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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
God has this.
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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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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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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.
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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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.
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.”
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.
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
It’s good to let you in again You’re not alone in how you’ve been Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”
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.
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.
Those who pre-order HANDS FREE LIFE from now
until September 7 receive the FREE e-book of HANDS FREE MAMA.
Click here to learn more about the book and pre-order bonus.
Bloggers, share this offer with your readers and with @handsfreemama!