Purposeful Faith

Tag - fear

What Greater Safety Truly Looks Like

There is a homeless lady my kids love. She sits on the side of the road in a makeshift tent made out of trash bags, tarps and cardboard. Everyday, when we pass her on the way home from school, my kids scream out the window, “Hi, have a great day,” as we pass by.

They know her name because one day, my daughter thought we should bring her food. She thought carrots would be nice. My son thought flowers would be a good idea too. So, we bought carrots and flowers and delivered them to her. It was then we learned she had a name.

Linda. I can’t stop thinking of Linda right now. She had to leave the streets…probably by force. I hope she didn’t protest. Somehow, I imagine her not wanting to desert her carts of personal belongings. I imagine her crying because that block is where she’s always lived. But if Linda didn’t leave, she might be dead. Hurricane Irma planned to hit her, hard.

Linda likely perceived her stuff more valuable than her safety. And she probably didn’t think about how there was a better place for her.

We’re like Linda, too. We don’t want to leave “our heart stuff” behind for God’s soul-calming safety.

We don’t want to cling to the safety of what we know, forgetting the calm that God brings. We don’t want to stay in a marginal place, missing the greater place of growth God is calling us to. This is even riskier than staying where we are. To stay on our corner, clinging to the past, our faults, insecurities or worries, hurts not only ourselves but others.

We must leave our baggage behind to pick up God’s easier yoke. There is a transaction involved in this. There is a sacrifice.

I’ve certainly learned this. I could easily go through life paying no attention to what God is prompting. Or the greater love he is calling me to, the mission he’s set ahead, or the unneeded garbage he is calling me to leave behind. But I would lose so much. Everything, almost.

Left to the whimsies of Kelly Balarie, I’d be a woman in a storm who felt like she had no home. I’d be tossed to and fro, feeling powerless.

The letting go and going where God goes is safety and power. It is a powerful Christian life that permits God to decrease self, while increasing the Spirit. This woman realizes more and more she’s in love with her daddy. She sees his best beyond her worst. She uncovers his faithfulness.

What is better than that? What is a more worthy pursuit? A more honorable goal?

Every time God teaches us something and inches us in a new direction, it’s not because we are doing bad, but because we are doing good and because he loves us that much. He wants our full heart within the safe place of his arms, where no harm can touch us, because — when we let go of everything, we find him fully.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Mt. 5:5

Where is God calling you to step more fully out of your comfort zone and into his love? What if you were to believe he truly did have your best intentions in mind?

“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:24

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Healing Inner Regrets

inner regrets

Have you ever done something you didn’t want to, and then regretted it?

I regret being a woman who desperately wanted men to like her. I regret not standing up for who I was. I regret not standing firm when people tried to tell me what to do.

Because I think all this produced a thick heart. Skin that is like cow hide.

And now I tend to not trust people easily, believe what they say, accept things without considering the strings attached or believe people will like me – for me.

I consider ulterior motives. I consider God’s ulterior motives.

As if he says to me:

If you aren’t good, I won’t be good to you.
If I don’t think you are serving me well enough, I’ll be distant from you.
If you don’t spend time with me, I am angry at you.
If you don’t give enough to me, I am over you.
If you don’t have something to offer the world, I’ll pass you over.

I am being frank with you today.

I am also convicted that hearts covered with protective skin are not God’s best working ground. He loves a supple heart that lays in his hands. One that, when he presses on it with just the slightest amount of loving pressure, responds.

So, I’ve forgiven those who never asked for forgiveness. I’ve asked God asked to soften my heart. And I’ve requested to hear his voice. God speaks to us today, something like this:

I won’t hurt you.
I don’t need anything back from you to love you.
I’ll love you as a good, pure and holy Father, forever.
I know where I am taking you. It is not to a place of harm or ridicule.
I don’t have plans to help and then hurt you.
It’s not what you do for me. It is what Jesus did for you.
If you take off what covers your heart, I’ll reach in and heal it.
I’ll grow you because I love you.
I care for hearts, including yours, with care.
You can trust me.

His perfect love casts out my fear.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

The Problem With Hiding Our Struggles

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Mama, the monsters are coming at me,” my son said.

He stood by the bed with his face inches from mine, hands animated. My mid-REM cycle brain lingered between sleep and reality.

“What?” I asked. I saw that my son was disturbed by something. After realizing I was going to have to get out of bed, I stumbled to his room. I gave the bunk a full examination before telling him to get back in.

Five minutes later, he reappeared. The monsters were still there.

For some reason, the miracle of a flashlight never occurred to me. Thank God for my husband who came to the rescue with not just a flashlight, but a headlamp. Under the pillow it went.

Sweet, uninterrupted sleep followed. The next morning, I realized this tool I took for granted revealed the truth: the “monsters” were in fact shadows. There were no creepy things waiting to grab him in the night. He was safe.

It’s amazing what a little light can do.

Even in the darkest place, a flicker of it can go a long way.

Recently, I needed some light of my own. But for months, I didn’t tell anyone. I went through a dark season where I listened to one lie after another. Lies telling me I wasn’t enough. Lies telling me I should do better as a mother, wife, writer and friend. Lies telling me I wasn’t going to make it.

I thought, “If I can just make it through today, things will get better.”

Good days came and went and when the darkness hit again, I thought, “I’m just having a bad day.”

Somehow, bringing my struggle out into the open seemed threatening. I convinced myself if I could carry it a little longer, it would go away. I thought telling someone would make it my reality.

But in truth, it already was.

One day I sat in church operating the media projector while the worship band played Healing Is Here by The Deluge. My eyes were wet with tears as I mouthed the words.

Sickness can’t stay any longer

Your perfect love is casting out fear

You are the God of all power

And it is your will that my life is healed

Did I believe that? Did I believe God wanted me to be whole, complete, and fully secure in his love?

As I sat there asking myself this question, a miracle took place. The pastor called a sister forward to pray over the offering, but the Spirit had something else for us that day. A rescue. A release.

“There’s someone here who’s suffering from depression,” she stated without hesitation. She said God wanted that person to know his healing power was for her.

The tears ran freely down my cheeks. But still, my butt remained glue to my seat. In the next half hour, our church literally became what Jesus referred to in Matthew as “A House of Prayer.” Service stopped. The sermon was postponed.

This woman’s husband stood up and extended a second invitation, and I knew I had to go forward. And as a stood there at the front of the sanctuary with my head bowed, her hand reached through the crowd and grabbed mine.

Music played in the background while this sister prayed over me, naming lie after lie that I’d listened to for months. It was a God-ordained moment.

And what I realized was this: Even when no one else saw my pain, God did.

“…for your Father knows what you need before you even ask him.” Matthew 6:8b NIV

I finally understood that hiding our struggles does not diminish their power. It increases it.

But when I gave my problem a name, I was able to take the first step toward healing. I said, “I’m not going to let this rule me anymore.”

When we bring our darkness into his Light, he shows us truth.

Like my son with his headlamp, we can see the shadows aren’t able to defeat us. Though they lurk, they can never stand a chance against his perfect love.

Friend, no matter what you’re going through today, know this: God sees. Bring your fears, your problems and your sickness into his Light today. Tell someone you trust. Take a step forward.

His healing power begins when we reach for his hand.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

 

What Voice Speaks In You?

Right before a recent move, someone told me, “I hate __ city. I hate everything about it. It is busy. It has mean people. It is a bad environment for living.” I had to pray for God to remove that from my mind so I wouldn’t allow their declaration to become my reality.

Another person essentially told me, “Kelly, you’re not a good enough writer.” I also had to erase that from my memory, so I could do what God wanted me to do without letting their words take life and speak over me day in and day out. But even now, I remember them.

Someone else told me, “All boys with the name __, act a certain way. You never want to name your kid that or they’ll be …” Again, I had to recognize this was something I could be prone to believe. I had to seek God’s truth and his ways, rather than to let those words take root in me.

What have people spoken over you lately? What have you permitted to become a part of you? What words might not be from God?

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

What ruler, authority or dark agency has spoken within you? Does it sound like love? Or does it sound like…

An Authority Saying, You’re RuinedThere is no time. There are no people behind you. You will fail. You don’t have enough __. You are always without ___. God is far.

An Agency Stating, Take Care of Yourself, Only: There is not enough to go around. Protect yourself first. Give later. The world has limited resources. Take first, give later.

A Hard-Driving Ruler demanding, Perform! Perform! Perform! Work, strive and push yourself harder: Imperfection is not allowable.  It’s an all or nothing lifestyle. It’s black or white thinking. It’s thrive or die. People are liabilities and injuries just waiting to happen. If they don’t help you, hurt them. That’s what you say.

An Authority proclaiming, You’re IncapableYou’ve always done bad in life. Why change now? You know you are unlikable, but there is no use trying to be different. Your past has marked you. The world, the hurters, owe you. You’re a victim. You don’t really have what it takes, anyway.

God is not a Father who enslaves you to a chamber of fear.

He is a daddy who loves you. He gives us…
A Daughter mentality: He loves me, oh, he loves me. Every day, he loves me.

His voice sounds like this:

I choose her.  I want her to feel my love. I want her to dwell in it and to feel the fullness of my presence around her. I want her to know I am both behind her, in her and working out through her. I rejoice over her with singing, I write her name on my hand, I prepare a room for her, I have good works ready for her to walk in, and I want to give her all my riches. I want to pour out my glorious inheritance (shout out to Jesus Christ) all over her. I want her to walk knowing she has the biggest, baddest and strongest security behind her at all moments. I want her to see she can do anything through me. I want her to know her faith can part seas and make her walk to lands unimaginable. I want her to hear my words of truth before she relies on her perceptions, because then she’ll know my love. 

I want her to know I’m always cheering for her, leading her, loving her and ready to help her. 

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When Your Mouth Speaks Stupid

Speaks Stupid

It was an odd encounter. I am not sure why. I didn’t intend to make it odd, but my mouth got ahead of my mind. What was meant to come out as, “Wow! You are so talented…” rolled out as, “What do you think you are being led to do in life?”

As if she wasn’t already doing enough.
As if God wasn’t already using her.
As if there was more to life than the moment she was currently in.

The second my question made its weird appearance, I wanted to withdraw it. I wanted to grab it and stuff it back into my mouth because I could see what it was producing: a seat-shifting sense that she should be doing more. That where God planted her feet today wasn’t good enough.

Yet, where she was — was entirely good enough. In fact, I was very much struck by the individual. And although I’d just met her minutes ago (another reason my mouth should have shushed it), I knew her wisdom and insight would have an impact on my life, as it has with so many others.

I left the gathering. On the way home, all I could think was: She thinks I am an oddball. I came off as prideful. She feels put down…not used enough…like she should have some greater mission…all because of my fast track mouth.

My hands clenched the car seat. My ears tuned out my husband and my embarrassment stuck on me like icky glue. It kept on bothering me — for days.

Yet, something hit me as I wrote this story down, after seeing it in black and white. What if the big deal I made about my words was really only a small deal to her? And what if her shifting around was only because she was bound to a clock and needed to start the meeting? What if her short response was only because she was thinking about what she needed to do next?

What if I read into things? And what if her words were far less about me, because she was already on to the next thing?

What if she didn’t really think I was:

the weirdo
the oddball
the arrogant one
the insensitive girl

What if she just thought I was a new person who seemed nice, who she is interested in getting to know as well?

How many times do we personalize predicaments and let them name us poorly? How many times do we let the enemy declare us bad when God is trying to set up a good friendship? How many times do we see our failings when others aren’t seeing that at all?

That night at the prayer gathering, I lost my prayer mojo because I kept thinking I injured her. I lost the chance to plead for, impact and change the hurting lives of others because I was caught up in my own mind-story. I lost God’s better plan.

When we personalize issues that really are not personal, we always lose God. We let our feet venture off his track and we head down some windy road with the goal of making man love us. We divert love. We walk away from Him who is love.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

The Damaging Effects of Speaking Under Your Breath

Speaking Under Your Breath

Yesterday, I went to the local cafe to write. I sit in the back where all the employees congregate, gossip and chit-chat. I usually try to keep my head down, but this time my eyes got the better of me. I couldn’t help but watch and listen.

A man marched through the front door. Chest up, he huffed and puffed all the way to to the back full of disdain at what he saw laying around him. Immediately grabbing a napkin and wiping a chair, he proceeded to attack the mess. He also decided to speak out from under his breath, saying, “This place is a mess.” He wanted his co-workers to hear. They did. Loud and clear.

Each belabored move to tackle crumbs, tables and spills, was all a message telling them, “You aren’t on it, but I am.”

A minute later, he pointed out two chairs and said, “Are those chairs supposed to be like that?”

He knew full well they weren’t. Then, he strutted over and fixed them. The two women employees next to me raised their eyebrows and gave each other the look, which I took to mean, “He’s up to it again…”

With their look, something pierced and shifted in me. Something called me to look within myself. Why? Because I knew his ludicrous behavior was also my ludicrous behavior. I am often, “up to it again.”

I speak a word under my breath, “Ugh…this place is such a mess.”

I send a silent message to my child, “Can’t anyone throw out these used paper towels on the counters?”

I leave a complaining spirit around my house, “He didn’t put his shoes away. Now, I have to do it.”

I am “up to it again” often.

I never knew how this practice appears. How it comes off. The arrogance of it. The looks it produces in people. The retaliation it produces. The spectacle of it all.

It makes me consider how I could approach things differently.

You know, the man could have come in and:

  1. Chosen to connect with hearts by first caring for those around him.
  2. Been straightforward with his request for help in cleaning up, saying, “Hey, would you all mind helping me clean up?”
  3. Connected with others during the process.
  4. Given thanks to them for helping him out.

I can do this too.

It was interesting as I watched this situation transpire. The women retaliated and called the man out on his “junk.” They said, “Hey Jim, are these your bags of chips out here on the counter?”

They were. Embarrassed, Jim walked back to pick them up.

None of us are perfect. Usually, what we huff and puff about are things we are equally guilty of.

Why not give everyone a break? Ourselves included.
Why not be honest? In need? Straightforward?

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Eph. 4:24

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Dear Perfect Christian…

Perfect Christian

Dear Perfect Christian,

First, we want to acknowledge that you do not exist. You never can, nor will you ever exist. We are sorry to tell you this, but your mission is 100% impossible and we regret to inform you it is one God never called you to.

We also want to encourage you, finally, to let your shoulders relax. You can let down your guard. You can stop pretending you’re a whole lot better than you look. You can let go of the messy drawers, the bad habits, the quick responses and stop beating yourself over the head with a self-improvement plan that never seems to work. You can inhale, let your stomach fill and then exhale.

You can rest. Finally, you can rest. You can find a daddy God who doesn’t look at you for what you can do, but who you are in him. You can see him want to be near to you. You can see him approach you with the fullness of love.

He wants you, even when you don’t want to see the horrible things you’ve done.

Breathe deep. Again.

There is peace for you.  Even when you are face-to-face with a horrible, ugly, unwanted failure. Still, there is peace, love and hope. Acceptance of failure is freedom.

I am writing you today with an invitation to let in- the love you hold at an arms-length. The love your always-unmet achievements declare you unworthy of. The love you keep away lest it make you feel needy. The love that will change you.

Today, let in…Christ. Let love in to a greater capacity.

What Jesus did covers what you don’t do. What he did washes away the blame that sticks. What he did marks you blameless. What he did removes the status of “wholly unworthy” and leaves you with an identity of holy.

This status reminds you: you will mess up, but God never gives up on you.

Return here, to this reminder. It is your rest. He wants you, not your work. He wants your heart. Let him have it. Let it be immersed in the Living Water. Let it splash around, dance, have fun, be free and enjoy the goodness of him who loves you.

I’ll meet you there.

Love, a fellow trying-to-be-perfect girl,

Kelly

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Do you Need God’s Saving Power?

My biggest fear came true, the exact one I couldn’t stop mulling over as I lay on my shaking, rattling bed. My 6-year-old was on the top bunk of an Amtrak train bed.

Would it hold him? Would he roll over?

At home, my son was protected. He knew his surroundings. He had comfort. His fall wasn’t 6 feet down. But here, in this new situation? In a bed half his size? One really couldn’t tell what might happen…

I got word in the morning. Husband told me he fell off the bed. My heart stopped. My eyes stared. I looked the kid up and down for train wounds. Nothing.

Husband explained, the safety straps next to the bed (the ones I completely took for granted), caught him. They wrapped him as he fell, like a cocoon, keeping him in a deep well of safety. So dear son was just chilling there, swinging and safe. Unaware of how protected he was…how he’d just been saved. He wasn’t even aware it happened. Dad pulled him back onto his bed without waking him.

How often does our Dad “save” us without us realizing? Pull us onto our bed of safety without us noticing? Wrap us in a cocoon of protection so harm can’t touch us?

Many of us, myself included, never give thought to the family wars, the bitter arguments, the looming bills, the accidents, the woops moments, the injuries he saves us from.

We see the things that hit us, and blame God, but we never consider how he saves us, and thank God.

He’s probably protected you a bazillion times, because God is mighty to save.

“He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Ps. 121:3)

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” (Zeph. 3:17)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10)

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:8)

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

The Simple Way to Strength

“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” (Is. 40:29)

When I read these verses, do you know what I think?

I think: That’s great He does all that – for them.

It’s great that he cares for the weary people who have cancer, or the poor people in India or the single mom in Detroit. He is SO loving to all them. But, I never apply God’s Word to me…

…even though I fall entirely in this camp. I am weary from packing up my whole house and carting boxes all the way to a new state. I am weak from trying to sell off my whole house and I am lacking might in the kindness department as night gives way to another night of no sleep.

But, I hardly count myself like them. I hardly place myself in the camp of the needy and poor people who should get God’s best.

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;

the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1)

What about you? Do you regard yourself?

Do you easily admit you are:

  1. Weary
  2. Weak
  3. Lacking might
  4. In trouble

What strikes me is that when we admit these things, we receive strength and power. It’s what this scripture says will happen. But, part of it happening is allowing it to happen.

You know, we can stop it from happening…

I’ve never been able to shove a popsicle in a kid’s mouth who didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to make my husband accept time of rest when he didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to fully feel God’s love when I didn’t make time for it.

David, the man who wrote this Psalm, even said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, heal me, for I have sinned against you” and “Even my close friend, someone I trusted…has turned[ against me.” (Ps. 41:9)

He admitted his gunk. What’s yours?

Psalm 41 says God:

– protects
– preserves
– does not give people “over to the desire of their foes”
– sustains
– restores those who are weary and lacking.

Seems like everything I need. What about you?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Are you Feeling Crushed by Life?

crushed by life

I heard this horrible story. On a warm evening a few summers ago, a boat hit a dock. A dock full of people.

A moment before this happened, they had no idea what was about to hit them. They drank cool drinks, enjoyed the summer breeze off the bay and laughed…until the load of a power boat hit them full force.

The boat flipped over, right onto it all. Right onto their party. Under the falling weight of this boat a five-year-old boy was caught.

He should have died. He should have been crushed. He should have never stood up again from the weight of it all…except, he did.

He got back up. He had a second life, a second chance, a free pass because an Adirondack chair caught the boat’s fall. It held the boat up at just enough of an angle so the boy could survive. He could crawl out.

And, he did. Despite all odds, he lived.

The cross of Jesus Christ is our Adirondack chair. I don’t care what kind of crushing power is coming against you right now. I don’t care how horrible the bills, the arguments, the conflict, the meanness, the stress, the blows are around you – the cross of Jesus Christ, the strength of his sacrifice and the inarguable greatness of his love – saves. It doesn’t save just once.

Over and over again, when life falls with a blow so hard it wants to kill you, Jesus holds things up just enough so you live again. So you walk out, miraculously, unscathed.

Jesus doesn’t save only for eternity; he saves for today. By faith, believe it. Believe in his saving power. It is in you…

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Ro. 8:11)

Thanks to the cross, the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we have wiggle room to crawl out from any crushing load that falls on us. There is nothing that can ruin us, ever. Get on your knees again, crawl out, brush them off and know: Because Jesus overcame, you can too.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8 NIV)

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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