Purposeful Faith

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She Let Me Down, Again!

Let Me Down

She let me down. Again. She always does.

Now, it’s as if:

She owes me something.
She’s responsible now to figure out how to console me.
Her actions need to shift for me to ever love her.
Everything needs to change before I can be happy.
I win, as a better person, because she’s always losing.

What shocks me about my above brutally-honest list is – when I look at it, I could have striked all those words and just written: me, me, me! I could have summarized it all up: “You stink, lady, you are not good enough and you better improve or I’ll always live hurt.”

Who made her God? And who made me so reliant she rules my emotions, pride, joy and peace?

When people rule us, we aren’t being ruled by God. It’s a give in. God’s gone – gone.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 11:22-24)

We have come to Jesus.

Not to a woman who lets us down.
Not to a job we detest.
Not to a boss who favors others.
Not to a child who is completely and utterly defiant.
Not to questions that rule over us.
Not to a spouse who speaks meanly.
Not to a situation that is ruling us.

We have come to God, the Judge, the one who makes us righteous, perfect, to the mediator, to the one who sprinkled grace over our head and declared us as his own.

Man will let us down, God won’t. He’s already lifted us up to seat us with Christ (Eph. 2:6) and, even better, He’s declared the deed, the position for us final by saying, “It is finished. (Jo. 19:30)” And, guess what? It is.

So, who can tie us up to the back of the car and drag us through the gravel? No one.

Who can rip out our voice and tell us it’s worthless? No one.

Who can hurt us time and time again, thereby ruining our soul? No one.

Humbly, we rest under him. Jesus. The one crushed, so we emotionally aren’t. The one beaten so we could beat relational pain through Him. The one mocked, so when we are, we remember He understands, knows and cares for us. The one broken, so we could be healed. The one victorious, who marks us that name alike.

We aren’t the product of a person’s action. Or, maybe we are. We are the product of Jesus’ actions. And, by Him, we are saved from the things that want to take us down.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Fighting the Enemy: To Win!

Fighting the Enemy

My son has been learning about the devil in school. He’s also been learning about the archangel Michael. So, in the adorableness of all his toddler years, he’s been playing an action hero game, of sorts, where he’s got a split personality. One minute, his face contorts into the completion of all meaness (cute alert!!!) and the next, the softness and heroic nature of angel Michael returns (Yay!! Peace & calm for mommy!).

I’m the target of his wrath when he’s all devil-faced and vengeful, because, here, he attempts to spit in my face (and sometimes wins). He tumbles me to the ground. He declares I’ll be ruined, I’m bad and a goner! He pulls with all his might trying to get me into the lake of fire. He yells at me. I’m in for it.

It’s the match of all matches.

And, I still can’t figure out why angel-face hardly ever shows up? I’m left fending against his wild and unpredictable attacks, his yells and pushes. I try to do my best but it gets tiring and sometimes I feel like giving up. I have to be on guard for his quick moves. I have to anticipate what is happening next: a diversion, a distraction, a mean word, a pull, a push or a tug.

Undoubtedly, it’s a wrestling match.

If I don’t fight, I lose.
If I don’t stand up for myself, I’ll fall into that lake.
If I don’t press in, He’ll pin me down.
If I don’t speak back against his lies that I am bad, I’ll give in to them.
If I don’t speak the truth, I’ll feel injured, debased and abused.
If I don’t push back a bit, I’ll be punished by the ridicule of his words.

Fighting against the devil is a wrestling match; if you don’t push back, you be mentally pushed where you don’t want to go. You’ll believe things, God doesn’t want you to believe. You’ll go places, God never intended you go.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12

The fight is real! R.E.A.L. Really happening.

Yet, to stand firm, to remain in faith and to preserve our heart, we must, like I wrestled against my son, fight back: He moves in with a sly word, a mistruth, we push back, with a Word from God. He tries to spit out doubt God will really help through prayer, we get down on our knees and pray anyway. He yells loudly we’re so stupid and always failing, and we declare even louder that Christ’s power is perfected in our weakness. He grabs our leg to pull us into temptation, to slowly move us where we never intended to go, we say, “Not a chance I’m going there! That will remove me from the joy, peace and purposes of the Lord!”

We get really serious about wrestling to win. Not in a way where we are afraid to lose, because, Great is our power over the enemy, thanks to Jesus Christ. But, in a way where we know the lies, the pulls, the beginnings of a match when we see one. Then, we engage to win.

And, guess what, we do. He can’t touch us.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Eph. 6:11

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When Others are Thinking ____ about You

Others are Thinking

I sat in the group. I remember it clear as day. She thinks I’m a know it all, a God-goody two shoes, a high and mighty bible thumper.

My shoulders tucked under, my eyes looked down, I almost immediately clammed up, turning into myself and away from them.

There’s no use in being me because being me – is far too much for them. I am coming across too strong, so I need to appear more weak. Appear weak, and they’ll like you. They’ll want you. You won’t intimidate them or throw them off because of your intensity, strength or willingness. You’ll pacify everyone and then you can go and eat that brownie after the group, hungry for it. But, hollow and empty on the inside. 

Do you ever hide yourself to appease others? Restrain who you are to make sure others aren’t put off?

It happened again to me yesterday. She’s going to be jealous when she hears about this. Should I not do it? Brush it under the carpet and pretend it isn’t happening?  Out of guilt, respond to her with some sort of sundae-with-a-cherry-on-top offering that will make her smile again? 

Do you ever confuse serving others with taking care of them because of your own guilt?

Guilt makes a woman do all sorts of nasty stuff, things that God never assigned her to do. She gives up a part of herself. She gets involved in the constant cycle of thinking about others emotions. She signs away her dreams to makes sure others pick up theirs. She forgets about God’s heart to care for others and thinks she’s the Good Shepherd.

God is the only Good Shepherd. He calls us to care for people from a place of love, not guilt. Why?

Because actions out of obligation lead to destruction:

Resentment
Frustration
Regret
Irritation
Bitterness
Retaliation

How do you know if you’re operating from a place of guilt and not love? If you’re leaving behind God’s calling to remediate someone else’s, you’re on the wrong path. If you’re trying to fix someone’s problems to make your own heart feel happy again, you’re on the wrong path. If you’re coming to the rescue of people who feel insecure, and your changing your identity to meet them, you’re on the wrong path. This is a guilt-offering, not a God offering, nor a good offering.

Love instead, works like this:

God, in his timing and in his way, will take care of them.
He’ll instruct me on the way I should go.
I am not the manager, fixer or orchestrator of others’ feelings.
Often the best way to love is to make space for God to swoop in with his rescuing love.
Not everyone was happy with Jesus, even when he did God’s will, not everyone will be happy with me.K
Sometimes the higher calling is the low road, where discomfort is.
God leaves behind no one and he won’t leave me behind as I am true to who he’s created me to be.
I can follow through on God’s callings, no matter what others think, say or do.

I can say no.
I can be true to who God created me to be.
I can go my own way, have my own opinion and stand firm.
I can relax and love as God calls me to, rather than how my insides demand I do.

What would our life look like if we were unhinged from having to tie up everyone’s shoelaces? Would we then allow ourselves the ability to look up and see God’s unique callings?

How might we thrive? How might we minister rather than manipulate? How might love grow within us then bloom so that many can be changed by its beauty?

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Circling Fat: How to Deal When Beauty Is Threatened

Beauty Is Threatened

She looked at herself in the mirror, all 3-years of her life, and sized up her outfit. Her dress had layers of tulle, her face had a smile and her pigtails were long, nearly reaching her shoulders. She waved her head a bit and considered them as I said she looks, “Oh so cute…”

“Are they all going to laugh at me mommy?”

She’s already asking herself this question? God, please don’t let this question rule her life, like it had mine.

Oh how I didn’t want her valuing her worth on no-filter 3 year olds with mouths that sound like waterfalls of ruthlessness.  Oh how I didn’t want her to determine her beauty based on comments. Oh how I didn’t want her living her life based on others opinions. Oh how I didn’t want her to pander to mankind. Oh how I didn’t want her to lose herself.

My heart sunk.

“No Madison. I think you look fabulous. But, even if they do laugh. You know who sees you? Who loves you? God does. Always.”

I deeply worried my words would fall empty, repeated words, landing in the great abyss of things moms speak, but are never truly heard. Please, God, no!  I could almost see the thieves of school, boys and society snatching truth from her. Ripping it out of her heart. Claiming it as theirs.

How do I seal up beauty within her?

We headed downstairs. Me? A million questions stirred. Can I really do this? Will she ever know? She is more than a cute dress. Her small hand clenched mine.

“Mommy, do you think he will like my dress?” She looked longingly at me, inquiring about her brother.

I shrugged, already overwhelmed with the barrage of thoughts firing off in my mind.

We made it to the kitchen.

Son stared at her. She stood there.

He looked at her. She waited.

He formed his hand into a known symbol: a big thumbs down sign.

What?!  What in the stinkin’ world?

And, as if every single one of my insecurities was highlighted, I felt completely and entirely angry! Furious. I felt like my very own son had degraded – me!!! Her!!! Every single woman who ever wanted to feel good about herself!

But, he hadn’t.

As he put it, he was kidding.

But, as I saw it, it was no joke. He transformed. My son was all those people who hurt me. He was every single detractor of my worth. He was completely wrong.  He was messing up my daughter. He was in trouble: I badgered him. I nagged him to say he was sorry. I came down on him. I was unforgiving. I was obnoxious.

I projected my fear, to try to protect my heart from the past.

Do you ever do this?

We might be prone to project when:

  1. We respond super sensitively.
  2. We make comments predictors of our worth, then hate others.
  3. We become a punisher.
  4. We are extremely, overwhelmingly and exceedingly angry at a person.

Yes, my son was rude, but projecting had made me a monster. That’s usually what it does.

And, so, here I sit. Guilty? Yes. Totally.

But, forgiven? Yes. Completely.

I am not perfect. Neither are you.

The fact of the matter is we are all still working through our pain with God, aren’t we? We are all still realizing the areas we’ve once been hurt, aren’t we? We are all still in the process of letting redeemer redeem the beauty we once lost, aren’t we?

God forgives. And, my son will forgive me too. I will tell him my story: a story where I was put down, hurt and let down by the world, a world that can pick people apart instead of loving them.

I will let him know how I never want to do that to him. And, to daughter? I will hold her hand through life, keep my voice next to her ear, relinquish control and let God take the lead. I will trust that even in her hard moments, he won’t let go of her hand.

All through the month of February you will find freedom messages on Jami’s blog about the truth about how Jesus feels about you. From our darkest fears to our greatest folly He is with us – and for us!  You can check out these posts by following this link

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called A must read, Breathtakingly honest and a Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear. Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When Life Falls on You

When Life Falls

This morning, I walked downstairs and pulled open my cabinet. Bleary-eyed, I reached for a Keurig pod and lamented that the counters weren’t wiped last night. I pull open a drawer. The silverware is askew. Random items are hodge-podged all over the drawer.

Hours later, reach into the cabinet above my computer. Paper nearly falls on my head. This time, rather than trying to shut the door quickly, I stare at it. It looks like a hurricane hit a lawyer’s office. I hate it. I hate myself.

What if someone sees this mess?
What if someone knew behind the white doors of my life,
there is mayhem and mismanagement?

What if someone knew I don’t fold my kids clothes, but just stuff them in drawers? Or that a room in my basement is dedicated to boxes – of piled up junk? Or my garage never fits my cars?

What if someone saw – I look disheveled?

Not enough. Imperfect. Not so good.

What I am inclined to do – is fear: I’ll never be better than me. I’ll never meet the standard I am supposed to. I’ll always have hidden mess. And, for all this, you’ll surely abandon me. Judge me, too.

I hide things.

What fear makes you want to hide? What makes you want to stuff things away?

This mere method marks a woman with shame. Anytime we hide rather than turn towards God and thrive, we abide in shame. It’s simple.

This is why I wrote the book Fear Fighting. I was tired of hiding and running; a girl is never seen when she does this. The core of who God made you to be – is out of sight. Not only this, but the constant shuffling of feet to keep your heart calm and in control, wears on a soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jo. 14:27

If Jesus already left me perpetual peace, I no longer have to live a habitual war…

I don’t have to live in constant fear. The idea thrills me!

Jesus will bind my wounds.
He will release me from the bars that contain me.
He will take what I feel powerless to change and love on it.
He will see my mess, hold it and rework it.
He will accept me no matter what.
He will lead me to new found peace.

I want more. Do you?

Fear Fighting was my desperation cry to God. I wanted to stop trembling with uncertainty so I could walk with certainty into God’s greatest callings. I wanted to leave behind trepidation so I could walk with bold dedication into his purposes. I wanted to exchange jealousy and comparison for the life-charging power of love and grace.

I called out; God answered. I prayed; he healed. I showed him what is behind the doors of my life; he embraced me. I continue this cycle often. This is a fear fight.

Perhaps you discover how God’s perfect love casts out fear in your messy moments. Join the Fear Fighting movement. Order your book today.

Bloggers, there are 3 things you should know:
1. I’d love for you to join the Fear Fighting Writers Contest. Win a publisher, agent or marketing appointment, with my all-star team.

2. Will you bless me? I am trying to get the word out on #Fearfightingbook. Share my 4 Day to Fearless Challenge! Help you readers get fearless. 

3. Join Cheerleaders 4 Christ, if you haven’t. We’ll be giving away a bunch of free stuff in the coming days.

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One Holy Connection

I was recently at a friend’s house with some other gals and the subject of prayer came up.
We all agreed our heart’s desire was to stay in the presence of God more and the best way to do this was through prayer. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and that does seem to be the logical way to stay connected because God is always listening. (Psalm 34:15)

But how in the world do we pray without ceasing when our distractions never cease to end?

We talked about food fasting (you can read about this numerous places in the Bible, Luke 2:37, Matt 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Matt 6; 16-18) but the two who were hypo-glycemic (yes I was one of them—I get hangry) nixed the idea. So for that night we went our separate ways with no solution.

The next morning one of my friends texted a brilliant idea on how we could remind ourselves to pray. She didn’t present it as a challenge but being the competitive gal I am I took it as a challenge. A holy one.

She said the phone was her biggest distraction. The plan was, if her phone rang she would answer it (might be one of her kiddos) but if she wanted to look at Facebook, text, Instagram, email, or Google, she would offer up a prayer first.

Fast the phone and feed the prayer.

It was a brilliant idea to me because I pick up my phone like a nicotine addict lights up a cigarette. If I’m bored, nervous, sad, hungry, agitated, frustrated, impatient, or fidgety I pick it up.  I thought, if I were to pray before I lit up my phone, others would be blessed and in the process I’d get a blessing of being less bored, sad, agitated, frustrated, impatient and fidgety.
Perks of staying in God’s presence.

It took me a couple of tries to get in the habit but that’s exactly what it became—a habit.

A praying habit.

I prayed while I was driving. I prayed while I was shopping. I prayed while I was exercising. Every time I heard an alert on my phone I prayed or praised God.

And this is what ihappened:

~ I became much more aware of time and space and what I was doing with each. I must have prayed 25-30 times between when I started in the morning and dinner.

~ I felt more connected to God. (But I guess so, we talked a lot!)

~ My attitude and the quality of my day changed. I couldn’t contain my joy and I shared with everyone else what I was doing.

~ And with all this I came to understand a deeper meaning to the verse in Proverbs 3:5-6. “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 keep your paths straight.”

That’s exactly what happens when you pray without ceasing. You are in a virtual all day extended conversation with The Almighty, asking Him about your every step.

And this phone thing, it had a pleasant ring. The message began spread.

I shared it with this sweet woman who owns a gift shop I frequent. And about an hour later my friend who unknowingly gave me the challenge walked in the door and the shop owner shared it with her!

I told another girlfriend about it and she told her mother…and so on.

The Holy Spirit sets our hearts a blaze when we pray.

Today I challenge you my friend, if only for a day, to use your phone as a prompt to pray. And share it with someone else. See what a difference it makes in your life and the lives for whom you offer petitions.

And if you choose to take this challenge I will make this guarantee:

When you light up the heavens instead of your phone you’ll not only get better reception but you’ll also get a holy connection every time!

May God bless you as you stay connected to Him.

Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump and twist in the road.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 

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Christy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law (soon to be grandmother), mentor, and speaker. Her passion is to encourage women to move forward, and press on while seeking God’s presence in every bump and circumstance they encounter.

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

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

More Reading:

Peace Restoration Prayer

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

We Can Make Our Plans

plans

Post By: Angela Parlin

I had a plan for the weekend.

I stuffed an entire suitcase. I packed outfits and shoes for each day. I gathered journals & pens & vitamins & snacks. I confirmed a hotel room. I cleaned the car, inside and out.

I looked forward to enjoying the company of some long-distance friends. I was all ready—to run out the door, to drive down the road with a friend, and to soak up all kinds of help I needed at this weekend retreat.

I’ll be honest, it had been a long week at home. First, some of the kids were home from school a few days with coughs, and then my oldest struggled through a high fever for days.

And then something worse happened. I–the Mama taking care of everyone else–started to feel sick.

At first I tried to deny it and told myself I was okay. Mind over matter, right? I tried to stick to the plan. To not be sick.

But hours later, I knew. I was not heading out the door for anything, especially a fun weekend retreat.

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Jeremiah 10:23

I may have had a plan, but my plan was not going to happen.

I’m a fan of making plans. I think we all are, really. We may not all be the Type-A, schedule all the hours, write-it-all-down kind of planners, but we all make plans. It’s a part of life.

I’m also a fan of my plans working out the way I plan. Anybody else? {Sidenote: So God made me a Mom—to give me lots of practice dealing with the opposite.}

These last few weeks of sickness were a good reminder that I have so little control over my days, my plans, and the steps I take. But even more than that, it reminded me that I am fully dependent on the Lord.

And this we will do, if God permits. Hebrews 6:3

In the verse above, the writer of Hebrews declares our complete dependence on the Lord, in 8 little words.

Just before this verse, he encouraged the believers to move forward toward maturity, so that they wouldn’t need to be taught the basic foundations of their faith repeatedly. God’s plan for each of us includes growth and maturity, and we each play a part in our growth.

But it’s also true that we don’t completely control it.

Instead, we depend on God, even in the area of our spiritual growth. He is the One who opens our hearts and ultimately causes us to grow.

So we purpose to move forward; we plan to do this, and we will, if and when God permits.

We are completely dependent on the God who gives us breath, and sometimes that’s easy to forget.

In our day-to-day lives, especially these days, we have so many tools for self-sufficiency at our disposal, tools like the internet and vehicles and finances and opportunities and planners in our hands.

Even so, our lives are not our own. We live and move and breathe by the will of the Lord our God.

Even when we don’t understand what He’s allowing in our lives, His will triumphs over our own.

Even when we believe the Lord is leading us one way or another, He has the final say.

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9, NLT

On the other side of this illness, once again I am certain. He is good. He is in control. And He is worthy of my trust. Praise the Lord.

///////////

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15, ESV

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Kids hear everything.

A few days ago I received a reminder of this. Even when we think they’re not listening or won’t be interested in the conversation, they hear. They pay attention. And yes, they take interest.

In the process of running my mouth to my husband on a phone call I thought was private, I transferred worry. My eight-year-old son who should be thinking about Santa Claus or how he’s going to finagle his next piece of candy was worrying about his baby sister instead.

Because I was worrying about his baby sister.

Our fears have a way of spreading, don’t they? Like they’re contagious. We think we’re carrying these burdens by ourselves, as though the weight of them may crush us. And then out of nowhere we see the weight is also being carried by others. Other loved ones. Other friends and members of the church body.

The crazy part though? It isn’t being carried in a way that lightens our load. We don’t feel any release. They’re anxious because we’re anxious. Instead of releasing the burden, we hold onto it, unaware of its virus-like effect.

A few days after the phone call with my husband, we put the kids to bed and sunk into the couch, watching mind-numbing TV on Netflix. He told me our son had confided in him about what he’d heard.

“I’m afraid Elise’s heart rate will drop, Dadda,” he had said.

When my husband asked why he was worried about this, big brother said, “Well, Mama is worried her heart rate will drop, so I’m worried too.”

My heart nearly broke.

I realized my son was becoming a mini version of me, fretting about the unknown neither one of us could control.

I thought about all the time I spent racing down endless trails of what-ifs. Now my son was adapting this habit that would only add to the circles under his eyes. The thought of it made me feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, and it wasn’t his baby sister.

A few days later, my mind went to 1 Peter and his thoughts on anxiety.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

I’ll admit, many times I’ve heard these words and thought, “What does that even mean?” The command seemed good in theory, but putting it into practice was vague and muddled to me.

But this time as pondered the verse, I thought about what Peter did for a living: fish. He cast his net repeatedly out into the water, hoping for a catch that would sustain.

Then I thought about how heavy those nets must have been. Like all of our problems we carry day after day, and how releasing that net must have felt like releasing the weight of the world.

Peter was a skilled fisherman, but once he released his net he ultimately had no control over the outcome. The fish could come or swim away. They could fill his net or fill someone else’s.

Casting our cares carries the same concept.

The cast is the release of control. Instead of fretting and running through endless scenarios in an attempt to micro-manage, we release the problem to God.

All the troubles we carried in our net become God’s to bear. The One who was in control all along takes the weight we were never intended to endure.

When I unknowingly cast my worry on my firstborn, he tried to carry it, but his tiny frame was too small. He was never meant to bear its load, so he and I both had to release it to the One who holds the future.

As we cast our nets, we still can’t see what lies ahead. But we know baby sister will be just fine.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby 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.

When Your Picture Is Not Pretty

Picture Is Not Pretty

I saw the truck driver out of the side of my eye from the sidewalk. He was unloading boxes. I shot him a side-smile, halfway knowing he’d get a kick watching me position my kids just right. It was going to be the Fall picture of all Fall pictures, mostly because the backdrop looked autumn-genius – pumpkins, mums and hay looked like artwork. C’mon, this was it! I balked at the beauty. Truck-man didn’t smile back; he just glared.

So, when he approached me, I got scared.

“Do you want to be in the picture with the kids?”

I sized him up all wrong.

You can’t measure a heart in a split-second.

Here he was: a good man breaking out of his timeline of delivering food to deliver us the perfect picture. I appreciated it. Did he know how badly I wanted things to feel perfect? How I wanted my kids to experience the warmth of this season? How I wanted them to see the colors and value in change? How I wanted to know – and remember – I was a good mother?

This picture, I imagined, would be the ones the kids gathered around. It was going to be me- looking cute and them – looking happy. It was going to be me – bringing them places they would love. It was going to be them – full of joy.

No one was going to forget it. Pictures are memorials of good times. And, random picture-takers are angels.

I shoved daughter up on the hay. She hated it. I pushed her up on a pumpkin. She toddler-cursed the seat. No matter where this angel-trucker stood – left,  right, center – I sighed, there was just no money shot. Daughter was done with it. So was I.

Why is it whenever I try to orchestrate good, it goes bad?

And, why do good acts of service so often fail?

Not only did I feel let down, but I felt like I wasted someone else’s time. I burdened him for nothing. Guilt arrived.

What is your dream shot?  Maybe it looks entirely different than expected?

Maybe you look odd? Less than? Or, maybe you feel guilty for wasting people’s time?

Embarrassed? Or, scared, even?

Sometimes, things just pan out – weird, ugly and wrong. And, what you’re left with are images blurred, skewed or haphazard. Ones that catch you with your eyes closed or with a double chin. They show the hatable things.

…The LORD does not look at the things people look at…  (1 Sam. 16:7)

What we look at worthless, God calls worthy…

Our picture is earthly, but God’s is eternal. So, while we see a snip-it, God sees more. He sees past the clothes, the facades and the faces, straight to the heart. He sees all the images lined up, like framed pictures on a wall going up the stairs. He sees our growth, our progress and our love expanding. The pictures please him.

We can’t always see from his view. That’s our real problem…

We don’t see much. We see the here, the now, the tears and the Pumpkin-fits. God sees the gallery in the Museum of his Faithfulness. He sees how the image of mourning gives way to joy 3 steps ahead. He sees how the grief gives way to gladness a couple feet beyond. He sees how mayhem will work itself into peace when his love develops.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness...  Ps. 30:11

Today,  I am encouraged to know beyond the externals, God cares far more about the picture of the internals.
I am encouraged to remember there is a vision to the pictures of my life.
I am encouraged to focus my lens on eternity.

With the filter of eternity, in this picture I see:

  1. We are all fighting to find our seat in life.
    Sometimes we just need another to come behind us to say it is okay to not know because God does.
  2. There is no perfect picture unless you zoom in on Jesus.
  3. What appears like a bad shot will be glorious, tomorrow.untitled-design-19

And, with this, I smile and know – that picture I took? It is a memorial. It’s a marker of imperfection, an image of my growth and a pointer to the glory that awaits. I’ll hold it close and look back on it fondly.

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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