Sometimes, in the summer I get lazy. Real lazy. You see, when I go out to sit in the backyard and to soak in the summer sun, I just grab my books, my towel, my chair and my lemonade – and go. I forget the pests. I forget about those nasty mosquitos- that bite.
And, bite they do. It is usually the next day – I’m scratching my legs off.
If only I would have picked up that bottle of repellant so that I would have held up against the suckers. That would have been good.
Even more, with all this talk of Zika, I start to fear. What if I get sick? What if some disease is passed to me with all these bites?
Some days, I worry about mosquitos, most days I worry about something.
I don’t have a fight-plan either. Well, I guess by definition, if you have no plan, you do have some plan – its just a bad one.
Mine looks like this:
Kelly, stop worrying.
Kelly, do something to fix what is coming against you.
Kelly, didn’t I tell you to stop worrying?
My fight looks like me on defense, not Christ on offense. But, Jesus never told us to sit around like doormats anticipating a good stomping. He never told us hang out in the midst of blood-sucking mosquitos.
He gave us self-protection on the cross. Jesus shows us a way out. He gives us a plan to repel what is coming against us.
Do you know it?
It looks like an unconventional fight:
Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Eph. 6
3 Point Offensive Fear-Fighting Plan:
Pick up. Grab faith so you can fight life-sucking fear.
Hold it up. Hold up faith founded on truth during spiritual, emotional and physical attacks. When you feel fear popping up, remember: God is for you. God is with you. God won’t leave you.
Blow up the fiery arrows of evil. Go forward in faith like it is your personal repellant to the enemy. You see him coming? Spray him with faith.
No spiritual attack can hurt you spiritually, unless you walk into life unprotected, uncertain, of God’s great love for you.
Take up your faith, hold up your shield and blow up every strategy that is trying to take down your trust in your first love. Fear Fight. Stand firm. Don’t back down.
Baseball. It taught me who I am and what to never, ever, do.
It all started on the bus ride to a game…
“Hey….Kelly,” the men’s Italian voices echoed in unison as I walked down the center aisle, clothed brightly in both team colors and Disney World-like smile. Breathing it all in, I could fully sense the air of excitement: it smelled like Syran-wrapped ham sandwiches with American cheese, it sounded like a portable pre-game radio talk and it felt like the freedom of crunched peanut shells underfoot.
Crackerjack box in hand, I left that bus and walked the stands like I owned the place. This day, I’d be – encourager. The fans would hear my chants, they’d see my team colors and, like last year, I’d start the wave. No doubt, where two or more are gathered, my sister and me? We’d move mountains – or the masses in this case.
We did. We cheered and the wave moved the stadium. The game was groundbreaking. I didn’t watch a lick of it. Still, I learned: she who thinks she is small is big when she let’s loose God’s gifts within her.
I liked that idea, very much. What I didn’t like was all this talk about the pitcher’s slump. Apparently, he lost his luck, which was ironic since he did a little song and dance before every pitch. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly be in a “slump.” He was still the same man as yesterday. He wasn’t hurt or crippled. He could still throw 102 miles an hour. He still was strong and powerful. Yet, somewhere along the line, his mind failed him. I guess he figured, “I’ve lost my effectiveness,” or “I’m a fraud.” Maybe he thought, “They’ll all laugh at me if I do bad” or “I really never was as good as I thought.”
That pitcher? The fear that stole his could, was the mindset of – I can’t.
I’ve had his mind of anxiety lately – one of I can’t. I can’t act godly enough. I can’t love my kids well enough. I can’t do what God is calling me to. I can’t find my way. I can’t get out of the hole of discouragement. God can’t really love me, can he?
Fear has sent me to left-field looking for daisies.
And that gift of encouragement? The one that rises people out of their seats, the one that can move masses, the one that sings Jesus’ name? It’s a crumb in the bleachers.
What gift of God feels lost? Frightened away by fears?
What spiritual base of – I can – through Christ – has been stolen by the mindset of – I can’t?
Perhaps, like the pitcher, we recognize, our mind may say we can’t, but the grace of Jesus says, “We can.”
Grace says we are:
Loved beyond the very definition of the word.
Cared for infinitely and intimately.
As much saved today as yesterday.
As free as the grave is empty.
As victorious as Jesus is lion.
As gifted as always.
Our mindset doesn’t define us, a mind set on Christ does.
Choose to win.
Baseball is a fight to win. So is the Christian walk. You can’t walk out on the field of dreams without the armor of grace, truth and love. That’s a fight in futility friends. I’ve played like that – in defeat – for 36/38ths of my Christian life. I remained – slumped.
Sure, I knew Scripture.
Sure, I knew about God.
Sure, I knew the right thing to do.
But, surely it was in my head, not my heart.
A switch must occur. Have you heard of a switch-hitter? It is a player who can hit from either side of the plate. God is calling us to switch to a new mindset that can attack any fear, fret or fury from any side. With a mind set on Christ, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop us.
Today, let’s be switch-hitters – ones with eyes set on Christ, ones ready to fight -and win.
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But, that was precisely the problem. I couldn’t be still. My heart was racing ten miles an hour. Ever been there? Where the face of your problems seems far more apparent than the loving face of your God? Where it is hard to know if God can fix what you are standing up against?
“Your child has been exposed to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.”
I gave them the blank stare. I didn’t know what this entailed, but I did know it sounded – horrific. Anything with the word “disease” in it is about enough to send mom’s stomach flip-flopping and reeling in anxiety. Add visions of pussing, oozing and painful sores – and mom was already seeing red spots.
“Were they exposed to the sick kid a lot – or a little?”
“Oh, a lot and it is very contagious.”
Thanks, lady. Thanks a lot. Oh, and thanks, God. Don’t you know? I just came off the stomach flu that built into a cold that seemed to never end then my family was attacked with illness from the inside out. I’ve been run ragged and now I have to deal with – this? Great, how do you heal this thing?
In my spinning mind, my jumping, skipping and smiling daughter was already deeply ill. I could see it happening, and none of my prayers could stop this unforeseen visitor from coming.
When we open the gate to worry, it walks in, but it almost always invites its friend – doubt – to come along.
Are there uninvited guests filling your mind,
heart and soul with agony?
Doubt arrives as an attack on hope.
It deconstructs the goodness of God.
It wrecks the order of his love.
Its slow-seep is cancerous over time.
It corrodes dependence on God.
It is the devil’s biggest win.
Doubt is about as good as a heart attack,
so how do we fight it?
Fight doubt with these 5 A’s:
Acknowledge the lies and God’s corresponding truth.
Ask for forgiveness.
Admire the power, height and love of God.
Abandon our own will.
Affirm God’s goodness through thanksgiving and prayer.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil. 4:8
If we filter the bad from the good, we will only be left with good. And, if we’re left with good, we’re left with God. Simply said: If we are filled with God, we can’t be filled with doubt, fear and worry.
I’m going to bank on that verse up there. It keeps uninvited guests out!
Prayer Against Destructive Doubt:
God, you are in everything. You are above everything. You know everything. You are orchestrating everything. All control is yours. All vision is yours. All power is yours. You move the handle on my life. Thank you that you want to take care of me. Thank you that you love me. You withhold no good thing from me. Thank you that I can trust you. Not with half my heart, but with my whole heart. Thank you that you know my way, even when it looks not like “my way.” Grant me greater faith to trust you by faith. Stand closer to me so I can dwell in your love. Help keep my mind steadfast on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. If I move with you, I won’t depart from you. Teach me God in all your ways. I am open and willing to what you want to do in me. I need you, God. Amen.
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Daily life is living a grind. You wait at a light, people pass. The light turns green, you go. You hit a red light, you stop. Then, you go. So does everyone else – every minute of the day, that make up hours, that make up days, that make up weeks, that make up lives. You get the picture. But, do you?
We stop and we go, we pause and we laugh, we cry and we try again, we fear and we fret, and before we know it – that was our life.
What if you acknowledged every moment as holy?
The dog rushing out the red door? You chasing after him in 10-year old pajamas. Holy.
The disagreement with that family member? Holy.
The homework hour with the kid who doesn’t get it? Holy.
The carpool line that makes you feel less than? Holy.
The project at work that never ends? Holy.
The preparations for another dinner? Holy.
My son screaming in agony because his stomach hurts? Me, holding the bag around his neck as the yuck came out? A night of no sleep? Sitting here, with the face of baggy eyes and an oozy head – and a day of lost work ahead – it becomes a little harder to throw this blessed word to the wind and to watch it fly. Everything is always harder when it is personal.
If God, Father of all… is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:6),
then he fills all ordinary moments with holy.
If we look for God’s holiness, we will find it.
Between grabbing the trash bag and putting it around his neck, I laid my bruised hip on the ground with a grunt (I fell down the stairs the day before). And in the middle of one of my super-wide I-really-hope-this-is-all-said-and-done yawns – it came. The holy, the special, the heaven unzipping moment we all search for: “Mommy, thank you for loving me. Thank you for taking care of me.”
He saw love in action.
I saw raw thanks.
It inspired me. Holy.
What have you written off as worthless? Dead? Not important?
What you consider worthless, God considers priceless, holy valuable.
Holy valuable means that the fleeing dog
is a reminder of how God pursues you when you’re lost.
Holy valuable means your disagreement is
a humility bootcamp preparing you for big missions.
Holy valuable means homework with the frustrated kid
is your chance to illustrate grace.
Holy valuable means the carpool line is a meeting point
to find God’s unconditional love over man’s tempermental approval.
Holy valuable means you learn God is in control of the project.
You surrender; He helps you.
Holy valuable means you remember, as you prepare dinner,
Jesus prepares a room for those who serve him.
Holy valuable means 8-hours of no sleep highlights the meaning of sacrificial, deep and authentic love – and how it works.
God is not only in your big “I-need-huge-faith moments”, but he is in your little moments. The faith garnered there, is faith that launches you to bigger there’s.
Noah did what God commanded him (Gen. 6:22). He saved nations.
Daniel prayed 3 times a day (Dan. 6:10 ). He saw miracles.
Elijah followed through in what God called him to do (2 Kings 1:15). He spoke the very prophecies of God.
David got reliant on God. He conquered not only lions and bears but giants (Sam. 13:34-37)
How might God use you for big things, if you sought after his heart, presence and promptings in the little?
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Lu. 16:10
Little trials are big doors that walk us right into God’s epic story, his unparalleled vision for this world. You count it momentary, he counts it monumental. You count it nothing, he counts it everything. You count it unseen to others, and he says, “Yes, that’s the point.”
Breathe deep and recognize – your ordinary moments are holy valuable.
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I am delighted to welcome Marlinda Ireland to Women’s Ministry Monday. Marlinda’s words inspire my heart not to fret the timing but to trust the maker. This is just what I needed to hear. Welcome Marlinda!
Have you prayed and prayed for open doors of opportunity, but heaven is silent?
Are you tempted to act on some long-held desire?
Yet, deep down you know that the timing isn’t right. Perhaps God has not yet brought the necessary pieces of your purpose together and you’re feeling, well, stuck!
Now, it feels as if your life is behind schedule.
Let’s face it, waiting for answers from the God can be frustrating and discouraging. If we’re really honest, waiting can even make a strong woman weak. Having patience with God is especially hard in our microwave millennium. We’re often judged by how quickly we reach the proverbial brass ring. If you’re not married with two children, making a six-figure income, living in a five-bedroom house and enjoying all the finer things in life by age thirty-five, you’re labeled as someone who’s behind schedule.
In reality, most of us are judging our insides by other people’s outsides.
Pressure to conform to unwritten timelines set by society is intense. However, comparing yourself to others only leads to jealousy, envy, competition and discouragement. I have to admit that this was how I felt, not too long ago.
David and I married while I was still in college. However, because of our financial needs as newlyweds, I was unable to continue my education. So, the dream of being the first in my family to graduate from college was put on hold. Two years later I became pregnant with our first child, our lovely Danielle, and the dream was delayed again. Time passed and we had another beautiful baby girl, Jessica. Then, David transitioned from consulting engineering into full-time Christian ministry. So, I became the proverbial pastor’s wife. That was my title! Poof! Before I knew it, my dream was so behind schedule that catching up seemed impossible! Please don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for our flourishing family and ministry. But, secretly, other parts of my soul were dying on the vine.
I also felt God calling me to participate in missionary journeys to other countries. When David was away on such trips, well-meaning friends frequently asked me, “Why don’t you travel, too?” At that time, the question made me feel like I was doing something wrong…that I was not being a strong, assertive woman. So, in desperation, I cried out for wisdom. One day, God spoke to my heart, “Marlinda, personal goals and ministry opportunities will always be around for you to nurture. However, your children will not.”
Boom, it was crystal clear that our children were indeed my number one priority in that season. As David traveled, I was to hold down the fort. God was not releasing me to even leave our children with friends or family.
Still, at that time, I didn’t fully understand the principle of divine delay—how He uses them to prep us for the future. So, it was a struggle to feel content in His timing for my life. Then, just as the girls were finishing up high school and I was about to give up on these desires, opportunities for their fulfillment came into view. I felt moved to apply and was accepted into a graduate program that made allowances for people who had many years of ministry experience and several years of college. They even waived my tuition. Then, invitations to speak in the U.S. and overseas started flowing into my office. God’s blessings and timing were perfect.
The Bible declares, “God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Amplified Bible). Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Lazarus all experienced divine delays.
Can you trust that God has established
a unique timeline for you, too?
Our lives are similar to fruit bearing trees.
Different kinds of fruit ripen and mature in different seasons. Similarly, we each have a special timetable wherein we blossom and ripen into the plans of God. The rate in which this happens is not always determined by our own efforts or schedules—it’s also based on God’s divine timing. So, perhaps, you’re not really behind schedule. Perhaps, you’re in a divine delay!
Whatever the concern, rest assured that God’s in full control!
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Marlinda is a wife, a mom, Bible teacher, and a “creative.” She is the co-founder, an associate pastor and the women’s ministry director at Christ Church in Montclair and Rockaway, New Jersey.
Through all of the challenges and joys that go along with her many life-roles, the Father has etched on her soul the meaning of full-blown-surrender. It’s out of this internal imprint that she does life, loves the broken and encourages the chosen.
This is a question you do not ignore. Instead, it is one you put a pretty design around and then get tattooed on your hand.
It is that important.
You wear this question as if it is a badge of your dedication. You return to it often.
During my days in corporate America, I tried really hard. In my mind, I did really good. I responded to emails with lightning speed. I came up with proactive ideas before my boss even voiced word of the problem. I arrived not just with plans but complete SWOT analyses of the whole situation. I was always a step ahead.
After a long day at work, I’d run to release some steam. I’d run and think “I wonder if my boss sees all I am doing? I wonder if his boss sees too?” I assured myself, “Kelly, you’ll go places. They’ll uncover you and say, ‘Wow, what a gem.'”
Between striving and running. I was exhausted.
I was going after the wrong thing: the desire to be the star.
I wouldn’t have admitted this, but:
People were often a casualty in my race.
Problems were my ticket to a Kelly-solved-it phone call up the chain.
Work was a means to my end.
I didn’t feel good unless I looked good.
A woman dedicated to self-exalting ways
will run with skinned knees and deep discontentment.
What is your end? Not the one you try to convince yourself that you’re after, but the one daily you live for by your actions? The one that makes you feel cruddy?
Are you after people knowing the great things you are doing? The feeling you are finally enough? The one-track-mind goal of being published? The phone call that ends your waiting time? The approval of that person that restores your sense of self? The success that erases your feelings of illegitimacy? The desire to be wanted by family members? The spotlight that shows millions accept you? The achievements that are all about you?
Make no mistake, my fellow seekers, we are all after something. Many of us just don’t acknowledge it – because we are afraid to look at what our heart really wants. We are embarrassed; we don’t really want God after all.
No shame here friends. I get off track all the time. I blow it!
Getting off track is not the major problem, but remaining in denial of the problem – always is.
Where are you in denial?
Confront these questions(this means really consider them):
What is your heart’s goal on the daily basis?
Is it about pleasing God or pleasing man?
Seeking self or glorifying God?
Self-protection or God-dedication?
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17
Draw a line. Draw, not a grey or fuzzy line –
we have enough of those –
but an I-will-do-it-all-in-the-name-of-Jesus line.
Draw a line that says, I will be resolute, determined and steadfast
in only going after the right thing.
In going after – God’s thing.
This way, instead of allowances, excuses and rationalizing, you make progress.
Then, you and I claim a warrior-like mentality. It talks like this:
Speak to me, something that is not from him… I’m not listening.
Divert me with a call to selfish ambition… I’m shutting down.
Send me down a path of sin that will lead me astray… Nope, I’m not going there, I want God.
Try to get me to make it about me… I don’t think so. It is all about Him.
Aim my heart at some target off the path of God… Forget it. That’s not contentment.
We’ve gotta stop doping around.
A woman dedicated to do it God’s way,
finds the upsurgence of God’s heart
ready to explode from within her.
Your heart swerves left into discouragement, but you jerk back and remember how he has always taken care of you.
Your mind stalls – you pray and uncover your next step to get moving again.
Your doubts backfire – but you fire back truth that kicks doubt out of the car.
Your friends speak lousy words – you nod your head and exhale them like exhaust.
Your hard work proves fruitless – you remember he’s the one taking you somewhere.
You release demands and pressures. You fly free of the strings of the world. No one and nothing is tying you down. Like a hot air balloon, you are released to new heights.
You can see it all, from God’s view.
You move like a woman with laser-vision, dead-set on eternity. You fight hand-and-fist, tooth-and-nail, jackal-style, against the world that wants to wedge its way into your heart. You scream. You run. You stay near God. But, what you don’t do is let it get its sticky fingers on you.
You won’t have it.
And, when it does, when you feel icky because you went the wrong way, so you trash that empty wrapper, as quickly as you can, and say, “It’s not that I have fallen that most concerns God, it is that I get up and get going with him once again.”
And so you do. You just go where he wants to go, knowing that it is the ONLY and the BEST place to go.
A woman dedicated to the Lord
is like a ship anchored to the core of the earth.
What comes against her doesn’t move her an inch.
She is unwavering, unbreakable and unshakable.
Prayer to be an Unshakable Woman
God, help us. Where we are weak, make us strong. Where we are wavering, help us lay our anchor down. May we find strength through knowing you hold us. We no longer need to be held down by the world’s claws. May we believe you are so believable we see your hand in our everything. May we so fall into your arms of grace, so we never feel the pangs of condemnation rip us apart. That is not you. And, truly, we want nothing that is not associated with you – it will only leave us empty. God, you are one that leaves us on full. Not once, but all the time. God, give us you. Increase our faith; make us into fighters who don’t back down. May we know, strongly, you are what we need to run after. You are the answer to everything. You are the only way. Tie down our heart into you. Amen.
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We loved each other, I thought. Dashing up to him, I placed a decorated plate of deviled eggs before him, my favorite. I hoped he loved them, because coming off a fresh loss, my heart was hurting and looking for care. I completely botched up the championship basketball game by dropping and kicking the ball out of bounds on the court. Not once, but twice. Whoops. All I wanted sympathy, compassion. My heart hurt – but, little did I know, it was about to hurt even more.
He looked up at me and shoved the eggs away. His eyes said it all, he no longer wanted to know me. I wasn’t good enough. He got up and grabbed something behind the door. It was a woman. Ushering her in by her hand, he carefully sat her down in my chair and gave me the look, “I am done with you. It’s time to go.”
Aimlessly roaming the streets, I found myself homeless. I had only my comforter, a blanket that was a prize from the basketball game. Not knowing where to go, I held it close – it had my teammates signatures on it. I walked on and on.
When someone deserts us, we walk in a desert.
With a million piles of past rejection on us.
I woke. Thank you, God, this was only a dream. But, was it? Perhaps, it is reality.
Have you ever noticed, the rejection today carries the weight of yesterday? What pours is the same waterfall of emotions.
Just yesterday, I walked outside a military base. I grabbed coffee first. Intending to go in, I stared down at my shirt. Dang it! I’d gone splashed coffee all over myself.
I can’t go in there.
Not around those people in starched up uniforms.
Ones dressed to military perfection.
They’ll laugh at my stains.
They’ll see straight into me. They’ll be confronted with my faults. My botch-ups. It is too much, way too much.
Afraid of being a walking eye sore, I stop mid-step – I remembered something…
Whether I’m walking stained or with fresh rejection pain, just like in my dream, I always walk with the inscribed Comforter.
Do I even give it credence? Do I allow it to serve its purpose?
But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. (Jo. 14:26 AMP)
Do you cover yourself with the warmth, protection and safety of the Comforter when you feel uncomfortable? When you feel undone in shame?
You can, because He is with you. We don’t roam this barren earth without support, without care.
As Christians, we can press up against the Comforter who:
1. Leads us in the way we should go. (John 16:13)
2. Brings freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)
3. Dispenses love and joy. (1 Thess. 1:6)
3. Speaks the mind of Christ to us. (1 Cor. 2:16)
4. Points our heart back to Jesus. (John 16:14-15)
When we draw near the Comforter,
we draw real and tangible strength from the Savior.
Jesus, He chose me, stains and all.
Jesus, He covers me with his love.
Jesus, He did not abandon me. And never will.
Jesus, He will make me white, no matter how coffee-splattered my shirt is.
Jesus, He will reflect light onto me as I turn my darkness into it.
I walked right onto that military base.
I walk, stained, amongst the perfection of starched uniforms, precision strides and measured haircuts. I walked, me – a stained, plain girl. But what I also walk with – is comfort.
It reminds me, I need not be perfect. I need not be flawless. I need just walk with my Comforter, the one who inscribes the name of Christ on me. Then, suddenly, it is not about me – or giant coffee stains – any longer. I find hope.
“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:8)
If I could, I would sow that Comforter right on me. But, you know what? I don’t have to, he’s sowed in me.
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We all have our monsters. The real vile ones are from days of old; they give us night-shivers to remember. The fast ones whip us, encouraging us to more quickly chase perfection. The obnoxious ones form in our mind, informing us we are no better than our worse fears. The slow-moving one arrives like an envelope with amounts past due, they point to the depths we can never climb. But, the worst – the absolute worst – are the types that tell us our big God is small. They that tell us we fooled ourselves; God doesn’t really come through for our likes. These ones are beasts. Tall. Ferocious. Salivating. Beasts. Throwing insults.
(Goliath) said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”
And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 1 Sam. 17:43
Our Goliath-monsters speak too, you know?
Am I not threatening enough – that you think you can beat me?
Am I to laugh, that you think you can beat me with prayer?
Am I an imbecile, that you speak thousand-year old bible verses and think they’ll work?
Am I not injurous enough, that you believe in something you cannot see, when you see the heights of me?
Am I not pleasurable enough, that you would come at me with the thought God makes you enough?
Look at her…
The finger points.
The chants ensue.
We stand there. Nearly naked.
We feel the assault on a God who seems silent.
We wait, looking left and right hoping to do something. Needing – to do something.
What giant monster taunts you?
What does he say?
When I was a waitress, we used to say, “I’m in the weeds.” It means someone is about to dump a plate of spaghetti on your head because you’ve gotten too far behind. It also means that the appetizer you’re holding should actually be dessert and you are pretty much hated by multiple tables. You crawl under a table cloth at the at point. You are stuck. You hate yourself.
I have a book coming out a couple of months. I’m in the weeds. The monster is there. He speaks, “Kelly, you have no time, you have no ability, you have no power to succeed.
What others have in talent, you don’t. You’re an imposter.”
Yet, when I fight to hear God’s voice. Something surfaces.
When you hear insults over invading love,
you can be sure that you’re hearing the insidious voice of a monster,
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)
I love how David talked back. We, good girls, don’t do this enough. We’ve been taught to cross our legs, dot our i’s and cross our t’s, but we’ve hardly been taught to snap back. We’ve hardly been taught to stand up for ourselves.
But, what if, rather than being women of subservience to bad monsters, we talked back?
What if, instead, we got defiant, not reliant on these voices?
I almost see it… women, rising, a valiant insurrection,
not directed at husbands or people who annoy us, but at the internal voices of lies.
I want that.
I want to talk back to these insidious voices with truth
so insurmountable it instigates a movement of unstoppable women for Christ.
Now, that little monster voice tells me, “Kelly, you’re sounding extreme again.”
But, you know what? I shush it up and go “bad-girl” on it.
I laugh in it’s face.
I say, “God can do all things. So, shush it up! I am tired of your lies. You’re a dog that I should laugh at you.”
David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Sam. 17:49)
1 Stone. 1 shot. 1 sling. 1 voteof full confidence in his Lord. 1 belief that it didn’t matter what he had, but who he had. 1 ounceof trust that miracles can and do happen.
David didn’t need much.
I don’t need much.
You don’t either…
God is the everything we need.
He is the Filling to our gap.
He is the Provider to our debt.
He is the Answer to our need.
He is the Way through our dead end.
Find His life to gain life.
That thing that looks too big to accomplish – is smaller than God.
That thing that seems like it will kill you – cannot overcome the life of Christ.
That thing that plagues you with a screechy voice – is silenced by the peace of God.
Let the monsters speak, because there is one who speaks louder. Who rides higher. Who is greater. Who will ride in victory, apparent, in glory before all mankind.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. Rev. 19:11-15
The fight is on your behalf. If you don’t believe Jesus can win for you – I don’t know who can.
Next time the Goliath-monster starts spouting off again, tell him to shush up and sit down, Faithful and True is on your side! And, with Him, you’re about to win.
There’s this little homing device I wear. It’s broken. It bumps me into things. It roams and returns me to the same old stuff, like making people happy and trying to impress them with my best dresses. It gets me zapped too. Usually by guiding me outside the boundaries of safe, where I get electrocuted by a dog fence or something like that.
Zap… You look dumb again.
Zap… You messed up again.
Zap… You are letting your kids down.
Zap… You’ll never find your way.
Are you at all like me?
Trying to adventure to more, but feeling continually zapped by failure?
I just read the book, Making it Home by Emily Wierenga. I think this girl gets me.
Her words shed light on the spectrum of my issues:
She says, “I still forget I have a voice.” I say, “Yes, Emily. I often can’t hear myself; that voice feels afraid to stand up for itself too. It feels like no matter how loud it screams it will still be hushed and shushed rather than loved and embraced. I get that.”
Maybe my voicelessness prevents me
from hearing myself – from hearing God too.
She says, “I’ve been working all my life to make something of myself.” I say,“Yes. I go because if I stop, I might be left with – me. And having to deal straight up with all that, well, sometimes that is even more terrifying than all the work I use to cover me.”
Maybe all my hard work,
speaks over the power of Jesus on the cross
– and how desperately I need his saving.
She says, “Because there aren’t accomplishments enough to affirm the three-year old inside who still can’t talk, the nine-year old who decided to stop eating, the sixteen-year-old who was dumped for being too nice.” I say, “Mmm…hmmm. The voices of the past come back, but they don’t sound like the voices of yesterday, they now sound like mine.”
What was then, I claim as now.
Oh, I know, Emily, I know. I know living with the emotions called its-scary-to-be-me.
Often, the fear of self is our greatest fear.
It’s in this place where you have to come to terms with the idea that God made you alright. That he likes you alright. That you can speak inner-truth without retribution. That you can fall down and he won’t hate you. That taking the risk is worth the small chance you might fall over the cliff. Because he’ll catch you when you do. And this is the point – almost the point of life, I believe.
Unleashing the wounds under all the age-old bandages are freeing. You rip off what the enemy has placed over your mouth and again you come alive. You scream out, “I believe in Jesus. He loves me the way I am. He is healing what was broken. I don’t have to know the way; he does. You get real; he does too.”
You see his face; it looks like love.
I am approaching that.
She says, “I am learning that being a woman is about giving until it hurts and then receiving so much that my soul might break.” I say, “It looks like letting go.”
God says,“For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 7:35)
So often, I think it is about fixing.
I think it is about rewriting.
I think it is about thinking.
I think it is about finding a counselor.
I think it is about working harder.
I think it is about fitting more into my schedule, or organizing things well or stopping bad behavior.
It’s not. Finding my way is about losing myself to love and finding myself swept up under the feet of Christ as he saves.
It is about getting so wrecked and so raw that you’re remade. This happens through little people, sometimes, small feet whose tender trust in dad, shows how much you can trust a good daddy. Or, through a book, as it sparks an area you need to stop, pray about and deeply consider. Or, through a husband, who humbly and sacrificially gives so abundantly that God calls you to scream thanks. Or, through circumstances that align, like stars, only as a loving Savior could display. Or, through a fresh encounter with God that almost leaves you breathless. Or, through prayer that works, as each word takes hold in the air.
Home is all around me. I am in the center of it, because God is in the center of me. Will I believe?
This small shift, this mustard seed belief, changes everything. For, when I get low and looking, I uncover Jesus. Then, I see me, coming to life. Rather than a dull image, I move with certainty and power. I run like a flip-book drawing galavanting to purpose. It may not look like much by the world standards. But, God and I? We know, it is power, vision and hope that are leading.
They lead home.
Thank you, Emily, for sparking this in my heart. In this case, God rushed in through small words written in a medium-sized book that was written by you; I am grateful.
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Sometimes you meet someone you immediately connect with. Emily is this sort of gal. Her honest and engaging prose lifted my heart to another place. Emily cares. This is what I felt when I read her book. I felt loved, as she grew in love for herself. Thank you, Emily.
For women who have grown up in the tension between third-wave feminism and Martha Stewart, it can be a struggle to define and embrace the meaning of home. There is constant pressure to do things a certain way, and sometimes intense criticism from those who think you’re doing it wrong. But what if home isn’t really about whether or not you homeschool or have a career? What if it’s more about who you are than what you do?
There he was, Jesus, tugging the weight of the world on his shoulders, straight up the road to his demise. He trudged along, weighted. He proceeded by faith, bent over. Heart and body, likely splintered. By all accounts, Jesus, looked like he was failing and failing badly, very badly. His Messiah mission fell, His name apparently couldn’t save, His cause was causing people to laugh, mock and taunt him.
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Mt. 27:39-40
People anti-worshipped him by outpouring disgust.
“Fix it!” they screamed. “If you are so great, why do you look so bad?” they yelled. “If you trust your God, why has he let you down so badly?” they ensued.
Are you hearing the same?
Does it look like you’ve been left on the side carrying failure?
That you are destined to be hurt?
That God isn’t coming through for you?
Sometimes, I feel I am falling into the great abyss of obscurity and aloneness. I see the black storm. I see myself as homeless.
These storms make our future look dim.
We continue to drink, even though we wanted to quit.
We figure we will never shed that last 10 pounds.
We react in anger and try no different.
We gossip, then do it again and again.
We figure we will always be stuck in a dead-end job.
We have no hope for our marraige.
We decide our kids will always be ingrates.
We accept rejection at work and no longer try.
We feel like a sub-par Christian and accept that as truth.
We believe we will always be in debt.
And on and on it goes…but, no doubt about it – it will never end well – for us.
What if Jesus, by all accounts,
saw the circumstances and declared himself destined to be a loser?
He could have –
if he lived by the comments, claims and convictions of the world around him.
If he chose to believe doubts over faith.
If he didn’t believe in a good, good daddy.
If he didn’t know that a Saving God, always saves.
But, he didn’t.
Jesus believed victory was on the brink and didn’t let his mind sink.
He kept walking…even though.
He kept ministering…even though.
He kept his mind on heavenly…even though.
He thought about forgiving us…even though.
Even though, he was hanging on a limb in gut-wrenching agony.
He thought of us.
He is still is.
He is thinking of you and where you stand.
He is thinking of that standing place as his victory-place.
Will you sink by how you think or will you rise keeping your eyes on the prize?
I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8
Jesus’ situation looked bleak.
It looked heavy.
It looks so bad the ones he loved ran away in fear.
But here is how it turned out, here is what he was right on the brink of: He was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive! (1 Cor. 15:4)
He is still alive and still saving us.
He is still alive and still pleading for us.
He is still alive and still making a way for us.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.
And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 1:20)
His answer to your heart is – yes! Yes, he will do the amazing for you, according to his will, if only you believe.
And we all say, Amen.
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