Their kid dresses almost as good as mine. I win.
They have a vacation home. What do I need to do to make that happen.

When all you see is another’s beautiful selfie, it makes your self feel like crud. Never once has stacking yourself against another added an inch of height to anyone. They only thing added is discouragement.

3. It makes you talk like that person.

That person (Choose an answer):

a. Cussed
b. Posted a selfie
c. Liked that TV show
d. Raved and ranted like an ignorant fool
e. Got opinionated
f. Wants to vote for ______.
g. Is self-absorbed.

When you look for the bad in another, you find it. When you see bad, you start thinking bad. When you start thinking bad, you start speaking bad, and before you know it, your just like them.

4. It makes you jealous beyond compare.

That person is downright successful. I must be too.
That person is sick. Finally something not-so-god happens in their seemingly perfect life.
That person is thin. In a few years they will gain weight like me. Either way, wrinkles are bound to get ’em.

Jealousy steals happy, ties him up and holds him for ransom.

“Get yourself to where that person is or you will never get happy back!”

We won’t get tied up by jealousy if
we choose to wrap ourselves
in thanks for what we already have.

Am I telling you that Facebook is evil, horrible and not Christian?
Of course not. It is not outside forces that pre-set holy, it is our internal force of the heart.

Nobody is forcing me on Facebook.  No one is forcing you either. This is not the point.

The point is that if you can’t make your way onto this platform without continually landing on an altar of frustration, you should find yourself another place to be.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil. 4:8

What does Facebook viewing make your mind view?

What you look at is what you think of, what you think of – is what you become. 

For me, I am making a decision to “bounce” on Facebook. Meaning: I’ll allow myself to see updates, but I won’t land on their personal page to dissect every nook and cranny of wrong. I’ll try to give others the benefit of the doubt, rather than doubting they were good. I’ll remember what I love about them, rather than letting an online update become their DNA. I’ll try to see them through God’s eyes, rather than seeing them through a machine where all show best-self.

It’s a process. It’s a journey.

Will I always do it well? Doubtful.

Will they? Doubtful.

And maybe that is the point.

We are all learning, but the only one I can change is me. The only way to change is to do something different. The only way to find God, is to seek him. So, I will try my best and see how it goes.

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Chasing God

Chasing God

Frustrated, I pumped harder, as if each New Year push on the elliptical would propel me into progress, as if it would really get me somewhere. The only thing it seemed to propel me into, however, was pressure. Pressure from words like: Must. Move. Forward. Must. Make. Difference. Must. Do. Well.

Sure, I wanted to do things for God,
but somehow I lost God in the process.

It seemed God took off in the dense woods that laid in the window before me. I pumped faster, but man-made machines and ambitious routines, never have effectively lassoed God’s heart. I stayed lost.

Where did you go, God?

I didn’t know.

Chasing God

Sometimes it appears God leaves those who miss his perfectly placed bread crumbs – those who start looking left and right, only to unknowingly trample on his love lying on the center of the path. Those who get diverted by moving wind, shadows, scary branches, prickly vines and oncoming clouds.

It appears the more lost we get, the more lost we become.

What do you do when your steps have landed you into the density of
vanity, superficiality and absurdity,
therefore making drivability back to your great God nearly impossible?

This is what I considered as I huffed and puffed.

God, I need you.
God, please help me.
Lord, there is none like you.
I have brought myself far, by looking at far off things,
far off people
and far of progress that you did not yet claim for me.
Reset my eyes, my mind, my being.
Like a magnet that cannot be deterred from you.
Like a body double that lives inside you.
Like a duplicate of your being.
Like a child on a parental leash.
Clone my desires to be of your genetic makeup.
For I know you use those who serve low, that reach deep and lay down to lift another higher.
I know that you delight in the adult who picks the unconnected, unwanted and unmerited kid’s table – and then serves them.

I know it is not progress you care about but the process of sitting at your feet,
where we hold your feet like jewels,
and then cleanse them with unrestrained
I-will-do-anything-for-you, I-have-no-place-to-be – adoration.

For then, we go out in the world and clean the wretched filth off those we detest and despise –
except for one thing, we start not to detest and despise them so much anymore,
for it is in pure that pure is forged.
Lord, it is your purity we are after. 
White as snow.
Innocent as a dove.
Undefiled as a baby’s first breath.
Unrestrained by the contamination of the world.
Moving as holy.
Being in you.

Not “outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside [being] full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27), no God, not like that. Instead, may I be outwardly appearing available, lowly and humble AND inside full of giving, loving, gentleness, kindness, patience, authenticity, defenselessness and purity.

My pumping continued on the elliptical, but in that moment, I let my shoulders soften. I let my arms rest a little, for each movement was starting to feel owned, controlled and in place by one above my own motions.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 Jo. 3:3

When we fix our eyes on the purity of Jesus,
purity gets fixed within ourself.

Strong beautiful fog in the forest

My eyes gazed ahead, into the unknown density of forest, but now, just a little more, knew where I was driving towards – purity. This meant, I would keep watch for the breadcrumbs, follow his trail and get low so he could be high.

And then the amazing happened!

As fast as a flash of lightening, God seemed to flash purity, as if to show I was on the right path.  Even though my eyes couldn’t believe it, even though I was surrounded by a hundred moving pieces of steel gym equipment, even though the forest ahead looked dark and daunting, still…a dog, burst onto the scene. White. Snow White. Pure. Free. Playful. Beckoning. Moving. Inviting. Gesturing. Delighting. Knowing his way. Sure of his being. Calling me to follow.

Chasing God

I nodded inside and said, “Lord, more than anything, I want to follow.” And I decided, to push into him.

Prayer for Purity:

Lord, make me pure. Make my insides so sincere that even the smallest fragment of defect cannot exist. Make me so clean that even the smallest particle of dirt would be out of place. Make me so brilliant that only you have a home in the temple of sacred. Make my heart go after not things of high, but places of low. May I drive hard after the uncared for people and places, rather than the lofty spaces and places. May I see the one who feels unseen. May I love the one who the world does not love. May I pursue the heart that is rendered yours. May I be the girl who you know will answer. May I strike a chord in the center of love. May I find a way when all ways seem lost. May I give a hand to the person in need. May I give myself when I have nothing left. And may I find you when I find myself in distress. May you search me out as one belonging to you. May you lend me your kingdom, knowing I’ll do good by you. May I keep it well. May I see your life. And, always, everyday, may I be content – in you, the owner of eternal life. Amen.

A song: To bring you back to “chasing God”, titled  “Running in Circles.”

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Breaking Normal to Find Phenomenal

Breaking Normal

The coach stopped me in my tracks with this soccer drill. It was meant for toddlers, but it was sent by God for me. It burst my bubble of known, it tossed out the waste of old and it rolled in eye-opening insight that would redecorate my heart with truth.

Who knew soccer was so good for mental health?!

4 cones.
One square.
No space.
3 Kids.

“Go!”

My son tried to move, no dice (or rather, no goal!). He tried to inch forward, but couldn’t gain traction. He tried to kick, but his ball bounced off his companions’. He tried to run, but, the two collided like blind bulls. Boing!!!

Yet, amidst the mayhem and the maniacal movements of the inept, the coach broke through “crazy” with two words, “Break Out!”

And so they did.  Kids, ran left, right and nearly out of sight! Like bees set free they could chart a destination on a course that was possible, feasible and liberating all at the same.  If I could have I would have cheered this moment, saying, “Go, free ones, go. Now you can fly!”

The coach would too and, together, we would breathe a sigh of relief.

What small confines are you stuck in –
trying to plow your way through?

What is not giving you an iota of movement,
yet still, you fight for tooth and nail?

When we are so pressed against everything, we can’t enter the huge field of opportunity the Lord has set before us. We see the Promised Land, but our eyes keep us kicking around in the small perimeter of everyone else’s movements.

They are set on our competition.
They become obsessed with personal performance.
They see each kick like an eternal report card of worth.
Moves become belabored and burdensome.
Irritation mounts.
Aggravation scores.
We lose!

God becomes distant.

“He’s out in left-field somewhere!”

Break Out! 

When we get hyper-focused on numbers, feedback, criticisms, critiques, God says, “Break out!”
When we start looking at everyone else’s progress, toys and accomplishments, God says, “Break out!”
When we start fearing our ability to succeed, God says, “Break out!”
When we start feeling our chest constrict into the fist of anxiety, God says, “Break out!”
When we start to be man’s responses, God says, “Break out!”
When we are obeying strategies and growth plans first and foremost, God says, “Break out!”
When we are sure we will surely be marginal at best, God says, “Break out!”
When we start making the past the predictor of our future, God says, “Break out!”
When we see the bad surrounding, the pressing in indwelling, God says, “Break out!”
When we doubt calling, God says, “Break out!”
When we wonder if we are any good, God says, “Break out!”
When we box ourself into sameness, God says, “Break out!”
When we look at boundaries and limitations, God says, “Break out!”

Get out of the box, push over the boundary and fly to the place where God is.

If you’re goal is to be with him, it is a goal that can’t be blocked.

It’s a goal that wins the game every time – heck, it wins the World Cup, for that matter!

Run into the freedom of open air.
Bask in the place of his prompting.
Skip to the place of true calling.
Jump to the heights of unrestrained love.
Fall into the depths of incalculable peace.
Sit in the field of rest.
Move to the new places, no one has transversed.
Win there! That is where you win!

We find our little slice of heaven on earth, carved out for us in the here and now,
in the freedom found, not in doing what the world and demands and people tell us,
but found in the unusual, uncharted and unknown callings of him.

No one ever got anywhere by kicking around in the complacent and crazy confines of controlled chaos. Just ponder. Many of the “Great Remarkables” became remarkable because they stopped caring if the world called them remarkable and they just followed God.

Simple. He is speaking. Are we listening?

Look at the woman at the well. She became well because she broke free from confines at the well – so her mouth could not confine her truth of liberation.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Jo. 4:30

She had to break out of world-made form though. Do you see this power yet?

She had to trample form that told her Jews don’t talk with Samaritans.
She had to push through the fact that talking women should have husbands present.
She had to push away the fact that rabbis shouldn’t speak to sluts.

She had to break out!

To step out of the box of confines to be unconfined.

What is God ready to break out on your behalf as you break out?

God isn’t found in the small boxes of safe, of expected, of normal, of man and of “steps for success”, he is found in the wild land of adventure, pursuit and nonconformity in him, by faith and through Christ.

Break out! Today, see what holds you in and push past it in the name of Jesus. Zig and zag his way. Run arms open. Sprint into his fields of purpose.

Don’t just read this and move on, but listen and press in. Promise me that. If you don’t think this is for you, think again, it is, especially for you. What is he calling you to?

My break out: I will not intentionally look at post or visitor statistics. My words are an incense being released solely on behalf of his beauty – from my heart to his, uncensored, untouched and unchangeable by man. And so they will be. And so I will go into the field of his providence, trusting.

What is yours?

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When You Think You’re Missing the Party

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I could not stop looking at the other table.

I tried to focus on my eating my meal and made eye contact with the women around me. We talked about our writing experience, what drew us to the conference and our hometowns. But every few minutes, my eyes would drift back to the table parked directly in front of the stage.

Filled with authors, speakers and book contracts, I was certain this circle was the place to be.

What were they talking about? What was the source of their laughter?

A seat there would make me content, wouldn’t it? My mind filled with images like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, convinced there was a golden ticket just out of my grasp and I had to get my hands on it. Wonders beyond my wildest imagination waited behind closed doors.

My mind was so preoccupied with crazy assumptions that I almost missed the woman sitting across the table from me. It was her first blogging conference. She was quite visibly nervous, no doubt feeling alone in a room full of people who had already made online connections.

She needed encouragement. She needed to know she’d made the right decision by being there.

And in all my selfish absorption with what I thought I was missing, I almost missed a God-given opportunity. In all my distractedness, I almost forgot the reason why I was there.

Giving the women around me my undivided attention, I leaned in, listened, and shared what I’d learned over the past two years. My eyes stopped wandering and I remembered who I was.

We already have a seat at the table of the Most High King. We share a Spirit with the person who was exalted to sit at the right hand of God, and yet we often can’t stop looking around as though we’re missing party.

God invites us to the greatest party on earth. We simply have to accept his invitation.

When we see the beauty and the opportunity of the exact place and time where we are, we discover what it means to truly live. We stop looking at across the street or across the room and know we are right where God wants us to be, for such a time as this.

People often cite the verse, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” as a powerhouse verse to show God can enable them to accomplish a task beyond their human ability, like scaling a mountain or competing in a triathlon. (Philippians 4:13 NIV) And yes, God can enable us to do each of these things.

But if you look at the context of this verse, Paul is talking about contentment. He is writing to the church of Philippi from prison, and telling them how his walk with Christ enabled him to be joyful no matter what the circumstances.

Friends, true joy and satisfaction don’t come from a physical location or a black and white contract. They come from knowing the One whose love for you was demonstrated in the most humble way possible. He laid down his divinity and took the very nature of a servant.

Let’s lay our false assumptions about what we need at the feet of Jesus today. Let’s remember we’re already children of the Most High King.

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Guest Contributor

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.

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