I was in the store. I looked left and I looked right. I winked at my co-conspirator. I knew what I was going to do was wrong. Real wrong. But, I wanted to follow through. I wanted the thrill, the goods and the joy of her knowing I could do this. I grabbed the shirt and ducked in the dressing room.
Guilt followed me.
Is there something you’re doing behind the curtain?
Is there something you know you shouldn’t do,
but feel inclined to do anyway?
What is done in secret is still seen by God.
Ouch! That hurts right? The reality is, we don’t want to stop. We want to keep going because the idea of approaching it the right way feels too difficult, emotional or vulnerable. It is hard to stop what you already have going, what you’ve already invested in. Stopping sin, sometimes feels like stopping a freight train going 100 miles an hour with your bare hand.
Just this morning, I wanted to approach something the easy way. There was a clear-cut solution to a difficult problem. I saw a direct path; it was wrong. I convinced myself it wasn’t really wrong. I counted up the ways, it could be right. I negotiated with my holy side – God can make a little allowance for this one.
God didn’t agree. He gave no peace.
“Just this once, God?”
When I try to grant permission to the wrong way, I miss seeing God’s way – finding the reward at the end of the path called, “faith.”
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb. 11:6
Faith is believing in God so much, you do the right thing. It is deciding it is hard, but determining he will take care of you. It is believing that even without the thrill, he’ll thrill your heart. It is believing, even if you have to do it the long way, he’ll give shortcuts. It is believing, pain in the making is all about the new God is creating.
You can go the right way because God’s way always treats you right.
Provider will provide.
Lover will love.
Helper will help.
Guider will guide.
Creator will create opportunities.
Healer will heal.
When you open yourself up to God’s will pushing from behind you,
his new life-giving way opens up before you.
Will you believe by faith so you don’t walk fretting bad decisions?
Certainly, the result of one who walks by faith is being near to God. But, the lengths of God’s blessings don’t stop there, friends, he goes beyond this. He says he “rewards” the person who seeks him.
When you walk in obedience, by faith, he rewards in abundance – that very faith.
Imagine that?! What you want, will be greater, if by faith, you let him give it to you.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean…” (Heb 10:22)
Let nothing come between you and the giver and sustainer of life. He has what you need. He is what you need. So,drop all that holds you back and walk towards him, unhindered, into all that he is ready to give you.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
I thought about bringing them in. But, if I do everything will get turned upside down. There will be questions, problems, ideas and suggestions about how I should do things. There will be recommendations for how the games should be played and different ideas on how the event should look. There will be deep discussions on outfits. Whether to serve mushrooms or asparagus. There will be rabbit trails I am too busy to commit to – and honestly could care less about.
I want to move alone. I want to lead the charge. Is there anything wrong with that?
People = Problems
Kelly = Leader People = Quiet doers
Hate me if you will, but I am being completely honest. Sometimes I can’t handle people. I’ve always had an issue with them. They get loud. They get opinionated. They get political. They get whiny. They get long-winded (you open your mouth to speak only to have the words stolen from you). They get advice-oriented, especially when you already have a good plan in motion. They diss your ideas. They judge all the time…! They get critical. They hurt you.
Sometimes it feels better to shove people
down a rabbit hole and cover the top,
then let them give voice to things that might hurt you.
I throw them a carrot every now and then if they’ve been good. If they’ve been obedient and rule-sensitive down there.
But, if they’ve been a vwery bad rabbit, I tend to:
– Ignore them.
– Try to advise, derail or shush them.
– Avoid them
– Squeeze them out.
– Talk about them behind their back or in my head.
– Get filled up with so much steam, I exhale scolding words.
I punish those disobedient rascals. Mostly, I punish them because I am afraid of them.
Oh, boy…it’s true.
I am afraid they’ll: look better than me, come up with better ideas than me, steal my show, be liked more by other people, grace the world better than me, make me realize the ugly parts of myself.
Can’t have Kelly feeling uncomfortable! No way, friends. That is the first rule of avoidance.
Better to diss than be dissed, right? Better to be the first one to walk out on that boyfriend, than to have him dump you. Better to let your eyes roam the room with your eyes, than to have others do it to you. Better to step away than have to deal with your friend liking the other girl more. Better to disassociate than associate with potential pain.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Phil. 2:3
It looks the opposite of my approach. It’s one of those verses you recite because it sounds so beautiful. It sounds so Jesus. It sounds like, “Yes! I am great and humble and self-sacrificing and writing for Jesus (or fill in whatever holy excuse you use to not really love).
Self-protection is not holy affection, friends.
It’s a sack of nasty pride.
Am I being too hard on you – and on me?
Maybe. We’ve been hurt. It’s been painful. People have played – not nice. I know, I really know. It stinks.
Let’s throw a pout-party and squeeze our face muscles real tight and remember their icky-ness. Let’s.
Then, let’s toss them to the wind. Let’s let them fly away from us, because those past pains are holding us up from receiving present love. We are missing moments. We are losing joy. We are hiding away and into ourselves. We are losing the depths the real warmth that comes from letting someone really knowing you.
Our pride party is pointless.
Our joy is incomplete.
Our glass isn’t half empty, it is depleted.
He who is faithful to love operates in the gaps of people’s messes. If we are looking for pariahs of perfection, they don’t exist, but He does. He will layer in love, where they have left holes. Friends, it is not a person we are looking to fill us, it is God. We find him in the holes of man, for that’s where he leaves us – holy.
Prayer for Recovery of Relationships:
Dear Lord, today, I confess, I get scared. I get scared that someone will hurt me the same way as yesterday. It feels like a very real, present and oncoming threat. Help me trust you. Help me leave my heart in your hands, knowing that your wrapping of it is a covering that no man can penetrate. Help me believe that you are good, even when man is messed up. Help me know that my identity is in you and it is not indicative of man’s opinion. Lead me in your grace, mercy and fearlessness. Amen.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Eyes trying to peep over the counter, they stood on tippy-toes. They were close, yet far enough the glass window preventing them from grabbing it. No touching allowed! They watched, as she ladled on the batter, shaped it, then carefully added the chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers. Like pent up children ready to bust into Christmas, they knew, I knew – something monumental was about to happen. Yet, I also knew WWIII might breakout…
The second the gigantic crepe was in their hand, I heard it, “Mine, mine, mine.” He watched, she took a bite, “My bite wasn’t as big as hers!” She watched, yelling, “He got 2 bites.” He ripped it a chunk as quickly as he could.
So did she.
He looked at us with frustration, “Why can’t I have more.” She grabbed it and stared right at him, “Look what I have.”
They were so honed in on what the other had, they missed what they had.
So focused on the other’s portion,
they missed the chance to enjoy theirs.
So eager to win in the moment, they ruined it.
How often do we sour our sweet moments?
God, you should have given that to me. Why does she have the voice and the brains? Why don’t my kids act like that? How come every door is open for her to walk through? Why did she get the promotion and I didn’t? When will it be my turn? Why do I have to be the heavier one?
We sour sweet moments when we believe God hands us second-best.
I sat in church today. Up on the screen, they announced the women’s conference of all women’s conference. They showed the speakers perfect smiling faces, they highlighted their glorified messages, their idealized lives and their heart to bring Jesus to stadium-filled masses. Why aren’t I the model spokesperson for Jesus? I wanted their shoes.
They soured my sweetness.
The good in me went rancid.
My husband whispered,“Kelly, are you going to that event?”
“No way,” I whispered. “I am far too jealous.”
I didn’t want to go off.
Because I’ve come to see… women who walk with unaddressed sin are walking time bombs. As time passes, something ticks them off. And it is never pretty.
I don’t want to live exploding jealousy, but exploding love.
So, when I see even the smallest elements, I stop. I just shut it all down – and look. I look for Jesus. And, what I’ve come to see is he leads me, Willy Wonka-style, not into a big chocolate vat – but into the waves of my heart.
When you, first, seek Jesus’ heart, you find yours.
New rhythms of humanity surface. I see humans just like me. I see different missions for different children. I see that other’s great callings in no way diminish mine. I see a daddy meeting me in the gap, with love. I see it all. When I invite Jesus in.
What has soured your sweetness?
Is it a neighbor who is a little show-offy?
A colleague who always does right?
A winner who never loses?
A beautiful gal who, you figure, is BFF with the mirror?
An outgoing one who has it all together?
A successful one who is at the top of the charts?
A relationship you are not a part of?
I think about that crepe again. From another angle, it truly could have represented sugar cubes. That is how sweet it was. But, my kids enjoyed it as much as rock soup.
Jealousy steals our sweetest blessings, so we can’t even see them.
It’s often, not that we don’t have, but that we just don’t see.
What we do see, though, is the girl on the left and the right. Eyes glued, we analyze her clothes, beauty, success and everything else. Then, jealousy speaks up louder – it speaks vile. Chit-chat, that’s mean. Comparison, that’s damaging. Actions, that scar people. Not only that, but it drives us right by God’s plan.
We look back and say, “Where did God go?”
Well, we left him 4 blocks back, nearly right before we hit the lamppost on the side of the road.
Jealousy is crash-route for Christians. Ride or die – baby!
God, though, in his mercy, is something else; He is Savior. He offers us guardrails so we don’t crash. They’ve saved me a time or two.
4 Guardrails for Jealous Hearts:
– Realize: All relationships are permissible, but not all relationships are profitable. If someone is gossipy or comparison-oriented, it may be time to step back. “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive. 1 Cor. 10:23
– Pray: If you lift a person up, instead of critiquing them, you might find you start to love them. You’ll see purpose arise out of hatred. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil. 2:3-4
– Submit: Lay down and see the height of your Father’s love for you. If you believe he is Creator, don’t you believe he will create something amazing on your behalf? My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Jo. 10:27
– Admire: If you can’t deal with girl’s God-shining glory on earth how will you endure God’s numero-uno glory in heaven? You don’t want to look like a fallen angel who can’t handle God’s glory, do you? Choose to admire his glory – in others – today so you can bask in it tomorrow.
Your sweetness is not found at the end of the yellow brick roads, friend, it is found at the end of yourself and the start of the Father that cannot contain his love for you. Get yourself there and your heart will get right.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here
Do you get in the car and, immediately,
start running down your list of worries?
Do you try to keep calm
but inevitably lose your cool with that one person?
Do you try to be near to God,
only to get caught up with fear things won’t turn out well?
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. Is 26:3
I’ve got to figure out what it means to be steadfast because one thing I know is that – I want peace.
Lately, I’ve been moving my two kids in duck-formation; they know by now, they better follow Mama. I am going places. Doing things. Accomplishing stuff. There’s order, discipline and diligence in our house. People, best follow in line.
I think it is pretty apparent to all – I’m running my house like a jerk. I’ll be the first to admit it.
Wake. Breakfast. Don’t spill it on the floor. Get your plate to the sink. Get those clothes on. Why isn’t your lunch box in your bag? Can’t you get those shoes on yourself. Shuttle. Home. Dinner. Get a book. Hustle kid. Move it. Don’t talk back. You are getting time out. Clean that floor. Lights out.
I look like the wicked step mother, my kids look like Cinderella incarnate. I horrify myself.
You will not keep in perfect peace, those who minds are controlling, obnoxious and abhorrent because they trust only in themselves. Kelly 1:1
You all, I am not God, but I am a woman who knows the opposite of Isaiah 26:3 and it is what I wrote above.
I feel convicted.
Truly, to only see my way is to miss God’s. To be demanding is to raise the flag of pride. To bark marching orders is to lose pleasure in Him.
But, to release a mind into the fullness of his Word, leading, promptings and character – is dig up perfect peace.
I feel released.
Able to see more clearly, I realize: She who stays in peace is she who dwells on Him, who is Peace.
On the other hand, she who stays in worry and anxiety is she who settles for fakes. She’s like a girl who walks down the streets in New York City and grabs imitation handbags when she has wads of cash in her pocket. She’s the rich girl, the one with everything, who picks up and studies 5th rate Chinese Chanel bags because she thinks she doesn’t have enough. She forgets she is rich, so she settles. She suffers. She buys up stress instead of the real deal – God’s peace.
I buy up stress instead of staying steadfast and certain in God. Do you?
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8
I don’t know about you, but I often rely on vain idols:
The Facebook F: Here, I focus in on a girl’s clothes, and completely forget about my devotional time. The Pinterest P: With this idol, I figure my friends will judge me based on napkins and centerpieces. I try to be perfect. A mirror: I stare at it and criticize myself. My bank account: I think it will protect me more than God.
The prized possession of steadfast peace is lost
when a girl bends down to grab lower shelf goods and gods.
What are you reaching for?
Let me remind you, steadfast love always sits high and mighty.
To identify it from fakes, it looks like this:
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
Steadfast love looks not like a crazed girl on an elliptical trying, sweating and endlessly pumping – but a gal just being, just sitting, in Christ’s love. It is one open, ready and willing to receive his riches. One who lets God determine her value.
What does this practically look like?
It looks like:
Seeing devotional time as sitting time,
not striving time, with God.
Viewing success as Godly-connection
rather than always-perfection.
Letting go of the psychotic pace to
continually dwell in God’s grace.
Quieting your inner-hater,
to find the Always-Lover.
Relaxing with God in the moment,
rather than demanding he reconstruct your future.
Remembering all Jesus did,
not what you need to accomplish.
To be stead–fast is to walk steady in the idea you will not move fast.
It is to walk steady at God’s pace – moving only with him.
So, today, rather than rushing, huffing and puffing – and blowing our house down, this truth we can cling to. We don’t have to push ahead. We don’t have to yell and scream and feel anxious that people are going to mess up. We only need to slow down, grab his hand and trust, He will carry us through- straight up to perfect peace.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here
At risk of sounding like a narcissist, I observe myself. I notice how I am. I take inventory of the little things I do – or know I shouldn’t do, but do them anyway. I see it all. The thoughts that go helter-skelter and wishy washy and down-in-the-dumpsy. It’s a cartoon. Me.
I just moved somewhere new. Everything was late. The whole house didn’t show up. The family got sick. You’ve all heard about all this before. People acted up. Blah. Blah. Blahdie blah.
These things happen a lot:
Sky-high plans throw my emotions overboard.
Devastating days end up tossing me to and fro.
The unexpected sinks me.
Clouds hang low and dim.
I watch them move in; I see how they work me.
Paul says to he’s learned to be content in all situations.
I’ve learned to be content in none – that aren’t advantageous.
Why can’t I just be Bible Barbie – all beautiful, shiny and perfectly obedient? Dang. I have to deal with me.
The other day, thinking along these lines, and all that wasn’t right, I drove my kid to school. I recycled the same junk in my head: “I will never get things done, I can’t do that, I don’t know how to handle that person, I feel like crud, it is hot, I am sweaty, how fast can I get them to school?”
But, something flipped, in a moments notice. At first, I hardly noticed her – the little old lady shuffling by…
…until she worked her way directly in front of me and my two nearly-leashed kids. She stopped, turned, looked, smiled and said, “It is such a beautiful day isn’t it?”
I wanted to glare.
“No. It’s not beautiful. It’s humid – over 100 degrees humid, hot and uncomfortable out here.”
I didn’t say that.
Instead, I remembered from somewhere deep within, “Respect old-folk.” I half-smiled, nodded, “Yes.”
She sauntered off, knowing her job was done. The old are wise. They know, less words hit with more power. Anyway, now, not so much glaring – and more staring – I stood, watching as she worked her way to the door.
Old-lady was a day-changer.
She chose to hand out good, even when she stood right in the center – of bad.
I can be like her.
Because, what I see determines how I will be.
If I see the good, I will feel good.
If I see the dire, I will feel dire.
If I see hope, I will feel hope.
If I feel hope, I can give hope.
If I see the King, I will shine him. So others might see too.
I started observing other things, things outside of myself.
The next day, I came across that same crossing guard lady – the one I’d seen every day for the past week. The one with a smile as wide as a mack truck. Yep, there she was. She waved at me – again. I got the goosebumps. She not only chose to see her day as good, but handed it out like food. With every passing car, she offered morning love, well-wishes and abounding hope. Only her arm and face moved, but that was enough. She was a day-changer.
Could I be like that?
Might a small shift towards God’s goodness make me ooze goodness?
Could I be a day-changer in a world heavy, dense and dark with distrust and defeat?
Thinking further, I remembered – that janitor. She worked as if she was in heaven. I’d go in the gym locker room and there she’d be, singing her heart out. My husband told me there was something special about her. She never stopped smiling. One day, I asked her, “What’s the deal with you?”
“Jesus,” she said. “Jesus.”
She is a day-changer. She doesn’t have to spill one bible verse; people get to see him- face-to-face – through her. Despite the deplorable job of cleaning the over splash of toilet seats, the crevices of odorous lockers and the pool water piles near sweaty benches, she finds her joy – and shares it – unhindered. She lights up that locker room like no one’s business.
A day-changer is someone, who, by faith,
believes in the everlasting joy of God more than the ongoing pain of this world.
A day-changer is someone who sees the outcome of good,
before she trusts the outcome of bad.
A day-changer is someone who knows that a small word of encouragement
can make a world of difference.
A day-changer is someone who grabs grace like a much-needed brace,
so God can show good face.
A day-changer is someone so sold out to God’s mission
that people take one look and feel recommissioned.
Simply said, a day-changer is one who stops continually processing bad
and starts – incessantly processing God’s good.
Could you and I be day-changers?
About the Day-Changer Challenge:
Grab hold of the most overwhelming thing in your life right now. Do you have it by the neck yet?
Start here. Let go of your stranglehold. Know, God can, where – you can’t. Ask Him to believe, by faith, and not by sight. Ask him for a positive outlook over your negative one. Ask him to unveil his banner of love, like a parachute, high and wide, over you.
See it. Hope in it. Respond to it. Let grace seep in. Let grace seep out. Claim it.
I am not talking prosperity gospel – getting fame, fortune or fantasies. I am talking about walking – in the light of God’s promises instead of – the death of your day.
Bottom-line challenge: Find God’s positive before you dwell on your negative –
and then let it ooze into the world.
In a backup on the highway?
Thank God for the moment longer you get to stay with him – and smile at the person stuck next to you.
Have screamers in the back of the car?
Praise God that he protects them. Delight them and play the screaming game too.
Confronted a testy family member?
Remember how God has loved you in weakness. Give them a hug.
Dealing with a medical issue?
Consider the ways it makes you rely on God. Encourage that other sick person in the waiting room.
Let his love transfer – reach deep for him; his compassionate arms will extend. Like the wise old lady, he’ll step in front of you with simple words with profound impact. You’ll do astounding – because of Him.
Become a day-changer.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Eph. 3:20-21
I wanted to be with God. I wanted to spend time with him – I had carved out this time for just that – so I climbed up onto his lap, imagining he was holding me.
I craved love.
Yet, as I rested in his arms, I realized something – something I had never had before: I was scared. Like a newborn, with arms flailing, my body tensed. I felt at-risk, vulnerable and, most of all, I felt like God might hurt me.
Where did this come from God? I never knew.
When you get before God,
he gets his truth before you.
And this is how it is. Nearly every time I make an effort to come before God – by waiting to hear, expecting his Word to work and being with him – I dig up some little flicker of gold that is transformational to my spiritual walk.
This time, it was this: If I believe God’s a God of injury, not ministry, my approach towards him will always be cautionary.
Like that game of “catch-me-when-I-fall,” if I don’t believe I can let go, fall back and be caught, I’ll never fall – fully surrendered. Instead, I’ll imagine my head being split open – every. single. time.
Internally, I will put on an imaginary helmet; I will:
– Overdo it
– Forget about him
– Get distracted
– Live anxious
So here I stand. Wanting to fix. Because that is what we do when things are broken – we fix. Right? I want to get out my screwdriver and adjust my loose bolts. Or get out the jackhammer and hit myself over the head with it a couple times. Or to recite a bible verse and get my mind straight. I want to rewire and redo myself until I FULLY. TRUST. GOD.
Yet, a voice of true inner-ministry rises; God’s voice:
Draw near to (me) and (I) will draw near to you. Ja. 4:8
There is a counselor inside us, the Holy Spirit, wanting to counsel. There is a God of love, who waits for us to receive his gift. There is a moment of joy that is ours if we wait for its arrival.
Like the UPS truck. If we look out for God, we will see him drive up.
If the gates are closed, we will miss him. If they are open, we will get the gift we’ve been looking for.
When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come. (Jo. 16:3)
I want this. I want to be so held by God’s heart that my fleshly heartbeat fades under the resounding covering of his. I want to be able to let this love in; this holds risk.
I will be let down.
I will be fully seen and not accepted.
I will have to change.
I will be rejected by God.
Usually, we hold God back,
because at one time or another,
man held us back.
God’s love will never let us down. It looks not like that person who hurt you. It looks not like those feelings that destroyed you. It looks not conditional. Or dependent on performance. It is steady. It is perfect. It works. It heals. It renews. It changes you and me into the likeness of Jesus. It opens new doors. It heals relationships. It mends a broken heart. It cleans up old messes. It induces forgiveness that brings life. It creates wild momentum in your heart, neighborhood and even the world. It brings nations back together and brings Jesus to earth.
Let it in.
God, the truth is: Vulnerability feels vulnerable.
Openess feels open. Love feels risky.
You feel overwhelming.
Help me feel okay with the power of your power to change me. Help me trust you more. Help me be in your love. Help me feel your acceptance. Help me know you won’t leave me. Help me abide in you. Amen.
In the movies I watch, they tend to throw out the command, “Stand down!”
It’s this moment where the person in charge, usually some Captain or Corporal or Chief gives a word that calls all effort to halt. It calms the strong ambitious and unruly one wanting to push ahead with might, power and strength.
“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand Down.”
There is a Creator, a Captain and a Care-taker, who has a much higher view than we do. God sees the good ending to our present moment, far more clearly than we do. He also sees all the steps we need to take to get there.
The Captain knows, what you do not know.
Where are you prone to push ahead?
To overexert yourself – speaking a rash word, entering in when you should step out,
getting angry, rather than getting alone with God?
The commander has a word for you too: “Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.”
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Jo. 15:9
Standing down is remaining in God’s love.
I don’t do this. Remain.
Even right now, I am thinking of all that I need to do. I am writing these words, but my heart is thinking of the house I need to rent, the kids I need to get enrolled in school and the work that I need to do today. I only have 2 weeks until school starts. I want to start working. I need to get this post written. I am a hypocrite.
“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.”
What might it look like to leave – seen stress for God’s unseen love?
To just walk away from the overwhelming nature
and let God’s overwhelming nature pacify the fears?
I can’t help but think, where God is, light is. And, where light is – clarity focuses.
Are you, like me, looking for a way to go?
Perhaps, you and I are approaching it all wrong. What if instead of flicking on every light, we stayed in the dark and waited for his light to lead?
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:3
Power is not in forging ahead, it is in standing down.
I don’t need to do, Jesus already did.
I don’t need to act great, Jesus is.
I don’t need to hide lies, for grace lies in repentance.
I don’t need to pretend I know, God knows.
I don’t need to fix, God already has the answers.
I don’t need to hide, unless it is in God’s shelter.
I don’t need to perform, the curtain closed and love won.
I don’t need to fear his leaving, God is steadfast and good.
“Lay it Down. Give it up. Cease-fire. Stand down.”
To stand down? It looks like this: 1. Lay it down: To give God what you’re trying to own. 2. Give it up: To step out in faith, knowing that his goodness will lead to a good result. 3. Cease-fire: To stop blaming other people, problems or circumstances.
In Christ, I rest.
Needing nothing less.
Nor nothing more.
For He is the door to my more.
He sees the battlefield.
He knows my way.
His battle is won at the end of my day.
Get all Purposeful Faith Blog Posts by Email – click here.
My story of marriage shattered and with it my childlike dream of love. But like Job, I found hope. My summertime musings turned into truth the day I invited God to take my simple dreams and make them into His beautiful reality. The key to dreaming is accepting God as the keeper and developer of the dreams.
I opened my heart and looked for Jesus in my life. I asked Him “why” questions over and over, and found my answers in Him. In the process, my dreaming didn’t stop, and in the reworking our patient God taught me this…
We nurture dreams when we feed them with hope, purpose and trust.
What begins as a fleeting thought can easily blossom into hope for the future. What looks good on paper may turn into a career that lasts for thirty years. What is broken can be made whole again.
Dreams are the visions we imagine and release to God to mold, shape and grow. When we let go, God creates amazing beauty. He makes all things beautiful!
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. Psalm 147:8-9
Many people in the church complimented me on my strength. Little did they know that behind the strong façade I was a wreck. I kept smiling. Sometimes I said that I was tired, but nothing more.
I failed three out of six courses. The Lord was gracious. I was able to get a note from counseling center which allowed me to drop off those courses. There was no fail on my transcript. I couldn’t continue the program. I dropped out.
At the time, it looked like a defeat. I left my dream of becoming an environmental specialist behind. I was not going back to finish the program. How could I when I wasn’t able to pass even the smallest lab reports. Our God is so wise. Sometimes, when the road was not meant for us, He will let us to walk until we are crushed and can’t continue down that way.
With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding Job 12:13 NASB
My dream was buried under the rubble of personal and emotional problems. I became more focused on the Lord. I became more involved with my church. My heart became settled. Read more.
Sleep has always been a thorn in my side. I am a night owl who is required to rise early, and while I meet my responsibilities that require me to rise early, falling asleep is never easy. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed early, drink tea, take sleep aids, or try relaxation techniques. Those methods help to some degree, but they aren’t enough to lull me into a relaxing full night’s sleep.
I lie there tossing and turning, counting down the hours until I will have to get up. I begin to worry not only about what I may have forgotten, but also about whether I will get enough sleep. My mind races to figure out how to ensure that I have the energy I believe will be required to accomplish what I have planned for the next day.
Anxiety takes over because I pressure myself to perfectly manipulate circumstances that are beyond my control.
Then God reminds me that I am following Him, not the other way around. Read More.
Newsflash! God doesn’t give us a certain amount of faith and hope we use it for the correct issues. He gives us faith and grace for each moment, as we need it!
Despite these truths, at times it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this. But this shows how little I know of God in comparison to how much there is to know of Him!
Honesty moment? It’s a tiny, little, teeny bit similar to how little I know about sports in relation to how much there is to know. (I mean let’s be real – I had to ask what sport the Blackhawks play. By the way, it’s hockey.)
I need to choose to understand that when God says He cares about me it includes the little things. Even things like college, jobs, internships, and friends (and learning how to make dinner without demolishing the kitchen!). He’s present in all those places, not just when I’m experiencing dramatic life change. Read more.
How Do You Break Free from Anxiety and Overcome Settling in Life?
A year ago, God asked me to do something ridiculous. He asked me to share my story; to write. He asked me to be honest, to unmask and let others know I struggled. When I struggled with anxiety, I felt shame because Christians aren’t supposed to worry. We aren’t supposed to be hopeless and feel desperate, and we aren’t supposed to quit.
Panic keeps you paused and passive.
God didn’t want me to remain muted and overlooked. He wanted me to be courageous and confident.
Me, the girl who likes to blend into the background?
Honestly, I still feel awkward.
I’m still afraid.
When you’re used to hiding, it’s hard to have confidence. I’m vowing to unmask and not withdraw this time.
“God, how can this be? The doctors said the mastectomy was necessary. I’d never dreamed I’d lose that. But I hoped after reconstruction I’d look normal.” With tears streaming down my cheeks, I stared at the pale hospital wall. “I’m only 34!” Now it had failed. What I anticipated rectifying the effects of cancer on my body, on my appearance, on me, had failed. Now the only option left was for me to gain thirty pounds and have a procedure requiring six months recovery.
I knew I’d never opt for it. I had three daughters ages 11,7, and two. I’d already lost two years with my family, stolen by cancer, no way I’d voluntarily surrender more.
“God,” I cried, shaking and sobbing alone in my hospital room, “I know You’ll redeem this. I just can’t imagine how.” I stared ahead, trying to comprehend it all. “But You will find a way somehow, some way; You’ll use this for good.”
“You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Man may judge by appearance, but I judge by the heart,” Scripture burned in my brain. “Your heart is beautiful,” His voice whispered into a mind struggling to comprehend such a concept.
I sobbed all afternoon, praying, “God help me fully trust You.” Read More.
Strength in Fragility: How To See Beyond Our Weaknesses
“God is pressing upon this season to see things from a new perspective. To recognize that although I may be fragile, who I am able to Trust in is not.”
God’s love never wanes, His strength never wavers, His comforting never ceases, and His guidance is resolute. Frailty becomes gift worthy when the weakness allows us the freedom to be our true self. This in turn allows the wonderful truths about our Lord and Savior to shine into our glass facade.
Our Lord invites us to embrace the insecurities within us and see them as stepping stones to greatness. He encourages us to believe his love is an oasis for our weakened spirit where we are able to sip his living water, revitalizing our soul and providing strength for the journey.” Read more.
10. Kim Fredrickson Author, “Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend” Twitter: @kimfredrickson
Having a terminal illness with no cure is rough to say the least. Despite such devastating news and the way my life has changed, I’ve been blessed by God’s support and the love and encouragement of family and friends. There are still blessings and things to be grateful for if you look for them.
Self-compassion (S-C) has helped me get through these tough times. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and then PF, I decided to be a good friend to myself. S-C helps me be kind and caring to myself in the ways I talk to myself, take care of myself, encourage myself, and accept the volumes of prayer and support my friends and family offer. I am committed to not turn on myself or abandon myself during these difficult times. God has not, and will not abandon me.
I know He has a purpose for PF in my life, and in the lives of others. I honestly wish I didn’t have to go through cancer or pulmonary fibrosis. I wish I would have a miraculous healing. I know God doesn’t waste any pain or hardships as I submit to Him and allow Him to use what has happened in my life for His purposes…
I googled Luke’s condition, marking the last time I’d experience peace for the next sixteen months. Hopes and dreams for my boy collapsed one by one with each account I read. When I wasn’t cluster feeding my infant, I was reading of botched surgeries and broken lives. I wasn’t sleeping and soon slipped into a dark place. Instead of enjoying my infant, our last, I found myself distancing myself from him. It hurt to love him. I’d lie him back in his crib as soon as I was done nursing him, simultaneously feeling guilty for not savoring those precious moments and knowing that lingering over him only caused more tears.
On one particularly bad night I reached out to a few of my Christian girlfriends. I was wracked with anxiety and depression and knew I could no longer do this on my own. I told them everything, Luke’s condition, my fears, our indecision, how utterly hopeless I felt. It was hard to press “Send” but also strangely freeing when I did. There is power in bringing the darkness into the light. And I was tapping into it.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46
From an Outfit of Foolishness to Duds of Discernment
I felt God near me, and the morsels of His Word were enjoyable. I had been trying to read my Bible on a regular basis. I applied the plan to read the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds with the calendar day of the month since it has 31 chapters. It helped me begin the habit of spending time regularly feeding my spirit.
Then one day I started seeing a disturbing pattern. I wasn’t quite sure, so I skimmed for confirmation. Yep. It was there.
I saw myself accurately described in the verses I read. It was staring at me from the black text printed on the thin white paper of my Bible:
I. am. a. fool.
It was one of those moments when you get to the bathroom after sitting at the restaurant table with your friends, and you look in the mirror and discover what everyone else had probably already seen. Read more.
Recently I read that many of the craftsman and artisans who built the great European cathedrals didn’t live to see them completed. They never knew the satisfaction of seeing it all come together.
The craftsmen were more than skilled laborers performing a job in exchange for a livelihood. They viewed their work as service, even worship, to God. Many of them intentionally hid some of their best work within walls, fully intending it for HIM alone.
They weren’t afraid their work wouldn’t be seen; they knew the one who truly matters did see it. He sees. The Gospels remind me that he knows if a sparrow falls. The psalmist declares:
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” (Psalm 56:8, The Message)
The challenge is clear. How can I move from feeling invisible to doing everything with the intention of being invisible?
I needed to know that I was enough. To know that others liked me and would include me. Unfortunately, it left me looking for acceptance among people, which will always leave us wanting for more. We can never please everyone and most won’t love us unconditionally.
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. – Galatians 1:10
I’ve always been sensitive to being left out or left behind. I’ve had my feelings hurt unnecessarily at times when I’ve made assumptions about not being included. It’s been a process of years to heal from those wounds and slowly learn about my Father’s love and my worth in his eyes.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Today we’re saying goodbye to one of the oldest members of our family. She doesn’t wear human skin or express herself in many syllables, but she’s loved just the same.
She’s the four-legged kind. A blondie. A dear friend named Coco.
She and our other mutt brought my husband and I together thirteen years ago with their mutual love for walks and chasing furry creatures. And as they say, well, the rest is history.
Since I’m pregnant and rather hormonal the realization that our companion is dying hit me rather hard. But I believe during those hard seasons God often speaks the loudest, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
As my husband wrapped his arms around me and my round belly this morning, I reflected,
“It’s amazing how God speaks to us through our animals.”
I’d been observing our two girls over the past couple of days. Our other dog, Zoe, knew something was up and her disposition had changed. She’d become more affectionate, more calm, wanting to be near us often.
One day I let both of them out on our back porch while I cleaned. After about a half hour, I peeked through the window. Coco laid on the doormat, like she always does, and Zoe reclined behind her, practically spooning her with her legs.
She stayed in the same position until I let them inside, only leaving Coco’s side for an occasional drink of water. It was as though she was saying, “I’m here for you, girl. It’s okay.”
But she didn’t need words to say it. Her presence was enough.
As I thought about these mutts who started our family, I realized how often I use words to fill the empty spaces of grief. Not because they’re needed, but because I think they are. I have friends and family members who are walking through difficulties much harder than a dying pet, and the silence of sadness can be awkward.
I focus on myself and my need to fill the void rather than the grieving person’s need to simply know I’m there. To know I’m not going anywhere, and that the discomfort of grief won’t keep me from loving them.
When it comes to grief, silence always speaks louder than empty words.
Sometimes a hug goes further than a platitude and a listening ear further than a trite explanation.
“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13 NIV
When we can’t mouth the words to Jesus because of the weight of our sadness, He still hears us. He’s that good of a Savior and a friend.
Job’s friends modeled the behavior of Jesus himself when he encountered those who were grieving a deep loss. If we look into the scriptures and walk through the chapter of his life where a close friend died, we see that his words were few. And even though he foresaw the miracle, he wept. (John 11:25)
Today as I run my fingers through my companion’s soft fur for the last few times and reflect on these verses, I know my love for words won’t change. I’ll keep offering them up as praise, encouragement, and a gift at the altar of the One who gave them to me.
But I pray God will give me wisdom to know when words are weak. Because even when I have nothing to say, his healing power is still strong.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
That place that you are desperately scared of? God has already gone there. The people you are afraid to confront? God knows your best approach.
The doctor’s appointment you can’t stand to think of? He has the answers.
The relationships that you don’t ever think can be healed? God sees the way.
The rejection you deeply fear. God knows how to take it from there.
The positive mindset you can’t seem to claim as your own. He is working on your behalf.
While today you may see all that – is not, God sees all that – will be. It doesn’t scare him. It doesn’t shock him. It doesn’t look impossible. He knows he can do it all.
He’s not one to waver, to toss and turn about whether or not to care about you. He cares because he is the completeness of care. He works, because he can do it all.
He can do it all. Do you know that?
Don’t lose hope.
Don’t back down.
Don’t lay down and give up.
Don’t see life only through your eyes.
You have a King behind you. You have the #1Ruler favoring you. You have glory around you.
The Comforter assisting you.
Don’t look at who you are, look at who He is.
Don’t see impossibility, see the inevitability that He’ll show up.
See with certainty, the soon-to-be miracle in your heart.
Walk with surety, he’ll direct you to his goodness in this land of the living.
God sees the end in sight and it is not far. All loose ends, with God, tie up in goodness. He has a vision. A hope. A work of love being worked out on your behalf. It all makes sense to God.
Declare not only these truths in word, but, believe – in your heart.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Ro. 10:9
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heartbe pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Ps. 19:14
The heart holds the difference between love that endures and love that fades after it slips off the tongue. It is the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23).
Let your heart:
1. Be honest with God & return to God.
2. Stand on guard. Not every voice is a needed voice.
3. Be full of praise.
4. Make way for more holy.
5. Take a firm stand in belief.
6. Return to God throughout the day.
7. Hope in Christ’s love.
8. Meditate on truth.
9. Stay humble.
10. Remain open to God’s growth.
When we give God our heart, what we find is, our eyes widen – we delight in his ways (Prov. 23:26). Suddenly, we don’t only speak, but we believe, because God kindles us in his love. We step out as bright temples that representing faithfulness that never ends.