Purposeful Faith

Tag - doubt

When God is Punishing You

God is Punishing

You kind of figure, because of you,
because of all your bad actions,
he’s going to open the heavens,
rain down lightening like pocket knives
​and  land one straight on your head.

Maybe it is already happening. All is plummeting and God is: hitting you with health issues, cutting into finances, shredding a marriage, stabbing emotional well-being, hurting your kids, slicing out pain at work and dicing up trials for your course du jour.

And, it has to be you, right? All you have done, you deserve it. All you keep doing, it makes sense. All of your past, you get it. You are a degenerate in so many ways.

You may not hear his words from his mouth, but you certainly hear them in your head:

 “Get your bad self to your room. Don’t return until you act better.”
“Get yourself together.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“You can’t do anything right.”

Exasperated, you wait to hear from him, expecting a whole lotta words on how you are a royal mess-up and a giant loser. You expect to hear a list of practial law and rules and insights and plans that you need to stick to.

Instead, a whole different picture rises – a picture that puts God’s truth first.

It is painted.  Not in muted shades of pained grey, but with the spectrum of new life. It beckons you to step in and to feel the warmth, to participate in growth and to enjoy the ride, so you listen and hear things like: 

1. You see all you do wrong, I see so much that you do right.

2. You’re my first love. I don’t want to hurt you, I want to prosper, grow and see my glory shine through you.

3. You see your mistakes, I see how your mistakes are the starting of new.

4. You get discouraged and defeated by relational hiccups, but I see the pauses as space for me to work.

5. You’re the child I created, I love you exactly the way you are – strengths with weaknesses, weaknesses with strengths.

6. You don’t have to have it all figured out in the today, because I have it all figured out in the tomorrow.

7. Your repentance is the start of my next best thing. You turn away and then you see me.

8. Other people acting badly, is the best chance to show holy.

9.  When you turn towards me, in turn you see my kindness.

10. When you say you’re sorry (and mean it), I say, “I forgive you” (and mean it).

Staring at the image, your mind dwells on the new story:

“God’s face looks a whole lot different than mine. His love is ten times more infusive than mine. His ways are galaxies more compassionate than mine. His grace is tanks more abundant than mine.

While I look at the immediate, he sees the long-term. While I get defeated in battle, he cheers the victory over the course of the war. While I get angry, he knows that anger does not produce righteousness (Ja. 1:20)”

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Ps. 145:8

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Nu. 14:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Ps. 86:5

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. Ps. 25:8

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Ps. 130:4

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 Jo. 4:8

God calls you in.
Deeper.

God calls you out.
To head towards grace.

God dares you to hear him.
To listen to his true sounds.

For to know him,
is to know love.

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Regular Contributor, Katie Reid, is delighted to have a memoir piece published in Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond by Matilda Butler. The book launches today on Amazon for only 99 cents! Don’t miss it.

I Doubt, Now What?

I doubt

It creeps. It crawls. It slithers. We move fast, running with a paper towel to try to kill that blasted thing before it shows it’s disgusting face. We. Must. Kill. The. Yuck. We can’t see that. We can’t admit that. Don’t let anyone know that exists…

It would change the face of everything.
It would risk who we are.
It might make us reconsider things.
It might make others declare us un-Christian.
It might make God angry.

Just the other day, feeling overwhelmed by the this’ and thats of our great joyride called life, I stood in the center of it all, dropped my arms and practically screamed, “God, can you really help me get out of this mess? Do you really help?”

I have probably said it a hundred ways, on other days –
sounding something like this: 

God if you are so good, why haven’t you saved me yet?
Jesus, if you are all love, why did that happen?
What if my beliefs are all wrong and I chose the wrong way?
Why would you let the innocent get hurt?
Do you really want me?
I can’t be good enough (which truly is saying Jesus isn’t good enough).
Does prayer really change anything?

Even writing these things evokes feelings of shame. Shame that I would much rather gather between my fingers, pinch and let the insides squirm out. Shame that I want to hide for fear of a quick rebuke, but hiding never went unseen in the garden and it doesn’t on earth either.

So it makes me consider, what if speaking doubts
is the best way to speak in new faith? 

What if talking with God about the unknown
is the best way to make him more known?

I think about one man. His name was John. He baptized. But, before he did that, he went to the wilderness and started to preach and to call people to repentance. People came. They came from Jerusalem and Judea and the whole region of Jordan (Mt. 3:5-6). They confessed and were changed.

This man. He was on fire for the Lord. This man. He was preparing the way for Christ.

This man. Not too long after, doubted.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jo. 11:2

Sometimes our prisons of despair make us feel certain
God doesn’t care.

Sometimes when we get all alone, our loneliness makes us believe God left us too.

Sometimes, when doubt kicks in, we have to kick out our fears to Jesus’ feet
and let him stomp them out.

That is what John did. He sent his disciples to Jesus with his question.

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Jo. 11:4

When we remember what God has done, we start to realize how much more he can do.

When we see all that he has fulfilled, we begin to believe he will fill in our gaps.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to go around squashing and squishing every question, fear or uncertainty that arises. He doesn’t chide John for his question and send him off without any care. Jesus tells us to come to him, to dive into his Word and to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Ps. 34:8

When we feel blocked in by the bars of life, we can reach out to receive the Word of life, in order to be refreshed by the Spirit who provides life.

Then, with new strength and new hope, we can call out and say something like: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

And God does, because he is. And our heart becomes stronger; it beats louder, gets more oxygen and pumps more blood and we know that we did the right thing by being honest for he honestly changed our doubts into belief. We become confident he answers prayer.

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The Myth Of Control

I am more than delighted to welcome a true woman of the Lord, Karina, to the Purposeful Faith blog. From the minute I met her, I could see love, joy and passion written all over her. Karina is an example of transparency and authentic pursuit of God. I couldn’t be more happy to have her on Purposeful Faith as a regular contributor. I hope you enjoy her heart as much as I do.

Post by Karina

I have this struggle. I’m sure I am probably the only person who struggles with this issue. I kind of, sort of, maybe, like to be in control. Just a little bit. When a say a little, I mean a lot!

The last 6 months or so have been a bit paradoxical in nature. What I mean is that many amazing things have happened to me! I went out of town several times, have had a few exciting writing opportunities, connected with dear friends and met some new ones! During those exact same months, I have been searching for a roommate. I’m 35 and single and living alone is ridiculously expensive. I normally have a sense from God in which direction to go in when making decisions, but this time around, I had no direction.

I, under no circumstances, like the way that feels! I did my part. I exhausted every avenue to find a roommate and searched high and low for other housing. Nothing made sense. Countless options came and went. No other housing option fit my budget. Again, still no direction. My sweet friend Holly prayed for me one night a couple of months ago after small group. She told me the Lord wanted me to know that this situation was not my fault. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That filled me with such peace and yet still, there was no direction.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me of the truths that I so easily forget.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God is God. I am not. He is omniscient.

He know all things…the past, the present and the future. His timing and mine are rarely the same thing. After all, He is the one who created time itself. I can effortlessly believe the lie that what I see is all there is or that my time line is perfect. That is NEVER the case. There is a great deal happening in the supernatural that I cannot see and may never see. I am learning to embrace the mystery in knowing God and trusting His ways and His heart especially when I can’t see Him at work.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The never changing truth is that God loves me deeply and He loves you deeply. What He does or doesn’t do, what He says or doesn’t say is always for our good. That is what He does and who He is as our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t send pain or suffering or doubt or confusion. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When our circumstances are not good and perfect, it breaks His heart. And His desire is to come in and bring healing, purpose and restoration to our lives. I am learning to let Him do just that.

Are you? Is there an area of your life where you have been believing the myth that you are in control?

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Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”

10 Things The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Know

The Devil Doesn't Want

I knew where I needed to go and I was laser-focused on my goal. I was running hard, pushing with the endurance and perseverance that God calls for, until…

…until I hit a little snag in the road. Until I started to feel like all the goodness I had been orchestrating with God was anything but that. Like the project at hand was really going to be the project that lost.

I started to say things to myself like:

I am going to fail.
No one really cares about this goal.
My progress is short-lived.
God won’t help me
This is going to stink.

If I have learned one thing, over my small life-span as a Christian, it is this: When the red flags of doubt and discouragement start waving, we can be sure that we stand on the starting line of the devil. He loves to send us off on a race of futility.

Where do you stand?

Are you listening to his mumbles, messages and mixed up words of defeat
or are you listening to God’s powerful words of “I am with you?”

10 Things The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Know
(and what God does)

1. You must fight to win in this thing called life. Work hard and do your best and some day you may be good enough.

Truth: You already have the victory in Christ Jesus. Step out and act like you believe it.

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb… Rev. 12:11

2. You have no identity. Find it in other things: work, men, partying, affairs, perfectionism, etc. If you can’t find it, there’s another way-simply, numb the feelings with suppression of feelings, food, alcohol, and drugs.

Truth: Your security in Christ’s plan is more stable than the cross that Jesus died on.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. Gal. 2:20

3. You are not forgiven. That thing will mark you forever.

Truth: The second you repent, your sins fall off of you faster than you can say “I can’t forgive myself.” Your sins are moved as far as the east is from the west, to the depths of the sea, where they are counted no more and where there is no charge against you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9

4. God doesn’t guide people like you. He abandons the poor and powerless on the curb of unloved.

Truth: Sinners are God’s greatest calling.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Lu. 5:32

5. It’s fine if you know God’s Word, but you can’t know God’s love. Then your heart may take flight and seek to live it in all you do. Can’t have that!

Truth: There is no fear in love. Find love, find faith. Find love, find peace. Find love, find grace.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13

6. It’s all about your needs. YOLO and FOMO rule!

You only live once (YOLO) so do whatever makes you feel good, no matter the cost.

Be fearful of missing out (FOMO). Overextend yourself so you can never overjoy your heart in the overflowing peace of God.

Truth: Moving at high speeds only serves to move us away from our first love.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Ps. 62:5

7. Walk by feelings, not by faith. Feelings make you feel good, so why not follow their leadings?

Truth: You can sidestep discouragement and despair by walking around feelings to solely stand on the rock of God’s promises. Believe only what God says about you and you will not be shaken.

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. Deut. 32:4

8. Live in the past. Dwell on your pain, keep the band-aids of injured on, be angry, irritated and a hoarder of all the things and people that hurt you. Remember, so that you can live guarded, hardened and resistant to others.

Truth: Today is the only day we presently have. If we live in yesterday, we miss the gift of now, which is the only working ground for real life transformation.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Is. 43:18

9. Fear everything. Look at life as a catastrophe on the near verge of exploding death and to imploding your dreams. You will walk stifled and baffled at how you are getting nowhere. You will tread in the currents of failure and be no threat to me.

Truth: God is more with you than the hairs on your head.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6

10. God saved you for eternity, but he doesn’t save on earth. God is only good for getting you through the heavenly gates, then you are stuck exposed, crazy and delusional in this dank and dark world. Good luck out there. I am coming to get you.

Truth: He will run to arm you with the protection of his love.

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. Ps. 91:14-15

Stand bold. Stand firm. Stand on truth. God always holds all power. He loves us and is our greatest advocate.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20

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Identifying the Lie of Your Life (Part 1)

Identifying the Lie

Do you know your story?

Do you really know it in a way that will guard you against the I-can’t-do-it moments?

I am beginning to know it in this way and it is making all the difference. I am beginning to see the small cracks in my armor.

I can’t do it. Crack.
I won’t succeed. Crack.
I am losing my abilities. Crack.
I won’t be blessed. Crack.
God’s calling is non-existent. Crack.
I have no purpose. Crack.
I will not be led, inspired, helped, released, forgiven. Crack.
I will never be good enough. Crack.

My deep crack was: I can’t write. God hasn’t called me to do this. He is no longer blessing my work.
Underneath this crack, lived surface pressure: God won’t really be for you. He will leave you. Crack.

A crack is just enough for the devil’s foot to grab a hold of a heart.

A crack is just enough to forge a distance of space
between us and the God of our dreams.

A crack is just enough for a foothold of discouragement
to break down faithfulness.

A crack is just enough for him to start
ransacking our holy temples of God.

Which he loves to do. If he can penetrate a crack, he will perpetuate all problems. Days, turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years and before you know it, the door to dejection is flung wide open. Suddenly, what you realize is that you are standing there vulnerable, naked, exposed and not sure where to run.

Unaddressed lies turn into a dressing of no protection that move us from
armed by the power of truth to defeated by the cleverness of lies.

Make no mistake, the devil is a carnivore who delights in eating up anything resembling the temple of God. We don’t have to have four legs for him to take a bite of our flesh. We don’t have to be doing bad things to get chewed up and spit out by the one who hates us.

He wants to take our true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8) and make it fake, deceitful, unfair, desecrated, horrible, vile and condemnation-worthy.

When our thoughts move to unholy, we become unholy. The second dirty hands leave an imprint, we grow shame at their touching. The second he raises uncertainty, we become certain that God doesn’t love us anymore.

This happened to me. But then I saw it. I saw what changes it all, the way of flipping my heart back into God’s goodness.

Here is what I saw:

1.) An alone, uncertain and unsure 3rd grader. One who for the life of her could not read or write with the other kids. One who knew she would never succeed. One who would never learn. One who couldn’t progress. It’s no wonder she stayed back that year, she was a loser of a writer. The only comfort she lived with, besides her thumb-sucking habits, was the idea that she would always fail.

2.) A grown woman at the will of an abusing woman. An abusive woman who would rip up time-intensive writing works with an air of “how could you?” An abusive woman who was a nightmare by day and literally a nightmare by night. An abusive woman whose degrading and demoralizing taunts still haunt.  A woman who caused an eager-to please employee long-lasting defeat, pain and fear of future criticism because her voice still resounds today.

3.) The devil is one who doesn’t give cause to our small cause, but one who goes after our big, audacious and wild causes for the Lord. He is one who, from day 1, has been trying to savor and steal the blessing the Lord has been baking and preparing our whole life.  He is the one who never wants the timer of “ready” to ring and resound.

What has the Lord been baking
that the devil is hungry to burn?

What central lie, from day 1,
has the devil pounded over you to ensure you crack?

For me, he wanted to burn my belief that I could write, so that I never could write for the Lord.

What is it for you? It has likely been happening from the days of old and he will continue it through days of new if you let him.

He wants us handicapped. He wants us crippled. He wants us unable to walk towards real purpose, real value and real transformation. Jesus wants us free, full and ready to say, “This is my body, take and eat.”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jo. 10:10

Jesus enters into our life to bring life – always and everyday. But, beware, we are being sent you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore we must be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16). Are you this way?

This means, if we are standing firm, we must be careful that we don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12)!  Are you ensuring your good standing before the Lord?

We must “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of (us) has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Heb. 3:12) Are you turning away as you analyze and consume yourself in the small cracks of your armor?

The cracks we cannot see, we cannot repair.  

If you don’t want the tectonic plates of your life to shift beyond repair, the time is now to shift your view on all you have believed to be true your entire life.

Join me for Part II, 5 Ways to Fight Back When Under Attack! To get busy with going and doing – we have to come alive to arming. We must arm up in the power of our Most High God to fight back.

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A Moment We All Need to Give Ourselves

A Moment We All Need

Occasionally you meet a person you know is an instant friend. Location doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t care and methods of communication aren’t valid – what you know is that this one counts for something. This is how I feel about Rachel Macy Stafford. She shines all things pure and beautiful and it is my delight to know and love her.

R.Stafford headshot

In other exciting news, Rachel’s latest book, HANDS FREE LIFE, has permanently marked my heart with awe-inspiring and heartfelt life change. I feel my life going from bouncy ball crazy, to focused and intentional. I feel my attention moving from scattered to attentive. I feel my heart charging from empty to full again.  I feel grace speaking, rather than condemnation. This book has reserved a permanent spot on my bookshelf of “keepers;” I will be referencing her words for my whole life, I know that. Thank you Rachel, just thank you. I feel your love in this book.

Welcome to Purposeful Faith as a guest contributor for a day.

Post by: Rachel Macy Stafford

Understandably, many people want to talk to me about distraction. More specifically, they want to tell me about the distraction incidents they witness in their neighborhoods, at restaurants, parks, and sporting events. They want to tell me about the texting drivers sitting next to them at stoplights. Many well-intentioned people want to tell me how sad it makes them feel to see distracted people oblivious to their loved ones.

I must admit, these comments make me uncomfortable.

My mission for sharing my Hands Free journey is not to bash the distracted people of the world. My mission for sharing this journey is to bring awareness … namely, self-awareness … the kind of self-awareness I was lacking a few years ago.

Because you see, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about where I came from.

I was that distracted person oblivious to her loved ones.

I was that distracted person texting at stoplights.

I was that distracted person who made excuses as to why I was too busy to spend quality time with my family.

I was that distracted person who couldn’t see my beautiful life slipping right through my busy little fingers.

But I can assure you the judgment was harsh. The judgment was cruel. It was downright unbearable at times. But this condemnation didn’t come from an outside observer, well-meaning friend, or loving companion. Oh no, this ridicule came directly from me.

If you have read my “About Hands Free” page then you know that taking an honest look at the way I was living (or more accurately, not living) was a necessary step in my Hands Free life transformation. In fact, meaningful efforts to let go of distraction would have never happened (or lasted) without honestly evaluating the cost of my distraction.

But despite the fact that assessing my behavior was a vital step in changing my distracted ways, living in regret was not. I’ve come to realize that continually berating myself over what I missed is a waste of precious time. Self-forgiveness and healing have been just as much a part of this journey as my difficult truths.

But every now and then I get waves of remembrance—a taste of “life overwhelmed”, just enough to sting me, just enough to bring tears to my eyes.

It happened the other day. I’d stayed up too late working the night before. I had several deadlines to meet, and I was not as close as I hoped on any of them. I needed to get the kids to a swim meet. We were late. I was tired. The word “Mama” began every single sentence that came from my children’s lips whether I was actually needed or not.

And there I stood in front of the pantry, unable to remember what I came there to get. Part of me wanted to shut the door to that little space, huddle under the boxes of Fiber One cereal, and cry.

That’s when I heard it.

That voice.

It didn’t use the exact phrase that originated in the years of my highly distracted life, but it came painfully close.

“You are a bad mom” was the token phrase my inner bully liked to hiss during my highly distracted years whenever I felt like I was falling short in the parenting department. I’d almost forgotten I used to say such hurtful things to myself.

But then again, I don’t think I will ever completely forget.

I gave up on whatever it was that I intended to get from the pantry and told my children I needed a moment. I went to my bedroom and turned on my fan for soothing white noise and began reminding myself.

I reminded myself that The One who loves me, The One who took my hand and placed me on this transformative journey, still loves me even when I fail miserably.

I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that even the “best” parents have their moments of self-doubt and frustration.

I reminded myself of how I reacted when a tornado came scarily close to our house. It was the day I realized the fierce love I have for my family outweighs my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections.

I would run through fire to spare them.

I would beg kidnappers to take me in order to free them.

I would offer my plasma, my organs, and every single one of my limbs to save them.

I would sacrifice my life without hesitation, without question, if it meant allowing my loved ones to live.

Even in my most distracted, overtired, stressed-out state, my fierce love for my family is always ready, willing, and able.

Once I was finished reminding myself of these important things, I said a prayer of thanks and released a heavy sigh. I centered my disheveled, puffy-eyed self directly in front of the bathroom mirror and said one word.

“Grace.”

As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.

DSC_0509 (1)

A few minutes later, my children and I were on our way to the swim meet. I turned on one of our favorite songs, which beautifully articulates the value of human scars and imperfections. I felt a slight smile come to my lips as I listened to my children belt out the chorus from the backseat:

“These bruises,
Makes for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
I
t’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”

~Train

I suddenly feel better.
I just needed a moment.|
Don’t we all?

I think we all do—at some point in our day … our week …  our life—need a moment.

And so when I hear someone describing the unbecoming behavior of a distracted person, I cannot join in the condemnation. I once was that person and remain a work-in-progress.  And that is okay. That is human.

The other day, someone I love and respect as a parent and human being said something powerful to me. My mother said, “Rachel, even at your most distracted, you were always a good parent.”

With those words, the divine light of forgiveness shined like a beacon for my misdirected soul.

Even on days when I can’t tear myself away from my distractions …

Even on days when I overreact over something trivial …

Even on days that I obsess over bulges and wrinkles and things that don’t matter one bit in the end …

Even on days when I want to lock myself in the pantry and weep …

Even on days when I am at my worst,
I remain that person who would sacrifice her life
to spare her loved ones from pain and tragedy.

Perhaps you know someone who would make the same sacrifice. I bet you do.

So when you see that less-than-perfect woman or man staring back at you in the mirror … or the one at the restaurant who can’t quite seem to put down the phone and see the gifts in front of him or her … I ask that you extend grace, rather than judgment.

We are not the sum of our distractions.

Sometimes we just need a moment.

And every moment is a chance to start anew.

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BIO:

R.Stafford headshot

Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of www.handsfreemama.com where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA. Her highly anticipated book, HANDS FREE LIFE, releases in one week! It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to live better and love more despite the daily distractions and pressures that try to pull us away.

 

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5 Lies You Believe (Yet May Not Realize)

lies you believe

What if I told you that as you walked outside there was a predator looming in your bushes? He not only wanted to take a bite of your skin, but entirely rip it off – savor it and devour it.

Sound creepy? Yes, I completely realize it does.

But, if this were the case, would you keep your eyes a little more open?
Might you look a little more left and right?
Prepare yourself in case of attack?

Might you do everything you could to find out who had the power to get rid of this creeper?

Of course you would.

But, do you?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8

Usually, we live more like busy-bodies than watch dogs.

We don’t look up – or around – we only look down – at our iPhones. 

We look to our extensive to-do’s, rather than our exponential God.
Destination rules on high.

Feelings of worthlessness, uselessness and hopelessness often whip us around.
Meanwhile, we don’t see the abuser standing next to us.

He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jo. 8:44

When the devil lies, he often makes us lie down in defeat.  Are you discerning is voice?

5 Lies the Devil Wants you To Believe (and you usually do)

1. God doesn’t really love you that much.
How could a god that big, love one who is so small?

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. Jo. 15:3
God’s love is the only thing that is always permanent and always present.

2. Your scars of the past will always blind your eyes in shame (abortion, alcohol, depression, anger, mental issues, insecurity).
You messed up so bad, you’re marked as forever bad.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 147:3
God doesn’t blind us with what we did wrong, he binds us up in what he did right.

3.  You will be destroyed by your circumstances, your relationships and your trials.
That thing is going to take you down and ruin your life; you won’t be okay.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118:6
If God is on your side, you are on the winning side – walk in His stride.

4. You deserve no trials.
A good god would never let you hit bad trials.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jo. 16:33
Your good God knows bad trials will make you even better.

5.  The bible doesn’t really say that. That would negatively impact your happy meter.
God wants all happy, happy, joy, joy feelings for you – go and get it (under breath: you spoiled little brat). Consume it – the world is your oyster.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Lu. 9:23
God doesn’t say consume, he says exhume your ways and reassume his.

The devil almost always says, “God can’t – and you can’t – unless you can –  with sin. The world will eat you up, the bible will fake you out and your past will kick you out of God’s purpose.”

The devil offers: same lie, different day.
But we have: the same God, everyday.

Our best defense is knowing God is on offense.

God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?
​Nu. 23:19

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Denying Discouragement

Denying Discouragement

It’s days like these that can really cause havoc…

Days where these kids head to time-out, over and over, despite the repeated talks on love.
Days when work doesn’t work-out.
Days when the marriage just goes off kilter.
Days when friendships irk.
Days when finances continue to dwindle.
Days when God doesn’t immediately show up. Days that can turn into weeks…

It’s days like these when you wonder
why in the world things don’t work better when you are working so hard?

It’s days like these that compel your heart to want to give up, to run and hide.

Why is it that the train-wreck days sometimes
 seem far easier to get over than these kind of slow-gnaw-type-of-days?

At least with the train-wreck days, you can clean up the toys at the end of the day and start over with a clean slate. You can file these days away in the “once-in-a-blue-moon” cabinet knowing they won’t repeat too soon.

But, slow-gnaw days are called faith-busting day. Over time, they cut your faith away.

They make you question your worth, your heart, your value, your plans, and your God.

They make me lay in the bed, look up at the ceiling, and say, “Why do I even try, God. When are you coming through? What do I have to do?”

We tend to think that way, don’t we?

That for some reason, we are responsible to fix the hand of God.

As if our actions are the precursor to his decisions.  

Who owns the hand of God – HIM or me?

Yet, I think of another who had a serious loss of heart. I think of another who had a series slow-gnaw days that could have eaten him alive – if he let them.

Imagine hearing these words: But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  Luke 22:32
And then hearing this: “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Lu. 22:34
Only to do this: “I don’t even know him!” Lu. 22:57

Might Peter thought, “I’d never! That day will never come! I am strong!” Likely.

But he did – 3 times he did. And he wept. Beyond that, I imagine the next days must have been excruciating as he, probably left in discouragement and despair, saw his savior crucified, dead and buried.

What happened to his purpose?

What use was his life, after in Jesus, he practically twisted the knife?

Peter’s actions must have gnawed worthlessness, pain and struggle.

But, Jesus never leaves the failures, the forgotten or the futureless.

Peter’s inability to stick it through in the moment didn’t disqualify him from Jesus’ love, neither did his past actions.

Nope. Remember this? “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”  Luke 22:32
And, it didn’t.

How often do we arm ourself up with faith like Jesus did for Peter? His prayer was answered.

How often do we pray preemptively for war? We are at war.

I can only speak for myself, but with faith like mine,
I should make this prayer my living-mantra.

Because it worked for Peter who:

  • Was bound up in forgiveness and recommissioned by Jesus with the words: “Tend My sheep.”
  • Was filled by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to preach and lead 3000 to Christ.
  • First cried for himself, and later cried with passion for the church built above his foundation.
  • Spread the gospel far and wide with crazy love for his Savior.
  • Completed his life as the rock – to the point of death, not as sand – breaking under the pressure of life.

We think Jesus uses heroes, he often used the ones who felt like zeros.

We think it’s about perfection, but it’s simply about his resurrection.

We think Jesus looks for the perfect, but he always finds the willing.

We try to be faultless, but God grows the repentant faulted.

Peter was never disqualified because he doubted.

His days were never marked as fake and tossed out like bad meat
(we read his lessons time and time again).

He wasn’t left in the dust without a purpose or a cause.

He hit gnawing days, battling days and downright discouraging days, yet Jesus chose him, ate with him, replenished his heart and restored his mission so he could go awesome, outstanding and amazing distances for God’s glory.

He waits to do the same with us; Jesus waits to recharge us into his purpose.

What is really amazing is, after all was said and done, Peter, wasn’t just changed for himself, so he could reach some high-and-lofty goal like sitting at the right hand of God, or going before God, or looking good to man, but he was changed to one who learned to deny self (no matter the cost).

He became chief-tender over Jesus’ greatest love – the sheep, just as Jesus always believed he would.

Jesus said to Peter (pre-denial), “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32

And, Peter did.

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1.  Sign up for the NEW Cheerleaders 4 Christ #RaRa Facebook group page (this is different than the prayer one I set up). We will be rolling out a new element to the #RaRalinkup that I want you to be a part of. Details are forthcoming soon. Join here.

2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.

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A Powerful Tip to Becoming Doubtless

A Powerful Tip to Becoming Doubtless

I felt down. Sometimes my emotions move with the wind, with the circumstances.

Certainly, I know God says not to be like one tossed to and fro like the doubting waves (Ja. 1:6). I’ve got this. I understand this. But, I still do this.

I don’t want to, but I do.

And then I hate myself for doing it – for being a doubting Thomas, demanding to see God’s purposes for the surrounding injuries.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Jo. 20:27

You arrogant girl, God doesn’t bless girls like that! He hates that.

Good “Jesus girls” don’t have to witness the details of the wounds to trust there is a better plan. So why do I?

I don’t have to see the holes to know that God put them there for a good reason. Can’t I trust? Can’t I just see that the pain of today is there because God has a plan in tomorrow?

Many times I can. Other times I can’t.

And, when I can’t,  shame becomes the holding cell that distances me from God.

Certainly, grace keeps the jail cell doors wide open, unlocked and unobstructed, but shame holds me in, telling me this is where I belong – contained and convicted. It bars my mentality to a purposeless state. It makes me feel like a life-sentenced prisoner doomed to isolation for my bad behavior as a Christian mess-up. 

Girls who act like that never get out. They can’t be used without faith.

The bars of this cell open and close like clockwork:

1. Emotions of fear lead to…
2. Doubts about God which lead to…
3. Shame about my doubts, which leads to…
4. Distance (due to: embarrassment, worthlessness, anxiety) from God

But, I am tired, dead tired of being trapped in a cell – a cell that doesn’t have to be literal to trap you. I am tired of breathing in the anxiety of God’s wrath and the fear of my worthlessness.

Because the truth is, this cell is dingy, old and full of fear; it’s not helping me much anyway.

I have the bounty of grace right before me, and it’s about time I seize it.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” Lu. 4:18

And I did something different and it worked! I was astonished.

Let me explain:

1. Know your past. Where you were hurt in the past is likely where you will feel damaged in the future. Old dog, same tricks. The devil knows our sore spots and he loves to reopen them.

2. Identify in God’s word the truths that hit your past and current pain points.

3. Speak these truths over yourself. Proclaim them. Speak them. Preach them. Teach them. I don’t care, just get up and walk around and own them. Rather than sitting like a prisoner waiting to be someone’s fresh bait, step up and realize Jesus was already the (perfect and complete) bait for you. He won and you will win too – come the day of Christ Jesus.

4. Believe in the words you say. Receive the full authority that Christ has placed in you, by the power of his Spirit, when you believed. Don’t half heartedly pray or meekly say, “I trust.” Make your words your anthem, your pledge of allegiance, your covenant. Let them be binding truth and declarative words.

(Please note: I am not talking about declaring riches or blessings over yourself, I am talking about declaring truth about who God says you are and what he has done.)

Here is what it looked like for me:

(Imagine: Standing Kelly, walking Kelly, powerful Kelly, vocal Kelly, speaking aloud)
Lord, you reign. There is none beside you. There is none more powerful. You don’t hold doubts against me, as I confess, you forgive me. You free me to your purpose. There is absolutely no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I am loved, entirely, fully, completely. You bring all truth to light and you set  captives free, you will set me free. You have a plan and you will see it through…(and you get the point).

But, the point is, the more I spoke, the more I believed, and the more I believed, the more I felt relieved.

His active Word cut sharply through the sludge of my mind to unveil the new creation that I am – to myself. As the junk moved, the truth shined.

Christ’s power, mixed with the illuminating light of the Spirit, always uncovers truth.

Yesterday, I came doubtful, afraid and as spazzed as a kid on sugar, but through belief and ownership of his Word, I seized God’s renewing power for myself. I didn’t see the enemy near. I didn’t see my problems. I didn’t see trepidation. I didn’t see my regrets. I realized that the enemy cannot stand against one standing up.

I am a warrior for Jesus – and he doesn’t need wimps, he needs fearless children unafraid to speak truth.

Who run to the tomb no matter the cost.
Who see a mission during their long wait for the Promised Land.
Who see the dead things around them and speak life into them.

We are these warriors.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    and my fingers for battle;
 he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me.

Ps. 144:1-2

How can we be warriors when we sit downtrodden in cells of worthlessness and shame?

God has life-altering power ready to be poured out over us. Do we speak it like we believe it?

Lets us live in the purpose that Christ has already won for us.

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Overcome Doubt With Faith

Overcome Doubt With Faith

You won’t be able to do that.
No one does that.
It doesn’t happen that way.

Despite my sure belief and confidence in what God had been working – uncertainty crept in.
Was this person right? Was it impossible? Was I wrong to believe?

Waves of doubt filled my heart. With force, they came to topple down my focus on God, my desire to follow and his great purpose for me. They rippled wider than my head and pushed straight into my anxious heart, with thoughts like:

I am on my own, God has left me! What do I do now?
Why did God give only to take away? I better figure a way to fix this myself.
Should I just take flight and run another way? I can’t do this after all.
Why did I believe? It seems now, I was never cared for to begin with.

Swelling up, under all of these fear-ridden thoughts, was a deep undercurrent that I wasn’t capable, valuable or lovable enough to get good from God.

Yet, as I thought of all that God has done for me, He brought me to on of the most valuable questions that we can ever ask ourselves: Who do I trust? The power of God or the power of man?

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Ps. 118:18

Trust means I fully accept
the promises, the assurances, the life,
the resurrection and security of Jesus Christ. 

It means I don’t see all I can’t do, it means I just see all he DID do.
It means I don’t see others words, I solely see his words guiding my way.
It means I don’t see an overwhelming future, I just see overwhelming past proof of his love for me.

The tide of God’s love is pulling me into the deep waters of Jesus. It brings me back to the place of trust.

I want to rush into his waters, only to come out drenched with his love and purpose.

3 Ways to Pull Yourself Back Into The Current of Faith

1. Seek to See God and His Surrounding Faithfulness.

I have the opportunity to see God. Truly! I can see his invisible qualities, his eternal power an his divine nature. It is all laid out before me in the creation that surrounds me. The more I look into nature the more I find his peace-giving presence. 

The sun proves his consistency.
The thunder proves his power.
The mountains prove his steadfastness towards me.
The sky prove his all-encompassing presence every day.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Ro. 1:20

2. Dive into the Safe-Dwelling Waters of Jesus.  

Like David, as we seek God, dwell on God and pursue his holiness, we start to lay our eyes on the heart of God. The world, voices and messages start to fall away and we start to build a sanctuary of love in our heart. This sanctuary is a temple of God that many are drawn to – it shines God’s glory.

Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.” 1 Chron. 22:19

3. God brands us with his promises. His promises are marked on us, they never leave our side – and we believe it.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… Eph. 1:13

As believers, we are sealed in the Lord’s love for us. We are packaged so tightly with his purpose, his seal can never be broken. We are sealed inside of all he has already promised us. Now, we walk believing it.

God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19)

We are held tightly by the power of:

– a hand that holds ours
– a Father that sees
– abundant forgiveness
– unending mercy
– unrelenting love
– unbelievable grace
– a help in a time of trouble
– eternal life

Trust is built – and kept – as we remember our Creator, his holiness and our sealed status in him. Truth and life already available.  Assurance of our faith already exists. The question is – will we choose to believe and seize it? Will we choose to trust God or to trust man?

Because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever. 2 John 1:2

We can overcome doubt with faith in all of God’s abundant promises.

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