Purposeful Faith

Tag - doubt

Are you Aimless & Discouraged?

Aimless and Directionless

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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Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.27.41 AMAbout Emily Wierenga

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.

 About LuLuTree

To prevent tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s families. Discover ways you can partner with Lulu Tree and make a difference in the lives of the women of Katwe, Uganda.

About the Book, Making It Home 

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.23.07 AMFor 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?

Click for more information on Making it Home.

 

 

Sometimes, Failing Precedes Blessings

failing precedes blessings

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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Are you Fooling Yourself Faithless?

Fooling Yourself

Bang! The thunder sounded like a shot in the night, except it was morning. Either way, the shrieks that ensued caught us all off guard. “Quick, get under the blankie! Let’s hide,” Madison shouted at her toddler brother.

They tumbled down like miniature-wrestlers, grabbing the comforter and maneuvering it over their heads.

They felt safe. But, what I could see from the height of my vantage point went beyond two sets of covered heads – to the 3 feet of remaining limbs laying uncovered. These soft legs, arms and hearts were still vulnerable – vulnerable to thunder, destruction and all the fierce consequences of lightening.

Fooling Yourself

All I could think was, “Those cute little fools aren’t safe. They’re hardly covered.”

In the same way, I act like a fool.

Do you?

Do you take cover with defensiveness, escape and busyness to escape the danger of reality?

Are you afraid to deal with mounting problems and the excruciating weight of your own emotions?

Do you figure Jesus won’t be able to handle the likes of you?fooling yourself

It’s embarrassing, ugly even, to admit, but I cover. I grab a leaf and pretend it will hide the ugliness of my nakedness. Yet, what didn’t work for Eve, still doesn’t work for me. 

These thoughts…
“If I can’t see my problems, my problems can’t see me…”
“If I pretend it isn’t there, maybe it will go away…”
“If I can fight back with strength, I won’t be so weak…”
…these thoughts, leave me vulnerable, exposed and aimless – running like a rabid dog in hunt of life. 

Even worse, my tricks go bust, because no one is tricked. My family sees my limbs flailing about. My God sees everything. And, my insides see a hole too deep to climb out from.

The tension mounts, my heart asks:
How can I deal with my feelings without fleeing?

An answer settles: What pain we give God an opportunity to see, he’ll free.

Because God is a God of clear vision…
From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all…(Ps. 33:13-14)

…who cares.
who considers everything they do…. (Ps. 33:13-14)

And He sees deliverance and delivers deliverance to those who desperately hope in him.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine. ( Ps. 33:18-19)

His tender mercy wants to approach us (Lu. 1:78). It doesn’t look like a hand raised. It doesn’t squint with eyes furrowed. It doesn’t pontificate with a red face. No. It is a cupped hand that holds you tenderly, as if you were a shell about to break into his glory.

Unfailing love wants to heal you. He wants to heal me too.

Will we let Deliverer deliver us from fear to faith?

We don’t need to hide from tender mercy. For it is, after all, what we most crave, isn’t it?

So today, gather your courage, put it in a line, get it ready to launch, and pray with me: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts (Ps. 139:23), make them plain to my eyes, Lord. Help me be able to handle them. Show me the way to go. Teach me. I am open.”

Then prepare your heart to be flooded by He who is – LOVE. He will lead your way through the muck and yuck. Through thick and thin. Through tears and healing.

fooling yourself

He won’t let you down, as you look up.

It may not always feel easy or safe, but, every time, his ways are (Mt. 11:3o).

So, let’s no longer pull the comforter over our eyes, for the Spirit is comforter (Jo. 14:26) and his vision will see us through.

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8 Ways To Prepare to Win Against the Devil

Win Against the Devil

The devil loves us weak.
God loves it when we renew our S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.

Do you know what this looks like?

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 4:31

Can you imagine not growing weary or faint?  Do you soar?
Or has the devil  kept a toe-hold on your coattails, preventing you from ever flying?

It’s easy to let that happen. To stay down.

Just this morning I was driving and a little bug kept hitting my car. I started to get frustrated, “Why is he tailing me? He’s making a mess of my window,” I thought. What I failed to realize was that only 2 minutes before, I had been worshipping. This little pest stole the moment.

win against the devil

We all have pests chasing us. They try to steal God’s place of glory in our heart. These little nuisances are often what the devil uses to drive our hearts away from God. We usually allow it.

What tends to be hard for us to accept is that straight up bible knowledge won’t always save us. Why? The devil doesn’t care how much scripture you know. He doesn’t even care if you have the whole bible memorized. He doesn’t care if you have a PhD in Christian Apologetics. He’s never worried about the mind, the devil is always worried about the heart.

My warning to the church? Let’s not get so enthralled with our mind, that we lose our heart in the process. Some churches, I believe, are allowing this.

This horrifies me. I don’t want to live my life as a bible-toting mouthpiece, but as a woman wielding Jesus’ power in the world. 

What about you? Might it be time to fortify your heart, the inner place? So the inner radically changes your outer world?

8 Tangible Tips to Renew S.T.R.E.N.G.T.H.
and Win the War against the devil:

war against the devil

1. Scripture list: Hunt the bible and dig out the best verses. Carry these on a sheet with you, post them on your morning mirror or hold them in your wallet. No matter what, rely on these words as if they are your crutches and you have no legs.

2. Train your mind to immediately notice the taunts of doubt, discouragement, devastation and despair. How? Take inventory of your feelings. When you hear those stinkers hit you, refer back to #1.

3. Respond with truth. The devil takes ridiculous statements and massages them to sound plausible in your mind. If you answer back with a hard-lined, get-out-of-here, truth-filled comeback – he will not as easily want to come back.

Example:

Devil: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. It is written…” Mt. 4:6
Jesus: ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Mt. 4:7

After 3 attempts and 3 successful comebacks, Jesus won his wildnerness encounter with the devil. Keep on fighting the fight and the fight will subside.

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Mt. 4:11

4. Engage your mind with holy and you will find yourself committed to peace.

“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

5. Need Jesus all the time. All the time. Not a little bit of the time, but every time. Just think, if you are always calling on Jesus, how can the devil be calling you astray? 

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Lu. 19:10

This means, call out, when you feel unsure. Call out when you feel heavy. Call out when you feel hungry. Call out when you feel tired. Call out when you need wisdom. Call out when you hit boredom. Call out when life gets futile.

6. Glorify God, out loud. Speak proud. Speak with the full strength of Jesus Christ behind you. Speak like one whose team, every time ends up as overcomer.

It sounds like this:

You reign and rule Jesus. You will win. Every time.
You are holy and mighty to save Christ. You will bring me through.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Period.

7. Thank God. If you are saying thank you, the devil can’t as easily put a bag over your head and plumage your mind with the idea that you are being stolen, ruined and left in some far off land where God can’t see you. Instead, you will rise up in wonder at all the riches God is raining down on you. Thankfulness is like a rainbow on a dark and rainy day. 

8. Hope. Endlessly believe in the power of God.

This is what it sounds like when put in action:

God is greater than my problem.
God will win in the end.
My light and momentary affliction is creating for me an eternal glory that far outweighs the here and now. 2 Cor. 4:17
Jesus stripes healed me once and they will do it again and again. He is healer
It may look like a windstorm today, but God is pushing into me his image and I will stand firm.
The Lord is doing an inner work; it transcends my vision. 
God will always be faithful. I can walk in complete assurance of this. 

war against the devil
Soar.
Grab hope.
Fly high.
Glide.
Find new heights of faithfulness,
God will be your strength.

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The Promise Inside the Sting of Rejection

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I remember watching my firstborn get his first taste of rejection. He was about two at the time, and he leaned in to give his older female playmate a kiss.

On the mouth.

She looked at him, wide-eyed and a little mortified, and backed away. I couldn’t help but chuckle but my sweet toddler took it in stride. He knew he was cute, and her lack of interest didn’t stifle his confidence.

We kiss in our family. We show unrestrained love. But I know that once we go outside the walls of this home, those unstated rules of conduct change. My two-year-old didn’t know these rules but at that age, who does?

As he’s gotten older, the tide has shifted. Rejection hurts. I remember the first time he cried after a spat with a friend who said, “I’m not your friend anymore.” I’ve seen kids come in and out of his life, sometimes later to return.

He’s usually able to roll with the stings and the snubs, but he’s not bulletproof. And I don’t want him to be. As much as I’d love to see him never cry, get hurt or given a cold shoulder from a friend, I know he has to experience these things to truly live.

A week ago I sat at my computer reading a rejection email from an online publisher and I realized the prick of “no” may change in nature, but the pain doesn’t.

When we see the pictures of the get-together we weren’t invited to plastered on Facebook, we may feel like we’re in our high school skin all over again.

When we extend the invite to the new acquaintance from church and are repeatedly shunned, we may wonder why we even bother.

We may feel like crawling into a hole with our popcorn and Netflix marathons so that we never have to feel the ache of another “no,” another denial, another wave of apathy and disregard.

But can I tell you something? The blessing is worth it. The “yes” is worth it. When you don’t think you can extend yourself one more time, remember this.

 We serve a God who was rejected in the most brutal, public way. He did it for you. For me. He did it so we could experience life and love and yes, pain. He never rejoices in our pain but he knows it’s sometimes necessary for us to grow.

But we can’t live if we’re constantly trying to protect ourselves. We can’t live if we let fear of pain and rejection rule our lives.

For over a year of my life, I stared at what I thought was a closed door. I counted cracks in the ceiling, and our recliner and a good book became my best friends.

I was tired of trying to make friends. I was tired of the blank stares.

Since I didn’t have anyone else to talk to, I talked to God. He hears us, you know. And he’s the always the best person to talk to. The first and the last.

After months of staring at ceiling cracks, I wasn’t sure God heard me. Silly, right? But then, I made a connection. And then another and another.

I discovered community, life and purpose. I discovered friendship, yeses and open hands.

Keeping our hands open isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. When we make those kindred connections and see those invitations extended, it’s worth the “no’s,” the stings and the heartache.

The next time you’re rejected, remember the promise of the One who was rejected most of all. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5). And he’s working and listening, even when we don’t see it.

Keep your hands and your doors open, friends. You never know what God may have for you on the other side.

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View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

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

 

Out of Sight and Out of Mind

Out of Sight

I want to extend a warm welcome to Kari Stainback. Her words hit the tender places of not being seen and chosen. I couldn’t be happier to feature her words as part of the Ministry Monday Series. Welcome Kari!

Not long ago at a family gathering, I happened upon an endless version of the game “Peek a Boo” with a toddler.  Over and over and OVER again I put a scarf over her little head and said, “Where did Lucy go?”

Then I’d yank the scarf off to her gleeful shrieks and reply, “There she is!”  The giggles and the fun lasted for longer than I thought possible for a game to continue with a baby.

What made Lucy giggle so profusely as she participated in this game is that she was learning something called “object permanence”.  It is the developmental process that allows children to understand that an object continues to exist when it can’t be seen, touched or heard.  Prior to this stage, in the first few months of a baby’s life, they think when an object is “out of sight”, in their minds, it ceases to exist!  So when Lucy couldn’t see me, she just thought in her tiny toddler mind, “she’s not gone, she’s right there and boy howdy that is hilarious!”

Object permanence is very important because it gives us the ability to understand that objects that we may have never seen in our lives actually exist.  For example, I’ve never been to France nor seen the Eiffel Tower, but I know that it exists even though I’ve never physically seen it.  Throughout our childhoods as we become adults, object permanence moves from the physical to the abstract as we gain more experience with the world around us.  And, by God’s grace, it lays the foundation in our brains to develop faith in the triune God.  We can know, by faith, the One who we have not seen physically, but we can be sure He is with us.  In Christ, He is our ultimate permanent object.

Some of my favorite verses that teach us this truth are:

“My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

“Just as I as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 1:5)

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I feel from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8-9)

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Sometimes, I don’t feel God is near.  Perhaps, you, like I, tend to think, “Does God really care? Does He know I’m feeling alone and forgotten?”  

For years, I thought I experienced loneliness because of my singleness.

I find, loneliness tempts us to find comfort by escaping through activity, or shutting down or drowning our sorrows in food or drink, or my personal favorite: cruising the mall on Saturday nights.  It’s easy to give in to despair and resentment, to stop reading the Bible or praying. I keep learning, none of these leads us to lasting peace.  What does lead to peace is something Amy Carmichael wrote about in her poem, “For In Acceptance Lieth Peace”.

Our loneliness may not go away,
but it can be accepted as God’s will for today and that turns it into something beautiful. 

Recently I had an ugly bout with loneliness, all of my familiar temptations to doubt and escape swirled around me.  I did not feel God’s presence.  All I felt was the dread that the loneliness had returned and that it would only get worse in the days ahead.

I found His presence.

I opened my Bible and read it, listening for the Word He had for me.  It came!  I prayed and thanked the Lord for being the One who would never leave me or forsake me.  He gave me peace. The very next day God sent me a surprise of His love in the mail, something only He could do in His perfect timing.  It was a quarterly magazine from the seminary from which I graduated.  On the back was a graphic of a tree, rooted in Christ Jesus, with its branches filled with names of single men and women who have furthered God’s Kingdom throughout church history.

To my utter amazement, in the far right branch I saw my name.  Underneath the graphic was written the verse, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35).  

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About Kari

CounselingandCare (1)Kari Stainback is Director of Women’s Ministries at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX.  She coordinates women’s Bible studies, discipleship and special events.  Kari is a Licensed Professional Counselor and does pastoral counseling for women in the church.  She is also a board certified supervisor of counselors.

Kari joined the staff of PCPC in the fall of 1999.  She has been in her present position for 15 years.

Does God Really Care about Me?

Does God really care

Normally I think about all that I am not.

I am not as good as the other girls with big, bright and shiny blogs.
I am not going to ever climb out of my own thoughts that hold me back.
I am not able to succeed because (insert some sort of limitation here).
I am not that great of a mom, I get frustrated too easily.
I am not close enough to my extended family.
I am not going to end up in a good place in that unknown future.
I am not going to end up with good results even if I try hard.

Untitled design (99)

Why bother?!

Ever feel that way?

Then, I come up against God speaking these words to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” Ex. 3:14

God speaks with power. And, Moses is a man I like. I imagine him trying to do enough and be enough for his people. I imagine him, like me, probably not feeling all that great – and a whole truckload of doubtful that he’ll really succeed.

To stand against the heat of God’s fire like this – these words would shake me to the core. Not only because I hit up against the blazing hot power of God, but also because they mean something – and do something. They purify insecurities.

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be the one he claims to be.
He is who he is.

These words give me confidence. Because often I tend to think, unknowingly, of the “God who is not”.

The god who is not coming through for me.
The god who is not keeping me happy.
The god who is not showing me all the time his ways.

I can try to hide these feelings under the guise of good-girl Christian (which always drops me off at the word – hypocrite), but I get somewhere when I turn to God and ask, “God, am I really good enough for you to take care of – dysfunctional ol’ me?”

He replies, “I AM WHO I AM.”

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

He is  – is good.
He is – truth.
He is – power.
He is – strength.

Does God really care?

The devil says who I am not, God says who I am.

Flesh says who I can’t be, God says who I will be in him.

Shame says I am bad, God says I am loved.

Lies speak demise, God says, “Rise.”

Will I believe?

God doesn’t waver. He is not a man that he should fall and skin his knee, he is a king. He doesn’t erase the cross of grace, he died on it to secure eternity for us. He doesn’t delete the signature of our name from his hand, he holds it close to his heart that always beats for us. He doesn’t take back is callings for our lives, he predestines them for us.

He sends us out in unerasable truth:

And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the Israelites…What shall I say to them?

And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you! Ex.3:13-14

He sends us out in his love, power and armor. It moves us forward.

Every single time he is at work to bless us.
Every single time he is at work to pave a way for us.
Every single time he is at work to make us more holy.
Every single time he is at work to work in us.
Every single time he is at work to draw us closer to power of his love.

Does God really care?

I AM WHO I AM.

He is who he says he is.
He will be who he claims to be.
He is who he is.

Will we believe – He will do what he said he will do?

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10 Lessons: Don’t let Worry Steal Your Joy (One Day Longer)

I spun like a crazed woman on a treadmill, except for the fact that I was actually on an elliptical. My arms moved as if they were ready to punch the world right out of my way. My eyes focused as if I was really going to finally get myself somewhere. My legs moved trying to knee pressing issues right out of the way.

I was the wild gym-goer –
the girl trying to force herself to new ground –
ground that was unattainable to get to.

I kept spinning. Spinning worries. Spinning problems. Spinning up things that could go wrong. Building a whole lot of motion that was moving me nowhere.

Untitled design (50)

Motion.

In my mind’s dictionary, it means: 
1. Trying to force yourself to go, make progress or get ahead.

In the dictionary of classical mechanics (which, I know by heart – joke!), it means:
      1. A body either is at rest or moves with constant velocity, until and unless an outer force is applied to it.

An outer force? There was no outer force around me, just an inner force, an inner force of doubt driving my pursuits.

I didn’t trust “Outer Force” would work on my timeline, or according to my demands or with my outcome. God may have some answer like, “Kelly, wait.” Or, “Kelly, my will is being done.”

I get frustrated with those kinds of answers. I get internally irate and put an arm up – choosing worry over wonder.
Do you?

Pumping. Sweating. Pressing in – to my more. I considered God.

And, as if the clouds parted and my mind hit some new parallel of peace, it landed – softly.

Worry Steal Your Joy

I watched him through the giant window. Chilling. Eating. Laughing, almost, at me. He came to teach me something.

10 Lessons Taught by A Bird:

1. Don’t ever forget this verse when you start to worry: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

2. God doesn’t look at his answers for us as limited, but unlimited. Just as the birds pluck for ample food on the ground, so does God have ample food for me.

3. Life is not feast or famine; it is a continual feast I have to choose to believe in. The birds don’t walk heads down, they walk heads high, knowing God is right about ready to deliver them to their next feed.

4. It doesn’t matter what everyone else has.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has intentionally mined the ground with “glorious riches in Christ Jesus” meant just for me. (Phil 4:19)

5. There is no need to bump up against other people who don’t do what they should. God has them on their own path for food and joy.

6. There is an invitation by God to frolic and fancy life. In between his great providence, there is a game of “chase” going. We can join in like a little baby bird, who knows life is short and troubles pass.

7. What looks like a dark, vast covering of trees before you, is really just a call to adventure. It is the place you fly into knowing that God is going to take you on a ride that will thrill you. You just have to grab onto his carpet and let him lead.

8. Be present and be calm. Birds don’t have one dang concern about pending storms or world issues. I don’t see them building bunkers or walking around with defensive artillery. It seems they let go of threats that surround them – and let God ground them.

9. To see God everywhere is to see peace, joy and answers abound. Birds keep looking. They move their head left and right like little pendulums. Somehow, I guess, they are soaking things in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

10. We see life through the vantage point of me, myself and I, yet God’s view is sky-high – like a bird sees. There are things up there we can’t see. Probably, things that would blow our mind – disappointments that were used by God to create divine appointments, things like that. It’s a symphony of eternity; it reverberates beyond us.

These birds. They speak to me – almost – singing, “You gotta trust the bird’s eye view to get through.”

My velocity and intensity settle. My arms feel like they can finally be – at rest. I look and soak it all in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has this.

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Extending The Benefit of Grace

The Benefit of Grace

I’ve noticed, I am the type that reacts:
A person says something slightly offensive. I take it personally.
My friend makes a comment on how I can improve. I feel thrown off.
My husband gives a suggestion. I get sensitive.

I have noticed this internally too:
I mess up. I get angry at myself–even after I have confessed it.
I get far from God. I burden myself with things I must do to get closer.
I get distracted from people and life. I feel that coming back around to them will be hard.

It all comes down to doubt, doesn’t it? Doubt that God is good enough to handle my baseline fears. Doubt that God will come through when I can’t. Doubt that I really can be better than I am today, right?

Doubt is the undercurrent that drags us away from God.
Doubt is the driver of most dumb moves.
Doubt is the deliverer of the desperate to dealings with the devil.

I know this sounds extreme, but it is true. Push Jesus 5 steps away from your heart and that is a 5-step opportunity for the opponent to rush in to make you question everything.

We tend to believe in this thing called,
“the benefit of the doubt,”

but I think what we really need to believe in is
“the benefit of grace.”

That person cuts you off on the road. “She must be having a hard day. God bless her as she drives home.” 
Benefit of Grace!

That supposed friend ignores you at church. “Perhaps she has her own fears. Maybe I can send her an email and check in.”
Benefit of Grace!

That kid again doesn’t listen. “Hmm…it is not that they don’t respect me, but it’s that they want to have a little say. Let me remind them of God’s love and his never ending source of power in them a little later.”
Benefit of Grace!

That man wants to be a show off and be prideful again. “Maybe he so fears loss of control, he has to overcompensate by having all control. Affirm him.”
Benefit of Grace!

I did that thing I didn’t want to do. Now, I can’t ever let it go. “Jesus already let it go on the cross. He keeps no record of wrongs. He waits for you.”
Benefit of Grace!

I am far from God. It is all my fault. I have no idea what to do. “Jesus knows this too; he is not angry with me. He waits and hopes that I can draw near and find his love.”
Benefit of Grace!

Finding the benefit of grace, means we finding a wellspring of peace. Discouragement gets covered by the sacrifice of Living Water and we wade in the encouragement that this hope brings. 

Grace makes us see perspectives differently.

With grace, we notice:
God works far better than we ever could.
The small thing he’s doing, rather than what we’re ruining.
We build into relationships, rather than destroy them.
Our hope for the hopeless situation – and a will to continue on.

We notice that mistakes, errors and offenses aren’t beacons of our future,
but undercover blessings helping us to forge trust that lasts.

Stepping back means we get to see God’s restoration step in, both in our lives and in the life of another.

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Shame Tells Bigger Lies (You Likely are Believing)

shame tells lies

I can’t believe I am saying this. With this admission, it seems like stadiums of people might stand up and boo me. It feels like there should be a grand coronation with a broken crown, for me, the mom who stinks the most. And here is why (and boy, do I hate to admit this): I hate playing with my kids.

There you have it.

Give me games, give me coloring, give me a purpose, but give me a room and a little one dreaming of pretend games – and I am lost.

I know, I hate me too; I see the other moms.

I am not like them: the ones who get on the floor for hours, aching back and all, the ones who are 110% in at the park and the ones who crafting all day long.

These women, they make me look bad; they point out the truth: I am not enough.

Are you hearing the voice of not enough too?
Not enough at work? Not enough with your family?
Not enough with your friends? Not enough of anything?

I could see “not enough” every time I looked into that innocent face. I could see it in his eyes – I was letting him down. Every look at him seemed to speak, Kelly:

You are a failure mom.
Your kids won’t love you.
You are not enough.
You will always stink.

If we aren’t careful, our failure will attempt to define our future.

This thought made me sit upright at the prospect of something deeper a nugget: If our thoughts are trying to kill relationship, rather than build relationship, they probably are not from God.  This truth hit me like a lightbulb.

Then, I started to think:

Evil wants to make our perceived failure into our destined future. 
It wants to hand us an eternal label that says, “Unstable and liable to fail.”
It wants to rip apart our families with the lie, that things can’t change.

It is at work to tell us, “You stink and can’t ever be better.”

This message always leads us to do one of three things:

1. Give up because we know how worthless we are.

2. Get mad at others because we feel angry that they are making us be this way.

3. Overdo it by being too involved, controlling or overbearing.

That evening, I decided to take a step back from my truth, the truth I didn’t like to play. I looked at it for what it is: I don’t like pretend, I do like the zoo. I don’t like pretend, I do like cooking. I don’t like pretend, but I do do fun things.

The fact that I don’t like pretend does not equal the fact that my son doesn’t love me. LIE!
It does not equal the fact that I am bad mom. LIE!
It does not equal a standing of doomed mother. LIE!

Relieving myself of the pressure, left me room to consider. It left room for me to love myself and him without getting burned. Stepping back leaves room for God to starve the bad and to feed in the good.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jo. 15:13

Jesus laid down his life for me. I have a little one that I can lay my life down for too.

I can sometimes do what I don’t like, I can play pretend, because I love him. I love him so much. I love with big and bold and wide open love. And, with Christ, we can do things we don’t like, even if we fail, even if we end up eventually yelling, “Get in the car. We are making an emergency trip to the library.” Even then, we are okay.

The love of Christ leave us, always, more than okay; it can’t go anywhere on the children of God. It always sees, always cares and always endures.

Shame has no place in the center of love.
Shame can’t exist in the presence of patience.
Shame can’t grow amidst self-forgiveness.

And, so we look at ourselves and say, “If Christ can love me like this, I guess I can love me too.” For, how can we really love, if we don’t have a base of love to work from?

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

If I find his love in me, Christ’s love will work through me.

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