Purposeful Faith

Category - giving

The Give and Take of Thanksgiving

Are you a giver or a taker quote by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post By: Katie M. Reid

We used to live and work at a Bible Camp. The camp director often challenged the campers to move from being takers to being givers. He explained that it was a sign of maturity to focus on giving instead of getting.

“…It is more blessed to give than receive.” -Acts 20:35b

Times are tough right now.

People are hurting, grieving, accusing, and fighting. People are taking jabs at one another in light of the pain they are feeling. People are pointing fingers and striving to be heard above the roar. Some are spitting out venom, in hate. Some are even using fists to crush.

I’m afraid we are a sorry bunch as we walk around bruised, mocked, and wounded.

Yet, I have hope. I have hope that the Spirit of God who resides within us will lead the way through the gray.

We have the holy honor to give instead of take.

May we offer empathy as the hurting gather near.

As we pass the mashed potatoes, may we dish out compassion. As we fill up glasses, may we pour out refreshing words. As we look into the eyes of those around the table, may we focus on what we already have—not what we lack. As we partake of what’s been given, may we express thanksgiving for the sacrifice (of family, of employers, of military, of leaders).

As we gather around the table, may we remember that table spread all those years ago—the bread torn, the wine poured. The Body broken, the Blood spilled—that we might receive the very thing we lacked; salvation.

I’m afraid we have forgotten to be thankful for the One who was bruised, mocked and killed on our behalf. 

Jesus stood silently before the angry crowd. He heard their false accusations yet He forgave them still.

Jesus demonstrated great restraint in order to extend a Greater Love.

He is Hope. May we offer Him our life.

May we follow in His steps…

As we pass the marginalized, may we hand out compassion. As we fill our social media feeds, may we pour out refreshing words. As we look into the eyes of those with whom we disagree, may we focus on what what we share—not where we differ. As we partake of His grace, may we express thanksgiving for the sacrifice of our Savior.

Let’s remember the Ultimate Giver—of life, of salvation, of hope. Our sin separated us from God yet Jesus came to bridge the gap. We can be restored through Christ’s Ultimate Sacrifice, if we believe and receive.

Let’s build a bridge, instead of a wedge—not through compromise of the Word, but by following Jesus’ example to love others—even when it’s not reciprocated.

Let’s give thanks for life, and breath, and everything else. Let’s take time to pray for the restoration of this upside down place we find ourselves, in this season.

The give and take of Thanksgiving has never been more needed than it is today. Let’s bow, let’s bend, let’s stay grounded in the Word. Let’s give love. And let’s take note that Jesus does not change and that perfect Love casts out fear.

The Perfect One is here. The Unchanging One is near. Jesus has taken our sin, this we believe. He has given us salvation, this we receive. It is done. King Jesus has won!

God will turn the upside down, right side up. He can heal the hurt. He can set the captives free. He can draw all men to Himself. He can do anything.

And so, we have hope!

We give praise that He is able. We take stock of His good and precious promises. We give up the right to control. We take up the sword of the Spirit. We lay down our pride. We put on the armor of Love.

We gather around the table and we offer Grace.

It’s Good News, after all.

Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She also inspires women to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of her favorite things.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

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Activating the Power of Thank You

Power of Thank You

The poor thing, she had been up all night hacking.

I shut my door.

“I can’t sleep if all I hear – is her,” I thought.

I wasn’t trying to be cruel, but, we all know how mothers end up when sleep gets lost. They turn ugly, mean and tense. I hate being that lady; I get mad at that lady. Anything not to be – that lady.

Hours later, the barks still ensued. Then, an internal battle ensued – do I get up or do I not get up? My mind wrestled: If I get up, I will never get back down. I will never fall back to sweet and delicious sleep again – I know how this game goes.

I climbed out of bed, checked the clock, stubbed my toe and headed to the medicine cabinet. It was the unseen hour that called for more medicine. Moms don’t give up.

power of thanks

Begrudgingly, I kicked open the door, my mind half out of its own mind. I stumbled in, expecting to drop the junk down her throat and stumble out. But, what happened next woke me. It jolted me like coffee.

power of thank youFrom her helpless position, she looked, and said, “Thank you, mommy.”

My heart nearly dropped to the floor. Wow. She sees. She knows. She appreciates.

I felt loved.
 
I felt adored.


I felt alive. I would have gotten up a thousand more times, every single night (well, maybe), just to hear that sweet honey come off her lips.

I mattered.

Do I show God he matters like that? I wonder. I doubt it.


Guilt hits. Then, love arrives. God doesn’t need me to know he matters; but, I need him to know I matter. And, maybe this is the point. It’s probably far less about what he gets from these words and far more about how I feel when I speak these words. It is far more about me seeing the rescues, the panaceas and the answers that arrive out of nowhere. It is far more about me realizing how loved I am and how far out of his way he would go to help me.
Now I see: The small whisper of thank you is the moment you realize you’re daughter – and you’re really cared for.
power of thanks
It is the moment that you realize God would do anything to love you.
It is the joy that comes from receiving instead of striving.
It is the power that unfolds from heaven right in your lap.
It is the realization that kingdom come will come because God gives good things.
It is the inclination to bow down and see how tall God really stands over the world.
It is looking at the might that has might – and acknowledging it.
It is the strong hold of one stronger – that has the power to take hold over your life.
It is you not being you, as you normally are, but being you – with gratefulness.
 It is the uncovering of the jewels you never knew existed.

It is the unwavering trust that he will do it again.

It is seeing him as he is – good.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Ps. 106:1

Thanks gives legs to greater faith, for it believes in the one who gives – and will give. The giver is daddy. He pours out every time. And in the process, as we trust this, we are changed. We become little balls bursting with humility, dipped in his love, coming out covered in good. We become sweetened by grace and full of excitement about who we are becoming.

Thanks is anticipation of God’s faithfulness. It, frankly, is delicious.

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

Everybody Needs Encouragement

Encouragement

I could not be more delighted to welcome Jan Greenwood to Purposeful Faith today. Her book, Women at War, both uplifted my heart and rekindled fervor for Christ. Jan, a natural encourager and an endurer, is flame-lighting the world with truth. Thank you for that, Jan. We are truly blessed by you and your mission. Love, Kelly

Post by: Jan Greenwood

Most of us are starving for a little encouragement.

We’re walking around parched, prone to self-doubt and focused on what must be done.  Some of us are downright afraid.  Some of us have fallen into a pit of discouragement and feel totally alone.  Some of us are riding the mountain top of breakthrough and find that even good, God things bring stress and fear.

Can you relate?

I’ve recently been in a serious battle for my health. I’m grateful that many have been encouraging me.  However, I often run into friends who say something like “I have been thinking of you, but I didn’t want to bother you.  I know so many others are already encouraging you.”

I wonder why we think we should limit encouragement?  

Or why we think our encouragement is inferior or too late?  

People are made to be filled with courage…
to be comforted, built up, and empowered by you.

I Thessalonians 15:11 says “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…”

I cherish every face-to-face encounter, notecard, email, text, post or even a like, love or follow on social media. They remind me I’m not alone and fill me with courage. But everyone needs encouragement to arrive in ways they can manage the impact and influx.  It’s not that they don’t need encouragement but simply they need it delivered in a manner they can receive it.

I think this is the major reason we limit our encouragement –we’ve experienced encouragement from another in a manner that was insensitive to how we are feeling, out of order, embellished or at a moment where a response was expected of us that we simply didn’t have the capacity to give.

I’d like to share some of my favorite ways to both give and receive encouragement that are simple, inexpensive, really effective – and never arrive at a bad time.

It’s never a bad time to send a note.  I still love snail mail.  It speaks to me and says “I care.  I thought about you enough to buy a notecard, think of something kind to say, write it down, and even spend a little more to put the stamp on the envelope.” It makes me feel special and cared for. A written word, no matter how small or short has great value. So go ahead and send a text, email or social media like.  It all lasts…it lingers…it can encourage multiple times.  If you add a scripture or a brief prayer – double points for you!

It’s never a bad time to pray. Pray each time that person comes to your mind and trust that you are depositing faith, hope and courage into your friend.  (You’ll notice I didn’t say it’s never a bad time to pray with the person you want to encourage.  Ask permission, don’t make it too long, and be sensitive to the environment, timing and how the person is feeling.)  I like to imagine I have a giant prayer bowl on the altar of God that is filling with the beautiful aroma of prayer.  When I feel weary, afraid or even downright fearful, I will lift my eyes to heaven and ask God to throw down some fire from that altar. The prayers of others get me through.

It’s never a bad time to say I love you. People are drawn to those who can express an authentic concern and affection for them and their needs. A thirsty man can spot water from a mile away.  People will be drawn to your genuine encouragement.  That same thirsty man can smell insincerity. Never lie or overstate your concern.  Keep it simple.  Touch them if appropriate.  Look them in the eye.  Don’t overstay your welcome.  Follow their cues.

It’s never a bad time to send a gift card especially for restaurants or grocery stores. People love to eat (have to eat) and often in the midst of a difficult season preparing a meal for your family can be a really big drain on your limited strengths or resources.  (I also love home cooked meals, but they require a lot more coordination/energy for both parties. Cards allow me to meet the needs of my family as they come and on tough days that means I’m not in the kitchen at all. Double points for me!

So go ahead and act on your impulse.  You are made for this!  You are an encourager and your love and concern for others is powerful.  Don’t withhold.  Don’t worry.  Don’t delay.  Someone right in front of you needs to be encouraged.

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

About Jan

encouragementJan Greenwood, author of Women at War and Pastor of Women at Gateway Church, is a fervent developer of women.  As a speaker, author and pastor of women, she’s taught many how to create powerful, healthy female relationships.  Jan and her husband Mark have been married over 30 years and live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area. Follow Jan on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

encouragement

About Women at War

Women at War is revolutionizing the way women treat one another and the value they place of their own gender.

Pink Impact

Learn more about Pink Impact, the annual women’s conference at Gateway Church.

 

 

 

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

the things that matter

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

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

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

It’s a dismal truth, but it’s there.

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

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

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

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

My Confessions & Our Return Back to God

my confessions

Lord, I don’t want to go through life thinking wrongs are normal.
I don’t want to go about striving, thinking that I am thriving.
I don’t want to do anything, thinking you won’t help me.
I don’t want to waste my life, thinking that you’re average.
I don’t want to take my hurts and brush them under the carpet.

When we let the piles of wrong build up inside,
they end up cover our eyes,
and blind us from the most majestic view – of you.

We follow a shadow of darkness and box God’s power to a limited distance.

No more God! I want to hear your voice.
No more going through motions! I want to see your face.
No more trying to do better! I want to hand everything over to you.

So here it goes:

Lord, I am sorry. I am sorry I pursue self over selfless. I am sorry that so often I make my needs King. I am sorry that I try to Lord over people. I am sorry that I don’t trust you in the gap of the unknown. I am sorry that I miss so many pre-set opportunities for faith, because I allow myself to sit in the agonies of fear. I am sorry that my pride makes me think I need to pry doors open. I am sorry that I listen to the voice of victimhood instead of your voice, the sound of eternal victory.

I am sorry that rather than living by your very Word, I have been living by rushed standards of this world. I am sorry that my mind is quick to dwell on nothingness rather than the vastness of you. I am sorry that I first see how you won’t be there for me, rather than how you will. I am sorry that I determine where I should be, rather than just being in you. I am sorry that I forget to thank you for all your little and unseen protections. I am sorry for how I have believed you won’t come through, when you promise you will.

Will you forgive me? For I want all of you. I don’t want to settle for a half-way God, a marginal interpretation of your love, I want the full deal. I want the whole kit and caboodle. I ask you to restore trust and to rebuild my life in ways that are exceedingly abundantly greater than I could even ask think or imagine.

God, I know when all I need is you,
I get everything I really need (Ps. 37:4).

This is truth; you are all I need.

You are all the answers to my greatest questions.
You are the sustainer to my very breathe.
You are the pipeline to my wildest dreams.
You are the beginning of life change that doesn’t cease.
You won’t ever fall from high.
Your throne won’t ever break.
Your power won’t ever cease.
Your mercy won’t fail to work.
Your grace can’t possibly give up.

You bring me high as I let you carry me.
You pursue my heart every waking hour.
You lead me to repentance so I can walk in complete assurance.
You give me power, even when I feel week.
You strengthen me in the face of opposition.

There is not a day you are not for me.
There is not a week you aren’t working on my behalf.
There is not a month you will turn the other way when I mess up.
And there is not a year that you will not delight over me with singing.

For you are love,
and your love is mine.

You are salvation,
and salvation is here,
it waits for me – literally every hour, every milli-second even, of every day.

I want to turn into it,
I want to miss it no longer,
for in many ways following Jesus,
is about returning back,
again and again.
It is a life dedicated to a grand return.

A return like hurt child runs to her daddy;
So I will run to your arms,
and you will lift me up,
swirl me,
hold me,
squeeze me
and then I will know,
there is nothing that can ever remove me from your love (Ro. 8:38).

I will know that you and me, we are once again united and such a bond like this – it can never be broken.

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

Learning to Love Your Purpose, Even When It’s Painful

love your purpose

I am delighted to have Mary Carver join us today for this #RaRalinkup post!

Last night I messaged two friends. I asked them if I was a bad person for getting upset to see other people get attention and accolades for something I had also done (but for which I certainly wasn’t receiving that attention).

Honestly I wanted them to yell and point fingers and join me in my indignation at being left out and overlooked. Instead, they did what good friends do and reminded me that I wasn’t in this business or this life for either attention or accolades.

They also admitted that my feelings didn’t make me a bad person, simply human – but they were right about my focus. I had forgotten that my ministry and work and life are about obeying God and serving Him the best I can. Not pats on the backs and plastic trophies, not awards and atta-girls. But trust and obedience, love and service.

We can easily get distracted from our mission, can’t we? One minute we’re all about following God, no matter where He leads us, loving Him and loving others, doing whatever it takes to help people see Him. And then…bam! Before we even know what’s happening, we’ve heard about someone else’s mission – and all the perks that come with it, and we’re simmering with envy, wishing our call looked like theirs.

My friend and co-author, Sara Frankl, knew something about that. The call on her life was one that was full of beauty and joy – but it was also full of pain and loss. Trusting God and loving what He had given her was a challenge, but she managed to do it with a grace and wisdom that encourages me and teaches me every day.

——————-

I remember the first time I really understood the parable of the vineyard workers. I had heard this Bible story all my life, but it finally clicked in college.

In Matthew 20, Jesus is recorded telling the story of a man who needed help with his harvest. He hired some men for the day, telling them the day’s wage, which they accepted and began working. Throughout the day, he realized he needed more help to get the work completed, so he went out multiple times and hired more workers. Each time he offered the wage to his new workers, they accepted and set out to work.

At the end of the day, he called all the workers together and paid them the same day’s wage. It was the wage he had offered to them, the one they had all accepted. But the men who had worked all day laboring in the fields were angry. They said they were cheated because they worked harder and longer than the others, and should be paid more than those who had worked only the last few hours.

In reality, the problem wasn’t the amount they were paid for the work they did. He gave the workers what was promised to them. The problem was in the worker who only felt cheated when he compared his life to someone else’s. The problem arose when the worker took his eyes off of his own mission, the one he agreed to gladly – and decided he wanted the easier task that was promised to someone else.

I have to remind myself of this story because it’s hard for me not to feel cheated. It’s hard for me to be thankful on a holiday weekend when I have to be alone in this condo. When there is no bustle of family or friends, when I can’t enjoy a turkey dinner, when I have no one to talk with and laugh with and reminisce with and grieve with. It’s hard when I compare my isolated existence with what I know is happening everywhere else.

But that’s not the deal I made with God. I promised Him my whole life, and He promised He would love me, never leave me, and take me home to have eternal life in Heaven someday. It was the wage He promised me, the wage I accepted – and it’s only when I take my eyes off of that promise that I feel cheated. God is honoring His deal. It’s me who looks at life and says, “I’ll have what she’s having, please.”

Does going back to that Bible story make all the hard-to-deal-with feelings disappear? Of course not. It’s still brutal. But it reminds me of what I believe. I believe that God has a purpose for me, and that my job is to be faithful to whatever comes with my life. I will do my daily task and honor Him as I believe He is honoring me.

I believe it. Even when it doesn’t feel good. Even when it hurts and is lonely and feels unfair and requires me to grieve a life I was never promised.

The truth is that my life is no better or worse than I wanted. It’s just completely and utterly different. The wisdom comes in knowing that it is exactly as it should be. The joy comes in learning to love it, not despite all I’ve lost, but because of all that it has brought to me.

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

Excerpt, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver

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Mary and SaraMary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY.

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10 Ways to Shine Christ On Christmas

Shine Christ on Christmas

Christmas.
People are laughing and hugging as they reunite.
Talking about the year past.
Unwrapping their anticipated gifts.
Listening to a story repeated for the one-millionth time.
Eating dried out turkey.
Drinking egg nog or sparkling apple cider.
Singing it’s a Holly Jolly Christmas…
while, inside, feeling anything but jolly.

Sure, they may be singing “Joy to the World,” but their true emotions are joyless.
They may give you the highlight reel of the year past, but they leave out the drama.
They may be busy with buying, cooking and wrapping, while having a world of marriage, finances or health crashing down.
They may be proclaiming “Happy Holidays,” only to be deeply grieving those they love.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” Mt. 1:23

God with us in the thick of pain.
God with us in the thin of finances.
God with us when we feel happy – or sad.
God with us despite how much others are.

Will our hurting family members get a chance to know “God with us”?  How he draws near to the down, dejected and devastated?

Or will they believe that facades of merry and bright are the only outfits allowed?

For others to know “God with us,” they have to see “God in us.”  

They have to see how “God in us” has worked life – through us.

This means taking a risk. It means we have to move our usual conversations past ugly Christmas sweater styles, present ratings and the words “Pass the gravy.”

Are you willing to step outside of comfortable to bow down, worship and treasure the small baby – in both word and in action – this Christmas?

Will you make known the cries that moved from a manger to a cross to change everything? 

On coming to the house, they (the 3 wise men) saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.  Mt. 2:11

Lighting up Christmas, is not about lighting up a tree. It is about lighting up our loved ones with the treasure we have in Jesus Christ. It is about lighting what truly matters.

I (Jesus) in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Jo. 17:23

When we light Jesus, we light love. What shines is the one thing that matters most, the one thing that people need and the one thing ready to light the world.

So how do we shine Christ on Christmas?

1.  We make his purpose higher than our cause of opening gifts.
2. We are more concerned with sharing Jesus than sharing mashed potatoes.
3. We go to vulnerable places, so hurt ones know it is okay to go there too.
4. We seek to touch a person’s real need, not just their need to be entertained.
5. We seek the quiet of the Lord, so that we can enter into the mayhem of family – with peace.
6. We sit and listen, verses boast, toast and gloat over things in our own lives.
7. We look to serve and honor others above ourself.
8. We pray to discern who the Lord might direct us to.
9. We discuss the Christmas story.
10. We speak about the Savior who saves.

BONUS: We take a risk, even when the risk makes us think others won’t like us.

And those around us will get a chance to know the God who goes with us – Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).

Shine Christ on Christmas

And, the small beginnings of Jesus’ new beginnings will shine. They will shine all-consuming love that touches our houses and hearts with true and long-lasting “merry and bright”.

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Weak and Humble – Changes Families

Weak and Humble

I had it all wrong. I always thought family was this ship you had to keep moving in the right direction. One that all crew members needed to approach in tandem, knowing their role and pushing through to the next destination. With this, I figured, it was my job as mom to run a tight ship.

Efficiency was key: Get those shoes on and be in the car by the time I get out of the bathroom.
Rules were paramount: I set the guidelines, you follow them.
My authority reigned: Don’t question, just obey or else!
My voice counted: Don’t express opinions, just express a head nod and move that dish to the dishwasher.

I don’t know when I turned into such a jerk. In the moment, there is always a way to justify it (how else are you going to get things done, the kids won’t respect you, the house will be a mess, perfection will sink into oblivion). Somehow family, for me, turned into a model-toy that I was carefully constructing according to instructions, schedules and guidelines. All parts were required to fit within my needs. I moved them according to my desires.

With this knowledge, my heart has been on a journey to change course; it is pursuing a redirect. Just the other day, my son looked at me to say, “Mom, that’s a mean voice.” My initial response was to say, “Son, that is not mean. If you want to hear mean, I could really show you mean.”

But, if I am going a new path that means I have to try new things. I looked at him and said, “You thought that was mean?” His head nodded.

What he thought was mean, I thought was on level 2 of my stern-voice scale, but still, I was trying and trying counts for something, so I tried some more.

“I am sorry. I will speak nicer, son.”

The day progressed and so did my heart. A heart just trying – trying to be calm, to be present, to be aware, to be humble, to be eager to love, and quick to let go of to-do’s. By days end, I felt shipwrecked, but what happened next brought buoyancy back.

At story time, this 4-year old outer-space pajama clad kid looked up at me to say, “Mommy, I am sorry too for all the mean things I have been speaking to you.”

And, there it was, what seemed like galaxy of distance, came together in a meteor crash of sense. He is just the same as me. He feels the same too. We are in this together.

Family united, rather than divided.

What I build in myself, I build in him.
What I forge around me, will be forged around him too.
What I lay down, he will have permission to lay down as well.
What is hard to do, we can try to do as one

At days end, I don’t want to give him me as I am today. I want to give him full of grace, sailing with mercy, loaded with compassion, flying with patience. I want him to have all of that. I want more for that beauty. And, in a way, in this day, I gave him a small ride towards this. And, one day – counts. It counts for something; I will take that and own that and relish in that.

Small beginnings matter.

When I simply understand, when I take a minute, when I sit down, when I listen, when I confess, when I become humble, the family makes strides towards godliness. Together we move ahead, not to my pre-set plans, but to God’s pre-set sanctification. We move towards what is greatest, rather than what I deem as great.

Jesus relates to me when I am weak. He sympathizes with that kind of thing. He says, that testing you are going through, me too Kelly, me too.

We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give.
Take the mercy, accept the help.
Heb. 4:15 MSG

What will we choose in the rapid-fire moments of “family”?

​Will we choose to to take a stand in our ways or
will we choose to stand in God’s mercy?

Will we accept his help or will we drive the helpers?

Will we chart a course or will we enjoy the ride?

The second we set down the burden of pride set upon our shoulders of despair is the second we rise up in the freedom of surrender that finds itself in the shadow of the eagles wing.  Work falls to the wayside and we see things from new heights, with new vision and new hope. We soar. We let go. We glide. We ride.

“What a relief,” we say,
“We never knew it could be this easy!”

And we sail.

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31

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Expecting a Dream

Expecting a Dream

What happens when your mind is dead set on expecting a dream?

You visualize the smiling and congratulatory faces as it comes true.
You hear the cheers of acclaim wildly reverberating in your heart.
You can only imagine how things would change, “If…”

You see it – your heart could finally lay down and rejoice, find relaxation and peace, if only…

This is how it works for me.

My dreams seem to hold the power to be the
Creator and Originator of my present anxious feelings. 

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

Surely, God loves to hear my prayers,
I think he just doesn’t want to have to lay his eyes on my idols.

So often, I have grabbed on to the future’s potential like a kid trying to grab hold of a cloud. I have tried to hug what was never mine to begin with. I have tried to own what was miles away, as if by continuing to see it and reach it and demand it and cry about it and keep my eyes set on it and daydream about it and talk about it- it will never have the chance to fade away.

But, sometimes it does.

It just vaporates. It just disappears.

And then I am left devastated, demolished and simply agitated
at God for abandoning me.

Does the God of peace intend this turbulence of our hearts?

I realize that in the times I expected big bucks, big cheers and big sensational feelings – I missed my big God. I missed the quiet moment of expecting his comfort, his leading and his power as he tried to guide my heart down a different path. I missed the powerful show of his presence in small ache of my heart as I cried out for “more”- because my eyes were set on “my dream.”

How often do we say, “I’m not looking at you God. I want this!”?

Why does it feel that what we claim, should be ours? Front Seat, I called it!

As if when we do enough “knee-time” God sees exactly how dream-worthy we are. Can’t he see I am doing the “hard time?”

I think God made me a dreamer. Not for my glory, but for his. Not for my wild imaginings, but for his outpourings.

My ways lead to foolery. (Prov. 12:15)
My ways seem right and end in death (Prov. 14:12)
I may chart my course, but the Lord owns my footsteps. (Prov. 16:9)

If God owns the way I head, how can I war against him?

Ask not – what are my dreams, ask what are his dreams – for me?

His will will be done, no matter how much I hold “my will” hostage, saying “you’re not going anywhere.” And, even if my will is permitted, in the end my heart will suffer the damage.

God loves us. He loves our dreams. He loves our passion. Even more, he loves our heart.

May the internal knitting of our dreams always be stitched up tight into the fabric of his love, his grace and his power. May the patches of our hope link together solely through the power of his Spirit in us. May our ears be inclined to listen and our eyes be inclined to see – his paths, his heart to love and his example of death when he desired life.

The paths of humility.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Ja. 4:6

Where do you want us to go God? Not our will, but your will (truly, honestly, hopefully) be done. We know, by our own power we will fall straight down and bruise our knee. We can’t get out of ourself, but with you – and your example of Jesus – we can get back up again and walk towards your purposes by your Spirit that removes the old us, from the new us. Amen.

the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Ps. 147:11

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Forgiving a Frenemy

Forgiving a frenemy

When I saw “that lady” my skin cringed a little.

She’s the one who offended me.
The one who deserves my annoyance.
The lady I really didn’t want to see.

It’s nearly impossible to wrap your arms around the word “love,” when you have your arms crossed with hate.

She didn’t hit me like a monster truck might, with an intentional crash, but still she her hit-and-run approach was something I took note of. Intentional or not, she caused damage. 

And, I wasn’t going to let her get away without paying damages.

How do you let go when another doesn’t realize the damage they have done?

Don’t they deserve to know how they’ve injured you?

I wanted the reparations that should be mine. My heart was demanding it, although know one would ever know about that little secret.

I knew my insides were ugly, but I couldn’t seem to get my insides – out –  out into the hands of God.

She was seen with a halo, while I felt like a zero.

Sometimes, though, God works circumstances for our good, because he loves us and he knows our heart intends to be called according to his purposes (kind of Ro. 8:28).

Even when we don’t know how to work or are too busy working on the wrong think or are thinking in the wrong way or are messing up, God often still works things out when we turn to him and let him work out the knots of our tangled up his purpose.

When we come back to God, he backs near to our heart again.
When we see an opportunity to love, and put it above ourselves, the love of God shows up.

A friend approached me and basically said, “You know, you have something, a little piece of information, a little inside scoop that could help that woman (aka: frenemy) out. Why don’t you go over and share it with her.”

What? Me?
Share?
With her? The blessing-taker, the joy-kill, the bane of my burdens?
Heck no.

How can I give to the one who is loaded to the brim with liquid gold while I am drinking out of the plastic cup of nothingness? How can I give when she practically made my drink to taste so bad.

I don’t know about that.

My feet moved, but my heart stayed still. They moved me right in front of her. My mind said, “You can’t,” but my Spirit said, “You can.”

So, I did.

I poured out the information that she had been on the hunt for. I told her I would be her helper. I instructed her on the in’s I could have kept in, but instead I helped her out.

And, what I noticed, is that fears and pain and anger went out too.
They left.
They scurried away.

Giving took the eyes off of my pain and placed them onto my gift. A gift much like the one offered for me, a sinner who didn’t deserve love.

An undeserved gift, especially the act of forgiveness,

brings Jesus right to the center of relationship.

My arms came undone and fell open to receive and pour out love.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Mt. 5:44)

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. (Prov. 25:21)

God knows something we don’t (ok, a lot actually) and it is this: When we give to someone, we start to love them. We start to feel for them. We start to see that their issues are more about them, than they are about us. We start to see that they need us – and that we need them.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Prov. 11:25

As we reach out, we start to see all that is reaching into us through the act of love. We start to see it is not all about us and our rights, but it is simply about giving our rights to another, just as Christ did for us.

He is the justice-keeper, we are are the love extenders.

I learned, the joy is never found in the harboring of rights,

but it is always found in the helping of the hurt.

Forgiveness is the heart and soul of Christianity.

It is the feet – to love,
and the heart – to relationship.

As you let your feet move,
your feelings eventually follow.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Mt. 6:14

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