Purposeful Faith

Category - Pride

How to Make Stress Work For You

It all happened when I got stuck, sweating bullets in a parked car with a 3-year old who was certain my body was her gym mat. I was over the wait, but the countdown was ongoing. He was nowhere in sight.

My texts went unanswered.
40-minutes passed.
He knew I was parked.

I dialed him again.  Nothing.
Soon after, I saw his phone resting on the car mat.

I tapped my foot, frustrated.

Towing a 3-year old, we headed into the restaurant. We asked some people if they had seen a man with dark brown hair. The one with a boy? No. No. No.

My face reddened. My hand tightened. I pulled the girl out of irritation.

But, breaking the layers of heavy, and as if a messenger of God handed me a “Peace-note”, I remembered the recently-read words in “Sacred Stress.” They reminded me: There is an opportunity found in adversity…

The words said, “A Harvard University study found when participants reframed stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, they felt energized and performed better.” Hmm…

Could I see this as a challenge rather than a threat that:
1.) Wastes my time?
2.) Ticks me off?
3.) Makes me worried?

The words said, ” Viewing stressful situations as healthy and an opportunity for growth usually eliminates the negative stress-related symptoms.”

What is coming against me, can actually work for me,
when reframed right.

The words said, I can create a positive outcome, a positive view and change the outcome, thereby escaping stress.

Situations don’t rule me, God does.

I can choose to see things from his good view;
it changes my poor view.

I can choose to see thigns from his good view; it changes my poor reactions.

Would this really work?

I tried:

“I have an opportunity to find and extend the grace of God.”
“God is calling me to lean on him. I will know Him better through this.”
“Maybe it will provide an awesome time for daddy to connect with son as they walk home. I can’t wait to hear.”
“I can show my kids we can beat the power of stress by not being stressed.”

I felt proud of my words, but still, troubled by anxiety.

The words said: “Name it.” This means giving an “honest accounting” of how you feel so you can get to the root emotion.

If you speak positive words but don’t let God tend to your bucking emotions,
you’ll still wildly flail out of control.




When we admit our feelings, see them for what they are, and let God hold them –
He does.




We land at peace.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

Looking back, I didn’t handle this situation just right. I messed it up. But, guess what?

I have next time. God doesn’t shun me and say, “You are one and done.” Nope. He is the God of ample opportunities. He is the God of perpetual second chances. He is the God of unending learnings. He will help me at my next crossroad. He will instruct me on the way I should go. I feel a little nervous about this. I see the fear in me – the fear of failure.  God sees it too.  He can handle it. It is not too much.

He whispers, “My perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jo. 4:18

In this moment, I know I found something. I have arrived somewhere.

It’s called “Sacred Stress”.

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About Sacred Stress: A Radically Different Approach to Using Life’s Challenges for Positive Change

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.10.41 AMStress can limit our perspective, leaving us feeling trapped and out of control. But stress can also be a force for good: It is our challenges that most compel us to reach out for relationship. And our proudest moments come after overcoming obstacles we thought were insurmountable.

Based on personal experience and their work as therapists, and drawing on decades of psychological research, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, and The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright have come to see that stress can be healthy and positive. They equip us with the skills and the knowledge we need to reframe our thinking about stress, understand and embrace our darker emotions, and become stronger through difficulty. View on Amazon.

Learn more about Sacred Stress.

About the Authors

George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for twenty years who participated in 9/11 rescue efforts, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor, and an Emotionally Focused certified therapist, supervisor and trainer. He is also the founder and president of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches at the Ackerman Institute in Manhattan.

The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is a licensed professional counselor and executive director for a faith-based counseling center. She taught graduate-level counseling and pastoral theology and served as a board certified chaplain. She is the author of Redeeming Eve: Finding Hope beyond the Struggles of Life and Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction.


5 Ways to Deal with Self-Seekers


She threw out the eloquent answer before I could even breathe a letter. This girl pre-empted my open mouth with just the right juicy tidbit. It moved like a hot juicy bone in front of a dog. Except, this dog was my boss. He bit and savored it all – bite by bite.

I squinted. She knew what she was doing…she was trying to one-up me –  again. She always did. She had a bag full of treats.

She went to the boss’ office first thing in the morning with coffee.
She walked the halls to talk to the “important” people.
She sent emails that carbon copied the whole world and their bosses bosses.
She sat down in the chair right next to me, without even saying hi.
She rose her shoulders and typed away…

You know the type:

One who will do anything to get in with the right people.
One who keeps a count on who matters and who doesn’t.
One who doesn’t like you so much for you, but what you can do.
One who will step on your face to reach a little bit higher…

A Self-seeker.

What do you do with those types?

Jesus encountered them too.

Judas. (Luke 22)
Cash was king. Jesus was his disposable means to obtain it.

Pilate. (Luke 23:13-23)
He chose popular acclaim, so as not to have to endure public disdain.

The thing about self-seekers is, many times, they think their maneuvers are sly and under the radar, but they aren’t. They are as obvious as day and as dubious as night. They really get to me.

I could go on and on about them…but, some wise person, whose face and name I can’t remember, once told me, “If something really irks you about someone else, it is probably because that something is you.”

Am I a self-seeker?

This thought horrifies me. I can’t be like – them. Can I?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mt. 7:3

My own critical eye boomerangs.

I say, “It’s them.”
God says, “No, Kelly, it’s you.”

I say, “It’s them.
God says, “No, Kelly, it’s you.”

God, even more says: “It is you, my darling, and I don’t tell you this because I want to punish you, but because I want to redeem you.

(The gates of my heart open…)

I tell you this, Kelly, because when you are so set on looking at them, you miss me and you miss how I call you to love. You get bent out of shape instead of molding to my shape. You get protective instead of proactively offering out my best. You head off the rails of mercy and grace.

Be unconcerned with them.
Be uncontrollably infatuated with me.
What is holy.

Over here!

Do you see me?

Your shape will take shape as you do this.
Even if they diss you, I never will.

Even more, Kelly, the opportunity is never found in what you do; the opportunity is me. Plain and simple – I am the ropes set over that impassable river. I am the rubble changed into a road. I am a flicker of light in your darkness. 

Don’t look left, don’t look right, don’t judge others, don’t fight to be heard, don’t act out to be seen, don’t fear, don’t worry…I AM the I AM.”

And so it is settled.

Starting today, I will:
1. Thank God for them.
2. Ask God for eyes to see from their perspective.
3. Give graciously to them.
4. Keep my focus on the wrongs within my own heart.
5. Pray that God fills both their heart – and mine – with security and assurance in him.

And, finally, I will turn to God and say, “I am sorry.”

Forgive me for the ways I have tried to get ahead.
Forgive me for my judgement of others.
Help me love those who I am prone to pick apart.
Help me sacrifice as you have, with no strings attached.


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How a Black and White View of the World is Ruining Our Witness

ruining our witness

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

My seven-year-old has asked questions for as long as he could string sentences together. He is a sponge learning about the world around him, and he loves figuring out how things work.

Often, he asks me a question I don’t know the answer to. And parents are supposed to have all the answers, right? But I don’t, so I simply tell him I’ll have to look into it and get back to him, or I’ll help him find the answer.

A few months ago, I discovered he was learning about storms at school. He loves engineering and science, and was repeating some of the things he’d learned about tornados, hurricanes, and floods.

Partly because he goes to a public school, I like to hear about his curriculum. I give him reminders about how God orchestrated all of this, and how nothing is out of his control.

I don’t do this so that he won’t ask questions, but so he will have a strong foundation for asking them. He continues to ask, and I am humbled because often, I have to search. I have to request wisdom from God, who generously gives it to me when I come to him.

After a recent conversation I jumped on social media and found a rather heated debate taking place about whether it was okay for Christians to drink wine. Some of the comments were downright degrading.

I wondered, when did we stop asking questions and assume we were always right?

It’s as though the age of social media has gotten rid of any knowledge that we may, in fact, be human. That we may not always hit the nail on the head the first time.

That we may still be fallen creatures.

And yet we stand loud and proud on our platform, hidden behind the screen, proclaiming we know everything.

I’m not disputing there’s right and wrong. The clash between good and evil is clearly shown in scripture. And yet there are so many issues the Bible does not address. Things where we are required to follow the Spirit’s leading and exercise judgment.

And yet all too often, we speak as though we are Jesus himself. We make assertions about right and wrong in his name, regardless of whether his word affirms any of it.

I don’t know about you, but the last time I looked in the mirror I did not see Jesus’ reflection. I don’t want that authority and I’m sure if I had even an inkling of it, I would abuse it.

His Spirit lives in me, counsels me and directs me, but I am not him. I am still very much a human tainted by sin, flesh and selfishness. I pray everyday others will see a little bit of him in me, but I still fail.

I’m afraid that many of us who call ourselves Christians live, whether knowingly or not, in a world of black and white. But friends, not everything is black and white.

And if we stand up and proclaim we know it all, is there room for growth? Is there space for us to move forward in our walk with Christ and be made into his likeness if we’ve already arrived at the pinnacle, knowing all things?

I don’t think so. There’s no space for humility either, because our pride has made us think we can’t be wrong.

When we enter into a relationship with God, he doesn’t clothe us with robes of self-righteousness. He clothes us in his righteousness.

When we think otherwise, we go down an ugly path of self-sufficiency. But his power isn’t made perfect through my self-sufficiency and arrogance. It’s made perfect through my weakness.

As we interact with others online today, things may get heated. Our nerves may get pricked and we may encounter some hurtful comments.

If this happens, let’s give ourselves space to breathe. Let’s extend the grace Christ gave to us toward others remember there is only one person who has all the answers.

And he isn’t of this world.


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

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Living as a Mighty Warrior


Friends, I am feeling discouraged. I am trying to write this thing called book, with what does not appear to be tremendous success. Getting feedback of average is making me feel average. It is making me feel as if I am a failure for God. It is making me feel as if my purpose, my calling, is now null and void.

Ever been there?

Ever thought you were doing okay only to greet
discouragement face-to-face through
circumstances, opinions or sudden obstacles?

Discouragement can be the detour to defeat if you’re not careful.

It happens when we let our progress become our identity. When feedback is what feeds us. When we see our reflection as a byproduct of work.

Truth is:

God is maker.
He is refiner.
The commander of hows, whens and whys.
Helper every time.
Rescuer to the drowning.
Hope to the inquirers.
The power to the least of these.
The strength in weakness.

Many times, what he is doing – in us –
is far more important than what we hope he does – through us.

For accolades, awards and acceptance speeches will fade, but adoration will last forever.

The world will wane and purity will reign.

What are we seeking? What are we believing in?

Take a look at the Israelites. For seven years, they got off track (which is also means they did “evil in the eyes of the Lord”), and landed in the hands of the Midianites (Judges 6:1). The Midianites were killers by nature; they killed the land, they killed the animals and they simply sucked out the the air of hope around the Israelites (Judges 6:4-5).

At this point, the Israelites could have said, “Let’s forget God, he has forgotten us.”
They could have said, “We have lost his love; he is not for us anymore.”
But instead, after 7 years, they said, Lord, will you help us (Judges 6:6)?”

Deliverance appeared in the form of a prophet, but also as an angel to Gideon, saying, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12

This line, this word from the angel, is what dead-stops my heart. It is what calls me to attention. It declares both power of God and his intent.

The defeated one is declared the mighty one.

The unsure one is made the warrior one.

We are the present day Israelites – wandering, waiting and wading the world – calling out “Lord, save us.”

I imagine, God looks at us, much in the same way and says, “Child, you have the riches of my everything. You have the fullness of the kingdom. Everything is at your disposal. Be mighty in me. Be warrior for my cause. Don’t let doubt make you think you’re being held for ransom. Keep your eyes on me and go where I go.”

These words. The power.

I am mighty warrior. You are mighty warrior.

Being mighty in God’s ways; it changes things. It brings new charge.

We have an opportunity when we drive down the detour of discouragement – we can see truth for truth. It often looks like a red and white sign that says, “WRONG WAY”. The only thing to do at that point is to turn around, call out to God saying, “Lord, save me” and to get on the right road again.

Then our drive becomes his drive.  Lowly. Gentle. Humble.
His passion is our passion. Giving. Gracious. Generous.
Our great love makes his love shine more. Bright. Brilliant. Reliant.
It becomes less about us, but then, somehow, he gives everything to us. Daddy. Loving. Caring.

We try less, but God gives so much more.

We become more than we dream,
even though he is far more than our best dream can conceive.

That is called faith.

We become warriors, who march over our worrier.
We become mighty, serviced beyond marginal.
We become listeners, who don’t have to be controllers.
We become waiters, who trust in his perfect plan.
We become believers, rather than achievers.
We become lowly, seeing past pride.
We become passionate, delighting in the Kings will.
We become determined, keeping our eyes on our own Promised Land.
We know we are his, and already, we have all we need.

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How Judging Can Bring Worship

Bring Worship

He was spinning slowly with a gigantic smile.
He was raising his fists, tightly pressed towards his stomach with pointing motions to the sky.
He was leaning in and jumping up.
Doing all kinds of crazy stuff.

“Why does he have to distract so many?
Is he making a show for himself or a show of God’s honor?
Is this kind of worship worthwhile?”

Completely distracted from God, my eyes were wallpapered. But, the more I looked, the more his background shined, just like the raindrop tattoo below his left eye. The more I looked, the more hardship, gangs, and possibly prison sentences were likely. The more I looked, the more I saw the real joy of absolute freedom, applicable grace and abundant peace written on his face of admiration and adoration.

I saw all of this. And then I saw him start to spin circles, eyes wide open, with me standing right behind him. The smile wouldn’t stop.

Eye contact?
Awkward. Odd.

You couldn’t miss this one, so I didn’t. I watched even more.

And what I eventually noticed was this: for this man, it didn’t seem to be about showing off, or grabbing attention, but simply about celebrating his now set-free love with his full being, his entire body and all his emotions because one, far greater than himself, saved him. He appeared to be almost in the very throne room of Christ, simply enjoying the lavish love of his Savior.

Perhaps, he relished in the love that was always so hard to obtain? Moved into the acceptance that might have always turned the other direction? Basked in light that eluded him, crying “Amazing Grace” from a heart that lived anything but amazing – and probably agonizing in comparison?

Perhaps this man really got the point of worship.

Worship is the satiating wellspring of what never had a chance to spring up before Christ.

It is the power of a Savior to save you again in your moment of need.

It is celebrating the light of day,
despite the dark of night you lived because of your crime-laden past.

Does my heart move in tandem with Jesus’ in reckless, all-out, arms-open, heart-heeded abandon?

I don’t have to spin wild circles and make hand-gestures like a catcher, but the point is, would I or could I? In an outpouring of thanks, in the name of Jesus, could I pour out my heart through worship without worrying and fearing that I was embarrassing myself?

Would I go to those lengths to show him outlandish love?

  • To offer an outpouring of my best self and my highest worth, just as the woman washed Jesus’ feet in undressed affection: A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. Mt. 26:7

Others probably thought she was crazy.

  • Judas, the one who eventually walked right up to betrayal, shook hands with it and fell to its power, had this to say about the moment: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” Jo. 12:5

Why does this worship-dancer have to be so crazy?
Why does he have to draw attention?
Why does he have to make a show?

Maybe the issue is not him – but me. I think I am far to comfortable with being comfortable. I am far too complacent in my complacent worship. I am far too judgy with Christian judgements.

Is this attitude bringing me closer to God’s heart?

Or is it simply pushing me out of God’s ring, to stand on the sidelines with a pointed finger?

Perhaps the things I want to judge are the things God is using to give me a nudge.

Perhaps the people that I look to mock,
are those that should make me take stock over my spiritual walk.

Perhaps what I resist, is exactly where God wants me to persist.

You see, this man taught me a lesson.  By taking a short second-break from analyzing and critiquing, I could see the heart of God revealing and beating.

I remembered how much Jesus loves outlandish outpourings
of everything on to him.

But, how often are we too far consumed with the action’s of others, that the lessons of God fall on a path of concrete and grow no roots?

This man, he taught me how to give it all over. He taught me how to smile the words, “Worthy is the lamb,” and to mean it from every cell of one’s soul. He taught me, that the best gifts are the ones that are offered to God through a heart that is only outpouring for him. He taught me, don’t judge the ones who are different, because their “different” may be what brings us into “oneness” with God. He taught me to accept what is outside of my God-parameters. He taught me to be a little bit more open to other’s interpretive movements of surrendered love.

He taught me that my judgements are cause for greater worship,
because they are already forgiven.

So, as they ushered him out of the church aisle, and escorted him out of the church, I said, “Thank you God for this man, you see, what was lost, is now found for him – and he knows it. But, more importantly, he is not afraid to show it. Help me to be like him – not just to know, but to celebrate every cell of goodness stored up in the gift of you.  Help me to love you freely and fanatically today.”

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Feeling Powerless to Change Others

Powerless to Change

If only they would do what I wanted.
If only they would take the right path.
How can I make them?

What do you do when all that you want to do – is make people do the right thing?

How do you break through to someone who has the power to break your world into a million little pieces of despair, which you’re certain “all the kings horses and all the kings men could never put back together again?”

As I see it, with this kind of devastation, you don’t let things break in the first place. So, here’s what I do: I demand a quick delivery of perfectly wrapped progress to their doorstep of pain. I offer it with the outstretched arms of “you better love this gift.” As I do, I can almost see their moment of realization, their tears of release, their jumps of joy.

I not only crave that “Glory! God!” moment, but I expect it.

The only problem is, of late, I have a sneaky suspicion that no one is listening. I have a sneaky suspicion that my words are falling as void as a tree in the woods with no one around to hear it.  I have a sneaky suspicion the echo of my words are resounding to nowhere.

And while I kind of feel like pulling my hair out and screaming to the highest mountains, “It all doesn’t matter,” I realize I would be left with no hair and this might end up a big issue for me.

And the truth is, I know the truth. As much as sometimes, truth doesn’t look like truth, it always remains the truth (and that’s the truth). I am a Jesus daughter, and as Jesus daughters, we believe in things we cannot see, we walk the crazy walk called faith – it’s just what we do.

Truth means that his perfect love, as it is always known to do, grabs the hand of fear and drags it to the exit sign of no return. Adios!

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 John 4:18

Notice that God did not say:

My perfect love will set all those other people free as you fix their situations.

My perfect love is the best antibiotic to cure
that person’s virus that makes you uncomfortable.

My perfect love is a tool that you can use to ensure
people don’t threaten your emotional balance

God just gives us 2 commands:

1.  Love God completely, entirely, unabashedly and wildly.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Mt. 22:38:39

When we forget the “as yourself” part, we forget how to forge true love.

The only way to send out love is to receive it yourself, first. 

How can you mail, stamp and deliver something you never held in your hands in the first place?

It’s as impossible as the idea that we can somehow restructure another’s mind through well-timed advice or high-held opinions. I can’t restructure the small cells that keep others stuck in big cells of defeat.

That’s God’s job to beat.

The only cell I can walk out of today is my own – and today I will.  Because, the watching eyes of other people’s square blocks of doom are only boxing me in to defeat in Christ Jesus. Like a ball and chain, they chain me to a wall that seems impossible to scale. It leaves me angry at God.

Frankly, it’s a ball of confusion and a chain of pride. 

Are you chained into confusion and pride?

What form of head-hitting, that moves nothing anywhere, is God calling you to stop today?

What offering of grace might he be delivering straight to your doorstep?

His gift was always meant for you.

Lord, today, we let you capture us and hold us. As we are attached to you, God, you keep us where we need to be. You deliver us to the right words, you lead us to the right hopes, you guide us in the right light. You puff us up with authentic, pure and rich love for you and others. You make us new and you guide us to freedom every time. Help us to be lighthouses of freedom, simple lights that direct others to the only shore that provides safe refuge – yours. We can’t do it on our own. We will fail, so we fall down and know that even when we can’t move, you work on our behalf. The work belongs to you God.

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Being a Perfect Christian

perfect christian

Proud, happy and all buttoned up, I’ve been the good-girl Christian skipping along my merry way.

Moving just a little faster.
Standing just a little taller.

That is, until my face meets the concrete and a land flat on my face, bruising my image.

Injured and shocked, the impact of the hit
impacts my heart with the truth, I’ve been missing Christ.

Have you ever gotten so concerned with your image that you missed His?

Believed your faith is what makes others want his?

Or, let your high standing in Christ’s family, make you feel just that – high and better off?

When performance leads our charge, when we think we have all our stuff packed perfectly, tightly and detailed into our favorite bible of choice, when we parade a little taller, a little higher, with a little more insight, when others are not doing things right all the time – we better yell, “Stop” to our heart, because we are about to fall.

I know I should have done that.

Perhaps, I would have saw things more clearly, before letting the critiques of others spill out on the floor. Perhaps then, my contents wouldn’t have displayed a load of pride and a pound of judgement and a dash of negativity. These things don’t taste good and they certainly don’t go down with feelings of Christ’s love.

For the most part, others turn and run at their stench.

Oh Lord, let this not be me.

Yet, somewhere along my way, I mistakenly began believing that godliness equates to giftedness, goodness and greater access. 

I became that unfavorite person I so often look down on.

A Litmus Test: Are You Better-Than-Thou?

Do our prayers sound more like this? 
‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ Lu. 18: 12

Or do we come and pray more like this?
“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Lu. 18:13

When we see our sin nature as a worldwide epidemic that hasn’t left us spared, we see we really are just like the taxman slumped in the corner of mistakes, turmoil and pain.

We see we are that jacked up. No better or worse than others – just saved.

Saved, not from neediness, but from eternal fallenness.
Our embrace of this truth gives legs to humility
not a heart set on growing in earthly nobility. 

Perhaps this is why Christ looks at the first man, the Pharisee, and says, “If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 18:14

I learned the hard-knock way.

I am more a Pharisee than a needy sinner, and it feels good to see. Christ does not condemn me. He loves me. This realization returns my heart to Jesus like the slumped man needing a fresh touch. It returns me to the place of need, where I, like all my fellow man, sit.

This place is a place of unity, togetherness, hand-holding, anticipation of Christ’s work.

A place of relief; it removes my show-off, to turn the power of God on.

It brings Christ to the places that I can’t deal with –
leading me to the most downtrodden, contagious and dirty people.

It brings him into my weakness, into my pain.

perfect Christian

May I boast only in my weakness.
Paul knew this is the power prayer.

May it be one of our favorites too: God, help us to boast only in weakness. Forgive us God, sinners. We miss you and need you. Teach us your ways God and lead us in your paths, lest we fall on our face. May our humility be the artery that allows your work to flow to us and through us. Amen.

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Linking with #DanceWithJesus and Five Minute Friday.

Let’s Choose Humility Over Pride

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I turned from the swing and saw him standing there, fresh cut flowers in hand and a smile on his face.

“I’m sorry. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”

I embedded my face in his chest and wrapped my arms around him. An apology and flowers weren’t what I was expecting, but I was grateful for both. I breathed in the soft, earthy scent of the lilies and took them inside.

He wasn’t sleeping well, and I knew the early wake up call from our son didn’t help. We’d exchanged some harsh words and tones that morning, and our day hadn’t gotten off to a good start.

But instead of trying to justify himself that afternoon and push the issue, he chose to extend love and grace. He chose humility.

As I stood over the kitchen counter, trimming the stems and arranging the buds in a tall vase, I thought about my husband’s actions. How much better would our relationships be if we chose to grace over our need to be right?

So often, I feel like I’ve lost my ability to breathe if I can’t get someone to see things my way. But the longer I’m married and the more I work to build strong, thriving relationships, the more I see it’s often the way we respond to conflict which makes us grow.

Can you imagine how boring life would be if everyone thought exactly the same way you did? Many times I think it would make things easier, but it is our differences which stretch and grow us.

As often as I find myself in the world of black and white, there is much grey. There are areas where we have to let the Spirit give us discernment and wisdom.

When I dig into the word, it does not tell me how the wise person is the one who asserts her view of every situation and proclaims it as the ultimate truth.

No, James speaks of a different kind of wisdom.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13 NIV

Wisdom is shown through humility and service, not the loudness of our voice.

A wise pastor once told me Jesus didn’t go through his earthly ministry proclaiming, “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and follow me.” Although there were times, such with the Pharisees, when Jesus pointed out the immorality of people’s actions, he spent much more time healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted, and leading by example.

There will be times when conflict is necessary and we must speak the truth in love, many disputes are best handled with a simple apology. Even if you are not the person in the wrong, sometimes God calls us to put aside our pride and put the relationship first.

When my husband left work one Tuesday afternoon, he chose humility. He exemplified the very nature of Christ, and chose grace over his need to be right.

And as his wife and someone who often picks the wrong path, I am inspired to follow his example.

I pray God will fill me with his Spirit, so I can extend grace in my time of need.

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Guest Contributor


Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her    darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tearing Down Your Tower of Self

Tower of Self

Sometimes I scare myself.

I see that ugly side of me, the side I normally try to hide from the camera.

The Kelly who wants to be someone.
The Kelly who wants adoration, affirmation and appreciation.
The Kelly who needs to be seen and loved.

It normally appears in a crutched moment of inadequacy where I require dose of feel-better medicine to get me feeling good about myself again.

In these moments, I start believing:

Greatness and prominence trump Christ’s gift of significance.
That no one notices humility, but they notice desirability.
That recognition is fuel and that submission is old school.

I am learning I have to keep an eye on the thermometer of my heart, because when the its-about-me heat starts to rise, my heart grows cold, love freezes over and I lose track of the one I love most.

Me. Myself. I.
How am I seen? What will I do?
What will I build? Am I as good?

Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:4

To make a name.

Is that what I want?

Because, I full well know, it is only about one name: The name above all names, the alpha and omega, the lion and the lamb, the great I AM, the hope of glory, the Savior of the world, the beginning and the end. It all starts and ends with him.  

At days end, my name will be worth nothing and his will be worth everything.

At days end, accomplishments will fade and all that will remain is love.

At days end, stages vanish.  The great stage of godliness, purity and humility will be all that endures.

Anything done in my name will be a signature destined for a shredder upon my final days, but anything done in his name will last forever.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. Ps. 127:1

Without Jesus, my best words are babble. If it’s not spoken in the dialect of love, it’s spoken in the dialect of stupidity.

It’s like speaking worthless syllables of a tribal language to a two-year old – they are destined to be edited, obliterated or forgotten. They just speak confusion.

Therefore its name was called Babel (close to Hebew word confusing), because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. Gen. 11:9

Am I babbling in futility or am I loving in humility?
Am I striving by my efforts or am I receiving love through his?

Everyone loses when agendas move away from the foundation of Jesus. Love is averted. Unity is destroyed. Life-change is missed. People get hurt.

Heaven is missed.

I don’t wan’t to miss that glimpse, not even one slice of heaven – of goodness. I want the whole pie! I want to be so doused in the sweetness of heaven that I have no teeth left and I don’t even care.

If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Cor. 3:14-15

May our eyes soak in the height of the mercy showered on us. May we embrace a vagabond hearts to become traveling temples of God. May we not see any service as meaningless, but ask Christ if he agrees with this mentality when we begin to.

With Jesus, no person is too low, no place off-limits, no heights untouchable, but if it is not done with him, it is done for self.

Jesus, let every ounce of us be poured out for every ounce of your blood – your love.

A job well done. May the person end up loving you more.
An amazing ministry time. No pride, just deep praise for the great God at work.
An awesome business opportunity. May more know Christ.
A financial outpouring of blessings. A means to bring an end to someone’s captivity.
An outstanding compliment. A way to point to the glory that is God.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor. 13:3

If we can’t do it in love, we may as well be doing nothing.
Lord, let our love mean something!

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Real Love for Real Life

Real life real love

By Purposeful Faith Contributor,  Katy McCown

I remember when Valentine’s Day was a big deal. You either loved the question, What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? because you had ultra-romantic plans. Or you dreaded the question because you had no plans.

Now, Valentine’s Day is really more of an annoyance than anything else. Since neither Luke nor I possess gift giving as a love language we like to say every day is Valentine’s Day, thereby relieving each other of any and all romance-based sweets or surprises. It works for us.

Even so, the day still remains and lots of people spend lots of money to show their love.

Last year I started wondering, though.

Why is the heart this day’s cover girl?

Buy a girl a pack of M&Ms on V-Day and you’re likely to get a roll of the eyes, or worse, in return. But give a girl chocolate in a heart-shaped box and Voila! You made a smile. Kids cut out hearts or make them with macaroni noodles. Stuffed bears hold them. Little girls wear them.

Our baby girl, Leah, wears these pajamas with little hearts all about.


The boys love them because it reminds them of a cow. They’re super cute, but I’m looking at these hearts and thinking,  Is that right? Does a heart really paint the picture of love?

This year, I think if I want to show my love I’ll fashion a picture of my life … laid down.

For him.


And them.


 Because that’s what Jesus did. And that’s what He said.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)

Or maybe I’ll draw a bunch of little brains.

Brains deciding to smile instead of scream.
Or teach instead of tear down.
Or offer mercy instead of judgement.
Or simply be quiet instead of spilling all of my opinions.

No way that image looks as cute as the cow-print hearts, but I think that’s more realistic.

Because isn’t real love a little gritty sometimes?
Isn’t it practical more often than poetic?

But, somehow the real-life love is more romantic than the, “Katy, will you accept this rose?” kind.

Like that night …..

In a rental home in Jacksonville, Florida, Luke and I shared a small room with two big dogs, a newborn baby girl and a knee machine. Two months earlier Luke tore a ligament in his knee. Surgery fixed him. Rehab strengthened him. But rehab came with a machine – in the bed, all night – bending and straightening Luke’s knee. We figured we got the 1920’s version of said machine, since it squeaked and creaked with every extension.

Add the newborn to the mix and an occasional re-positioning of the giant dogs in the corner, and we weren’t sleeping much. Cherry on top: the boys got a stomach bug, and we found out about it in the middle of the night.

While Luke helped Jonah into the shower I scrubbed the carpet. The rest is a blur. Except for one moment.

The next day, after dogs and knee machines and newborns and throw-up, Luke came home from work. I expected him to fall into the nearest chair and snore, but he didn’t.

Instead, he found me. With a smile he bent over to kiss my forehead and said,

“There’s no one else in the world I’d rather clean up puke with at 3 a.m. than you. I love doing life with you.”

You’ll likely never find those words etched on a Hallmark card, but they are etched on my heart forever. Not because they came in a pretty package. Not because I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. But because real love met real life, and it bloomed.

That memory – that awful memory – makes me smile today. And, you know, I think Jesus might say the same.

“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)

Have you ever seen real love in real life? Will you share it with me here? Leave a Comment! Let’s celebrate when real love meets real life and blooms!

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Post by Purposeful Faith Contributor,  Katy McCown