Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Is Your 1-Word Resolution Holding You Back? (Linkup)

Resolution holding you back

When I found myself getting irritated at the wide pronouncements of one-word resolutions, I started to wonder, “What’s my issue?”

How can someone not like words like:
Deeper?
Embrace?
Love?

Why am I so frustrated as others passionately pursue the Lord?

Sure, I picked a word – it’s “patience.” It was wisely given to my by a friend.

Patience in writing.
Patience with my husband.
Patience with my kids.
Patience in growth.
Patience in relationships.

Yes, I see the value.

But, what I can’t handle seeing – at the end of my year – is failure. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see the shame, regret, fear and embarrassment tied into that. Why should I set myself up for this?

So I find, it’s simpler to get annoyed and to avoid.
It’s easier to hate than to embrace.
It’s safer to go protected than to become dejected.

So, I push goals, dreams and hopes out of the way to protect a heart that could break along the way.

Truth is, I know I will fail in many ways.

I won’t be patient. I will get irritated. I will blow up at my kids and probably my husband. I will drop the ball. I will mess up. I just know it – and I hate that.

I hate that I can’t reach out to all I want to be – and grab hold of it.

And, underneath it all, I guess this is what really aggravates me about 1-word resolutions.  We will all fail in our own way.  We will all do the exact opposite of what our 1-word is.

Good luck on that 1-word friends!

For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)

And, he is not content with stagnant hearts that hide from his life-giving, love-producing, purpose-provoking truth.

So he says to me, “Kelly, running from failure is running from me.”

And, who can argue with that?

Failure is the beginning of something new.

Failure is the meeting point of love.
Failure is the hidden treasure – we let go of self and grab hold of Christ.
Failure is the heart of growth.
And the starting point of hope.

Jesus doesn’t stand as a judge of 1-word resolutions.
He doesn’t demand a 1-year illusion – here today and gone tomorrow.
He is not a master of confusion.
Ready to throw us into seclusion.

This is not our Lord. He never withholds love –
and he doesn’t shame us based on failures.

In this, I realize our resolutions don’t stand as a barrier to his love –
but as a conduit for it. 

I realize if I stop aiming to please him, I can start aiming to just behold him.
Because a student best receives, when she isn’t trying to do things her own way.

failed resolutions

Deeply, so deeply, I want to remember:

  • We are safe in his sacrifice. Held tightly, cupped in his loving hands.
  • Secure. So secure in our position as children of the most high King.
  • In the safety of his love – and the finality of his sacrifice – we can embrace grace and all the gifts extended through it.

A grace that doesn’t stop at our failings.
A love that is never given to be taken away.
An eternal position that can never be snatched.
A God that doesn’t give to steal away.

What kind of God would that be?

Truly, all wrath is gone.
All that remains is love.

Because of Jesus, I am safe – safe to move forward in perfect love. Love that casts out all my fear. Love that conquers all.  Love that makes me an overcomer. Love that let’s the Spirit of God pour out from me. I can’t even comprehend the start and end of this grace.

So, the Lord just says to me…

Patience, Kelly. Patience.
You are my work in progress.
It is not you that is at work – but it is me.
At the proper time, you will be exalted.
Do you trust me?
In my good time (which may well be more than a year), you will be patient.
You are my work, my craftsmanship, my love.”

And, in these truths, I can rest. I can rest because there is no condemnation left for me. It’s gone. It is gone for me and it is gone for you.

So for now, it just becomes a journey to his destination. In his timing. In his way. Until the day until he flings open the gate to welcome in his new creation – that he made me to be.

Until then, I will rely on him during the process of being patient.

And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 JB)

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How to Go with Jesus

How to Go with Jesus

Life gets so hectic. It gets busy. It gets overwhelming.

Many times, I sit with two children screaming their heads off and I don’t even know what to do. Or, I look at a pile of work that needs to be done, but I have no time. Or, look at the Mount Everest of trials and I have no idea how to ski down.

In these moments, I have to wonder – what do I send?

Do I send love?
Life?
Encouragement?
Empowerment?
Peace?
Joy?

Or, do I send irritation, aggravation and frustration?

Because a lot of the time, the world seems to act on me. It seems to send me into a tailspin. One where I just spin in circles trying to grab hold of a tail I can never quite reach.

And, my aggravation, at my lack of control, often sends me on a rampage to dump frustration on those I love.

My environment becomes a result of my circumstances.

I know God calls me to rise above this, but why can’t I? What holds me back?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)

Is it that I send my mind down roads of thought that they shouldn’t be traveling on?

When life breaks down, when circumstances come to topple – I can choose to send my heart to Jesus. I can choose to send my thoughts to the Word of God. I can choose to send out to others a heart that ministers to their needs, instead of one that is being swallowed up with mine.

Jesus will help me.
He understands trials.
He knows the chaos of life.
He has the right answer for me.
He can get me through.

Jesus, you have told me to go. Send me down your paths, send my according to your ways. Send me, so that I may find true, joyful and meaningful life – because when you send, no one who is encountered by you is ever the same.

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Unload the Weight of Achievement (Linkup)

Weight of achievement
The weight of performance and achievement almost led me right up to the doorstep of death. But, I guess this shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering God does say the wages of sin are death (Ro. 6:23).
I just could not do enough, be enough or feel good enough.

Each failure seemed to add more weight to by back:
Try, fail. More weight.
Work, get nowhere. More weight.
Achieve, go unrecognized. More weight.
Accomplish, but desire more. More weight.

My body was at a breaking point. I couldn’t handle it; I couldn’t cope.

Because if you’re an achiever – and you don’t achieve –
you’re really just a failure in training.

If you’re an achiever – who comes in second place –
you are really just a loser without a cause.

If you’re an achiever – who achieved-
you’re really only as good as your last achievement.

Striving and perfectionism waged war in my life and led me to become a dying frame of an anorexic girl. They led me to seek refuge in selfishness, bitterness and depression.

All my work to gain love, had only left me feeling – unloved.

But, Christ is doing a mighty work in my life as I have relinquished control. More and more, he is helping me see that achievement, based on self, is one of the main requirements of the devil.

Google definitions:

a·chieve·ment
əˈCHēvmənt
noun
  1. a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.
sur·ren·der
səˈrendər
verb
  1.  to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.

Achievement that is not based in a response of obedience to the Gods’ authority, is obedience to the wrong authority.

This authority of the unseen world, loves to see our hearts inclined to self-authority. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other… (Mt. 6:24)

Whom do you follow?
What do you follow?

When we struggle against achievement, we go arm to arm with God to fight for authority.
When we struggle with achievement, we stand up and say, I can do it better than you.
When we struggle with achievement, we see ourselves – and look away from God.

It boils down to pride.

And, it’s no wonder it feels like it may break our backs.

Because Jesus has already carried this load and it is no longer ours to carry. His body was already broken for you and for me.

The price has been paid. It is finished. We are free from the heavy burdens of self-sufficiency, because Christ is 100% sufficient.

He calls us to unload and let go, by saying:

– My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

– For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

– Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Mt. 11:28-29)

He calls us to freedom in him.
He calls us to rest in his ways.
He calls us to trust by faith.
He calls us to follow his will.
He calls us to life in Him.
He calls us to prayer with hope.
He calls us to seek his ways.
He calls us to follow his truth.
He calls us to find peace in his leading.

Here we are safe under the right authority – as we submit to the one who will protect us, guide us and help us.

Christ has already done the work.

The law has been completely fulfilled. The grace has been completely poured out. The condemnation has been completely removed.

I no longer have to struggle to make the world pleased with Kelly, because God is well pleased with Kelly.
I no longer have to be beholden to my own ways, because Jesus is the only way.
I no longer have to fear the outcomes of others, because my outcome is secure – eternity awaits!

Just drop the weight! It feels so good. Why carry around a back full of loaded bricks? Why not unload them into the arms of Christ?  This way he can instruct you and guide you as you build your earthly and eternal house – brick by brick by brick – according to his will.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Ps. 127:1)

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Welcome Jesus!

Welcome Jesus

Welcome Jesus!

It’s not pretty. It’s not always whole. It’s often aching. It’s needing help. It can feel so dark.

But, my heart is open to you. It’s open to the work that you want to do. It’s open to your will. It’s open to your desires for my life.

Don’t let me close my heart to you Lord. I will miss you. Don’t let me let you go unwelcomed.

Because you are what makes me.
You are what lifts me.
You are what gives my life a pulse.
When you are teaching me, instructing me and leading me, I am at one with you your heart.

You are a perfect visitor.
You take residence in an awe-inspiring way.
You don’t demand my service.
You don’t look at me with a judging eye.
You don’t wonder why I am not a better welcomer.

Instead, you actually welcome me into your heart.  You welcome me into your ways.

I think I am giving – but it is actually YOU who gives.

You are the gracious host, because as I seek you, you let me come closer and closer to your heart, your ways and your safety. As I knock at your door, you welcome my heart to find safe refuge in you. This is where power is held. This is where your glory is found.

You teach me what love is.
To love others before myself.
To open a door to others in need.
To lift another who has fallen down.
To bring truth to others who feel lost.

Let me never shut the door to your love – because you never shut your love to me.

Let all of my heart be ready to welcome all of you – for it is only then that I will discover that you bring something far greater than a housewarming gift – you bring you. And all of you, is more than enough for all of me – because your grace changes all of me!

Pursuing Peace

Pursuing Peace

I walked out the door in a hurry. Mostly because for the last ten minutes my husband repeatedly told me to get out.

About this time last year I celebrated my birthday. I asked for a pedicure – with the unspoken word “alone” embedded in the message. Luke granted my request with an eager heart and threw in a “take the whole day” cherry on top. So, when the clock turned to 8:30 a.m. the morning of my birthday, and I was still in the house, Luke started pushing me out.

But when I shuffled outside, the limousine parked behind my car brought me to a screeching halt.

“Luuuuuke,” I yelled on my way back inside the house, “What is going on?”

With a mischievous smile he let me in on the plan he’d been working on for days now. A full-day girls get away to shop, eat and relax at the spa.

There I sat. No kids, dishes, laundry or list of to-dos. No demands to meet. No details to arrange. Nada. All I had to do was breathe. So I did. I took a big, deep breathe. I smiled and burrowed back in my chair. The stillness spelled P-E-A-C-E.

That two minutes, or so, was awesome ….

But before the driver could make one turn I put the hamster back on the wheel in my brain and let him loose.

Is he going to turn in front of that car? I better buckle up. And so it began. The rest of the ride up I balked from time to time. What is he doing? How fast is he going? Is he texting and driving?!

I could hear Luke’s voice in my head begging me to relax. You’re missing the whole point.

Decision time. Luke wrapped peace and pampering in a shiny black car and laid it in the driveway. All I had to do was get into the limousine. And I did. But once that door shut behind me, it was now up to me. I had to choose to enjoy the gift.

And my eyebrows raise at the thought: I can actually create my own state of tension and exhaustion. Anywhere. Anytime.

My awareness promoted at least a fight to put the hamster in his place. At the spa they soaked me, scrubbed me, peeled and painted me. I left exfoliated and rejuvenated.

Then the day after the spa happened. In a nutshell: Total anarchy.

The kids held a secret midnight meeting and decided to try to unseat me from my position of authority over them. It’s the only logical explanation for what went on here. Kicking. Screaming. The mother of all melt downs (by me and them).

And I giggle, because I’m thinking the same thing you are. What does this have to do with peace? And please don’t imagine this crazy house of people with hands joined singing “Amazing Grace” as we lay down our troubles and dish out hugs. Not even close.

But as the day wore on I noticed something inexplicable …. a smile. On my face and theirs.

Somehow, after a day so treacherous it prompted Luke to proclaim renewed confidence in his decision to have no more children, I mustered a smile. Even a laugh.

Stress in the limo while I ride to the spa. Peace in the kitchen while all of my little blessings fight over where to sit. This seems backwards, right? What gives? And then I realized,

Peace is not an arranged place or set of circumstances; it is an intentional position of the heart.

It’s the difference between my toddler standing in front of his daddy crying and screaming and stomping his feet, and this …

photo-72

A head rested on a solid shoulder. A storm calmed underneath a strong arm. A little boy secure in his daddy’s grip.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, … Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, … singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:15-16 (ESV)

Strife can strike. Anywhere. Anytime. Or Peace can rule. Anywhere. Anytime. With His word in your heart and a His song on your lips, you make the call. I pick peace!

Blessed to spend time with you today, Katy

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it's safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don't look quite like they did ten years ago, but I've learned along the way dreams do come true ... even if you're not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife's life at www.katymccown.com and I'd love for you to visit me!

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, and 5 teams later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!

 

See & Seize God Opportunities

Seize God Opportunities

Soaked, two kids were packed under my arms.
When angry kids are in tow it’s never easy to move the cattle.
Rain makes it even more precarious.
So, I kept a singular focus on the car and ran with all my might.

I had no idea that this “rain dash” was set to give me a clear lesson on how to see and seize God opportunities in my own life…

No sooner did I lock them into their carseats than I noticed my daughter’s pink boot was gone.

Can’t they just keep their shoes on! 

Along our 4-block mad dash, the stinkin’ boot was lost. Anger and irritation welled up in me.

I stood, in the rain, feeling like a sopping mess – and probably looking like one too.

I wanted to give up. To shut down. To let the rain take control.  So, when I saw a grey shadow approaching, embarrassed, I kept my head down. I tried to divert my eyes. I wanted to hide under the car…until, I noticed something in his hands…

…something pink.

This man stepped into the rain – to minister to my pain.
He saw my plight – and was determined to make things right.
He knew it was the right thing to do – and he handed me the shoe.

He transformed an about-to-lose-it-moment into an I’m-so-blessed-moment.

Because he let go of convenience – and stepped into rainy inconvenience he made the difference. Because he looked beyond comfort, to see – not his iPhone, his to-do list or his worries – he saw the opportunity – a struggling, frustrated mom.

Willing.
Ready.
Available to help.

Am I this way?

It got me to thinking, how often do I miss God’s opportunities because I am too focused on insecurities, worries and incapabilities? How often am I too focused on my phone, destination or tasks to see another?

When we can’t see past ourselves, we can’t see others.

When we can’t see others, we can’t see their pain.

When we can’t see hurts, we can’t love hurts.

We walk right past.  Head down. We don’t see. We miss it. We miss out.

When I’m so busy doing, I can’t be seeing. Seeing another in need. Seeing a selfless act. Seeing God’s will.

I don’t want to be so consumed with myself, that I miss the chance to offer help to a hopeless person. I don’t want to be so consumed with myself, that I miss the chance to love a cancer-filled woman. I don’t want to be so consumed with myself that I miss the chance to hold hands with one in agony.

Because God has created me for more. He has created you for more.  He has created us to love, to give, to run into the rain and to sacrifice for others.  When we step outside of ourselves, we step into purpose, into joy and into meaning.  There is nothing better.

He has given us gifts to encourage and love. Will we use them? He has joy within the embrace of a hug. Will we feel it? He has hurting souls right in our midst – on purpose. Will we see them?

If we can just keep our eyes up! If we can just be willing, ready and available – then we will see.  We will see the great chances the Lord has set before us to sacrifice and to step out of our comfort zones to love another.  We will see the world through new light.

This is the opportunity the Lord has set before us:

…The LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting…that He may be glorified. (Is. 61:1-3)

Lord, let us be vehicles of your good news. Let us see lives changed, hearts healed, hope renewed, then we will see lives improved. We will see your hand, your will and your glory at work.

I so want that.

I wan’t to be the person holding the pink boot for another sopping wet super frustrated, tired mom, don’t you?

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Counting Gifts Instead of Problems

Good gifts from above

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Christmas vacation came to an abrupt end as my husband and I listened to water gush underneath the bathroom floor. It wasn’t just coming out of the drainage pipe. No, it sounded like a waterfall beneath our feet.

The longer we stood there waiting for the noise to stop, the more dollar signs I saw adding up in my head. This was the second plumbing issue we’d encountered during Christmas break, and we still had not received the bill from the first service call.

As my mind raced with endless possibilities, I sent up a frail prayer hoping the damage would be minimal. Although I avoided complaining outwardly, I inwardly assumed the posture of punished child.

Why did this have to happen right after Christmas, when we’d just spent money on travel and gifts? Why did these types of things always happen in multiples?

Potty training a high-maintenance, strong-willed child added to my list of stresses. A struggling family member kept me awake at night.

As my inner monologue rehearsed all of these things, it sounded like a six-year-old whining. But the thought that disturbed me the most was one I’ve seen countless times from followers of Christ when times get hard: Why was God punishing me? What had I done?

Had we missed a tithe check, neglected acts of service or turned a blind eye to someone in need? As my mind sunk further into a downward cycle of self-pity, I knew my thoughts were not from the Creator. I was in the midst of a battle of the mind, and I needed to grasp onto the light of Truth.

I stole a few moments by myself and counted gifts. I thanked God that I have a husband who is handy and able to make repairs when times get rough. I thanked him that we live in an area where we have resources available to us. As I walked our dogs, I praised God for the beautiful weather we came home to the previous day. But the further I went down a rocky, uneven path, the more one question kept repeating itself in my head.

Why do I perceive negative circumstances as punishment from God, but often fail to recognize blessings as God’s love?

I reflected on everything I love about my life on a given day. A song that comes on the radio at just the right time. The way my three-year-old throws himself into hugs, his whole body wrapped around you. A beautiful sunrise that turns the entire horizon a deep shade of orange.

How could I not look at each of these gifts and think, “Wow, God must really love me”? And if I recognized each of these blessings as an expression of love from my Creator, how would it change me?

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

He does not change, friends. He doesn’t have a mood swing and decide to clog up your drain. He doesn’t get hormonal and decide not to listen to your prayer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

When he allows us to face trials, it is not because he is angry with us, but to draw us to Him and refine us. Each struggle we face is an opportunity to build character.

Tonight, as I sit in the soft glow of the Christmas tree, I’m still counting. I’m counting not only the gifts he’s given me, but the ones I know will come. Because he’s that good.

As the list grows, I feel his love swelling up inside of me. He loves me so much. And he loves you, too.

So today, as your brewing your coffee and listening to your favorite tune on the radio, remember he created this day just for you. Let truth of that realization sink in and fill you with a love so deep it overflows.

 

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.

When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

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

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10 Biblical Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment

Grab hold of contentment

My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.

My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.

I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.

Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes?   He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.

His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.

How much of our attitude is just like his?  One of discontentment?

How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s?  How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?

What does God think about this?

It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own.  We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.

The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it.

He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.

Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”?  Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.

10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:

10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t.  Why?  We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.

9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.

Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ).  However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.

While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)

7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods.  God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)

6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.

If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short.  He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)

5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.

Frankly, we may have less than another today.  But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow.  If we are always playing the comparison game  – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa.  Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle?  It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)

4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.

He will provide for our deepest needs.  We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)

3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.

In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface.  It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)

2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.

“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security.  What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)

1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.

The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted.  The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)

We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift.  We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.

Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting.  She only held a drop of milk.  His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.

What has the Lord placed in front of you?  Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift? 

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Actually Keep your New Year Resolutions

Keep Your New Year Resolutions

Lose weight. Work out. Be patient. Act kind. Grow closer to God. Stop a bad habit. Is it possible to actually keep your New Year resolutions?

We all want to be better, act better and do better – but often our well-intentioned resolutions – end up as New Year illusions, leaving us tied up in confusion.  We wonder where we went wrong? How we dropped the ball?

Many times, it’s easier to altogether avoid New Year claims then to deal with the fear of their pending shame.

But, Christ doesn’t model stagnant living.
And, he certainly doesn’t call us to avoid improving because we fear losing.

So, how can we truly change?

In my mind, I want to change, but my heart fears that I can’t. I fear I’ll drop the ball. I fear that my dreams will become just that – dreams – unattainable distant images. So I raise a wall of indifference out of fear that I’ll let both God and myself down down.

As always, the Lord doesn’t remain silent when truth needs to be grasped. And, in his always-faithful way, he answers saying, “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.” (Is. 28:16)

And, it’s just this cornerstone that makes all the difference. It’s this stone that holds it all together.  It’s the foundation.  The stone that prevents everything from falling.

It’s the stone that holds me together. It’s the stone that will be my foundation. It’s the stone that cements all resolutions.  The one that allows the entire structure to stand firm. The one that we can build upon safely. The cornerstone – Christ Jesus.  

What is the foundation of your resolutions?  Is it your own work?  Your own might?  Your own strength?

Or, do you rely on the stone that will never let you be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6)?

The stone that let’s hard work stand.

Because the truth is, without Christ, all resolutions disintegrate.
By ourselves, we will crack, chip and crumble.
In our own strength, we’ll build foundations of quicksand.
Quicksand that will swallow up all our well-intentioned efforts.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:11)

Many of my own works, desires and New Year pursuits have been built on my own goals, ideas and dreams – rather than the foundation of the Lord. In this, they were almost all destined to fail.

Build your Resolutions Upon a Firm Foundation

This year, my resolutions will be built upon a firm foundation. A foundation that is completely reliant on the chief cornerstone. A foundation of intentions that are derived from him, focused on him and rooted in my trust of him.

Because if they aren’t – all resolutions will quake to the floor – and the only resolution that I will be left with is a resolution to clean up a mess of well-intentioned goals.  

Christ changes it all though. With Christ as a foundation, our buildings are secure, established and indestructible. Yet, without him, our work is in vain.

“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)

  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone, by seeking the will of the cornerstone – Christ Jesus – in our lives.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by submitting ourselves to his work.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by asking for his help daily.
  • We can safely build upon the cornerstone by embracing his grace when we start to slip.

Then, at the end of the day – when we gaze at the Lord’s work, we will marvel at it’s beauty. Rightfully and naturally, all glory and honor will go to him – the master carpenter, who builds in perfection.  

It won’t be vain or about our glory – or our demise – but it will be all about the ultimate builder.  The one who builds beauty, holiness and eternal structures of significance.

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3 Encouraging Truths When You Feel Stuck

When you feel stuck

Do you feel stagnant? Like you are trying to accelerate, but your car is going nowhere? There are truths when you feel stuck.  Do you know them?

At times, we all feel stuck. We wonder, “Are we making a difference? Serving a purpose? Changing lives? Impacting the world? Is our life adding up to anything meaningful?”

Like a car spinning its wheels, we feel the same. Round and round we go – going nowhere. Pushing and pushing with all our might – but we stay suck. Pressing and pressing our gas pedals – but our wheels dig in deeper.

It’s aggravating. Frustrating. Demoralizing.

It doesn’t matter if we steer in the right direction, because we aren’t going anywhere. So, we look up to God, and ask, “Why?” We feel like giving up.

I sludged around in the mud for so long. I spent much of my life working in jobs that never satisfied. I often arrived to work with a smile – and left for home with a frown. I felt purposeless. Passionless. And, disappointed in myself.

During this time, I realized:
To live without cause is to feel like a fraud.
To not make a difference is to become indifferent.
To fake like you’re okay is to put on a good play.
To not see results feels like an insult.

I believed – and still believe – this is not how God intends us to live. God desires us to be authentic, patient and enduring.

Yet, so many days, I can return to this place of “stuck”. I may want bigger progress. More lives changed. I may want to do better spiritually. Or to be a better mom. Or to have circumstances improve. I may just want to feel closer to God.

Often, I just feel stuck.

But, God is faithfully teaching me that, many times, he is diligently at work to get me unstuck from life’s muck. Even more, we tend to best receive the Lord’s sermons when we are stuck in muck.

It is here where we can’t move, where we have to wait, where we must be still. And, we hear the Lord in profound ways.

The Lord has 3 critical lessons he wants us to grab hold of, instead of our life’s steering wheel:

1. God has us just where he wants us to be.

He knows where we are. He sees us. He has not forgotten about us. This place of frustration is a place of transformation. It is in this place, where we must stop and wait on him.  It is here where we can find his love, his direction and his guidance.

It’s in these places of “wait” where God’s work really gets started. This muddy ground is his best working ground. It is here, where he molds us – growing us in patience, endurance and perseverance.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

2. He is preparing, reforming and transforming us to do his work.

Fear not. Even though we feel stuck, it doesn’t mean our lives have gone amuck. Because it’s here we can choose to trust, grow and sow. As we sow faith, we let go of fear. As we let go of fear (sometimes the fear of mediocrity), true purpose surfaces – it is here we find – our calling.

The bottom line of true calling is pleasing and serving the Lord.
When we let go of fear and indifference – we start making a difference.
We understand that he is at work – in us – instead of us demanding to have him work – through us.

We spin our wheels less and he produces more and more fruit. Fruit that we can go share with others. In this, we find rest, encouragement and renewed passion.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)

3. God put a calling in our hearts. Listen and follow.

God made us with a purpose and for a purpose. Perhaps we are still in the training stages. An Olympian cannot just walk out on the track and get the gold. Likewise, there are hard training days that accompany our work for the Lord. We have to put the hard work in. Work that is endless, tiring and ongoing.

God is sovereign; he decides the proper time to exalt us. We can wait on him. Even if that time of exaltation is at heavens door, we can still trust in his plan.

Let’s not miss the moment. Because the most important calling for our lives is not the one we dream of – but the one that he has already placed in front of us – for this exact moment. Let’s not miss it.

Let’s call out to the Lord.
He will help us.
His words will guide us in our way.

When we stop focusing on our circumstances and start focusing on him – things start to happen.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Ps. 32:8)

We can’t give up our drive; this was placed in us by God. But, we must keep our eyes on the one who provides “the way”. Then, in God’s perfect timing, our wheels will stop spinning – and start moving us to destinations we never dreamed.

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