Purposeful Faith

Category - Freedom

When It’s Their Fault

Their Fault

I sang and danced and swirled and twirled. I had no care in the world. I paid no attention to my foot caught on the hem underfoot or my strap halfway down my young arm. None of that mattered. What mattered was that I felt alive, beautiful and one with creation.

their fault

What happened to that little girl?

The one who gave no care to her off-pitch high notes?  The one who heard not catcalls of criticism, but simply her voice of freedom? The one who gave no merit to outside perceptions, but just God’s wild affirmations?  Somewhere along the line, she got buried.

It’s always easy to blame others, They broke me.”

They broke me with pointed words, “What’s wrong with you, Kelly? Wake up, you self-absorbed one.”
They injured me in ways that people don’t talk about over coffee.
They pointed out my big nose, loud voice and my bouffant hair.
They made it clear I was destined to be a loser.

In school, I remember things. We all had a papier-mâché project. You put a little something in your balloon, you’d shove in a little figure of sorts, then blow up the balloon. After that, you’d add doused paper on top – lots of doused paper. You cover that balloon right up, layer upon layer. The balloon got hard.

I am like that balloon – 3-inches covered by guilt and shame. You too?

Their Fault

“People stole care-free from me.” I yell to God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Ro. 12:2

God speaks to me,
“Kelly, you can relive the past in your mind
or you can renew your spirit with my mind, the mind of Christ?

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Half of me is so accustomed to assigning other people blame for my pain. It’s hard to turn away from a comfortable seat well worn. But, the other half of me realizes if I want to be new, if I want to get up and go, I’ve got to turn another direction. I want to believe it is well with my soul.

I close my eyes. Can I find her? The liberated, dancing singer?  

I know she’s under there, under the fortified covering of papier-mâché, somewhere…

God calls me friend.
God names me, daughter.
I am his love.
The very pursuit of his greatest affections.
A layer of paperweight peels off me…

He sees me, my beauty.
He writes my name on his hand.
He cuddles me in feathers.
He’s my bodyguard, ever-protector, forevermore.
The balloon is seen again…

He leads me.
He unveils his master plan for me.
He tends to my soul.
He teaches and transforms,
molds and makes me,
helps me.
The balloon pops…Bang!

And that little figure? The one tucked deep away, inside the covered balloon? It surfaces. I finally see it. Except there’s one thing I notice, that strikes me – funny. The figure looks nothing like me. It looks like Jesus.

As I strip off the layers that cover me, I see – Jesus, the very power of God, living in me.

I find who I am, through the great I AM.
I release my potential through his power.
I reignite my passion as I draw from his paternal love.

I never needed people to approve me, but Christ to move in me.

But because of his great love for us, God,
who is rich in mercy,
 made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions…(Eph. 2:4-5)

God brings me back to the heart of who I was created to be. What love, I loved, he loves. I see this when I realize I am alive with Christ.

their fault

When I grab his hand and let him take the lead, he leads me to still waters, to new hope and to a new dance that sings his glory.

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When Sharing Makes You Embarrassed

makes embarrassed

Bzzzt…the green radio waves signaled…I was on! I was live.

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“Can I just vent? Everything’s going wrong… Remember how my husband went out of town last week? Well, the second he leaves, daughter started exploding the worst vile out of her mouth. I couldn’t get her head to toilet fast enough; the stuff went all down my leg. Finally, husband gets back home – and he gets sick! Days later, son starts shooting water out. Now I have it. Add that to the cold that’s coming on…and I haven’t even told you about yesterday! Oh, don’t start me on yesterday! I spent nearly all day convincing the military (I mean, employees) at the Motor Vehicle association that my documents were valid, acceptable and pleasing. It was the greatest defense case of my life – and I fought it out groggy head and all. I lost. I ended up driving 2 hours to get an updated marriage certificate – one that is “acceptable” to Homeland Security, which means it has different colors on it. I guess what’s acceptable just changed recently. Who knew? This morning I also poked my eyeball out – hard – with a sharp object sticking out of my son’s bookbag.” Bleep…

Bzzt… “Ladies, it’s when twenty things pile on, that’s when I want to – die.” Bleep…

Now, let me tell you – these other bleeping women? They are my best blogger friends (Abby, Angela, Christy, Jami, Katie & Karina) – and they are about as caring and welcoming as a grandma with a hot plate of cookies. They love and then heap second helpings on your plate. It is how they are; I love them.

So, with all this said, why the bleep did I feel so horrible after I talked to them?

“They’re going to label me a complainer.”
“They’re going to think I don’t have Jesus in me.”
“They’re going to wonder why I am not more positive.”

‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4:2′

This verse proves I am a failure. I am a “bad, bad girl”.

Considering this, my off-kilter heart transports right back to 3rd grade. I had talked out of turn. I always did. The teacher had me kneel 4-hours in front of the Holy Mother of God, Mary. She stood high. My knees went numb. Mary’s virgin eyes laid into me. They whispered, “Bad, bad girl.” 

Help me God…

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I’m a bad, bad girl who doesn’t do good.
A bad, bad girl who makes others cringe.
A bad, bad girl who makes cheerful hearts go sour.
A bad, bad girl who will never “get it.”

My knees went home red that day, my heart went home injured. The lesson was learned: I was bad. Mary agreed.

So, today, I sit and wrestle with 3 questions.

1. Does discontentment disqualify me from being good?

If Jesus died to lay his very goodness over me, then his goodness is what I carry. Goodness is not dependent on a passing feeling or a state of mind – it is dependent on what was already accomplished on the cross.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14).

You did not choose me, but I chose you.. (Jo. 15:16)

2. Is sadness or frustration – a sin?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

According to the verse above, who cries? ___        Someone troubled- and likely sad.

Now, what does God do for these sad people? _____ He hears them.

Does he label them? ___ Well, yes, he does. He labels them – righteous.

The ones who cry out to God from the pit of pain certainly are labeled, but they are aren’t labeled shameful. They’re labeled righteous. While the enemy wants us to believe we are horrible, God just believes – his children are good.

3. Does my pain need to be squelched because it is dreadfully sinful, horrible and disturbing to man?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

When we cry to God, take a close look at what happens. Notice, God does not say: When the righteous cry out, the Lord tells them to hush up, pull it together and come back when they can put a smile on their face.

On the contrary. When the righteous cries, he hears and then delivers. He understands and then provides a way. He leans closer and then, like a good daddy, provides.

Jesus understands pain. He took it. He knows struggle. He lived through it. He felt emotion. He also cried. Our feelings weren’t given to us to be hated. They weren’t created by God to be called “bad, bad things.” They were handed down to us because God wants to hold them for us, care for them and show us how much he can provide.

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When Life Goes Not Good, Not Good at all!

Not Good at all

I love Annie’s all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies and only the all-chocolate graham cracker bunnies.

At this point, you are probably asking 2 questions:

  1. Why is she telling us this?  I promise there will be a good point.
  2. Why is she eating something so childish as that? Because I try to pretend my kids love them.

So, sometimes, with these all-chocolate graham bunnies, they run out of stock (probably because they are so amazing). Then I have to settle for the mixed bag – with vanilla and chocolate chips. I try to pick out my favorites. But, my all-time fave bunnies, well, they don’t taste the same- the other flavors rub off on them.

Almost every time, after I do that, I vow not to buy that mixed bag again. But, yesterday, I did. My sugar craving won over bad memories.

When I sat down with the bag at home, I considered…

What if I saw things differently?

What if rather than expecting that these bunnies taste exactly as planned,
I expect a different plan,

but not an all-together bad plan?

What if rather than pushing my demands,
I open myself up to delight in these bunnies as they are – in a new way?

I can accept:

They won’t be as flavorful as before, but different.
They won’t crunch exactly the same, but different.
They won’t be my all-chocolate bunnies; but different.

I crunched, munched and considered them a whole bunch…and by golly, I liked them. I really liked them. I do like green egg and ham, or rather the vanilla-coated chocolate bunnies in my hand.

If I failed to consider them from a new angle,
I would have failed to grasp the joy present in the moment.

How might you need to see things from a new angle?

What might God be prompting you to let go of – so you can grab hold of – a new view?

Times change. People move on. Days look different. Life evolves, turns and seasons change. And what I find can be the hardest thing to contend with are good times, gone. Good memories, lost. Good laughs, evaporated.

What is it you are still grasping for – that is long gone?

Might you consider a new angle?

Perhaps what is good is gone, because what is great – is coming.

Have you considered that?

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Is. 43:19

When we look at a job as dead-end, we miss the little path God has jutting out to a new opportunity. When we see a marriage as failed, we miss the rail that leans us onto God’s great love. When we see finances as doomed, we miss the door God wants to open to save us. When we see our anxiety as endless, we miss the small prompting of new life God calls us to. When we see life only as overwhelming, we miss the wind of God directing us where to go.

What are you missing?

Maybe something has taken new form because God wants your heart to take new form.

We are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

Next time something seems lost, paused or different than expected, ask yourself these three things:

  1. Might God be doing “a new thing”?
  2. Am I open armed or closed armed to his movement?
  3. Will I believe that God is moving me from glory to glory,
    or will I walk against his wind, trying to step back into an old story?

Friends, I know it is hard. I hate it too. I stomp my feet, I chide change and I turn my back on things outside of comfortable. But, I am going to assure you – and me – we are not sitting with a mixed bag of blah. What we are sitting with is a bag of blessings. God is moving us into spiritual progress, greater spiritual blessings. There is fullness God so desires we enjoy.

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When Those Who Wander Get Lost

Wander Lost

Post By: Angela Parlin

I tore through the woods behind our home barefoot, chasing two tiny dachshund puppies, on repeat.

I was a young puppy Mom, and Bailey and Bear were my sweet, scrappy baby boys. They were fearless, but only because they were also clueless. They could sniff out a door open for adventure, faster than I could grab my shoes.

Bailey and Bear were happy at home, let me tell you. Spoiled rotten actually. It wasn’t that they wanted to leave our home, but they were made for the hunt. They loved to make us happy, but they also lived to chase after squirrels and birds and other puppy dog friends.

They were prone to wander beyond the walls of our home, beyond the confines of our fenced backyard.

It stressed me out to no end. I felt like a crazy woman. But when they ran? I ran after them. Because they were my babies. And while I believed they were the most adorable dogs ever made, I also knew their brains were small. Their hunting instinct and tunnel vision overpowered their intelligence, and I wasn’t going to let them get hurt. I wasn’t going to lose them…

Come on over to Angela Parlin’s blog  to see how our Father comes after us also. Bring your encouraging linkup post, as she’s hosting the #RaRaLinkup this week!

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Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Post by: Jami Amerine

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

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

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

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

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

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

The door shut and a sob escaped me.

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

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

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

And that picture is burned in my mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

Will you let me own this hurt?

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

Can I Just Stay Here a Little While?

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

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

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

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3 Ways to Remain In God’s Love

Remain In God's Love

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

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

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

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

The Captain knows, what you do not know.

Where are you prone to push ahead?

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

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

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

Standing down is remaining in God’s love.

I don’t do this. Remain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sometimes, Failing Precedes Blessings

failing precedes blessings

There he was, Jesus, tugging the weight of the world on his shoulders, straight up the road to his demise. He trudged along, weighted. He proceeded by faith, bent over. Heart and body, likely splintered. By all accounts, Jesus, looked like he was failing and failing badly, very badly. His Messiah mission fell, His name apparently couldn’t save, His cause was causing people to laugh, mock and taunt him.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Mt. 27:39-40

People anti-worshipped him by outpouring disgust.

“Fix it!” they screamed.
“If you are so great, why do you look so bad?” they yelled.
“If you trust your God, why has he let you down so badly?” they ensued.

Are you hearing the same?

Does it look like you’ve been left on the side carrying failure?

That you are destined to be hurt?

That God isn’t coming through for you?

Sometimes, I feel I am falling into the great abyss of obscurity and aloneness. I see the black storm. I see myself as homeless.

These storms make our future look dim.

We continue to drink, even though we wanted to quit.
We figure we will never shed that last 10 pounds.
We react in anger and try no different.
We gossip, then do it again and again.
We figure we will always be stuck in a dead-end job.
We have no hope for our marraige.
We decide our kids will always be ingrates.
We accept rejection at work and no longer try.
We feel like a sub-par Christian and accept that as truth.
We believe we will always be in debt.
And on and on it goes…but, no doubt about it – it will never end well – for us.

What if Jesus, by all accounts,
saw the circumstances and declared himself destined to be a loser?

He could have –
if he lived by the comments, claims and convictions of the world around him.
If he chose to believe doubts over faith.
If he didn’t believe in a good, good daddy.
If he didn’t know that a Saving God, always saves.

But, he didn’t.

Jesus believed victory was on the brink and didn’t let his mind sink.  

He kept walking…even though.
He kept ministering…even though.
He kept his mind on heavenly…even though.
He thought about forgiving us…even though.
Even though, he was hanging on a limb in gut-wrenching agony.

He thought of us.
He is still is.
He is thinking of you and where you stand.
He is thinking of that standing place as his victory-place.

Will you sink by how you think
or will you rise keeping your eyes on the prize?

I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8

Jesus’ situation looked bleak.
It looked heavy.
It looks so bad the ones he loved ran away in fear.

But here is how it turned out, here is what he was right on the brink of:
He was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive! (1 Cor. 15:4)

He is still alive and still saving us.
He is still alive and still pleading for us.
He is still alive and still making a way for us.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.
And so through 
him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 1:20)

His answer to your heart is – yes! Yes, he will do the amazing for you, according to his will, if only you believe.

And we all say, Amen.

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Does God Really Care about Me?

Does God really care

Normally I think about all that I am not.

I am not as good as the other girls with big, bright and shiny blogs.
I am not going to ever climb out of my own thoughts that hold me back.
I am not able to succeed because (insert some sort of limitation here).
I am not that great of a mom, I get frustrated too easily.
I am not close enough to my extended family.
I am not going to end up in a good place in that unknown future.
I am not going to end up with good results even if I try hard.

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Why bother?!

Ever feel that way?

Then, I come up against God speaking these words to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” Ex. 3:14

God speaks with power. And, Moses is a man I like. I imagine him trying to do enough and be enough for his people. I imagine him, like me, probably not feeling all that great – and a whole truckload of doubtful that he’ll really succeed.

To stand against the heat of God’s fire like this – these words would shake me to the core. Not only because I hit up against the blazing hot power of God, but also because they mean something – and do something. They purify insecurities.

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be the one he claims to be.
He is who he is.

These words give me confidence. Because often I tend to think, unknowingly, of the “God who is not”.

The god who is not coming through for me.
The god who is not keeping me happy.
The god who is not showing me all the time his ways.

I can try to hide these feelings under the guise of good-girl Christian (which always drops me off at the word – hypocrite), but I get somewhere when I turn to God and ask, “God, am I really good enough for you to take care of – dysfunctional ol’ me?”

He replies, “I AM WHO I AM.”

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

He is  – is good.
He is – truth.
He is – power.
He is – strength.

Does God really care?

The devil says who I am not, God says who I am.

Flesh says who I can’t be, God says who I will be in him.

Shame says I am bad, God says I am loved.

Lies speak demise, God says, “Rise.”

Will I believe?

God doesn’t waver. He is not a man that he should fall and skin his knee, he is a king. He doesn’t erase the cross of grace, he died on it to secure eternity for us. He doesn’t delete the signature of our name from his hand, he holds it close to his heart that always beats for us. He doesn’t take back is callings for our lives, he predestines them for us.

He sends us out in unerasable truth:

And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the Israelites…What shall I say to them?

And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you! Ex.3:13-14

He sends us out in his love, power and armor. It moves us forward.

Every single time he is at work to bless us.
Every single time he is at work to pave a way for us.
Every single time he is at work to make us more holy.
Every single time he is at work to work in us.
Every single time he is at work to draw us closer to power of his love.

Does God really care?

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

Will we believe – He will do what he said he will do?

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How to Really Come Alive (& not as you think)

Come Alive

I try.
Do you?

I try not to:
Fall on my sword
Fall from grace
Fall flat

I think this is why perception is important.
If I can look good to others, in a way, it confirms – I can look good to myself.

A few weeks ago, I went to large church gathering. I walked in. There were tables. There were people. There were open seats and there was me, trying to figure out which one to choose. I looked for people who looked like me – or, who I figured were better than me. 

come alive

I wanted to be where they were.

Why?

Because, by being with them, I feel better about me. In some way, their great standing proved mine.

Do you fall into this trap too?

Wanting to know important people?
Wanting to be an influencer of wisdom?
Gravitating towards those with knowledge and know-how?
Trying to look your best, to feel your best?
Speaking words that will make you look good?
Aiming to appear better than you are?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 5:3

Hummingbirds

Recently, my kids and I trekked out to the mountain. We wanted to check out the hummingbird display.

I was intrigued by these things. They flap their wings 80 times a second. Talk about trying!!! These things work hard. They know how to shoot left, right, up down, sideways and zig-zagged, like no bird I have ever seen.

They know how to get where they need to go. They know how to move to places of value (namely, right next to the feeder).

come alive

They also know how to protect. One hummingbird protects her food like an armed guard, blocking the path of any other bird who is getting too close.

When I block out different people, I block out humility. When I block out a new experience to safe-keep myself, I block God from getting close. I block humility from feeding me wisdom. I block love from moving in, and instead, I stay unchanged.

By not risking, I am missing the greater gift.

Sitting Down

“When you are invited, take the lowest place…”  Jo. 14:10

To take the lower seat is to choose to sit deep into the humility of Christ. It is the choice to stay so close to him, that you no longer have to stay close to everything you were or should be. Those things become casualties.

come alive

Instead, you walk up to scary and sit down with it, giving space for his miraculous to be worked in. You let go of the idea that there is a lofty place you’re not invited to, because you, suddenly, don’t want that anyway. It is to become so comfortable with the lowly, the downtrodden and the debased, that all you can do is count your blessings. You praise. Joy is crystallized.

It looks hardly like the perfect image of you – and this is the point.

The low seat can look like your own personal Calvary Road: A change of voice, a letting go of critiques, a grand welcome to the awkward, a wave goodbye to the need to be in charge or a will to pursue hard relationship…every seat looks different. But, the commonality is it saves you -and others. Some might call it surrender, or dying to yourself, I call it become it coming alive because you are no longer tethered – to man, you’re used, by God, as redeemer – to man.

Did you know that when the baby hummingbird actually leaves the nest, the mom is smaller than baby? I can’t help but think, this is how we should live – getting smaller and smaller while those around us get bigger and bigger.

Until, the day, the biggest one of all – invites us to the seat where we can feed unrestrained, where we can almost get fat in love. Where he, our friend, the one we spent our life relying on, invites us to dine – fully and lavishly. And we do.

come alive

“…Take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ (Lu. 14:10)

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The Value of Getting Quiet

Getting Quiet

Today, I am delighted to welcome Suzanne Vel from Christian Fellowship Church in Virginia for our Ministry Monday Series. Clearly, God brought our paths together, for Suzanne has a powerful story and a message to be shared. I hope you enjoy it!

“You have everything you need to have freedom and you aren’t doing anything with it.”  God wasn’t yelling at me, or condemning me. He was just calmly encouraging me.

To give some background, at a recent family reunion, I had listened in on a conversation where my husband was explaining to a cousin that our church had started encouraging people to experience God’s presence through a daily quiet time and that the end result was true, personal freedom.

This got me thinking…

My cousin’s heartfelt response was, “freedom that’s what I want!”  But, it wasn’t until the very next morning that God spoke into my spirit and encouraged me to get started.

Due simply to my desire to be obedient to God’s prompting, I started. The initial goal was to keep going for fifty days, but almost immediately the results were too good to stop.

Fast forward 600+ days, now, I have met with God every single day. Can I tell you? My life is a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come. I feel it.

I did not know fear controlled all of my decisions
until I started letting God and His Holy Spirit speak. 

Now when I am prompted to give, I give and it brings me peace.
Now when I am prompted to serve, I serve and it fills me with indescribable joy. 
Now when I am prompted to encourage another, I speak words of life over them and watch us both find our true identity in Christ. 

My journey is overflowing.  Each day, I ask God what He wants me to talk about and I post the words on Facebook.

The devotionals led to many friends encouraging me to write a book.

The book idea led to me thinking it was impossible but instead of choosing fear and worry I let God take the lead and show me the way. 

He led me to a website where I could easily publish an ebook. The ebook website led me to another site where I could self-publish an actual book, and that website led me to the next step (which I plan to take soon) of creating an audio book as well.

As you take it step-by-step by and through the Spirit,
you realize, nothing is impossible with God.

What seems impossible for you? 

Might you consider, what you can’t do – the Holy Spirit might equip you to do? It happened with me.

Jesus’ sacrifice for you and me, it was costly – on that cross. Please don’t make His sacrifice for you a waste because you never take the next step and find personal freedom for yourself. 

Walk in. Step deeper.

I started the journey and it has led to the most peace, joy, hope, love and patience than I have ever known. Will you?

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About Suzanne

FullSizeRender (1) (1)Suzanne is a wife mother and believer in Christ.  She has a passion and dedication to anything she puts her heart to; from early morning quiet times with God to training for five full marathons.  She learned about God on her second date with her future husband, Randy, when she was 22 years old.  She grew in her faith continually, but it wasn’t until she learned why she really wanted to know God as her personal friend and confidant that she found out what it truly means to have faith in the one true King.  Suzanne’s goal now is to show others how to find their why so that their lives can be as dramatically changed as hers was on August 11, 2014.

Check out Suzanne’s book, To Show His Love: Fellowship with God Changes Everything.