Purposeful Faith

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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

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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

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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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Learning to Tango with a Trustworthy Partner

Trust is Required in order to be Led by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

I love to dance with my husband. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but I treasure the times it does. We’re invited to an April wedding, so I’m counting on a dance or two then.

Back in college Adam and I used to swing dance. I had trouble letting him lead me. I was tense and tried to control the moves—that doesn’t work when you aren’t supposed to be taking the lead.

Someone had to follow. It didn’t mean I was less talented or capable, it just meant that in order for our dance to be effective, I needed to learn to be led so that our moves would be in harmony instead of working against each other.

A New Direction

As most of you know I am pregnant. We were planning on adopting again but God had another plan. This miracle answered many prayers I had for my heart returning home.

But here’s the thing God has been showing me recently, I can’t keep trying to do all the things I am currently doing and add another child to the mix.

He isn’t asking me to stop dancing but He’s asking me to follow His lead as He spins me around—turning me a different way than I expected.

I can fight this new direction, and most likely end up tripping and looking foolish, or I can lean in to His trustworthy arms and see where He leads.

Learning to follow does not come naturally to this first-born leader. I like to be in charge. It feels scary and off balance to bend to the leadership of another. It is challenging for me to trust another’s lead because I don’t know where it will take me. And oh how I like to be in the know!

Just the other day a conference host asked me to submit a proposal to teach a workshop at writing conference this fall. I had been waiting for an invitation like this! I was honored, yet I knew I needed to pray about it and talk it over with hubby.

I soon realized that our baby will only be four months old when this conference takes place.

I had a choice.

I could fight the way the Lord is writing my story with this new life or I could yield to His direction and trust that He will provide another opportunity to teach when my daughter is older.

By His grace I chose the latter. And I feel great peace and relief.

The Loving Lead

Are you fighting His lead in your life?
Are you pulling against His leadership instead of learning to move in harmony with His Spirit?
Have you handed over your right to control to the Only One who is truly in control?

Learn to be led so that your moves will be in harmony instead of working against each other.

He is a loving leader. And He is a fabulous dance partner.

Sometimes He takes us to places that we weren’t expecting. He spins us around and takes us to another spot on the dance floor than what we are used to.

Will we lean in close to His heart and feel His arms holding us near?
Will we let ourselves dip into His strength and bow to His Majesty?

Put on those dancing shoes, sister. There is a stirring tango that calls your name. It’s the dance of your life with Your Loving Savior.

Webster defines the tango as, “a ballroom dance of Latin-American origin in 2⁄4 time with a basic pattern of step-step-step-step-close and characterized by long pauses…”

May the steps we take each day lead us closer to Jesus. Even when there are long pauses of waiting or rerouting on this journey may we remain near to the One who doesn’t leave—even when He is quiet.

May we stay close even when He takes us in a different direction that anticipated.

Follow Jesus’ lead. It won’t always be easy or graceful, but I know it will be beautiful.

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Katie M. Reid Author

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, 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.

 

Snapping Beauty, Crushing Vision and Tiny Stitches

Snapping Beauty

Snapping Beauty

I probably would be the girl that you’d least like to walk behind on a busy street. I might even be the one that you’d silently curse under your breath (although not too loudly or discernibly because you are Christian, after all), but all the same I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. You might even step on my heels a little to give me a quick signal I am being slow, rude and indignant.

Heck, I may even deserve it.

But, would I stop doing it? No way. Would I stop listening to the small voice that speaks about 2 feet below me. I don’t think so.

You see, I think that little voice of immaturity is on to something all the rest of us have been missing. He is on to something that in our pursuit of destination we miss. He is on to the small meaning of life, the beauty in the cracks of a sidewalk and the peculiarities in a bird with a beak of an different variety.

He is mesmerized by creation and affirmed
in God’s determination to show love.

We call it a sidewalk. He calls it a God-walk. 
We call it a place where you move from one place to another. He calls it a place you see one glory to another.
We call it a stroll, he calls it God being on a roll.

Snapping Beauty

“Stop mommy, you gotta see those birds over there. Take a picture!”
“Stop mommy, do you see that little flower sticking out of the wall? Take a picture!”
“Stop mommy, do you see the way the sun is coming out of the clouds? Take a picture!”

Snapping Beauty

Snap that shot mommy and don’t let me ever forget about this little slice of moment where what God showed is greater than the crazy, mundane and forced things in this world.  Capture the moment of greatness that only those who have the small eye seeking beauty can find. Get that and let me hold on to it so I can remember how God wanted me to see him above the scary, freaky and dark things of world.

Snapping Beauty

Snap.
Beauty.

Snap.
Meaning.

Snap.
A moment that will last forever.

Crushing Vision

How often do I look at the world like one waiting to be mesmerized?
How often do you?

I always thought I could see, but now I see, I was always becoming blind.

Maybe it happens to others like me. The ones who pull “drive” out of their back pocket and put on the glasses of determination to try to get themselves somewhere. Ones who believe they’ll end up seeing peace, joy and life from goals, plans and agendas. These types, they run a fast race; they move like a panther in hot pursuit of prey (work, spouses, cleanliness, promotions, money, vacations, internal value (fill in blank), yet tired and panting, huffing and puffing they always land in the same place –  in the alley called dead end, dead life and dead weight.

I should know, busted my head in that alley.  I told myself I needed to be best in my class (fail.). I told myself I needed to get the best job ever out of college (I went bust at the job after a year). I told myself I needed to press through an abusive situation (nightmares plagued me).

Dead-locked vision left me for dead and on lock down with discouragement.

Tunnel vision drive, driving towards anything but God’s goals leaves you driving into a head-on collision where you feel like you can’t breathe and you are not sure if you can return to normal life.

I thought those who try hard – win big.  Where did I go wrong?

Tiny Stitches

Blind folk start to see again, when they aren’t afraid to see themselves as dirty.

After saying this, (Jesus) spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. Jo. 9:6

Untitled design (8)Yet, I don’t think it is only this. It is not just saying, “Hey God, go ahead, put that stinking muck on me. I am okay with it. I am okay with seeing myself as tarnished, hurt, powerless and needing the reality of myself to cleanse me.”

Nope. I think it transcends this.

“Go,” (Jesus) told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. Jo. 9:7

Be willing to wear the grime of your self, your past, your wrongs, and your traumas – and then allow yourself to be sent out. See those things in a way where they earned your masters degree of life learning.

You let the dirt sit afresh on your eyes, you feel the muck and the yuck, and then you let the word “sent” compel your whole being to move to greater insight, vision and power; you move with them and beyond them all at the same time.

Then you start to see. As the grime of what you really are, the disgust of what you have been and the pain of shame wash off, you finally get somewhere.

“I went and washed, and then I could see.” Jo. 9:11

I could see innocence.
I could see through eyes untarnished.
I could see roads untainted.
I could see the slow movement of ordinary things.
I could see worry dissipate and fears calm.
I could see people – pained people.
I could see glory – in sunrises, sunsets, grime and grit.
I could see beauty – in grace extended.
I could see growth – by offering space.
I could see life – budding in the small forging of patience.
I could see flowers – protrude from the cracks of pain.
I could see longing, desire and hope.

Snapping Beauty

It is a picture that even words fall short of explaining. So, you just stop, drop your jaw at what you see, then you look for someone that doesn’t have their head stuck in automated zombie-zone, and together, you snap a picture. Usually with the child, the innocent one who gets the greatness of God. And, then, you go about carrying on in the mayhem called planet earth until God staggers yet again with all he has stored up in the unseen places of the world.

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5 Ways The Devil is Scheming To Nab You

Devil

Hey, little child of God, I have something to tell you, so listen up.

Happiness is over there. Do you see it? Go ahead, suck in what it could be. Feel it. Relish in it. Why not? Don’t you deserve it – for all you have suffered? Aren’t you tired of being stuck?

I mean, look at you! You idiot!

You marginal fool, why aren’t you doing anything,
something,
to change everything?

You are stuck in a church that is not ideal.
You are stuck in a house you don’t want to be in.
You are stuck with a family who doesn’t get you.
You are stuck with a job that is horrible.
You are stuck with friends that don’t really care.
You are stuck in a life that constrains.
You are stuck with kids who are unruly and disobedient.
You are stuck with a spouse who irritates.
You are stuck with a body that is ugly.
You are stuck with health issues that you can’t beat.
You are stuck with pressures and problems.
You are stuck being overweight.

Look at you, your life is horrible. I think, I really think, you should have so much more.

Psst…did you know? It doesn’t have to stay this way…you can do things about it. Now listen up before your whole life is ruined, before all the marbles are dumped on your head and before you find yourself in a burnt heap of ashes, here is my charge for you:

1. Take control. What God hasn’t stepped in to do, you can do. Those he hasn’t changed, force them to change. Drive your power in.

2. Seek happy at all costs. If something doesn’t make you happy, flee from it to find frolicking fun elsewhere. You only live once, you don’t want to sit around missing out. Fulfill your desires and feel good.

3. Remind yourself of all you don’t have. 

“You dumb idiot. While everyone else is getting ahead, you are falling backwards. Do something about it. It’s not like you are that good of a Christian anyway; you always mess up. You failure. Give up.”

Speak like this to yourself and you will be bound to get somewhere.

4. If you can’t get what you want, find another way to make yourself feel good.

Drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, porn, controlling, demoralizing, taunting, instigating, stealing, worry, abusing – it doesn’t really matter – just fill your deep need to numb the real belief you are unloved, uncared for and shipwrecked. The moment of controlled power will feel intoxicating.

5. Put yourself first. You are the only one who can fulfill your deep needs. You have to fight hard to get what you want. Defend yourself, arm yourself, distance yourself and put up an armored stronghold around your body. You are a walking fortress; keep it that way or you will be ruined. Shoot, if necessary.

Other quick tips:

– Keep your eyes on what you see before you; make a snap judgement and abide by feelings.
– Don’t let the word “patience” fool; God really isn’t working for you.
– Don’t serve anything, or anyone, that doesn’t lead to success.
– There’s no one who can come through – like you can.
– You’ll miss out if you don’t grab the world’s cup tightly – and suck it up.
– Put yourself first, no one else will take care of you.
– Get super wise and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
– Mock those who are poor in spirit, “Weaklings!”
– Doubt “hope” and stick with “despair” and you’ll fill up with indulgences of the world, for sure.
– Embrace shades of grey and blurred lines between good and evil – you can rationalize things that way.

devil

With this, applause to you! Cheers for you! Great glory to your work! Great progress to your name! Great power to your charge! Great impact to your step! You will do it; you will find pleasure in all you ever wanted, in the enticements and in the lure of your eye.

You know you want it.
So, step in, grab it and bite –
it is the best apple you will ever eat,
even it it makes your blood run cold,
even if 10 minutes after you feel nauseated,
even if the shame adds thirty layers of chains to your hide,
even if you trap yourself into a box you can’t seem to claw your chained way out of,
at least you will have joy for a moment, ecstasy for a minute and rule for an hour.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jo. 10:10

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Cutting Ties from The Need to Please

Cutting Ties

You live to make others happy. String.
You can’t be happy if others are upset. String.
You are burdened if you made a wrong choice. String.
You can’t disagree about life issues or opinions. String.
You feel responsible for how others act. String.

Ever wondered how to live life with no strings attached?

For so long, I have walked like a shoe with warn down treads and strings wrapping me. These strings seemed to both keep me together and squeeze me. They seemed to be known and detested at the same time. For so much of my life, I would tie these strings up and say, “I just care a whole lot, a whole lotta lot about people. I would give everything for them and to them.”

The only thing about strings so tight like that is – they squelch the very person wearing them.

When we give everything to everyone, we really become a no one to everyone.
When people seem to control our every move, we move into places of anxiety and fear.
When we don’t have a way, we allow others to define our way.
When God is not making our way, we lose our way.
When we hand over our identity, we live insecurity.
When we live insecurity, who lose all surety.
When we are at the beckon call of man, we find ourself far from the peace an’ call of God.

Have you ever considered that being an over-giver is unhealthy?

Have you ever pondered how eyes on man divert eyes from God?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10

I am considering all of this. Deeply. Meaningfully. Carefully.

I choose to seek the approval of God.

With this, here is what I have come to:

1.  I can’t help another, if I haven’t given God a full chance to help me.
2. I can’t control the environment of happy, peace and calm by telling others what to do.
3. I can’t make others see, do or say what I need them to in order to keep me balanced.
4. I can observe a situation or happening without making it declare me bad.
5. I can give space and grace rather than side glances of judgement and disappointment.
6. I can be free to be me, when I trust it is God, not man, that will take care of me.
7. I can say that I am beautiful, when I stop believing man thinks I am not.
8. Others opinions belong to them, not me, and I am not any less for their correct or incorrect assessment.
9. God wants me tethered to him, not tethered to ties that keep me stuck to the past, emotions or fears.

So, take that strings! Take that, because I am cutting you!

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Prov. 29:25

For each will have to bear his own load. Gal. 6:5

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,
so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
1 Thes. 2:4

Snap,
strings unleashed,
movement unknown,
plans uncontained,
life unrestrained,
unmoved by the shaking,
but uncovered in the trembling,
Trekking towards the once declared “impossible”,
yet moving all the same,
to the place where surrendered feet stand on holy ground,
God’s ground,
the place where you know all will finally be okay.

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