Purposeful Faith

Category - faith

The Best Way Out of Fear

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

All I wanted him to do was pedal.

I pleaded and coerced, ran behind the bike and offered words of encouragement.

“You can do this. You know how. Just keep going.”

But as soon as I let go of the seat, his feet went down. Every time, without fail. And as much as I tried to hide my frustration, I knew it was as obvious as the sweat gleaming on my face.

I wanted him to succeed at this, but I couldn’t do it for him.

We put the bike away for a few weeks and he went back to racing his Dodge Viper around the cul-de-sac. Yes, my six-year-old was driving a nicer car than his Mama, complete with a rechargeable battery, radio and gear shift.

Little brother rode shotgun, occasionally grabbing the wheel and crashing the car into the overgrown flowerbed. A loud mixture of laughter and aggravated shouts poured out of the vehicle.

I buried myself in my latest copy of Hello, Darling and told myself the training wheels would come off eventually. He wouldn’t start high school with them on, right?

Skimming over the pages, one article grabbed me. The authors, both child psychologists, were talking about fear. Yes, this was what I needed. Some sound advice from those who understood how the mind of a child worked.

Their advice? Tell him it was okay to be afraid. Tell him it was okay, but he had to walk through it.

In the words of my favorite poet, Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”

Yet so often instead of confronting the fear, we want to run and hide.

I know. I’m an expert, and I’m sure my son’s behavior was modeled after his mom, the master hider.

When we hide from our fears we do nothing but fuel them.

When we confront them head on and walk through them, we expose them for what they really are: lies. And the father of lies would like nothing more than for us to live life cowering behind a self-made façade of what-ifs.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV

The following day I sat down with my son and the mid-summer heat.

“Hey buddy, you want to give the bike a try again?”

“No.”

He didn’t elaborate.

“Why not?”

He paused, considering his answer.

“Because I don’t want to fall again,” he said in all honesty.

I looked him straight in the eyes and silently prayed my words would sink in.

“Buddy, it’s okay to be afraid. But it’s not okay not to try.”

He stood there, thinking about my words and taking his time. Then he turned on his heels and ran toward the garage, not waiting for me to follow him.

That evening, my son rode his bike without training wheels for the first time. His joy was contagious, and within hours he couldn’t even remember why he was scared.

As I stood there watching, God pressed his message on my heart. While fear of the unknown was as certain as the sunset, my response to it didn’t have to be.

Sometimes we just have to do it afraid.

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*photo credit

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.

Identifying the Lie of Your Life (Part 1)

Identifying the Lie

Do you know your story?

Do you really know it in a way that will guard you against the I-can’t-do-it moments?

I am beginning to know it in this way and it is making all the difference. I am beginning to see the small cracks in my armor.

I can’t do it. Crack.
I won’t succeed. Crack.
I am losing my abilities. Crack.
I won’t be blessed. Crack.
God’s calling is non-existent. Crack.
I have no purpose. Crack.
I will not be led, inspired, helped, released, forgiven. Crack.
I will never be good enough. Crack.

My deep crack was: I can’t write. God hasn’t called me to do this. He is no longer blessing my work.
Underneath this crack, lived surface pressure: God won’t really be for you. He will leave you. Crack.

A crack is just enough for the devil’s foot to grab a hold of a heart.

A crack is just enough to forge a distance of space
between us and the God of our dreams.

A crack is just enough for a foothold of discouragement
to break down faithfulness.

A crack is just enough for him to start
ransacking our holy temples of God.

Which he loves to do. If he can penetrate a crack, he will perpetuate all problems. Days, turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and before you know it, the door to dejection is flung wide open. Suddenly, what you realize is that you are standing there vulnerable, naked, exposed and not sure where to run.

Unaddressed lies turn into a dressing of no protection that move us from
armed by the power of truth to defeated by the cleverness of lies.

Make no mistake, the devil is a carnivore who delights in eating up anything resembling the temple of God. We don’t have to have four legs for him to take a bite of our flesh. We don’t have to be doing bad things to get chewed up and spit out by the one who hates us.

He wants to take our true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) and make it fake, deceitful, unfair, desecrated, horrible, vile and condemnation-worthy.

When our thoughts move to unholy, we become unholy. The second dirty hands leave an imprint, we grow shame at their touching. The second he raises uncertainty, we become certain that God doesn’t love us anymore.

This happened to me. But then I saw it. I saw what changes it all, the way of flipping my heart back into God’s goodness.

Here is what I saw:

1.) An alone, uncertain and unsure 3rd grader. One who for the life of her could not read or write with the other kids. One who knew she would never succeed. One who would never learn. One who couldn’t progress. It’s no wonder she stayed back that year, she was a loser of a writer. The only comfort she lived with, besides her thumb-sucking habits, was the idea that she would always fail.

2.) A grown woman at the will of an abusing woman. An abusive woman who would rip up time-intensive writing works with an air of “how could you?” An abusive woman who was a nightmare by day and literally a nightmare by night. An abusive woman whose degrading and demoralizing taunts still haunt.  A woman who caused an eager-to please employee long-lasting defeat, pain and fear of future criticism because her voice still resounds today.

3.) The devil is one who doesn’t give cause to our small cause, but one who goes after our big, audacious and wild causes for the Lord. He is one who, from day 1, has been trying to savor and steal the blessing the Lord has been baking and preparing our whole life.  He is the one who never wants the timer of “ready” to ring and resound.

What has the Lord been baking
that the devil is hungry to burn?

What central lie, from day 1,
has the devil pounded over you to ensure you crack?

For me, he wanted to burn my belief that I could write, so that I never could write for the Lord.

What is it for you? It has likely been happening from the days of old and he will continue it through days of new if you let him.

He wants us handicapped. He wants us crippled. He wants us unable to walk towards real purpose, real value and real transformation. Jesus wants us free, full and ready to say, “This is my body, take and eat.”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jo. 10:10

Jesus enters into our life to bring life – always and everyday. But, beware, we are being sent you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore we must be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16). Are you this way?

This means, if we are standing firm, we must be careful that we don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12)!  Are you ensuring your good standing before the Lord?

We must “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of (us) has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12) Are you turning away as you analyze and consume yourself in the small cracks of your armor?

The cracks we cannot see, we cannot repair.  

If you don’t want the tectonic plates of your life to shift beyond repair, the time is now to shift your view on all you have believed to be true your entire life.

Join me for Part II, 5 Ways to Fight Back When Under Attack! To get busy with going and doing – we have to come alive to arming. We must arm up in the power of our Most High God to fight back.

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Love Wins Over Impossibility

Love wins

Love sees a wrong and rights it.
Love walks into a heart to open it.
Love loves when it doesn’t feel like it.
Love climbs over tall walls that stand before it.
Love crushes the obstacles surrounding it.
Love sets down swords to bring bouquets of flowers.
Love beats out pain over time,
to touch the most callous heart.

Love doesn’t count the cost.
Love doesn’t add up the damages.
Love doesn’t dwell in the days of old, but sees to the dreams of new.
Love doesn’t lose its pumping arms of endurance.
Love doesn’t move away from always-there, glimmer-of-light hope.
Love doesn’t part from passionate perseverance.
Love doesn’t see eye-constricting anger, but ever-flowing grace.
Love doesn’t forgive once, but 1000 times.
Love doesn’t always feel happy, but finds smiles through prayer.
Love doesn’t always have answers, but seeks God’s solutions.

Love lets the definers and originators
of the word make it come alive. 


When our arms fall down and our back falls back,
Father God, the Son and the Holy Spirit step up.

They teach us the real meaning of the word.

Then we see how love wins even when it feels like it is losing.
Love isn’t easy and Jesus proves that to us.
Love sometimes mean being seemingly nailed and beaten by those we love.
Love still remains.

It still works out. Love knows the alternative to love is hate and hate is the quick funnel to all pain, agony and despair. So love continues on…

Love never fails.
Love seeks truth.
Love fights for itself.
Love continues to die to self, and live to Christ.
Love waits.
Love heals.
Love brings life.
Love wins in the end.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us.

1 Jo. 4:18-19

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Are You Stuck Waiting?

Waiting for Help

I could feel it – but I didn’t want to “feel” it. I didn’t want to deal. I didn’t have time for it.

I was too busy living days of baby insanity –
coping with a screamer who didn’t know night from day or day from night,
that mom sometimes needs 5-minutes without high-pitched wails and
that spit-up is actually the worst kind of perfume.

Babies don’t get all that.

So, even though my legs were going numb and my vision was faltering, I ignored it. Even though it seemed I was wearing 3-D checkerboard glasses of black & white, I said, “Plug on! Mamma, ain’t got time for that.”

Pull, it together, body, you can do it. We have feedings, poopings and sleepings to handle. 

But, as avoidance always does, it catches up; it grabs an just an inch of your leg and doesn’t let go.  It always leaves you with the stark reality of all that is happening and a feeling that you won’t survive.

The words Multiple Sclerosis hit me like a freight train. I longed for those spaces of denial once again. Safe spaces. Known spaces. Comfortable spaces. But, I found myself in hated spaces – waiting rooms.

My waiting rooms turned into fearing rooms with cool magazines and no windows.

My waiting rooms turned into holding cells where worst-case dreams come true.

My waiting rooms turned into agony for ones who hate being hurt.

And, the thing about waiting rooms, is they don’t have to be windowless to trap you. They don’t have to be small to make you claustrophobic with the thought you will never breathe the same again.

I waited to be tested to see if I was going to spend a good part of my life in a wheelchair, to see if the face of my life would be forever changed and tested by God for who knows why.

I wanted to say, “I trust you,” but all I could mutter was “set me free.”  
I wanted to say, “your will be done,” but all I could think was “change my situation.”
I wanted to say, “help all the other people with issues that sit around me,” but I could only whisper “get me out of this torture chamber.”  

Aren’t we all stuck in a place of wait – in one way or another? 

Waiting.
Waiting for a cure.
A release.
A pain to go away.
Deliverance from finances.
A Job Solution.
Children Worries.
Fears.
Family dysfunction.
Relationships.
A legal issue.
An unreachable dream.
A let down.

We are all waiting.

Our waiting rooms can make us feel like an imposition, relying on a paper prescription, that keeps us focused on our affliction. Our waiting rooms seem to hold us captive by an assailant who says, “You will never come through. I will get you.” Our waiting rooms become fights against life, where we always become the projected loser.

What do you when everything is breaking?

When your very body can’t seem to deal with life?

For me, my screaming baby midnight hall walks, turned into screaming midnight baby prayer talks. I called from the depths of my heart for a “great fixing” of all that was wrong. So did my husband, so did countless others.

Sometimes, all you have left to do is pray.

And, sometimes, all you needed to do was pray.

Prayer opens the waiting room door to the Great Physician.

His healing work may not always bind up broken bodies,
but it is always binds up broken hearts.

His surgeries always work,
always bring newness, always surface peace.

His work turns fearing rooms into hoping rooms –
because he clears new room for love.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 Jo. 4:18

My doctors were positive of MS.  My symptoms said yes, but test after test after test – after multiple MRI’s – they still couldn’t fully diagnose me.   So, what was a certain reality, became certainly “not MS.”

God hears prayers. Miracles can – and sometimes do – happen.  But, sometimes the greatest miracle is not the answer to the prayer, but God’s answer in to what plagued our heart. 

He always goes for the greatest healing.

So, don’t give up because you think the great physician has left the office.
Don’t give up because you feel forgotten.
Don’t give up because he is attending to others first.
God has the perfect course of action for you.
He hasn’t forgotten you.
He asks you, will you trust me?
Will you believe that in this wait I have something amazing for you?

And, as we do, he does something amazing.

He changes it all.

Our fearing rooms turn into trusting rooms.
Our holding cells turn into praying cells.
And, our fear turns into a deep knowledge God is near.

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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.

DSC_0509 (1)

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.

Bloggers, share this offer with your readers and with @handsfreemama!

 

 

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Why You Lack Friends

lack friends

You talk too much. Alone.
Your words are simply dissertation on yourself. Alone.
You judge others. Alone.
You live too far. Alone.
You make me feel uncomfortable. Alone.
You don’t go deep enough. Alone.
You are a square peg in the round hole that I have designed for my ideal friend. Alone.
You are only free when I am busy. Alone.
You just didn’t end up being who I wanted you to be. Alone.

No wonder I lack friends right now.

I never intended to feel so isolated and so absent of peace in the friend category, but this is what happens when your standards are higher than Mount Everest, when busyness takes precedence over connectedness and when people become more burden over blessings.

I kind of know it is my fault. I do. I have forgotten the fact that unity, relationships and bonds are a calling. When you are called to something, sometimes the jog over to the destination is a bumpy road filled with pot-holes, but all the same – you go the distance – for God.

God will always give the “go,” when all appears impossible. We simply rely on him and he shows us His way.

I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.… Eph. 4:2

Paul tells us we can do it.

We can walk like people who know, in the end,
their God will take care of them.

We can go in humility, making way for people’s weaknesses. What better way is there to show someone you love them?

We can show tolerance – loving others just as they are, exactly as they are. What better way is there to confirm to our heart that God loves us just the same way?

We can show patience that excuses the mishaps that drive us nuts. What better way is there to become a person that doesn’t drive others nuts with high demands?

We preserve the unity of the Spirit knowing that if this person is a brother or sister in Christ we are bonded forever. What better cause for celebration and unity is there?

The result is staggering. It feels worthy of a jump-up-and-down celebration and a big victory arm raise to my bond-decayed heart: God bonds me over again with his bond of peace.

What is better than that? Suddenly, what looks fallen apart has hope for being pulled back together again.

It’s making sense. While I thought peace was found by running from the horribly unpeaceful, I’m seeing, sometimes, it’s about submitting to the seemingly awful.  As we release our high demands, our relationships fall into better hands. Hands that heal, rather than steal our joy.

Friendships aren’t just about me; I am learning. It seems obvious, but sometimes it can be, oh, so hard.

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Linking with #FiveMinuteFriday and #DanceWithJesus.

God Sees

God Sees

Post By: Angela Parlin

Sometimes I feed my children an improper view of God.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but let me explain what I mean.

My (tween) boys love to play Minecraft on the desktop computer in our office-turned-schoolroom. Our oldest takes an online course which teaches him to code Java, and the class uses Minecraft as the platform to teach advanced coding.

So of course, he and his brother need to play in the worlds he creates, to see that it all comes together the way he planned.

I’m good with that. But only if they play by the rules.

In our house, the rule for using any kind of computer or video screen is–Ask First. Because there are a number of important things (like schoolwork) that must be done first. Not only that, but I’ve read too many articles about screen-time turning young minds to mush, and so I limit their time. About this, my boys are thrilled.  🙂

Evenso, the temptation is strong for them, to turn on the computer and click on the little Minecraft icon.

Sometimes I find them playing without permission, so I created a password for them to type in each time they turn on the computer.

The password I created? GOD-SEES.

Just a little reminder.

Just a harmless little reminder. Right? But no.

Recently, I read Psalm 32:8 on a friend’s blog, and it left me thinking about my snappy little password.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

What am I really saying to them when I’m saying God Sees?

I realized that my point was not that His loving eye was upon them.

I wasn’t exactly trying to say God will guide you because He loves you and desires the very best for you.

I realized I was feeding them the idea that the Lord is just watching for them to make a mistake. That He’s present where they play, but He’s waiting to zap them with a punishment, the way Mom sometimes assigns an extra chore or gives them sentences to write when they disobey.

But I was wrong. I don’t want my kids to believe God is just watching in order to punish them.

I want them to remember God’s loving eye is on them,
to guide them toward choices that are best for them.

I want them to understand He desires to lead them toward freedom and success, not always in the way we define success, but His way.

I want them to know His eye on them is the gift of His presence–at all times, in every place. That He wants to know them all the way down to their hearts, because of the depths of His love for them.

I also want them to want to know the Lord–to look into His heart and see who He really is.

My mistake led to an important conversation between my boys and me, and God used it to lead all of us back to the truth. I changed the computer password to what I really wanted to remind them to do in the first place–AskMom1st.

I hope we’ll never forget that God Sees—but that we’ll remember God sees all of us with His loving eyes.

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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.

 

It Is Not My Fault

Not my Fault

This was kind of a thing in my house. If something went missing into the great abyss and you were at that point (you know, the one where your ready to pull out every last hair), the accusations would start flying.

Suddenly, all people in the house became, not family members, but culprits.  Bad guys, not common blood. Offenders, not friends – who should be charged, judged and accused. Suspicions would run high. Who misplaced that item?

Why is it so easy to point the finger?
To blame?
To say something like, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

I at because of him!
It wasn’t me!
You see that bite in the apple? Not may fault!
Him! That one! Look over there.
Blame him.

We hunt for relief from our shame, a shelter from the burden, a hope that we don’t have to carry its load. Can I offload on you?

God’s big lesson is less in Eve’s response and more in his question, “What is this you have done?” Gen. 3:13

He knew what she did, but wanted her to know too.

Hitting a hard realization, often pushes us away from immediate rationalizations.

Knowing he sees us, is knowing we can’t pull a fast one on the great one.

The beginning of recommission, often starts at admission.

In fact, just hearing his voice – and answering it – makes us immediately aware of where we stand – naked and hiding in a bush deathly afraid. 

We push away our sin on to someone else because we don’t want it to land on us. It would wreck our good girl image, our seemingly great place and space in God’s garden, our joy in being free as a child of God, or so we think.

So, we scramble and pick up the gameboard of God’s players and try to scramble the board, we mess up progress in a way where no one knows who did what – hoping that chaos will realign the whole mat.

But, we forget who the master player is, don’t we? The one who stands it all the whole time. Just like a kid getting ready to cheat, our moves are made from the same place – we want to win in the end.

I do. I don’t want to disappoint him. I don’t want to let him down. I want to stay child – numero uno. I want to be in good graces. I want to still be loved.

And, that, right there, is the greatest lie of the devil isn’t it? That if we bite into the apple that we will never be loved again. He gets us on that one.

It’s our biggest fear, it’s what makes us rip off our clothes in shame, hide in a bush and beat our knees together out of a pulsating heart of fear.

But, here, we listen to the wrong voice. The other voice, the voice of God says, “You can’t do something that will ever make me stop being something, doing something or giving something for you.” 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro. 8:38-39

When we stand on God’s ground, we stand on loved ground.

When we find Christ, we are branded as his.

When we find love, we can’t be thrusted outside of its confines, no matter how bad we act.

With these anchors as our holders, we can be okay with God’s instruction that “each one should carry their own load.” Gal. 6:5  

We can carry our own load, because Christ carried his all the way to the point that complete forgiveness was poured out.

In the end, we will be okay. We will be pulled in tighter than a mom with a loved child. We will be held close as our mouths force out the words, “I am sorry.” We will find the lesson under the mat of the gameboard and it will bring us closer to God.

We will look at ourselves and see – we were wrong.

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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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Fight Trials Like Jesus

Fight Trials Like Jesus

What if Jesus was ready to redefine the way you endure hardships?
Would you listen?

What if – rather than trying to run from that tsunami of terror,
you were to find some peace as you head into it?

For me, it sounds kind of crazy, because normally when I see trials on the horizon I ball up like a hundred and one rubber bands balled up and ready to break at the same time. My tension is high, my anticipation is big and my worries run fast.

Jesus though, didn’t run from what threatened him, he threatened what tried to make him run.  We may not think of Jesus as an aggravator or a reprimander, but hold tight, because in one way his strategy was just this.

Before we get into that, Jesus teaches us much about resetting our mindset when we are being set up to be torn down.

Here’s how his ways can restructure ours:

People hated Jesus for no reason. Jo. 15:25
He said they will hate us too.

God had the power to save him from suffering through prayer. Mt. 26:42
Prayer is the one door that never closes. When we walk through it we always find God.

His “kingdom did not belong on here.” Jo. 18:36
When we know our true home, we don’t get as concerned when our earthly one gets ransacked.

He had complete authority, always and at every minute. Jo. 19:11
When we know that Jesus is in complete control, suddenly we realize he holds the handle on all that wants to sweep us under.

“I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Jo. 15:11
If Jesus could find some happiness in the road leading to death, we can too.

Jesus knew he was under control of the one completely in control.

To walk Jesus’ walk, we have to walk, like him, doubtless and faith-full.

I get Jesus’ approach, because every time I let the doubts creep in, the faith creeps out.

The devil said,

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

The devil challenged Christ’s ability, status and loyalty.

Do you ever feel challenged in doubts of what you can do,
what God can do for you and how he will get you through?

Jesus, doesn’t stick around playing games with these kinds of words, these change agents of faith, instead he fights back by:

1. Using the word of God as his best weapon.
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mt. 4:4

2. Telling what is bad, what is full of questions about God, to move aside.
Away from me, Satan! Mt. 4:10

3. Knowing who is in control of all control that ever controlled and that will control.
For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Mt. 4:10

When the devil started to show Jesus a way out of the trial, Jesus knew, sometimes the calling is through the fire. He wasn’t going to sit around while his strength was depleted.

Even when the man after God’s own heart, Peter, spoke doubts as he pulled Jesus aside, Jesus spoke: “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.” Mk. 8:33

If we think like God, God will help us think in a way where we endure, where we make it, where we aren’t burdened, but blessed by our trials.

He will get us through.
He will hold our hand.
He will fight on our behalf.
He will pave a way to eternity.
He will lead us in all truth.
He will hold us on the pillow of his love.
He will not leave our side.

Let’s fight back like Jesus.

When we do, we will see, like Jesus that:

God is for endurance and the devil is for discouragement.
Doubts pull us away from our mission, yet faith commissions.
The Word of God is the Word that helps.
God’s control, brings our heart under control.

Fight trials like Jesus. Go in his faith. Know that God is with you.

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