Purposeful Faith

Is Showy Christianity Leading You Astray?

Showy Christianity

Entertain me.
Delight me.
Distract me.

We are on a constant hunt to find pleasure in all we do.

We are seeking a God that is palatable, tasty and pleasurable. We go to big conferences, with big screens and big pastors.  All is good as long as it points to Christ, right?

This makes me wonder.
It makes me wonder whether the fan-fare would be a delight or a fright to Jesus?

We know it is all about his glory for his story.
We know it is all about his name and not our fame.

But, somehow the famous draw us, the powerful captivate us and the big lights lure us.

Is lowly and humble Jesus found against the big lights of Christianity?

Is he found in the lights of the big show or in the shadow of the big Father?

I can’t help but think that when we demand church be an experience, we miss the experience that is Jesus. We miss the stillness of a moment where it is just us and him. We miss the quiet heart that says, I don’t need all that – I just need you. We miss the convictions of the Holy Spirit at work within us, because we are too focused around us and we can’t hear what he is saying to us.

Entertainment becomes an opiate to hide us from reality.
A crutch to keep our anxious minds in motion.
Novocaine to dull our suffering.

But, perhaps suffering is just what God has set forth for us to feel in the moment, because it will move us towards deeper love and faith.

It’s not the big lights we need to keep our eyes off of ourselves, but simply the light of Christ to shines truth into the hidden places of our aching hearts.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

But, for us entertainment seekers, silence, quietness and stillness of mind scares us. It’s uncomfortable.

Instead, we become so focused on what others are saying and doing, that we often miss what God wants us to say or do for another. We expect the producers to make the show good enough for us to consume and when we don’t we leave disappointed.

But, did Jesus seek to put on a show to make Christianity glow?

He didn’t seek big followers in order to make new followers.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (John 4:17)

This woman went alone. She went with her thoughts. She went with a simple bucket, most likely. But, what she got was an encounter with Jesus. Jesus, who stepped away from the other disciples, away from the crowds to meet a woman in a simple way, through simple words, that would simply change her heart forever.

Jesus’ approach was simple.

He simply approached man with straightforward truth to let the power of the living Word transform dying hearts.

Jesus knew the Word of the Lord is more than sufficient – and more than capable – to accomplish all it is set forth to accomplish.

He withdrew from the crowds for quiet prayer with his Father. He calls us to do the same – to talk without noise, without pretense and without the show being our idol.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Ps. 150:1-2)

Our call is to praise the Lord, to seek his soul, to seek his face.

Perhaps it doesn’t come down to what others do, or what people offer us, or who says what or how many people are at whatever event or the amount of lights, but it comes down to how we enter into church and how we approach the Father.

It comes down to who and what we follow.
It comes down to what we expect, to what we demand and what we seek.

It comes down to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt. 22:37) and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt. 22:39)

 

It comes down to – it’s all about Him.

 

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Are you a Speaker of Fear? (Linkup)

Are you a Speaker of Fear?

Fear says,

“I don’t want you to do that. You better not go there.”
“I walked down a path and I saw the bad things that resulted.”
“You may get hurt.”
“I will have to carry your load.”

When we speak fear, we speak death into another person’s joy.
We speak the emotions of worst case scenarios into what could be another’s best.
We rain on another’s parade.

I don’t want to be that kind of person.

The kind of person that sees a child with a new balloon – and who then sucks the life right out of it.

I can try to justify it in love:
I don’t want them to be hurt.
I am saving us future pain.
They should know the truth.

But speaking fear is just criticism wrapped with a thin bow of “care”.  The “care” bow doesn’t last, but often it’s the underlying words of fear that endure.

Are you raining on a parade?

Are you letting fear dictate your words to another?
To a spouse?
A child?
A friend?

I am guilty. I look at my 3-year old son, carrying big bucket of water and a huge smile, only to say, “Don’t spill that. I really don’t want to clean that up.”

While I know this is a small example, and it won’t ruin his life forever, it still conveys the point. What if, instead, I was to say, “Wow! That looks like fun. You are up to something cool. I want to be a part of that! Let’s take it outside.”

Instead of stealing joy, I am building into it.

I know, so often, I run so fast to fear…

Fear that ruins.
Fear that cripples.
Fear that overshadows emotions.

Fear stands for:

Fun
Ends
And you’re left…
Rejected

What’s the other alternative? Love.

Love stands for:

Letting
Obstacles
Vanish and
Enduring Faith Win

Love doesn’t see issues, but sees hope.

Love doesn’t see threats, but sees opportunity.

Love doesn’t see differences, but common pain.

Love doesn’t see the words “you can’t”, but encourages through the words “you can.”

​Love doesn’t see the potential downfall, but a chance for greater faith to be forged.

Love doesn’t run to save, but trusts Jesus to.

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Adventuring with Jesus

Adventuring with Jesus

So many times, I become distracted from the greatest love of my life.

I wake up and say my prayers, only to let the craziness of my day draw me away. I tell God, in the morning all is for him, only to let my goals, children and my schedule repel my heart from him. I feel strong in Jesus, only to let my eyes wander. Then I wonder how much he loves me.

How do I get past living like a yo-yo of faithfulness? It’s like one moment I am high and lifted with God and the next I am down in the dumps.

I can’t help but think, but wonder, what if I kept my heart in a place of continual meditation? Then, would my heart keep him where my mouth professes him to be?

Eyes on Jesus
Eyes on his ways
Eyes on his path
Not on others
Not on the waves
Not on the sea
Not on the pain
Not on the people
Not on the plan
But on him

As we see him, we see our way,
his unique road marked out just for us.

A road that does not conform to
industry standards,
society,
pressures,
norms,
circumstances,
perceptions
or opinions.

It simply conforms us to Him, his will, his peace and his love.
It sends us down roads of renewal and life.

The paths we travel are not the paths of others. So when we look at others paths and compare, we slowly move off of the glowing easy road he designed uniquely for us and quickly move onto a rocky road of hard pursuit.

We become discouraged,
rather than encouraged.

We become angry,
rather than holy.

We become frustrated,
rather than captivated,
because what we thought was our lot – was not.

He always had a unique road laid out for us, but we took our eyes off of him – and onto “them”.

But it’s ok. Everything is ok when you know Jesus.

We pick up our heart from the ground,
and seek our way back to the way that always waits,
always stands,
and that is always at work within us.

The Spirit stands ready to more and more  establish us – in Him – Christ Jesus. It stands ready to help us put our best foot forward as we return to the source.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Prov. 16:9

We again place our eyes on him and keep walking towards him,
knowing that when we are in him, we are in his will for us.

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

He will open doors, he will make people listen and he will do all the things that seem impossible.

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Eph. 3:20

There is no where he won’t take us when we are following his ways,
there is no place to wild, no land too incredible, no forest too fantastic,
he travels with us and we are safe.

Our life is his adventure and we are along for the ride.

What unbeaten path are you being called out to? How might God be calling you to continually place your eyes on him?

Enjoyed “Adventuring with Jesus?” Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.


Following Jesus to Selflessness

Following Jesus

She talked and talked and talked.
I listened and listened and listened.
While my mouth sat still, hers moved a hundred miles a minute.

Would I ever get a chance to speak?
Will she ever ask me about me?

Some people can really talk about themselves – a lot!

As my mind spinned a web of annoyance, God came to undo it with his Spirit. He nudged me to truth.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Jo. 14:26

Bring to remembrance. When we remember what Jesus has said to us, done for us and given to us, we suddenly remember what is really important.

Things like: so the last will be first, and the first will be last. Mt. 20:16

Remembering centers our soul on the crucified-and-risen one.

The man who never demanded to be fully known.
The man who never took the road of delight, entertainment or self-pursuit.
The man who surrendered his whole life to the will of his Father.
The man who was treated unjustly, unfairly and unbelievably by so many.

But did Jesus ever stop pursuing, reaching and caring?

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. Jo. 6:38

No, he knew who he served.

But, do we know?

Every moment is an opportunity to serve up love
and every pain point is an opportunity to reach beyond ourselves.

What holds us back? Feelings?

Truthfully, Jesus may have felt out of control, used or taken advantage of too.

Yet for Jesus, feelings, control and personal justice were never his greatest cause – love was.

And, it should be my greatest cause too.

Jesus laid down his crown of full control, so he could care for the Father’s greatest creation – us.

Love links arms and drops demands.
Love heals the broken and mends their aches.
Love reaches out when it’s not easy.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Jo. 15:3

As I sat critiquing my friend, God spoke love over self, he whispered: “So what Kelly? Do you follow me? Kelly, go deeper on her behalf.”

I followed. With a gently rebuked and softened heart, and said, “Wow, you have been going through so much. I can only imagine how you feel.”

This sentence opened the floodgates to reveal deep pain, hurt and trials.  She needed this moment. She craved this moment. It was a moment of healing ministry that God had set aside.

I am so glad I listened.

What if I had chosen apathy instead of empathy?
I would have missed this opportunity.

When we choose to follow Jesus, rather than our annoyances, all roads lead back to love.

It doesn’t matter if our mind protests, because Christ’s love can still work if we are just ready to drop our signs of injustice.

We simply set down our preconceived notions, we stop going through the motions and we watch him work.

We may lose all control, but it doesn’t matter because Jesus Christ has all control anyway.  Following him is finding yourself under the control of the only one who really can control all things for good.

I want to reside there.

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Today, I am linking with #LiveFreeThursday, Five Minute Friday (I admit, spent more than 5-minutes. Sorry!) and #DanceWithJesus.


Are You Starstruck Or Awestruck?

Jesus Is the Way by Katie M. Reid for Purposeful Faith

Let’s give a grand welcome to Katie Reid, a brand new Purposeful Faith regular contributor. Her words speak with power to needy, achieving and controlled hearts and have been like soothing oil on the rough parts of my striving. I am looking forward to being blessed by her words – and I hope you are too. Welcome Katie!

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Somewhere along the way you took a detour. You started following the shiny stars overhead and you forgot that you were supposed to be following the Son’s lead.

Now you are disoriented and trying to find your way back to where you started. But you are far from the trail-head and so you must stop, rest, and ask Him to illuminate the next step out of this tangled mess at your feet.

You got tripped up as you rounded the bend and now you need some time to regroup.

The Shadows threaten to trip your forward motion but, sojourner, remember Truth—remember from whence you came. Call to mind the One who commissioned you to venture into the woods in the first place.

You wander in circles looking for the light. You chase your tail only to find you are dizzy and tired; depleted and going nowhere fast—wearing a trail into the ground that leads right back to you.

You feel alone in the dark, unsure of where your feet will end up.

The stars glimmer above and you wonder why you aren’t up there with them, doing important, beautiful work. You long to shine as they do.

You forgot, He has already given you His Light inside to carry; you, His light-bearer.

You look up, starstruck, blinded by the glorious display that you see. But, look beyond that. Keep your gaze fixed, higher, and see where the Glory really lies. He is beyond…and before and within.

May you be awestruck by the Majesty found in the One who breathes out stars. You see the stars shimmering but you fail to see the refining process that took place—through trials, time and testing—to get them to this place of radiance.

You try to hurry and scurry your way through the hard but it has dulled your light dear one.

Just sit down for a moment Child. You cover the most ground as you remain upon this Rock—steadfast is He who invites you to follow.

The way out of here looks different than the course you would have taken, but through the twists and turns, the low valleys and steep mountains paths, you’ll discover that this walk with Him is the very thing you need to make it. And darling, the view is breathtaking.

Jeremiah 6:16 “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Your candle is dim, but it’s not out yet
You need His grace, to cover your debt
You think you have peace, but you need His release
If only you’d turn and face Him now
Embrace Him now, He’s here now…

You matter so much, more than you know, but something’s gotta give here or you won’t make it out alive.

And then you remember. Someone’s gotta give—to get you out of this mess.

This is brought to mind, just in time…He is the One who already gave so you could find the way out of the darkness.

Jesus is the way.

And He sits next to you—your heart stilled—as He whispers this love song in the midst of the forest.

Child, be awestruck by the depth of Love hung upon the cedars.
You are Found. Seen. Known.

As you release your grip on this quest for significance You will find that I already conquered; My hands pierced through.

I took on the darkness found within and around as My blood was poured out
on hardened ground.

Don’t despair Child, My Love makes you Significant. You are valued, not forgotten.

The time has come, to stand up now. I have walked this way before, I know it best.
Let Me lead as we take the next step, together.

Going Deeper:
1. Have you become distracted or discouraged on your journey?
2. Is it time to rest and take off the things that are hindering your walk?
3. How does His Presence and Word bring you comfort and renewed hope as you follow His path for you?

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

Katie M. Reid Headshot

Katie M. Reid is a Tightly Wound Woman, and recovering perfectionist, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in  the everyday moments of life. She delights in her hubby and four children and their life in ministry. Some of Katie’s favorite things are writing, singing, speaking and photography. She is a contributing writer for God-sized Dreams and enjoys helping others take the next step in their relationship with Jesus and their God-given purpose. Katie would love to connect with you over on her blog, echoesofmyheart.com.

 Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday!


Finding What God Has You To Do

What God has you to do

Lately, I have been running in mode chicken-with-her-head-cut-off.

And, yes, it is as unpretty as it sounds, my friend.

With activities, school, summer planning, the blog, other writing, my husband and everything else to be done, I feel like I am running a marathon of must-do’s.  Surely, I can manage it. Surely things will calm down.

But will they? 

What happens when the onslaught never appears to have an end in sight?

Just a couple days ago, one more HUGE item was loaded onto my already slumped shoulders.

“I don’t have time for this! I can’t do this and everything else!”

Well, that is something that most (smart) non-mighty women say, but it isn’t what I said.  Instead, I said, this is a have-to-do for today.

The only way I could think of removing it’s power was by clearing it out.  It’s like, I felt that by handling it, I could handle my feelings.

So, my eyes focused, my mind raced and my anxiety was set and loaded as I moved forward – all systems go!

And, I did. I accomplished this big action item. I did it.

I did it to meet the words of my husband,  “You know, Kelly, I needed you today. You were so focused on you, you missed me.”
I did it to meet the face of my children, “Mommy, we just wanted to play with you.”
I did it to hear my God whisper, “Kelly, what happened to your connection to me?

Sure I did it, but in the process I blew out all the people I loved.

Sometimes I feel that I have to run to a destination, but the greatest destination is always seeking and caring for the hearts the heart of those I love most.

I don’t want to miss that.

I don’t want to spend my life so set on to-dos that I miss the todays.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Mt. 6:33

The reality is:

It’s not the action items that gets done first, it’s the kingdom of God.
When we go after his heart and his purpose, we find true purpose.
When we seek his face, he pours down on us abundant grace.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mt 11:28-30

The great answer to the list of work that never ends is not doing more, it is resting and praying more.

It is laying down to see up.
It is seeing up, to see what he pours down.
It is the decision to accept a moment of his peace.

Because aren’t we either rushing or resting?
And, if we are rushing how can we accept his rest?

His rest doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get everything done,
but it does mean we will find a safe refuge and clear direction about how to go.

Who doesn’t need more of that?

It is as simple as saying, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” Ruth 1:16
Then we start to believe, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Not the things that I want to do, but the things that he wants me to do.
Not the ways I think I should approach it, but the way he does.
Not with fear as my driver, but with Jesus as my chauffeur.

When I rest in God, I begin to see I don’t have to do it all to know he can take care of it all.

Did you like, “Finding What God has you Do?” Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

#CompelTip – Avoid tired and typical writing. Use the 5 F’s to beat boredom!


When God Doesn’t Give (Linkup)

When God Doesn't Give

A unique opportunity was given to me – and then completely taken away.

I could have brought so much to the table. I knew I would have done a great job. I knew God would have used me in a powerful way. I so badly wanted to be used. I so badly wanted to give all I had.

But, I wasn’t chosen. In a sense, I was left behind.

I just needed the chance. Why not me God?
I just needed someone to believe in me. God, can’t you clear a path for me?

Am I not good enough for your blessings? Not special enough to move your mighty hand?

Like a mother removing a treat from a child’s hands, God was pulled away what was mine. I threw a tantrum of my own and wallowed in hurt feelings and disappointment.

God had given, only to rip away.

The moment of his gift- lost.
The sweetness of the moment – handed to someone else.

Bad, bad, bad thoughts rushed in, like:

“One day they will see…they should have picked me.”
“I could have done this better. I would have been different, but more impactful.”
“I will do great things one day and they will say, ‘We made a mistake, we should have given her the chance.'”

God loves reaching curtained hearts,
the ones covered by pounds and pounds of fabric
that hide his show
– and cover his glow.

He opens our eyes. He pulls back the curtains. He places our eyes on him. The one who is center stage. The director of all, so we don’t miss it. So we don’t miss his truth.

So we see what is really at play.

And, what God said to my open, plaint and needy self was:

“(Kelly), are you saying,
‘I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on my mount…,
on the utmost heights…
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High?'” 
Is. 14:12-14

Is that what you are saying, dear child? Because these words sound sadly familiar.

Words like:

“They will see my majesty.”
“They will see my glory.”
“They should have recognized me.”
“I will go so high.”
“I will one day show them.”

My heart was shocked. My eyes were open and his truth was flat out in front of me.

I was bowing down to the antithesis of truth.
To the great opposer of humility.
The enemy Father.

The enemy who says, God will leave you high and dry,
because he is up in the sky.

The enemy who points to your powerless as a weakness.

The enemy who shakes your feet to walk you  straight away from the heart of Christ.

He is effective. Powerful. Cunning.

We are his best target, because if he can hit us, he can momentarily thwart the plans of God in our lives. He can run our heart amuck in fear, worry and worthlessness. How can one living here, truly honor God?

Yet, If I keep God’s truth front and center I realize:

He may not give me the good I want in today, because he is preparing great for tomorrow.

This role may count for another’s soul.

My heart needs to learn a lesson in humility, so I can go to these places with stability.

When we are forced to step down, God steps up to teach our hearts deeper love.

God doesn’t want us reliant on opportunities, he want’s us reliant on him – the King.

He is forming us into a shadow-image of Christ, that should be our highest desire.

When it seems that God has taken away, the truth is – he has always given.

He has given us an opportunity to see his hand work in our heart. He has given us a chance to get on our knees. He has always given us a pliant heart.

He has given me a chance to be a foot warrior of contentment in the face of opposition and defeat. That is powerful.

He has shown me that the greatest victories aren’t in the big things we do for God, but in the small ways we endure, by faith, in defeat.

Now, my eyes are open to the workings of God.

Perhaps my greatest gift was found more in what I didn’t get, than what I did.  For, what I didn’t get forged lessons and a heart condition that will last to eternity. What I could have gotten would have been done in a moment.

God is always giving us his best. Don’t let the devil fool you.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

ON ANOTHER NOTE – 2 Quick Updates/Announcements:

1. I am delighted to tell you that I am introducing a new regular contributor to the fold at Purposeful Faith. This woman has spoken so many times to my needy and controlled heart. Her words have been like a soothing oil on the rough parts of my striving. She is a #RaRalinkup Cheerleader already and certainly a woman I call friend. I know that so many of you already know and love her. Certainly, you will be blessed by her words to come on this site.

Let’s welcome Katie Reid as a regular Purposeful Faith contributor!
Join us this Thursday to support her big debut!

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2. Compel members/future members – Join us tomorrow (Wednesday) on Twitter for the Compel Twitter party. Share a #CompelTip that you learned. On Thursday and Friday, linkup here.

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

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Relying On The Spirit & Weekly Encouragement Video

Relying on the Spirit

New! Weekly Encouragement Video.

Every Monday (because don’t we all just love Mondays?), I am going to be doing an encouraging word (2-short minutes!) via video. Hope you like them!

POST: Relying on the Spirit

Days pass.
The alarm clock goes off.
The bible happens.
The kids wake up.
Grace and lunch is served.
Play happens.
Grace, dinner and bed.

Sometimes, I can live my life in routine. I can go through the motions. I can live on auto-pilot.

But, did you know?
In a way, the kingdom has already come – in your own heart?
Can you grasp how transformational this is?

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Jo. 14:23

We. Will. Come.

Who is we?  Christ. The Spirit. One – living in us.

They don’t live in some corner of the attic, but they have moved straight into our living rooms. All the areas of our lives where we live – every corner and every crevice.

They have made their home in us. 
They have settled in, taken over and we work their power out.
They’ve come to clean us up and to root love deep down.
They throw out the lies written on the walls of our heart, with the truth that is them.

Like blood, they are the sustenance that works through us.  They keep pumping strength, courage and meaning.

This is why we are instructed to operate by the Spirit and not the flesh.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Gal. 5:16

The Spirit:

– verifies light, love and the Word of God. Our flesh verifies feelings, shame and regret. 
– prepares our way, in today, so that Christ is always at play.
– gets all things in order for the big day of Christ’s return.
– decorates our interior with the presence of God.
– confirms that one day we will walk into our eternal home complete in Christ Jesus.
– welcomes God in as our prized guest, he gets the best seat at our table called life.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Cor. 16:9

It is the works that pour out from the temple that will survive the fire.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  1 Cor. 3:13

I want the fire of God to be lit in me, so that the fire of God will reveal quality in my life.

Lord, let me understand the power of the Spirit that you have placed within me. Rightfully place my eyes on the power of Christ. Let me go knowing the extreme presence that you have imparted in my innermost being. Let me not live in routine, but solely by the power of your Spirit at work in me. Give me eyes to see and to walk with you.


Understanding Heals

Understanding Heals

He didn’t want to get out and all I wanted to do was climb back in, cover my head and ponder how one can be so completely incapable of handling a bad situation.

But, instead of retreating into myself, I grabbed his legs and pulled. I pulled with all my might and – like a rubber band – his body extended in and out of the car – over and over again.  This cat-and-mouse game seemed to be the workout that would never end. It continued to the point where his pants were nearly coming off.

Annoyance melted away and in its place was a big smile and a spirit of fun.

Sometimes, when life gives you the worst, you just gotta return it back your best.
Sometimes, when things get hard, changing your approach changes your feelings.
Sometimes, when you don’t know what to do, you don’t have to.

You just do what will keep your head on, your heart in and love pouring out.

I was kind of proud of myself in this moment for not letting that 3-year old defeat me. Yet, as I turned around one stood ready to bring me back to that place of defeat.

I met man. He stood staring, eyes laser focused right on me. Right on my antics. Uh-oh.

I realized, he had been waiting right. next. to. me. Waiting for what must have been a very long time. I was blocking his door.

All I could muster was “Oh, I am so sorry. Have you been here long?”

He answered, “You know, I have been where you are. Just know, I completely understand.” 

Meeting his words was like meeting a doctor filled with compassion.
His understanding quenched my thirst for acceptance.
His tone let me know that I was not alone.

The simple words “I understand” changed the game.

And, this really gets me to thinking. So many times, we think we are alone, we think we can’t walk, we think we need to retreat in our cars, we think we are the only person screaming out amidst thousands. We think we can’t handle things.

We think no one gets our situation.

But one does. One always understands.
One looks and says, “You know, I have been there. I understand.”

When life breaks down, this one says, “I understand.”
When feelings pound over you like a boxer in a ring, he says, “I understand.”
When you have to go somewhere you don’t want to go, he says, “I understand.”
When people don’t do what you want them to do, he says, “I understand.”
When (fill in the blank), he says, “I understand.”

This one is Jesus.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Heb. 4:15

As we see that God understands, he:

changes our hurting hearts to hopeful ones.
no longer seems far away, but near in today.
confirms to your spirit that if he got through, you can too.
doesn’t appear to point at your inadequacy, but he simply points out love.

In every case, at all times Jesus understands. He is well acquainted with pain and suffering. He doesn’t look to beat you down, but he understands to build you up. He doesn’t look to condemn, but to conform your heart to his as he configures your emotions to his truth.

Freedom and grace are packaged in the understanding
that God understands.

Freedom and grace are packaged though people who show others they understand.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9

 

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Linking with  #LiveFreeThursday, #DancewithJesus and Five Minute Friday.


Find Beauty in the Restlessness

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

The feeling swept in with the morning rain clouds, as I sat by the window drinking coffee. Restlessness.

There were no defining edges to it. I couldn’t quite grasp where the emotion came from. It was just there. And it consumed me.

I daydreamed about moving to another town. We’d lived here four years so it was time, right? There were plenty of good reasons to migrate further south.

Like my mom’s stroke last year. Being over five hundred miles away was not ideal, and my parents weren’t getting any younger.

And I won’t even dwell on the winters here. This southern girl learned how to use a snow shovel a few years ago and purchased a new set of all-season tires, but I’d prefer not to have to use either.

Yes, I change of location was exactly what we needed. Wasn’t it? I was sure my restless ache would stop when the scenery became white sand and Palmetto trees.

But as the sun set later that evening and I watched my boys soaking up the last daylight hours, I sensed God speak.

Look for the beauty. Right here. Right now.

I saw the way the rim of the mountains slowly transformed in pink and deep blue right before nightfall. I felt the crisp evening breeze I often longed for on the sultry, humid evenings down south.

I watched the boys play and laugh with friends they’d made at church and smiled when the teacher bragged about my oldest son at a school fundraiser.

Later that week at dinner, I listened to women I’d grown to love share their kids’ latest antics and make plans for summer camping trips, trips to the pool, and marshmallow roasts.

Yes, there was beauty here. In all my restlessness and longing, I was missing it.

Sometimes instead of changing my situation, God changes me.

He wants me to see with his eyes and notice the blessings right in front of me. He is molding me and transforming me, and the some of the biggest, most life-changing transformations start with gratitude.

A full life isn’t made of moments counting down to the next major event. It is made of the moments we count our blessings.

 There may come a time when God moves us closer to my family. He knows how much I miss them during their absence and how I long to savor the time I have left with them.

But he also has an assignment and a ministry for me right here, within the walls of my home and in the community around me. When we are faithful right where we are, God is honored.

 He is glorified when instead of counting the days until my next trip south, I am present in the now.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14 NIV

Today, if you’re feeling restless and cannot seem to pinpoint why, I encourage you to count. But don’t count the minutes until vacation or naptime or bedtime.

Count blessings.

Instead of counting the minutes, let’s savor the day.

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.

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