Purposeful Faith

Tag - #grace

When Sharing Makes You Embarrassed

makes embarrassed

Bzzzt…the green radio waves signaled…I was on! I was live.

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“Can I just vent? Everything’s going wrong… Remember how my husband went out of town last week? Well, the second he leaves, daughter started exploding the worst vile out of her mouth. I couldn’t get her head to toilet fast enough; the stuff went all down my leg. Finally, husband gets back home – and he gets sick! Days later, son starts shooting water out. Now I have it. Add that to the cold that’s coming on…and I haven’t even told you about yesterday! Oh, don’t start me on yesterday! I spent nearly all day convincing the military (I mean, employees) at the Motor Vehicle association that my documents were valid, acceptable and pleasing. It was the greatest defense case of my life – and I fought it out groggy head and all. I lost. I ended up driving 2 hours to get an updated marriage certificate – one that is “acceptable” to Homeland Security, which means it has different colors on it. I guess what’s acceptable just changed recently. Who knew? This morning I also poked my eyeball out – hard – with a sharp object sticking out of my son’s bookbag.” Bleep…

Bzzt… “Ladies, it’s when twenty things pile on, that’s when I want to – die.” Bleep…

Now, let me tell you – these other bleeping women? They are my best blogger friends (Abby, Angela, Christy, Jami, Katie & Karina) – and they are about as caring and welcoming as a grandma with a hot plate of cookies. They love and then heap second helpings on your plate. It is how they are; I love them.

So, with all this said, why the bleep did I feel so horrible after I talked to them?

“They’re going to label me a complainer.”
“They’re going to think I don’t have Jesus in me.”
“They’re going to wonder why I am not more positive.”

‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4:2′

This verse proves I am a failure. I am a “bad, bad girl”.

Considering this, my off-kilter heart transports right back to 3rd grade. I had talked out of turn. I always did. The teacher had me kneel 4-hours in front of the Holy Mother of God, Mary. She stood high. My knees went numb. Mary’s virgin eyes laid into me. They whispered, “Bad, bad girl.” 

Help me God…

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I’m a bad, bad girl who doesn’t do good.
A bad, bad girl who makes others cringe.
A bad, bad girl who makes cheerful hearts go sour.
A bad, bad girl who will never “get it.”

My knees went home red that day, my heart went home injured. The lesson was learned: I was bad. Mary agreed.

So, today, I sit and wrestle with 3 questions.

1. Does discontentment disqualify me from being good?

If Jesus died to lay his very goodness over me, then his goodness is what I carry. Goodness is not dependent on a passing feeling or a state of mind – it is dependent on what was already accomplished on the cross.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14).

You did not choose me, but I chose you.. (Jo. 15:16)

2. Is sadness or frustration – a sin?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

According to the verse above, who cries? ___        Someone troubled- and likely sad.

Now, what does God do for these sad people? _____ He hears them.

Does he label them? ___ Well, yes, he does. He labels them – righteous.

The ones who cry out to God from the pit of pain certainly are labeled, but they are aren’t labeled shameful. They’re labeled righteous. While the enemy wants us to believe we are horrible, God just believes – his children are good.

3. Does my pain need to be squelched because it is dreadfully sinful, horrible and disturbing to man?

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Ps. 34:17)

When we cry to God, take a close look at what happens. Notice, God does not say: When the righteous cry out, the Lord tells them to hush up, pull it together and come back when they can put a smile on their face.

On the contrary. When the righteous cries, he hears and then delivers. He understands and then provides a way. He leans closer and then, like a good daddy, provides.

Jesus understands pain. He took it. He knows struggle. He lived through it. He felt emotion. He also cried. Our feelings weren’t given to us to be hated. They weren’t created by God to be called “bad, bad things.” They were handed down to us because God wants to hold them for us, care for them and show us how much he can provide.

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Dealing with Super Annoying People

Annoying Friends

Some people live like sandpaper under the skin. Ever noticed? They keep on rubbing and rubbing against you until your inflamed and sore. Usually, I try to smile and keep  good cheer, but of late, I’ve secretly wanted to knock these people down. I’ve wanted to peg ’em like little clown heads at a carnival. Boom! The ball bangs ’em and their taunting faces fall.

“Bahaha!” I’d laugh with an evil, cackling tone. “I’ll knock you all down…”

First I’d hit clown #1: This high-flying lady is consumed with sharing all her bragadocious mommy wins. All. The. Time. She tosses them out like Louis Vuitton bags, like showy diamonds or personal victories of her amazingness. My kid? He is reading already. My strategy? They go straight down to bed. My success? All my friends are asking me how I do it. (I bet they are, lady!)

I’m convinced, she wants me to:

  1. Worship at her feet.
  2. Wildy applause her grand strategies.
  3. Hail her as reigning queen.
    I just want to peg her.

Then I’d hit clown #2: The I-am-right-all-the-time and can do no wrong person.

This person speaks and is 100% right. There’s no changing views. No talking about other options. No going a different path. This person speaks, you best listen.

There’s nothing else to say. He’s like a splinter, digging deeper every time he talks.

What would happen if I hurt him as much as he hurt me?

Clown #3: This girl she is your best friend until someone better comes along, then she trashes you like old milk. You feel sour. Apparently, she’s far more concerned about looking good, getting in with the right people and moving to a different social stratosphere. Underneath your I’m-as-cool-as-a-cucumber persona, you want to sling cuss words, but you’re Christian, so you don’t. Instead, you think, “She is selfish and self-seeking. Hmph!”

You think about pegging her too.

What person is an irritant, so abrasive,
you want to push them down?

Is this person pushing Jesus right out of you?

Well, perhaps, the trick’s on us!!!  All along, we thought they were the clowns, the ones hiding behind a facade, but what if it was actually us? Let’s take a look:

Let’s consider, Clown #1:

My makeup-face: If I admit it, I am a bit jealous of this super-momma. I also may not act exactly the same as her, but I long to be seen.

Her truth: She likely feels insecure and unsure about what she is doing. She likely needs the praise of fellow-woman to feel good about herself. Or, she needs constant fuel to keep sustaining herself. She needs a good word to keep going. I can relate to that a little.

Clown #2:

My makeup-face: I am not patient. I want to be acknowledged, valued and loved (kind of reminds me of clown #1). I want to be heard.

His truth: He is excited to share. He wants to be valued. He wants to be seen as wise. He is looking to connect not hurt me.

Clown #3:

My make-up face: Sometimes I hope people will help me.

Her truth: She’s been abandoned by people in her past and is looking to be accepted today. Her heart needs love, unconditional love.

What I use to knock others down,
really only knocks me down.

What I hate in others, usually is found
somewhere in the trenches – of me.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mt. 7:3

3 Clowns. 3 Irritants. 3 Shadows of Myself.
3 people I run from.

Why?

Because I hate their little blown-up balloons of whatever – comparison, pride, people pleasing. It feels good to blame them for bad form, rather than seeing my own form pop and burst before me. Yet, when I really look, really consider, I am just as flawed, just as broken, just as needy – and I can’t shape a darn elephant or a dog if my life depended on it.

Humility.

Aren’t we all just trying to get past the past? Aren’t we all just trying to fill the gaps of pain that existed? Aren’t we all in need of love, a helping hand and a person who understands that we aren’t perfect – but, still, stays with us?

In so many ways, when I love them, I am loving me.
In so many ways, when I show kindness to them, I am welcoming Jesus’ kindness to my own heart.
In so many ways, when I give them grace, I am learning what grace really is.

5 Ways to Build up People, Instead of Knocking them Over (GRACE):

Get to the heart of the matter. Ask, “How is their heart feeling?”
Respect the idea that our hard roads give us all hard edges.
Accept that you can’t change them, but you can change how you react to them.
Come to the Lord. Ask him for how to best approach them with love.
Evaluate your own heart to see where your sin might reside.

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Peace & Leaving the World Behind

peace wild rest

Post By: Angela Parlin

We should all spend time outside each day. I don’t know about you, but I spend too many hours indoors.

As a remedy, sometimes I work at the kitchen table near the propped-open door to the deck. Hearing the wind rustling through the trees and birds fighting over seeds at the feeder does something for my heart. It’s not all the way outside, but it’s close.

Long ago, I posted this poem, one of my favorites, on the bulletin board at my desk, the one I don’t actually work at very often.

The Peace of Wild Things 

By Wendell Berry

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be.

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

I wonder if so often when we misplace our peace, if the answer is simply to spend more time outside.

I say I wonder, but I already know what kind of person I become when I spend extended minutes under the sky. There I see the rest of the beauty, and it’s not that I forget the chaos of the day. It’s not that the challenges disappear or the discouragement dissipates.

Out there, we realize we can walk away for a bit and the whole thing doesn’t all fall down.

Ohhh, right–it wasn’t really me holding everything together.

In the presence of still water or even angry waves, we remember again we have no control over the things we fear.

We remember Who does control all things—He Who is good and true and beautiful and eternal.

Who is acquainted with all this growing old and wearing away and falling down and rising up again. He Who endures forever and ever, Who is seen at the center of all this worldly beauty.

The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. Psalm 118:27

It takes a few minutes, but I confess the truth. I’ve been taxing my life again, imagining losses that haven’t even happened. Why do I continue to repeat this?

Once again, I return to the wild. I take a walk in the woods past the yard, thick with green and a melody of snapping sticks underfoot. I imagine snakes hiding out like sharks in the ocean, while hoping they’re at least as rare.

Somehow I’ve left the rest of the world behind me. I come into the peace of wild things, and their holy message sinks ever deeper to my core.

Like Berry, I rest in the grace of the world—and I’m free.

///////////

From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

How to Find the Holy in Ordinary Trials

Holy in Ordinary Trials

Daily life is living a grind. You wait at a light, people pass. The light turns green, you go. You hit a red light, you stop. Then, you go. So does everyone else – every minute of the day, that make up hours, that make up days, that make up weeks, that make up lives. You get the picture. But, do you?

We stop and we go, we pause and we laugh, we cry and we try again, we fear and we fret, and before we know it – that was our life.

Breathe deep.

What if you acknowledged every moment as holy?

The dog rushing out the red door? You chasing after him in 10-year old pajamas. Holy.
The disagreement with that family member?  Holy.
The homework hour with the kid who doesn’t get it? Holy.
The carpool line that makes you feel less than? Holy.
The project at work that never ends? Holy.
The preparations for another dinner? Holy.

My son screaming in agony because his stomach hurts? Me, holding the bag around his neck as the yuck came out? A night of no sleep? Sitting here, with the face of baggy eyes and an oozy head – and a day of lost work ahead – it becomes a little harder to throw this blessed word to the wind and to watch it fly. Everything is always harder when it is personal.

If God, Father of all…
is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:6),
then he fills all ordinary moments with holy.

If we look for God’s holiness,
we will find it.

Between grabbing the trash bag and putting it around his neck, I laid my bruised hip on the ground with a grunt (I fell down the stairs the day before).  And in the middle of one of my super-wide I-really-hope-this-is-all-said-and-done yawns – it came. The holy, the special, the heaven unzipping moment we all search for: “Mommy, thank you for loving me. Thank you for taking care of me.”  

He saw love in action.
I saw raw thanks.
It inspired me.
Holy.

What have you written off as worthless? Dead? Not important?

What you consider worthless, God considers priceless, holy valuable.

Holy valuable means that the fleeing dog
is a reminder of how God pursues you when you’re lost.

Holy valuable means your disagreement is
a humility bootcamp preparing you for big missions.

Holy valuable means homework with the frustrated kid
is your chance to illustrate grace.

Holy valuable means the carpool line is a meeting point
to find God’s unconditional love over man’s tempermental approval.

Holy valuable means you learn God is in control of the project.
You surrender; He helps you.

Holy valuable means you remember, as you prepare dinner,
Jesus prepares a room for those who serve him.

Holy valuable means 8-hours of no sleep highlights the meaning of sacrificial, deep and authentic love – and how it works.

Breathe deep.

God is not only in your big “I-need-huge-faith moments”, but he is in your little moments. The faith garnered there, is faith that launches you to bigger there’s.

Noah did what God commanded him (Gen. 6:22). He saved nations.
Daniel prayed 3 times a day (Dan. 6:10 ). He saw miracles.
Elijah followed through in what God called him to do (2 Kings 1:15). He spoke the very prophecies of God.
David got reliant on God. He conquered not only lions and bears but giants (Sam. 13:34-37)

How might God use you for big things,
if you sought after his heart, presence and promptings in the little?

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Lu. 16:10

Little trials are big doors that walk us right into God’s epic story, his unparalleled vision for this world. You count it momentary, he counts it monumental. You count it nothing, he counts it everything. You count it unseen to others, and he says, “Yes, that’s the point.”

Breathe deep and recognize – your ordinary moments are holy valuable.

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When You Long to Do Something Bad

Beauty In Imperfection

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.

Fear not.
Strive not.
Lust not.
Drink not.
Compare not.
Want not.
Steal not.
Lie not.
Worry not.

God has the best gift waiting for 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.

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Related Reading:

Sometimes, Failing Precedes Blessings

How to Really Fight Back using the Sword of the Spirit

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When People Complicate Things

People Complicate Things

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

I like:

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.

Ever noticed?

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

There’s that…

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.

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Related Reading:

When People Are Disgusting

Broken Perfectionism

When The Other Girl Has it All

Has it All

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.

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5 Ways to Be (and Stay) at Peace

steadfast faith

Are you at all like me?

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 steadfast 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.

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1 Way to a Better Day: Challenge

Better Day

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.
Threatening.
I watch them move in; I see how they work me.

better day

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.”

Go figure.

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.

better day

A day-changer.

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.

We just wanted you to know how much we love and appreciate you! Thank you for everything you do for us. -) (2)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

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When You Feel Unlovable

Feel Unlovable

I closed my eyes.

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:
– Strive
– Fear
– Worry
– 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

Risk like:

  • 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.

Prayer:

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.

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