Do you want to be blessed? Maybe life has kicked you while you’re down and you need a pick-me-up. Or, maybe nothing exciting has happened in your life for a while? Or maybe you feel you deserve something good.
We all want blessings. And, we serve a God who delights in giving good things. He loves us like a father. He wants to bestow his love & his gift. It doesn’t get much better than being blessed by the Lord.
But, if we want to be blessed, we are wise to take a look at our part in the process. What are values that the Lord loves to bless…Read the rest of my post on Abby McDonald’s blog, Fearfully Made Mom.
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I stood beside their beds in the dark, praying for each of my 3 little ones while they slept. Every night on my way to bed, I whispered thanks to God for the gift of being their Mommy. But often tears fell, because I knew the truth of that day. And the one before.
I was discontent with that season of my life, and I had become an under-the-breath complainer.
I didn’t always like that this was what God had called me to do. Because it looked like endless wiping. Wiping counters, spills, bottoms, floors, always wiping.
With a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby, my days looked like finding messes by the handfuls, like potty training and nursing and living chronically behind in housework. It was harder than I’d expected. I loved my babies so much, and yet I wished away the hard parts of those days.
One day, after lunch, I stepped in a huge blob of strawberry jam on the kitchen floor. When I grabbed for a dishrag to wipe it up, I ran my arm through more jam on the edge of the counter. I looked up to see this little trail of jam, smudged across the kitchen cabinets, and started to cry.
I felt mad about the mess, about the way I couldn’t stay on top of 6 sticky little hands, mad at my kitchen, mad at jelly, just mad.
And then, I noticed a verse I had taped onto the fridge, written in beautiful calligraphy:
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV
The phrase, “this is God’s will for you” wouldn’t leave me alone.
His will for me then included days full of messes, all waiting for me to clean them up.
His will included a jelly-coated kitchen some days, and jelly-filled hands to clean.
His will included loving and serving three little people, much of which would be done from the ground, on bended knees.
His will for me also included giving thanks, even in never-ending, sticky-mess moments.
It’s easy to thank God when life feels good, when the house is tidy and the days go as planned. But thank God in the middle of the mess? I didn’t even know how. I hated messes.
I decided right then, to try, even though I didn’t really feel it. So I thanked God for the day He made, for the home we lived in, for three little people with small, sticky hands.
The more I thanked God, for both big and small things, the less I complained. And the more I enjoyed being a Mom.
I have to admit, I sometimes fall back into a spirit of complaint. But whenever I realize this and confess it to God, He is faithful to change my spirit, from being full of complaints to repeatedly giving thanks.
When we practice giving thanks in all kinds of circumstances, He fills our hearts with peace and makes us light with joy.
Do you need to confess a complaining spirit today? Will you begin to make a habit of thanking God in every situation?
Thank you Lord, for changes in perspective, for the ability to offer You thanks, even in jelly-smeared kitchens.
With the Thanksgiving feast only a few weeks away I can’t help but think about the feast preps made famous by Jesus. One feast that two women treated completely different. One woman loved. The other labored.
Jesus’ disciple, Luke, recorded the exchange: Martha invited Jesus into her home then went to work. But her labor peeled her away from His presence. Mary, consumed by her Savior, chose to sit at His feet.
Labor cumbered Martha. Love consumed Mary.
I can’t blame Martha. I imagine her chopping away in the kitchen thinking, “If I don’t do this, who will? Somebody has to do it!” Her chops grew harder. Her blood boiled a little hotter then finally, “That’s it!” she silently screamed.
“And she went up to him [Jesus] and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.'” Luke 10:40 (ESV)
Woah. Crazy lady alert. Can you see her standing in the doorway, hand on hip, jaw clenched, tapping her foot? In this story it’s easy to spot the girl gone wild and her major misstep. Hello! Jesus is in your living room! And you’re complaining about what? Sit down and shut up already!
But if I give it a minute to soak in, this picture hits uncomfortably close to my home. Look at these two gals. Martha stands for chaos, frustration, fatigue. Mary points to a calm, peaceful, purposeful presence. I want to be Mary, but when there’s much to be done it’s hard to choose love over labor. The key word there is choose. Love, often mistaken for a feeling, is actually a choice.
Love serves with a smile as her thoughts swirl around who her hands will serve and how they will benefit. Labor grinds with a grumble as she stands preoccupied with what must be done.
In the very midst of writing this post, opportunity knocked.
My toddler alerted me to the mess with squeals of despair. I hurried around the corner to find him on his back in a growing puddle of water. By the time I arrived, an overflowing toilet bowl had turned the bathroom into a wade pool and threatened to expand into the hallway. I have no clue about plumbing, so I couldn’t make the water stop gushing over the edge. I pushed, pulled and twisted everything on the toilet that moved. Finally, I jammed a bottle of hand soap under something.
I lovingly mopped up the minor flood, piled the sopping towels in the middle of the bathroom, shut the door and ordered no one to use that bathroom until Daddy got home.
No, we did not all have a hearty laugh in the midst of the bathroom fiasco, but we did escape the chaos caused by panic, raised voices, and an overwhelmed spirit. We worked together. The big boys gathered towels and helped the little ones grab a snack.
No, I did not feel like smiling and speaking softly as the kids galloped through the water like I intentionally put it there for them to splash through; but the choice to love made the moment easier to manage.
My Jesus, may my chore never become greater than your choice to love me first, so that I may love. (1 John 4:19)
Leave a Comment! Who do you identify most with? Mary or Martha? Why?
I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World.
In the blog post, Caution: How Not to be of the World, we talked about how taking our focus off of Christ can divert us down a road we never intended to drive. But, by keeping our eyes on the Lord, nothing can take us down. Nothing can shake us. Nothing can keep God away. He sees us and is right next to us. We can learn how to believe God and not the World.
And when we do, God will stand next to us and walk us right up to the purpose of our life. Finally, we can stand before purpose and to grab hold of it.
When we keep our eyes on the Lord, when we keep him at our right hand, we won’t be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)
We won’t be shaken, because we are who God says we are. And, we will be who God wants us to be – as we trust him.
God defines us. God made us. And, God makes us. He answers and he fulfills his promises.
God is greater than the words and messages of the world that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Talking heads waste their words, because rely on the living active Word.
“Keeping up with the Jones” loses its power, because God’s our ultimate Superpower.
Never having enough is a thing of the past, because God is more than enough.
We don’t need to believe half-truths, when we have “the Truth”.
The world says you are less than, God says you are a child of the most high King. (Psalm 82:6)
The world says you need power, God says you need Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
The world says you need to conform, God says to be transformed. (Romans 12:2)
The world says you should find pleasure, God says to find treasure. (Matthew 19:21)
The world says to take for you; God says to give of yourself. (Matthew 19:21)
The world says to seek beauty above all; God says to love him above all. (Luke 10:27)
The world says be happy and fulfilled, God says die to self. (Luke 9:23)
The world says take all you want, God says take up your cross. (Luke 9:23)
The world says live for today, God says live forever. (John 3:16)
When we drive down the freeways of the world, we end up in dark depressing neighborhoods filled with pain, shame and regret. God wants to lead us in truth and light. He wants us to rush into his arms, to collide with his truth and to cruise in life safely.
He has plans that are so much greater than the world’s plans for us. He has big plans. But if we are so distracted with the signs of the world, we will miss the highway to him. We will miss the joy that is him. We will miss the peace that is him. We will miss the life that is him. We will crash.
He wants all of you. He loves all of you. He has big plans for all of you. Give all of yourself to Him.
Have you ever had that pull on your heart? That ache that tells you that something is not quite right? The persistent call that tells you that you have messed up yet again? The one that makes you ask, “Why can’t I be better?”
It’s a feeling of shame, mixed with regret, all combined with a ton of guilt.
I hate these feelings sometimes. Even worse, I hate how I feel when I am not sure what I should do. I hate not knowing if I will ever “be better”, “do better” and “love better”. I hate feeling like I will never get it quite right. I hate feeling afraid to take the risk to go “there”.
Sin weighs me down. It crushes a spirit. It burdens a heart. It stifles a purpose.
Sin comes and:
It laughs at us
It makes us afraid
It shames us
It makes us uncertain
It tells us, “why bother?”
It condemns us
It defines us
It confirms we can never change
It makes us self conscious
It covers us in chains
It discourages us
It attempts to hold us back from our purpose
It steals peace
It embarrasses us
It robs us of joy
It knocks on the doors of our lives attempting to lure us. It stands ready to rob us. And after it does, it leaves us injured, broken and lying on the floor unsure what to do next.
But it is in this place of vulnerable pain where our hurts drive us to admission. It is in this place where we have to take a risk. Where we have to step out of our comfort zone.
And, it is in this exact place where God is best seen. This is where we see him from an authentic, open and receptive heart. And, when we come to God, he heals and binds up our pain better than we could have ever imagined.
When we confess, and move towards God through changed actions, he comes to us – and we come to him.
And he says:
I forgive you
I love you
I will embrace you
You are my workmanship
Your actions don’t disqualify my plans
Your sin doesn’t mean you can’t win
Your ways don’t supersede my ways
I am more successful than your failures
My grace extends further than your guilt
I live inside of you. I can’t give up on myself.
You are more than a conqueror because of Christ Jesus.
You are my work-in-progress
Do you believe me?
If so, let it go. As far as the east is from the west. Let. It. Go.
Watch me work.
I can change you.
I am perfecting the beauty that is “me” within you.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
God doesn’t answer based on what we want, he answers based on what we need.
We may think we need peace and he says no, you need trials. We may think we need joy – he says perseverance. We may think blessings – he says endurance. We may think money – he says contentment. We may think appreciation – he says love.
I was on the hunt for “encouragement”…
After my “big rejection”, an amazing friend who is wise beyond her years, strong in the Lord and faithful to his call, sent me this verse:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
I think she wanted to encourage me in my race, to help me with endurance, but what God revealed was something far deeper and even more convicting. Let me explain…
I love a good race. I love competing and I love pushing through my personal barriers physically and mentally. I get the idea of running a race for the Lord. Why?
I feel ready to give it all. I feel ready to explode off the starting line and to push no matter what my body feels. I want to arrive at the gate of heaven and fall in front of my King with a fast beating heart, with sweat on my brow. I want to fall before him out of breath, knowing I gave it all. I don’t want to have an ounce of push left.
I want this so badly. But still, I get caught looking at the sidelines. I look at the crowds of people telling me to follow them, I look at my own inadequacies and I pump my arms with pride.
God knows this. He sees this. And, as any fine coach would do – to make me the best runner for his kingdom – he trains me. He pushes me. He sends me through hard training days; days with some pain – some trials. These trials serve to mold me into a champion runner for his kingdom. They strip me of my own ways and the world’s ways – to make me more like him, the ultimate champion.
Even so, sometimes I wonder, despite all this, why I still slow down?
And, this was why Hebrews 12:1 was so powerful. It was this part…“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.”
God bugged me with this verse to see that: I can’t run loaded with weight. I have a part in this race.
Sin weight slows me down. It trips me up. It keeps me from Him.
And, when sin is strapped on, its burden is heavy. It’s consuming. It stops us in our tracks. It distracts us and trips us up. We can try to pretend it is not there, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.
God is faithful to keep bugging us to address it. When we do, we grow. If we don’t, we fall.
I may have been trying to run a “victory”, but sometimes a “failure or a disappointment” ends up being the greatest “victory”. Why? Because as we fail, we can see our own faults and we hear him whispering, “Confess.”
I didn’t want trials. I didn’t want pain. I didn’t want rejection. I didn’t want humiliation.
God said, “It’s not about you. Confess.”
I confess Lord, I have sinned. I want all of you. I can’t mentally pursue the race you have set before me when my mind is weighed down by my own desires and my own sin.
It is easy to want joy, peace, contentment and blessings. It is easy to want encouragement and motivation, but God is operating from the throne of all knowledge, all power and all sovereignty. In his seat, he sees yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows precisely what we need to finish our race. He knows precisely what will hold us back from finishing.
He wants us to be champions. He wants us to run with speed and power and strength.
He wants us to finish strong and joyful.
We are more than just conquerors in Christ Jesus.
What baggage holds you back? What do you need to confess? What trials might God be using to train you?
When we confess, God has a greater gift in store. The gift of speed and endurance that helps us run our race unencumbered.
1. We run to be first. While Jesus sits and says “be last”.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35
When we join Jesus, and sit down by his side, we tend to rely on him. He is faithful to take care of us as we listen, relax and trust him. When we just enjoy his presence, he equips us with all we need to serve others. What an honor.
2. We show off who we are, so we appear the star.
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
“Pride” has it all together, needs no one and appears perfect. “Humble” comes open to receive, ready to listen and eager to change. Is it any wonder that God shows favor to the humble?
3. We fear the world, our finances, our husband, our wife, our health, our kids, our work. We fear everything, but the Lord.
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7
Fear of the Lord means that we know who is sovereign. We know who rules. We know who reigns – and we relinquish our reigns as we trust that he will provide.
When we trust in our own work and our own efforts we are left empty, lonely and tired. Let’s turn towards the King and confess our hearts. Let’s approach our friends and family with authentic hearts. Let’s seek to lift the Lord on high rather than our own accomplishments.
When we stop making prideful mistakes, a true sense of self God awakes.
It is time to step out. To come out of hiding. To let your true colors shine. To be who God made you to be. It is time to be fearless. To be courageous. To be passionate. It’s time to take a risk – to move from your calm safe grounds to unsteady risky rocky terrain. Terrain where you feel vulnerable – where you know, by yourself, can’t stand on your own. Why?
Because too much is on the line not to. And, the idea of not taking that adventurous step means living in mediocrity. It’s so worth it.
I spent a good amount of time in hiding. Sure, I went to church, I was in small groups, I had Christian friends, but I stayed on safe ground. Grounds where no one really questioned me. Grounds where I rode in a perfect straight line, rarely branching off the beaten path. I kept on this straight and narrow for fear of getting hurt. When a conversation veered into sticky areas or when I felt too vulnerable, the warning light would go off in my mind, “do not venture there, you may get someone upset. Don’t speak too passionately; you don’t want to be “that” person. Don’t seem too knowledgeable, others will feel less than. Don’t bring up topics that could make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t run the risk of angering that person, it’s better to just let them continue feeling miserable as they go the wrong way.”
“Hide who you are because you don’t want to be judged, hurt or rejected.”
I did this all the time. But I came to realize something life changing. In my attempt to set others free of their bad feelings, I only succeeded in trapping myself. I locked away the person God created Kelly to be.
When I lived in that closet, I missed the opportunity to love deeply. I missed the opportunity to speak the absolute truth in love. I missed the opportunity to walk in faith, as I felt afraid. I missed the opportunity to rely on Christ when others may have felt irritated at me. I missed the chance to encourage others. I was too worried about preserving myself.
You know, we have one life. One chance to pour out love. One chance to give all we have. To be all in, no holds bar. To share grace. To encourage in truth. To live without fear. To give with faith. To help those in need. This is our chance. This is your chance.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living trapped, beholden to this world. I know at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will never ever regret living all out – full of love – for God. Do I do this perfectly? By no means, but that is the point. That is why I need Christ. And when I rely on him, I find peace. I find safety despite an unsafe rocky terrain.
At the days end, when I come out of the ultimate closet, that is this world. I hope to stand in front of God with full confidence that I shared his love, peace, and joy with all of my heart to people who hurt so deeply. I want to stand knowing that I spoke his wisdom – according to his timing – no matter the risk.
This authentic living is adventurous living. We can’t do it on your own. But, as we rely on him, we will find we are truly free.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
God’s truth is what healed me. If it was hidden, I never would have been touched. I never would have grown. So why do we think we need to hide truth? Rather than hide, we need to lay down our pride. It is not about me and preserving my image- it is about people who are hurting and need to hear truth spoken in love. Take it or leave it. This is Kelly as God designed me.
When we are who God created us to be, we finally find true freedom.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”
Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?
If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.
Boy was I dead wrong.
I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.
What didn’t I try? I tried it all.
What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.
I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?
This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.
When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.
When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.
So what are we to do?
We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing. We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will approve us as we move forward in his calling. Our love is not reliant on others. It is reliant on God’s love for us. This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.
When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)