Purposeful Faith

Tag - love

What Surrender Looks Like

What does surrender look like?

On a steamy track, the coach ran after my heels screaming with her timer, “Go, go, go!”  No one talked. It didn’t matter how we felt. Sprints gave way to more sprints. Tiredness ended up sprinting. So did exhaustion. Near-death feelings were supposed to somehow push us harder.

With that little glint of belief in her eye, the coach non-verbally pressured us that there was “more in us”. So we somehow found it and kept going.

During tryouts the coaches hovered over me, trying to figure out where I fit in on the track field. Would I be a long distance runner? A shot-putter? A sprinter? A hurdle-runner?

As she assigned everyone to his or her spot, I imagined all the potential of one person: me. I imagined myself running fast and with intensity along with all these other pre-Olympian superstars. But when she looked at me with beads of sweat on her face and in her hair, she said, “You’re my race-walker.”

Your what?

Your walker?

The loser. The one who looks all weird with her hips swaggering from side to side? 

I wanted to quit. While everyone else was something, I was nothing. The embarrassment.

Have you ever felt like the things you dream of are blocked? Like you can’t access what you’re supposed to be?

That day, I stood on that field shell-shocked. Then, I started walking. I walked so hard and fast, a year or so later, I made it to the Junior Olympics and got a bronze medal. Oddly, this moment is one of the greatest joys and the greatest gifts of my life. That track team had heart and taught me heart. I learned it is not what you think you should do that matters, but what God has for you that fills your heart.

What if what you’re made for looks different than you think? Will you accept His best in belief that it will one day become yours?

This is surrender.

 

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Undoing The Need to Be Perfect

What do you when you find your 6-year-old son’s drawing of a long-haired woman with a mean, massive frown?

You consider it’s you, of course. You consider you’re a cruddy boar, a horrible attempt at a caring, loving, and generous momma. And you wonder if underneath his smiles and bedtime hugs he might hate you.

Could this be possible?

You think of all the times he’s repeated, “Mommy, didn’t I tell you that already,” “You don’t listen,” and “You don’t cuddle with me.”

You recount that you do indeed cuddle, but you also think of how at the end of your day you’re very tired and this cheek-to-cheek (or as he does, it cheekbone on top of cheekbone) business can’t go on forever.

But still, the thought persists like a gnat.

What if, you’re not good enoughAnd worst of all, what if he’s busted you for it? 

Ever felt this way?

…Like no matter what you say to your spouse, he’s really thinking you don’t match up to the wife he wanted?

…Like no matter how hard you try at work, your boss still isn’t happy?

…Like despite your encouraging words to the woman, she still is cold with you?

…Like you can’t escape being the little girl who let people down?

…Like no matter how hard you try, you can’t win?

Of course, I understand. But what I also understand is this: The goal to perfectly “win” all the time is a warped one. It’s not only warped, but impossible. It’s like keeping a sparkly, gold trophy shiny. The second you clean it, fingerprints arrive again and you’re back wiping again. The only problem is that you can never step back and enjoy the prize, because all you’re doing is keeping up facades. Every flaw sucks you into yourself, and you miss the whole point.

I’ve been there. I am there.

Yet, I suppose I see a little better after writing all this: I can’t love my son when I’m fearing him. Nor can I enjoy him when I’m critiquing myself. Nor can I connect well with him when I’m not setting boundaries.

In the space of accepting my imperfections, he’ll learn to accept his own. In the space of seeing me growing with Christ, he’ll discover how he can grow with Christ. There’s some sort of non-speaking, God-testifying wisdom that will speak here.

What about you? What over-emphasized flaws have stolen the feelings of joy in your moments? What grace have you not afforded yourself? What over-trying attitude is stealing your peace? What new approach could you take to conquer these annoying feeling of self-doubt?

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Good News for All of Us Who Feel Like Outsiders

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Outsider.

I let this term define me for far too long. As a teenager, I always felt on the outside of the popular crowd at school. When I became a young adult, shyness and nerves prevented me from venturing out and making new friends.

When we wear a label long enough, it becomes comfortable. It’s like a thick skin of protection and we start to like it. Even when our circumstances change and our beliefs about life and eternity are rocked, those names we give ourselves are hard to get rid of. They stick like residue, not wanting to come off.

After becoming a follower of Christ, I received new names.

Daughter. Beloved. Child of the one true God. It all sounded wonderful and good and intriguing. But I still felt like an outsider. I fought to grasp something that seemed perpetually out of my reach. If I could only grab hold of it, I would truly be free.

What whatever it was, it continued to elude me. Like a drive through the heavy fog that obscures our mountaintop in the morning, my vision was obscured. I kept striving and wanting something more.

One morning I was in the thick of a women’s Bible study, and the author was talking about anger. She asked the reader to list the things she thought she was entitled to. Her rights. And I’m not talking about our rights as citizens of a country, but the things we think we deserve because we walk this planet.

At first, I struggled through it.

“I’m not an angry person,” I reasoned. I love others.

“But do you feel loved in return?”

It was a gentle question. A nudge in my spirit. If I’d rushed ahead to the next activity, I would’ve missed it.

The longer I sat in the quietness of a Father’s compassion, the more I realized what I chased.

I ran after ways I thought I deserved to be loved by others, but wasn’t. I longed to be understood and truly seen, but felt often felt lacking in both.

Friends, we can learn others’ love language and go to endless relationship experts and counselors. But in the end, there’s only One who will love us the way we truly desire.

Our feelings will change with the weather, but his love is constant and unwavering.

He’s the One who created us. The One who knows us inside and out, who can see our thoughts before we form them.

We are never outside his love. He invites us inside, to feel the closeness of his Spirit and the breath of his adoration.

“In Love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” Ephesians‬ ‭1:4,5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We are inside his eternal family.

We are in the depths of his unconditional love.

He drenches us with his endless, undeserved grace.

When I spend time in his presence, I realize I’m loved in ways I dare to dream about. The more I grow to know him, the more I see that I’m not an outsider.

And neither are you.

In Him we belong. In Him, we are complete.

 

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

 

Your Faith Isn’t Up to Them

You need to know this: It’s not up to them – the pastors, the teachers and the ones who stand on big platforms. It is up to you. Seriously. You are a royal priesthood. You are a saint. You are chosen.

Sometimes, I look at all the people who are doing big things. Then, I think my stuff is small. I think my work is unworthy. I believe it’s them doing the stuff God wants, but not me.

Lies. Lies. Lies. Pit of Hell lies.

The truth is: your stuff is not small. I get the messages from you all. You have just as much fabulous insight, wisdom, and lessons to teach as I do. You have things to say. You have stories to tell. You have people to love. You have lives to change. You are being used by God and He IS doing mighty things in you and through you.

Believe it. Do not despise small beginnings. And do not negate God in you.

Do you want to be used? Then ask God to be used. It is almost always as simple as “an ask.”

Ask, “God, will you use me today?”

Then, ready yourself to be used. Look for the woman who can’t handle all her bags at the grocery store. Listen and discern God’s heart for the woman dumping out her heart on your couch. Believe God has things He wants to do, say and release through you. You are not inconsequential.

Stop disqualifying yourself. You are mighty, because the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is in you.

Hello?! Can you even believe that?

It is true.

When we stop believing we are weak, we start seeing we are strong, in Christ. You don’t have to see yourself as weak anymore. Sure, see yourself as a servant to Jesus and to others through love, but don’t look at that as weak. Don’t say, “Woe is me, I can’t do anything of value…” That is not Christ’s call or lot for you.

Jesus never lessened himself to appear to man as being super-humble. Neither should we. Jesus did the works God called Him to. He always stepped out no matter how it looked to others.

The world needs us. Let’s step out.
The hungry need to be fed. We know the Bread of Life.
The angry need to find peace. We are well-acquainted with the Prince of Peace.
The depressed need to know joy. We have found it, more than ever, through Jesus.
The isolated need to know they are not alone. We are the body.
The world needs answers. We know The Way.

Be in Christ and be used. Be prayerful and be discerning. Be strong and loving. Be bold and vocal. Be free and bring that freedom to others. This is our call.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you have put passions inside each one of us. I ask that we would walk them out with you. I ask that you would unleash us in our purpose. Help us to do all things, in love and with your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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He Knows Your Name…Even If I Can’t Remember It

POST BY: Kendra Broekhuis

It takes roughly 2.7 seconds after meeting someone new for me to forget his or her name.

I’m certain that when people tell me what they are called, that information goes in one ear and bounces off a fluffy cloud out the other ear. Because I fear the embarrassment of not remembering this critical detail, I’ve become hyper-sensitive to sparing other people from the same potential embarrassment upon meeting them a second time:

“Hi! Nice to see you again. I’m Kendra.”

Now please do me a solid and follow suit.

Some days I consider giving up on trying to acquire this skill I so greatly lack. It sounds way easier to just become that person who greets everyone with a, “Hey there, Sport!”

I mean, what’s all the fuss about remembering a person’s name anyway?

“The Fuss” became clear when my husband and I tried to pick names for our children. We argued for no less than nine months over what to call them. We knew that whatever label we chose would stay with them their entire lives. Their names would be tied to their faces, which would be tied to their personhood, which would be tied to memories and deep meaning.

Their names would be the first way they were known.

I was recently reminded of this when I read John 10. Jesus described Himself as the Good shepherd, and His people as His sheep. At first skim, that description might not seem comforting – like we’re all just a bunch of ambiguous animals gathered in a flock of millions.

But the way Jesus explains His relationship with His sheep is incredibly tender: He leads us closely enough to feel the warmth of His presence. Engaged enough that we can distinguish His voice from that of a stranger or a thief. Nurturing enough to bring us to pastures of abundant life. Protecting enough to lay down His life to the wolves that come to snatch and scatter. Treasuring enough to know each of us by name.

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. {John 10:3}

Our world can feel incredibly cold and impersonal at times – like we really are ambiguous among billions.

But when those days come, may you remember that the Good Shepherd not only sees you, but He knows your name.

He knows you.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that you will help us remember that we are not only loved as an entire church, but also as individuals. In times that we feel lonely, insecure, or worried, remind us that You are close enough to know each of us by name. Thank you for being our very Good Shepherd. Amen.

 

Bio:

Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her NeighborThe book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.

 

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Praying Prayers that Work

When I need to confront a friend with an issue, I pray before.
When I finances go amuck, I pray.
When I desperately need something to change, I pray.
When I want breakthrough, I pray.

I pray kind of like this: “God, please, I need you.”

Like a kid, I lob my prayers upward, hard, hoping they’ll catch heavenly-hold. But inside, I wonder and I fear. I fear they’ll back at me and expose me as a fool. That they’ll return void.

Prayer sometimes feels like wishful thinking. We want, but we aren’t sure if we will get. We ask, but we wonder if we’ll be left empty-handed. We once dreamed and never saw things come to pass.

We write off verses like this:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mk. 11:24 NIV

Why? Because we’ve gotten jaded, over-spiritual, and cynical. Or, at least I have.

Rather than praying, believing, contemplating and thanking God for the outpouring of his blessing, I groan and moan over the issue. I doubt it will ever change. I remain unprepared to receive his better thing and stay unstable in doubt.

“Prayer doesn’t work,” I think.

But prayer isn’t broken. My faith is.

In Hebrews 11, God highlights what great faith looks like:

By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.” Heb. 11:33 NLT

Faith is not just measured as the by-product of doing. It is also measured in the believing that is tied to receiving. If we pray for friends but don’t want to answer the phone when they call, guess what? Our prayer will go unanswered. It is not because God didn’t give, it is often because we didn’t receive.

We “must believe” that God “rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Heb. 11:6 NLT)

We must pray in belief that God rewards those who sincerely seek him. It is that simple.

God will reward my search of him.
God will come through with this prayer.
I can believe and trust Him to show up on this.
I don’t know the how but I know the Who and that is enough.
I can’t wait to receive the answer God has for me on this very thing.
I can rest in his care with great expectation.

This kind of prayer works and this kind of faith pleases God.

 

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Seriously, let’s not act like satan

act like satan

Imagine your heart wanting to protect Jesus.

You’ve been with him for so long now. You know, love and treasure Him. He is God. Jesus cannot be harmed by common men who aren’t God. You must protect Him. You must keep Him from harm. He must remain with you.

You pull Jesus aside to address his comment that He must suffer. You say, “Jesus, far be it with you. This will never happen with you.”

You’re only trying to help. You’re only trying to save Him. You’re only trying to preserve Him from harm.

Jesus replies to you, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mt. 16:23)

You were a stumbling block. Why?

You had good intentions, but you injected yourself where you weren’t invited to intervene.

The plan was owned by Father & Son , not Father & Son + disciple.

We can do the same thing in the lives of those we love. The plan is between Father & son or Father & daughter. Yet, we weasel our way right in, saying, “Nope this right here is about Father & Son + me + my opinions + my fear!” We take out our chisel and crack into God’s good plan. Woe to us who break what God is building in others.

We often break God’s good plan in others when we:

1. Tell people what to do.

2. Decide how people should think.

3. Instruct people based on our opinions.

4. Try to run in and fix bad situations.

5. Demand others think well of us.

6. Rescue people from their feelings of sadness, loneliness, etc.

7. Excuse away people’s issues, rather then letting them confront them.

I assure you: when a lesson is delivered by us, it’s forgettable. But delivered by God, it is unforgettable, undeniable and unbelievably life-changing.

Let’s make room for what God is doing. He has things handled.

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At Least I am Not Like Her

For weeks, months even, I observed this gal on social media. Because she regularly posted, I could easily keep track of her. As I saw it, every picture was a sob story about her life. Every post seemed to be a call to the world saying, “See me! See me! Pay attention to what I am doing!” She prickled my nerves.

“At least I’m not like her,” I thought.

I thought this way for a very long time. Until. Until I discovered the reality. Reality is not social media. Reality is the voice behind it. And when I heard her voice on the telephone, I discovered the true pain of her recent struggles. I saw her heart to come to the aide of others and saw the true line of Jesus’ love running right through her.

I thought wrong.

A friend came to my house. To every question I asked her she replied with a one word Humph-like answer. She wasn’t a very good friend. She must be angry at me.

At least I’m not like her.

Only later, when I asked how I could pray for her did she share, “Please pray for my marriage.”

I thought wrong, again.

“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’” Lu. 18:11

Oh really, Mr. Pharisee? You are not like them? Certainly, you “must be” a whole bunch more godly, more wise, more thoughtful, more successful, more holy…but, there is only one issue: You carry around brick-heavy weights of pride.

Yes, pride. It is the thing that makes you judge others without knowing the full story. It is the thing that makes you see one side but not the other. It is the thing that makes you consider others’ sin at a moments notice, while missing your own.

“I tell you that this (tax collector) man, rather than the (Pharisee), went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Lu. 18:14

Today, my aim is new: I will not judge what I don’t know. I can never know the inner story behind a person’s outer persona. The pain that resides inside usually works its way out. My job is not to pin it to the wall in condemnation. My job is to love until its appearance smoothes under the love of Christ.

I can do this with myself, and with others.

 

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All to the Glory to God

All to the Glory of God! I got over an eating disorder from college that could have killed me.

All to the Glory of God! I also beat depression.

All to the Glory of God! I don’t have Multiple Sclerosis like all the doctors once thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a mom who is growing and learning leaps and bounds.

All to the Glory of God! My child doesn’t have Cystic Fibrosis like that test thought.

All to the Glory of God! I am a writer, even though I wrote letters backwards and couldn’t read as a child.

All to the Glory of God! I am far less fearful than I was and increasingly more faithful.

All to the Glory of God! I moved to a new place and made a whole bunch of new friends.

All to the Glory of God! Fill in your blank.

All to the Glory of God! Do it again.

All to the Glory of God! Keep doing it. 

All to the Glory of God! More. 

All to the Glory of God! Don’t stop.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (Jo. 11:40, emphasis added)

To remember where glory showed up is to remind your heart:

1. I saw
2. I will see.
3. It is all because of God.

It is to give God due victory.

Let it sink into your heart: What I saw, God can/will do again.

 

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Growing Love

love

I love that I love each of you.

I also love that as I love you, I get a chance to learn who you really are. You send me emails and thank yous and little stories of the giant hurdles you’ve made in life. And yes, even though you call them small, God and I know they’re giant.

You all are great. You make me smile. You make me shed tears. You make me pray. And while I can’t always respond to every email via the computer I always try to respond with God. I ask him for the best for you, for your situations and for your heart. I ask him to show his lavish love in your life.

You are amazing. You gift me a lot more than I gift you. Daily, so many of you give to my heart. Quietly, I know others inwardly offer up thanks. Readily, I know there are prayers going out for the wider community of gals who read these words.

To know we are fighting together, battling through our hang-ups, and sticking to the King of Kings on this road is beyond helpful to my heart.

We rage on – in love.

I once thought this blog was about me “getting my healing.” Now I know it is about all of us “becoming healed” and supporting each other along the way. Thank you for helping me realize I need you just as much as I need God.

You are often a vessel for His voice. A voice of encouragement that pops up via email at just the right time. A prayer note that I needed. A living testimony of what you are reading.

All glory to God! He is working right here. We read and write only holy ground, together. And I love it! I cherish it. I rejoice in the fullness of what He has prepared for such a time as this.

While social media rages with hate, anger and dissension, we pull together in love. We smile and keep on with Jesus. We do our part to do our best to change our little slice of the world one small act of love at a time.

I am grateful for you. I want you all to know that. God has given me so much in this community of lovers. I praise Him for you today.

My prayer for you: Sweet Jesus, thank you for the reader of this post today. Thank you that you see her heart. Thank you that she pursues, loves and follows you. I ask you to open every door unto her, so that she can meet and know you with immense passion. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind as to how much you love her. I ask that there would never be a question in her mind about how immensely loved she is. I ask for an increase of your heart on this very blog that reaches hearts day-in and day-out. I ask for your activating faith to pour out on every reader in profound ways in the coming days. I ask for your will to be done in all ways. We thank you Jesus. Amen.

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