Purposeful Faith

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She Let Me Down, Again!

Let Me Down

She let me down. Again. She always does.

Now, it’s as if:

She owes me something.
She’s responsible now to figure out how to console me.
Her actions need to shift for me to ever love her.
Everything needs to change before I can be happy.
I win, as a better person, because she’s always losing.

What shocks me about my above brutally-honest list is – when I look at it, I could have striked all those words and just written: me, me, me! I could have summarized it all up: “You stink, lady, you are not good enough and you better improve or I’ll always live hurt.”

Who made her God? And who made me so reliant she rules my emotions, pride, joy and peace?

When people rule us, we aren’t being ruled by God. It’s a give in. God’s gone – gone.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 11:22-24)

We have come to Jesus.

Not to a woman who lets us down.
Not to a job we detest.
Not to a boss who favors others.
Not to a child who is completely and utterly defiant.
Not to questions that rule over us.
Not to a spouse who speaks meanly.
Not to a situation that is ruling us.

We have come to God, the Judge, the one who makes us righteous, perfect, to the mediator, to the one who sprinkled grace over our head and declared us as his own.

Man will let us down, God won’t. He’s already lifted us up to seat us with Christ (Eph. 2:6) and, even better, He’s declared the deed, the position for us final by saying, “It is finished. (Jo. 19:30)” And, guess what? It is.

So, who can tie us up to the back of the car and drag us through the gravel? No one.

Who can rip out our voice and tell us it’s worthless? No one.

Who can hurt us time and time again, thereby ruining our soul? No one.

Humbly, we rest under him. Jesus. The one crushed, so we emotionally aren’t. The one beaten so we could beat relational pain through Him. The one mocked, so when we are, we remember He understands, knows and cares for us. The one broken, so we could be healed. The one victorious, who marks us that name alike.

We aren’t the product of a person’s action. Or, maybe we are. We are the product of Jesus’ actions. And, by Him, we are saved from the things that want to take us down.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

Fighting the Enemy: To Win!

Fighting the Enemy

My son has been learning about the devil in school. He’s also been learning about the archangel Michael. So, in the adorableness of all his toddler years, he’s been playing an action hero game, of sorts, where he’s got a split personality. One minute, his face contorts into the completion of all meaness (cute alert!!!) and the next, the softness and heroic nature of angel Michael returns (Yay!! Peace & calm for mommy!).

I’m the target of his wrath when he’s all devil-faced and vengeful, because, here, he attempts to spit in my face (and sometimes wins). He tumbles me to the ground. He declares I’ll be ruined, I’m bad and a goner! He pulls with all his might trying to get me into the lake of fire. He yells at me. I’m in for it.

It’s the match of all matches.

And, I still can’t figure out why angel-face hardly ever shows up? I’m left fending against his wild and unpredictable attacks, his yells and pushes. I try to do my best but it gets tiring and sometimes I feel like giving up. I have to be on guard for his quick moves. I have to anticipate what is happening next: a diversion, a distraction, a mean word, a pull, a push or a tug.

Undoubtedly, it’s a wrestling match.

If I don’t fight, I lose.
If I don’t stand up for myself, I’ll fall into that lake.
If I don’t press in, He’ll pin me down.
If I don’t speak back against his lies that I am bad, I’ll give in to them.
If I don’t speak the truth, I’ll feel injured, debased and abused.
If I don’t push back a bit, I’ll be punished by the ridicule of his words.

Fighting against the devil is a wrestling match; if you don’t push back, you be mentally pushed where you don’t want to go. You’ll believe things, God doesn’t want you to believe. You’ll go places, God never intended you go.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12

The fight is real! R.E.A.L. Really happening.

Yet, to stand firm, to remain in faith and to preserve our heart, we must, like I wrestled against my son, fight back: He moves in with a sly word, a mistruth, we push back, with a Word from God. He tries to spit out doubt God will really help through prayer, we get down on our knees and pray anyway. He yells loudly we’re so stupid and always failing, and we declare even louder that Christ’s power is perfected in our weakness. He grabs our leg to pull us into temptation, to slowly move us where we never intended to go, we say, “Not a chance I’m going there! That will remove me from the joy, peace and purposes of the Lord!”

We get really serious about wrestling to win. Not in a way where we are afraid to lose, because, Great is our power over the enemy, thanks to Jesus Christ. But, in a way where we know the lies, the pulls, the beginnings of a match when we see one. Then, we engage to win.

And, guess what, we do. He can’t touch us.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Eph. 6:11

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

When Others are Thinking ____ about You

Others are Thinking

I sat in the group. I remember it clear as day. She thinks I’m a know it all, a God-goody two shoes, a high and mighty bible thumper.

My shoulders tucked under, my eyes looked down, I almost immediately clammed up, turning into myself and away from them.

There’s no use in being me because being me – is far too much for them. I am coming across too strong, so I need to appear more weak. Appear weak, and they’ll like you. They’ll want you. You won’t intimidate them or throw them off because of your intensity, strength or willingness. You’ll pacify everyone and then you can go and eat that brownie after the group, hungry for it. But, hollow and empty on the inside. 

Do you ever hide yourself to appease others? Restrain who you are to make sure others aren’t put off?

It happened again to me yesterday. She’s going to be jealous when she hears about this. Should I not do it? Brush it under the carpet and pretend it isn’t happening?  Out of guilt, respond to her with some sort of sundae-with-a-cherry-on-top offering that will make her smile again? 

Do you ever confuse serving others with taking care of them because of your own guilt?

Guilt makes a woman do all sorts of nasty stuff, things that God never assigned her to do. She gives up a part of herself. She gets involved in the constant cycle of thinking about others emotions. She signs away her dreams to makes sure others pick up theirs. She forgets about God’s heart to care for others and thinks she’s the Good Shepherd.

God is the only Good Shepherd. He calls us to care for people from a place of love, not guilt. Why?

Because actions out of obligation lead to destruction:

Resentment
Frustration
Regret
Irritation
Bitterness
Retaliation

How do you know if you’re operating from a place of guilt and not love? If you’re leaving behind God’s calling to remediate someone else’s, you’re on the wrong path. If you’re trying to fix someone’s problems to make your own heart feel happy again, you’re on the wrong path. If you’re coming to the rescue of people who feel insecure, and your changing your identity to meet them, you’re on the wrong path. This is a guilt-offering, not a God offering, nor a good offering.

Love instead, works like this:

God, in his timing and in his way, will take care of them.
He’ll instruct me on the way I should go.
I am not the manager, fixer or orchestrator of others’ feelings.
Often the best way to love is to make space for God to swoop in with his rescuing love.
Not everyone was happy with Jesus, even when he did God’s will, not everyone will be happy with me.K
Sometimes the higher calling is the low road, where discomfort is.
God leaves behind no one and he won’t leave me behind as I am true to who he’s created me to be.
I can follow through on God’s callings, no matter what others think, say or do.

I can say no.
I can be true to who God created me to be.
I can go my own way, have my own opinion and stand firm.
I can relax and love as God calls me to, rather than how my insides demand I do.

What would our life look like if we were unhinged from having to tie up everyone’s shoelaces? Would we then allow ourselves the ability to look up and see God’s unique callings?

How might we thrive? How might we minister rather than manipulate? How might love grow within us then bloom so that many can be changed by its beauty?

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

Circling Fat: How to Deal When Beauty Is Threatened

Beauty Is Threatened

She looked at herself in the mirror, all 3-years of her life, and sized up her outfit. Her dress had layers of tulle, her face had a smile and her pigtails were long, nearly reaching her shoulders. She waved her head a bit and considered them as I said she looks, “Oh so cute…”

“Are they all going to laugh at me mommy?”

She’s already asking herself this question? God, please don’t let this question rule her life, like it had mine.

Oh how I didn’t want her valuing her worth on no-filter 3 year olds with mouths that sound like waterfalls of ruthlessness.  Oh how I didn’t want her to determine her beauty based on comments. Oh how I didn’t want her living her life based on others opinions. Oh how I didn’t want her to pander to mankind. Oh how I didn’t want her to lose herself.

My heart sunk.

“No Madison. I think you look fabulous. But, even if they do laugh. You know who sees you? Who loves you? God does. Always.”

I deeply worried my words would fall empty, repeated words, landing in the great abyss of things moms speak, but are never truly heard. Please, God, no!  I could almost see the thieves of school, boys and society snatching truth from her. Ripping it out of her heart. Claiming it as theirs.

How do I seal up beauty within her?

We headed downstairs. Me? A million questions stirred. Can I really do this? Will she ever know? She is more than a cute dress. Her small hand clenched mine.

“Mommy, do you think he will like my dress?” She looked longingly at me, inquiring about her brother.

I shrugged, already overwhelmed with the barrage of thoughts firing off in my mind.

We made it to the kitchen.

Son stared at her. She stood there.

He looked at her. She waited.

He formed his hand into a known symbol: a big thumbs down sign.

What?!  What in the stinkin’ world?

And, as if every single one of my insecurities was highlighted, I felt completely and entirely angry! Furious. I felt like my very own son had degraded – me!!! Her!!! Every single woman who ever wanted to feel good about herself!

But, he hadn’t.

As he put it, he was kidding.

But, as I saw it, it was no joke. He transformed. My son was all those people who hurt me. He was every single detractor of my worth. He was completely wrong.  He was messing up my daughter. He was in trouble: I badgered him. I nagged him to say he was sorry. I came down on him. I was unforgiving. I was obnoxious.

I projected my fear, to try to protect my heart from the past.

Do you ever do this?

We might be prone to project when:

  1. We respond super sensitively.
  2. We make comments predictors of our worth, then hate others.
  3. We become a punisher.
  4. We are extremely, overwhelmingly and exceedingly angry at a person.

Yes, my son was rude, but projecting had made me a monster. That’s usually what it does.

And, so, here I sit. Guilty? Yes. Totally.

But, forgiven? Yes. Completely.

I am not perfect. Neither are you.

The fact of the matter is we are all still working through our pain with God, aren’t we? We are all still realizing the areas we’ve once been hurt, aren’t we? We are all still in the process of letting redeemer redeem the beauty we once lost, aren’t we?

God forgives. And, my son will forgive me too. I will tell him my story: a story where I was put down, hurt and let down by the world, a world that can pick people apart instead of loving them.

I will let him know how I never want to do that to him. And, to daughter? I will hold her hand through life, keep my voice next to her ear, relinquish control and let God take the lead. I will trust that even in her hard moments, he won’t let go of her hand.

All through the month of February you will find freedom messages on Jami’s blog about the truth about how Jesus feels about you. From our darkest fears to our greatest folly He is with us – and for us!  You can check out these posts by following this link

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called A must read, Breathtakingly honest and a Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear. Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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

Peace & Leaving the World Behind

peace wild rest

Post By: Angela Parlin

We should all spend time outside each day. I don’t know about you, but I spend too many hours indoors.

As a remedy, sometimes I work at the kitchen table near the propped-open door to the deck. Hearing the wind rustling through the trees and birds fighting over seeds at the feeder does something for my heart. It’s not all the way outside, but it’s close.

Long ago, I posted this poem, one of my favorites, on the bulletin board at my desk, the one I don’t actually work at very often.

The Peace of Wild Things 

By Wendell Berry

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be.

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

I wonder if so often when we misplace our peace, if the answer is simply to spend more time outside.

I say I wonder, but I already know what kind of person I become when I spend extended minutes under the sky. There I see the rest of the beauty, and it’s not that I forget the chaos of the day. It’s not that the challenges disappear or the discouragement dissipates.

Out there, we realize we can walk away for a bit and the whole thing doesn’t all fall down.

Ohhh, right–it wasn’t really me holding everything together.

In the presence of still water or even angry waves, we remember again we have no control over the things we fear.

We remember Who does control all things—He Who is good and true and beautiful and eternal.

Who is acquainted with all this growing old and wearing away and falling down and rising up again. He Who endures forever and ever, Who is seen at the center of all this worldly beauty.

The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. Psalm 118:27

It takes a few minutes, but I confess the truth. I’ve been taxing my life again, imagining losses that haven’t even happened. Why do I continue to repeat this?

Once again, I return to the wild. I take a walk in the woods past the yard, thick with green and a melody of snapping sticks underfoot. I imagine snakes hiding out like sharks in the ocean, while hoping they’re at least as rare.

Somehow I’ve left the rest of the world behind me. I come into the peace of wild things, and their holy message sinks ever deeper to my core.

Like Berry, I rest in the grace of the world—and I’m free.

///////////

From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

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

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

When You Lose It (And Hate Yourself for it)

Lose It

Yesterday, I pegged a bottle of sparkling water at my shopping cart. I lost it. After battling the running-of-the-bulls (aka. mothers at Target) pushing to grab glue, paper and alcohol (aka. hand sanitizer), I lost it. After standing in a 7-person deep line, making it to the front, only to be informed the lane was close, I lost it. After seeing said-cashier, roam around aimlessly with nothing to do, I lost it. After dealing with two toddlers who were sleep and food-deprived screaming gymnasts in my cart, I lost it. After contrapting them safe into their car seats, only to find a security device still wrapped around my sons newly-purchased USB headphones, I lost it. After opening the trunk and being pegged by bags and bottles of water that wouldn’t stop rolling down the parking lot.  I. REALLY. Lost. It.

I. Threw. Things.
I tried to ruin a cart with canned water.

Today, it happened again. The moving truck said he’ll be late – by 2 days. 48 hours of whoops-we-scheduled-you-wrong. How does that happen?

I banged my head. I caught a cold. I blasted people. Was it their fault? It didn’t matter.

I was at my wits end. Wits end is the place where you are convinced your life could end if you continue on this warpath.

Here:
1.) Everyone is enemy.
2.) Peace is as lost as your once-rational mind.
3.) Anguish, anger and annoyance beat up inanimate and intimate object alike.

After you act bad enough, you say,
“Why am I losing it? I’m supposed to be Christian,
not a woman of demolition!”

Shame settles.

There were about 10 instigators that got me to this point. People who knew the wrong word to speak, arguments that bubbled, fears that seemed as prevalent as Zika mosquitos. I hadn’t been bitten, but was already dying.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of me when I lose it?

I know God says be slow to anger. Ja. 1:19
I know God says anger lands in the laps of fools. Ec. 7:9
I know God says to rid yourself of anger. Col. 3:8

But, I also know, Jesus didn’t die to demand absolute-perfection,
but to cover ever-abounding weakness (with his perfection). 

In Jesus’ time, there were perfect-looking ones.

Take a look at how Jesus talked to these types: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. Mt. 23:27

I suppose, what is comforting is – even in the heat of my 100-mile an hour, metal pitch – I didn’t look like a “whitewashed tomb” beautiful on the outside. Rather, I looked different: Ugly on the outside, wanting to be alive and clean on the inside.

While we judge ourselves on outward actions,
God is far more concerned about inner intentions.

Sometimes, better is a purely wrecked heart before God,
than a white-washed tomb before man.

Sometimes, better is a crazed woman rapidly-approaching God,
than one hiding behind doilies, daisies or drugs.

Sometimes, better is an unleashed moment,
if it brings long-needed cathartic repentance before the King.

Let me tell you, Jesus can handle your worst moment, tantrum, fight or foible.

It is not too much for him.
He won’t disown you.
He won’t back out.

We think that Jesus can’t handle us, yet he handled the most deadly carcinogen, called sin, on the cross. He handled whips on his side. He handled insults and spit, vile and vitriol. He handled all that.

Can’t Jesus handle a LaCroix Passion Fruit flavored
can hurled at a red cart?
I think he can.

He can handle Kelly-unleashed, untamed and unruly. He can handle you too.

I guess, looking back, rather than throwing bullets at plastic, I could have thrown my head right onto the steering wheel, shut down the cries a seat behind me – and just cried too. I could have called out. I could have pleaded to feel His love. I could have let Him know – I feel crazy. I could have breathed deep. I could have given myself an encouraging word, a word that says, “This is hard Kelly. There is a lot going on. Extend yourself the patience and grace that God would.” I could have heard the voice of Jesus.

Today, though, I look back and remind myself, God doesn’t tally up the ways I defect from His Christian fan club. He doesn’t cast me to the long-line in order to reach His throne. He doesn’t demote me. He doesn’t despise me.

His plans are to uprise me.

More and more, I am seeing, I must come undone, so I can be redone in Christ’s image. When I get beyond my mind, I find his.

Sometimes, it takes losing it to find Him. Surely, it is not the best path to God, but sometimes, it is the path that makes you realize – that control you thought you owned? Well, you never even purchased to begin with. He did, when he died on the cross.  With this, you find yourself on your knees, in a low stance, that almost always raises you high – directly into new hope.

Something works, even when you feel everything about you doesn’t.

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Here’s How It’s Gonna Be….

Post by: Jami

Our four-year-old son Sam is a riot.  Perhaps because he is so much younger than our four biological children, he is used to being the center of attention. He is accustomed to his demands and commands being heard and implemented.  We all roar laughing when he says, “Wisten to me, here’s how it’s gonna be…. I want a sammich and some juice box. Den I going to watch Batman.” And no, we don’t fully comply. Yes, we correct him. Still he says it.

I am really no different than Sam.

I think I am in control.

In the mass treasure trove of things God finds entertaining, I am certain I am on His play list. And no, I don’t think He sits on high with a jeweled remote control making me dance. I believe in free will, unfortunately not only do I believe I have free will I like to verbalize my free will in an obnoxious fashion.

When we started our foster-to-adopt journey I told God, “I will take in any child, as long as they are foster-to-adopt. I don’t want to get hurt and losing a child would hurt too much.”

And I have free will, no one is the boss of me and like a four-year-old I assert myself.

Here’s how it’s gonna be….

As we readied our home for two adoptable little girls, I prayed that they would be happy with us and I asked God to bless them. I told God that after their placement we were done.  When my phone rang and I saw the caller ID I knew, my girls were finally coming. We would be a family of nine. I would be a super mom! We would adopt them and live happily ever after.

But the voice on the other end of the line informed me the girls were moved to another city and they would not be coming to us.

I got hurt. 

A few months later we got a phone call, late in the evening, about 10:30 pm. The call was from our agency. An infant baby boy was alone at the hospital. He was injured very badly.

I questioned, “Is he adoptable?”

And the caseworker replied, “Well Jami, I don’t know, but he’s alone.  And he is hurt.

As I drove to the hospital I told God,Here’s how it’s gonna be…. I will go sit with him.  I will pray for him and I will cuddle him. I won’t fall in love with him.  I don’t want to get hurt.” Later in the sterile hospital room, lit only by city lights and a beeping bedside monitor,  I held the tiny battered cherub and read scripture to him. I told him about Jesus and prayed for God to ease his pain. I was overcome with love. And as we both drifted off to sleep I heard a voice, deep in my soul whisper,

“Here’s how it’s gonna be…. This is going to hurt.”

The journey was filled with anxiety and heartache, it was a rollercoaster of the unknown, and a division of my heart like I hadn’t known was possible.  As much as I adored this boy, I wanted good things for his family.  I didn’t want them to lose him, and I didn’t want him to lose them.  I told God how to fix it and I told God what I would do.  But no one is the boss of the God of Israel.

A few months ago our agency called. They had an infant baby girl that needed placement within the hour.  We accepted and I went into the closet to “pray.” And I told God, “Here’s how it’s gonna be…. We will care for her. But we won’t fall in love and after this one, I am done.” And we loved on her and played with her and bought sweet little girl clothes.

Then I met her parents.  Walking wounded, in love with their baby. Good and decent sinners, just like me.  And I heard a still small voice deep in my soul whisper,

“Here’s how it’s gonna be…. This is going to hurt.”

I recognize my prayer life is no different than the verbiage our four-year-old son implements when he is telling us Here’s how it’s gonna be….” My prayers are rarely prayers of submission. I believe I am in control.  I organize and coordinate how I want things.  And these aren’t really prayers. These are bossy demands.

A colossal contradiction to prayer in communion with a God that seeks to bless not curse.  A God that delivers us from evil, and parts seas for safe travel. A God who brings the Savior of the World via a virgin birth. He is master of all that is creative and spectacular. He is the maker of heaven and earth.

Here's How It's Gonna Be.... (2)

Much like we laugh at Sam for thinking he is the boss of us, I picture my God on high shaking His head. A gentle smile and a sweet adoration for me, His girl. A booming chuckle escapes Him. And a small voice deep in my soul whispers,

“Oi vey, Jami, here’s how it’s gonna be. This is going to hurt. But you are mine, I will not leave you or forsake you. You will follow this calling I have put on your heart. You came to serve, not be served. You will be last, not first. I am right here, work with Me – chin up darling – let’s do this together.”

And my soul is well – with my God in charge of how things are gonna be.

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:7-8

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Breath Gives Way to Life

breath gives way to lifePost by: Katie M. Reid

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” -Genesis 2:7

Sometimes I forget to take a breath. It hits me all of [a] sudden that I haven’t taken a deep breath for hours, that my shoulders are tucked up beneath my ears, as if they are supporting them, and I’m breathing but in short, rapid, shallow, hurried breaths. Slow down, I say to myself. Breathe. -Kris Camealy

The delivery nurse told me to pant. I was in excruciating pain but I didn’t want to damage my body by pushing prematurely. I didn’t know if I was in danger or if the doctor was just delayed in her arrival.

So I tried to obey, kind of. I found out later that the nurses’s command to pant was because the doctor was not there yet to catch my son. If I had known this I would not have panted, I would have pushed.

Pushing is my preference.

I push down doors of opportunity. I push myself and others to do more and be more. I push to get my way. But I’m often left feeling shoved around and out of breath when life doesn’t go as expected.

Take a deep cleansing breath. That’s what my choral director from college said when we warmed up to sing.

Inhale, up. Exhale, down. That’s what Shaun T. says on our crazy workout videos.

Breathe in for 3 and out for 10. That’s what our birthing class instructor said as we prepared for childbirth.

But I breathe shallow most of the time. I let the cares of life and the pace of ambition dictate my respiratory patterns. I need to slow down, inhale deep, and let God be on the throne of Heaven and my heart.

I scurry and hurry and drop and plop and need to come up for air.

The breath of God is in my nostrils, yet I often take it for granted.

As a tightly wound woman who lives quite frantically, most of the time, I battle fear, insecurities, people-pleasing and control and I want to be made well.

I don’t want my shallow breathing to lead to shallow living, so I pause and ponder what it is that God is speaking to this try-hard heart.

When faced with the unexpected twists and turn of life, we often pant or push. But what if we learned to breathe deeply and rest in the care of our Creator, regardless of our circumstances?

What if we trusted instead of threw tantrums?

What if we found grace in the unraveling of life?

What if we allowed our tightly wound tendencies to wrap us around the One who holds us, and all things, together?

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Katie M. Reid headshot by Madison Stanley

Katie M. Reid is a tightly-wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com, Twitter and Facebook.

 

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Can Hurt You

It was a dream, but it was also the truth: If I am not careful, some thing is going to ruin me. If I don’t keep my eyes open and my arms wrapped around Jesus, I will most certainly diverge – and the results won’t be pretty.

You see, I have these underlying things that pop out of me, things like: I want to be wanted, I need to be seen, I desire to be liked, I hope to be valued.  Intrinsically, they are not bad, but without God as the fueler – they’re horrible.

What is prone to lead you astray?

That “something”, if you’re not careful,
is bound to become your one thing.

Don’t think it can’t, won’t or will never happen to you…that in itself is called pride and pride every time goes before a fall, friend (Prov. 16:18).

What is it for you?

Imagine this for a moment. Christ, of all people, he chooses you! He singles you out as one of the 12 disciples. You preach, teach, heal and exorcise demons. You walk behind the miracle maker. You see his deeds. You know his words. You watch the lame walk, the mute speak and the blind look. He calls you by name. He likely touches you. He deems you special. Wouldn’t it be amazing?!

How would you feel? How might adoration bubble over? 

(Following would be so easy; you would never leave his side, right?! That would be impossible. Impossible to turn away from him, wouldn’t it?! Uhh...Hardly!)

So, there you are, this chosen little loved one. And there you stand, looking at the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. You see his value, but there’s another dang voice calling. It speaks things like riches, mightiness, love, value, adoration, power, earthly weight, beauty, and influence – and how you should acquire them. It calls you…to figure things out.

When you spend so much time listening to the wrong voice, you kind of negate its harm. 

It gets slippery here.

You have to be careful, for you may end up getting what you long for –
but Jesus may end up – long gone. 

There you stand and walk. You kiss Jesus with your lips – but betray him in your heart (Luke 22:48). 

Don’t think you are above the betraying act of Judas. If the the very people who walked behind Jesus, could walk away, so could you.

All the disciples, people who had a first-hand account of his majesty, abandoned Jesus: “This very night you will all fall away on account of me.” (Matthew 26:31)

Peter does it three times even after pledging allegiance to his King: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:33)

If you walk oblivious to your leanings and lures, you’ll walk right into them. It happens all the time – feet are swept up and face implants down. Oww!

I think I could easily end up as a Judas. If I go about my business without giving a second thought to my mind, I’ll be kissing all sorts of things. I can’t allow this to happen, can you?

Jesus, though, he has this way or reaching out to his loved ones who are loving him. He reminds me that his touch is all I need. His forgiveness is always active. His presence is always tangible. His help is always 2-steps ahead and his gift of freedom is always waiting to work. He reminds me that I am his and he is mine and that he will help me endure this thing called faith.

He reminds me that: Perfect love casts out fear. Not once. Not twice, but every single time and that when I start stretching my neck to see other things, his love will gently massage it back to peace and calm – if I only come – to him.

The simple truth is…when you cuddle into Jesus’ deep seat of love, you can’t so easily get up and head other places.

Prayer:

Jesus, I love you. I want to never depart from you. May all my needs, always be met in you. Keep my devotion devoted no matter what. May your love and forgiveness never leave room for despair. May the things I want to kiss, never kill me.  Jesus, I love you. Amen.

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How Do You Receive a Drop-In? (Link Up)

When I was growing up I remember my mother’s friends dropping-in from time to time. It seems the art of the drop-in has been all but lost in our generation and I think it’s too bad.

Guests coming by unexpectedly can brighten our day if we let go of our need to have everything just the way we want it.

Sure, I appreciate a text or heads-up before my friends swing by unannounced—tightly wound woman here, remember? But there is beauty found in learning to be flexible.

God used a bible verse to illuminate my need for readjustment when faced with the unexpected.

“And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” -Matthew 18:5

In our case, we are actually welcoming a child into our family in late May. I want to receive this unexpected gift by welcoming her as I would welcome Christ, both into my home and heart. This verse in Matthew prompted me to examine whether or not I am receiving well or carrying on with a fast-paced, overly ambitious agenda, as usual.

Too often I miss the beauty in the unexpected because
I like to be in charge and set the plan for my days.

How about you? How do you respond when you are redirected or interrupted?
Will you choose to welcome the drop-in? Whether God is bringing a child, an unannounced guest or some other form of unexpected circumstances into your life, how will you receive it?

Will you drop what you’re doing to receive the drop-in or
insist on sticking to your agenda?

Maybe the drop-in is a creative assignment that has you shaking in your cowgirl boots?
Maybe the drop-in is a new friend that needs a lot of prayer and a listening ear?
Maybe the drop-in is a season of suffering that will refine you as gold?

Let’s embrace the unexpected, even when it’s inconvenient or intimidating. Let’s trust the God who dropped love into our lap when we were lost in sin.

Let’s continue this discussion over at Katie’s place. Today the #RaRaLinkup is being hosted at Katie M. Reid’s blog. Click this link to join us… 

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