I am delighted to have this story featured on God Sized Dreams today…
Sometimes we have that one dream. We want it so badly. We want it with all that we are. We can see it. We can feel it. It rules our mind. It drives our behaviors. It consumes our thoughts.
We can only imagine what life will be like when we finally have it. Things will change. Life will matter. Everything will come into perspective.
God knows how much is riding on this. Right? We think so. So, we diligently pray, as any good Christian should do. We ask and we seek to no end. We call up to God and bare our heart. We let him know how much we need this one dream to come through. We tell him exactly how we see it working out.
I have done this so many times. I have dreamed big dreams. I have hoped big hopes. I have wanted things to go a certain way. In fact, I have almost demanded they go a certain way….
I love writing. I love sharing. I love encouraging. I love following the call of the Lord so that I can call others to know the Lord more. I love giving it all for the one who gave it all.
Yet, sometimes, when my eyes stray from the Ultimate Servant, I start to think I am the ultimate giver.
When this happens two things normally happen:
1.) I start feeling insecure, because I think results rely on my shoulders. 2.) I attempt to steal the Lord’s glory.
Tired. Worn. Weary. My eyes wander from Christ. I desire appreciation and require affirmation.
It’s so easy for the servant to be replaced with one wanting to be served.
With just the slightest perspective change, we are lured in. Why? Because serving is hard. Being less than is hard. Ministry is hard. It’s tireless. It’s sacrificial. It’s never ending.
It’s easy to think, “I have given so much, what about me?”
Have you ever felt this way?
Often, we servants have 5 predominate lies that grow thick and take over our mind. God stands ready to cut them down with his awesome two-edged sword of truth.
1. “I should be doing more. My work isn’t enough.”
We wrongly think that God values big things, big endeavors and huge results. We feel marginalized by God. Less than. We believe our work won’t count until it is bigger and better. Sometimes, we can wonder why we are even trying…
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… (Luke 16:10)
TRUTH: If you are being faithful with what God has given you to do, you are being faithful. Period. The big – or small – the Lord has set before you is just what he wants you to tackle. At our days end, we will be valued – not by how big we did things – but by how we loved, how we believed and how we trusted God with what we were given.
‘Well-done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Mt. 25:23)
2. “Look what they’re doing. They are so much better than I am.”
The second we take our eyes off of Christ is the second we start getting big eyes for other’s accomplishments. We see. We want. We envy.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Phil. 2:3)
TRUTH: We are all working for the Lord. We have the same boss – and the same goals. True joy is found when we co-labor with our neighbor. God desires community, relationships and teamwork. He never intended for us to mark our territories – as we pursue our agenda’s.
Instead, he tells us to consider others better than ourselves. Why? Because he wants us to experience the full joy of serving, working and loving others.
3. “I feel worn down. I can’t find strength.”
Tired. Worn. Weak. Weary. We feel that ministry has become a daily grind.
…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Is. 40:31)
TRUTH: We renew our strength by renewing our relationship with the Lord. Meaning: we remember why we are doing this, whom we are doing it for and why we have been called. If he called us, he will clear a way for us. We can stop striving and start resting in his plan. As we do this, he will renew our strength.
4. “Does what I do, even matter? I am not making a difference.”
We doubt the difference we are making. We question our purpose.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Mt. 25:40)
TRUTH: If we affected one, we have pleased One. God values the least of these. He is not looking for numbers; he is looking for changed hearts. What you are doing does matter. If someone has been changed, your work has had huge impact. And, imagine all the people you have impacted who have never even told you.
5. “No one has affirmed me. I am not any good.”
We can feel discouraged, waiting to be encouraged. We need people to fill us up, in order to feel full.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mt. 6:33)
TRUTH: When we seek after God, his kingdom, and his righteousness, we don’t need to gas up on approval. Because know we are already approved. In this, we can stand secure. This means we don’t have to spin wheels seeking approval and affirmation. He has everything covered.
The Lord sees us. And, as he sees fit – he gives. He gives it right to us as we are seeking after him. He makes it easy, he just tells us, “Seek after me and I will give you all the rest.”
We were created to serve. When we serve based on the promises of God, we can serve from a whole-hearted place, instead of an insecure place. It makes all the difference in the world.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45)
Hey Bloggers, I hope you had fun encouraging each other yesterday on Twitter (#RaRaLinkup). I sure had a blast. Click the button below to participate in the Cheerleading Linkup. Be sure to return every Tuesday as the fun continues.
Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room. There was no space. Every inch of the inn was occupied.
“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)
As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered. We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.” Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”
This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”
Making room for Jesus means we:
– Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
– Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
– Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
– Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
– Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
– Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.
Prepare your heart. Make room for the King. He is coming.
Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given. Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.
“Hey when ya get a chance today, find one of those big empty boxes in the garage and have the kids start getting stuff to give away.”
A text from my hubby on his way to work one morning just before Christmas last year. How sweet. How noble. What a great Dad. None of those, however, crossed my mind. Instead, I kinda went, “Ugggggghhhhhh.”
Doesn’t he know we all still have the flu? Doesn’t he know I have disinfecting to do? Doesn’t he know the kids all have attitudes?
But in the spirit of Christmas I turned off the television, grabbed a box, and sat our little army all in a row.
“It’s time to clean out the toy box.”
They know the drill. We do it bi-annually. Once before birthdays. Once before Christmas. Clear out the clutter before we add more. I know what stays and what goes before we begin. Toys on top we play with on a regular basis. Those stay. Toys on the bottom – those are the forgotten, broken or replaced toys the kids are willing to part with.
Except for last year ….
Micah Sean, my rough and tough 3rd born with a hard head and a soft heart, sat on the rug with his little legs crossed. One of the first toys out of the box – Dad the Moose. Micah named him. Micah loves his Daddy and loves his moose, so it seemed appropriate.
Dad the Moose sleeps tucked under Micah’s arm. Dad the Moose travels with us wherever we go. Dad the Moose is Micah’s buddy, maybe even his best buddy.
So when I pulled the moose out of the box and said, “Give or keep,” I already knew the answer. “Keep!” Micah yelped and squeezed Dad the Moose close. We continued with several more “keeps.” Then,
“Wait,” Micah said with urgency. “I want to give Dad the Moose.”
And he tossed him into the box. I looked at Micah. Did he really mean it? Does he know what he’s doing? He’ll miss that moose! A few minutes later Micah changed his mind and dug the moose back out of the box. Three times this happened. Moose in. Moose out. Moose in. Moose out.
I watched this little boy struggle. Something inside him said give. Give away your moose. But something inside him also ached. Dad the Moose belonged to Micah. He chose that moose. He named him. He loved him.
And then he did it. Once and for all, he gave his moose away.
“Mom, someone else can have Dad the Moose.”
Elijah, our resident animal lover and stuffed animal collector, warned, “Micah, another boy or girl may not call him Dad.”
For fear of Micah’s tender heart breaking any more than it already had I jumped in … “But that’s okay. Because when we give, we also trust, that whoever gets our gift will love it as much as we did.”
I put my hand on Micah’s little leg and through tears I praised him for his selfless act. I told him about the boys and girls who won’t have much on Christmas and how happy they will be to receive this special gift.
Then I watched … as one gift of love spilled over.
“Okay, Mom, I’ll give Louie.”
Louie, Elijah’s stuffed owl. Just a few weeks earlier, Elijah walked all over the store, carefully considering every option before he picked Louie. He chose him. He named him. He loved him.
“I’ll give away pythor too, Mom.” And here came Jonah with his prize python. Jonah didn’t even like his siblings to play with this stuffed animal. Pythor morphed into a jump rope or super hero sling. His scales were blue, Jonah’s favorite color. Jonah chose him. He named him. He loved him.
But Louie and Pythor joined Dad the Moose in the box.
All of a sudden this box seemed so cold. How could these gifts given from such a tender place land in a torn, dirty, plain, brown box? They mean too much. They don’t belong here …….
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, he gave. He gave his Son.
He chose Him. He named Him. He loved Him.
Did He really mean it? Does He know what He’s doing?
God knew some would not call him by his Name. Some would not call him Savior. King. Emmanuel. But still, God gave.
He means too much. He doesn’t belong here. How could His gift land in such a torn, dirty, plain world?
But Jesus did.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)
Our box filled up pretty quick after that.
Turns out once you give away what you hold dear, everything else is easy to release.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (ESV)
God gave it all, because He loves you and me. May that truth grace your heart in a new way today. And by His grace, may this greatest gift of love ever conceived spill out of your life into the hearts that surround you.
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. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com, and I’d love for you to visit me!
Darkness can be alluring. It calls us, saying, “You won’t get hurt. Come and see what I have for you. Go your own way. No one will ever know. No one will see you.”
But often, what we hide in the dark ends up snagging us, catching us and having us for dinner. What we think is carefully hidden away, bites us when we least expect it.
It reminds me of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. She was cute. She was adventurous. She had good intentions. She was bringing delicious food to a sweet old grandmother, after all. It doesn’t get much more honorable than that!
Eager to give, happy to serve and ready to love – she was the ideal target for a hungry wolf. A wolf hiding and waiting to snatch her, so that she could not live out her calling.
He succeeded. Because our adorable Little Red Riding Hood, skipping with her basket of fruit, jumped at the chance to do things her own way…
Please know that you are loved. You are greatly adored. You are special. You are encouraged. You are seen. You are powerful. You have a sound mind. You have a future. You have a hope. You have purpose. You are secure.
Because of me. Because of your God. Because of Christ, who accepted every ounce of pain, so that he could grant every ounce of grace. Grace has been lavishly poured all over you. Do you know what this means? You are entirely secure.
I am the definition of love. I take joy in my creation. I give life. I show the way. I offer you truth.
Know this, dear child, know this:
I won’t leave you, ever. I won’t abandon you, never. I won’t forsake you, no way no how. I will help you, always. I will lift you up and exalt you at just the right time, just see. I will hold your hand in hard times, I will. I will guide you in all of your days, trust me.
Come. Come and receive.
Stop striving and come.
Stop trying and come.
Stop worrying and come.
Dear child of God, I love you. I won’t stop loving you.
Your Lord and Savior, your King of Kings, your All-in-All, your One and Only
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On a cool afternoon in late fall, I mow straight lines across our long expanse of lawn. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it.
I see the neat rows of freshly cut grass growing with each trip across the yard. It is obvious when I miss a spot. As the strips freshly manicured section gets increasingly larger, I view my work with satisfaction.
Why do I enjoy this so much? It’s simple, really. For one, I get some quiet time of reflection without listening to kids bicker or ask me for snacks every five minutes. But second and perhaps more importantly, I see visible results.
I know when I haven’t done the job well because the results speak for themselves.
Other roles in my life are not this simple. They are complicated, and often leave me wondering whether I’m making an imprint.
I explain a complex subject to my six-year-old, but I’m not sure he understands. My husband and I make efforts to instill strong morals and character into our boys, but there are days when it seems as though everything we’ve been striving towards is falling apart.
On a bitter cold morning, I attempt to capture thoughts that go deep into the core of me on the page, but can’t quite grasp them. The cursor blinks mockingly and self-doubt creeps in before I’m able to type a single word. I wonder if I’m wasting my time.
I wonder if what I say resonates with anyone.
I see a pile of laundry looming in the corner and think, “Didn’t I just tackle that yesterday?” Before the day has even begun, thoughts of defeat overtake me.
Then, as God often does, he sends a reminder that strikes just the right chord. I realize my current state is temporary, but so much of me longs for the eternal.
My yearning for results often reflects a glory which will not be realized in this lifetime, but in the next.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
I am a planter of seed. I am a light in a temporary casting. I am a mere reflection of the One whose glory I will behold. A glory I long for so deeply at times it aches.
So often, I believe we become discouraged because it seems as though we are moving in circles. Saying the same things to our loved ones and kids over and over. Teaching the same lessons.
But friends, the truth is always worth repeating. People forget because it is their nature. We are still living in a flesh that continually pulls us away from what is true, what is eternal, what is lasting.
We continue to fight because the fight is worth it, even if we don’t see the result right away or even if this lifetime. We fight because we are more than conquerors through him who loved us first.
We long for that which we cannot see because of Him in whose image we were created.
Do not give up. Do not lose heart. You were made for more than anything this world has to offer.
As you lay your head on the pillow tonight, ask yourself this: Did I love? Did I open my arms in grace? Did I help someone who needed it?
If the answer to any one of those questions was yes, it was not in vain. Keep pressing forward, dear one. Your reward will be great.
Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.
When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
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.
***Plus, be sure to sign up for the Kelly Balarie & Friends Blog Posts via email. We have so many exciting things to say. Click here. And, you will be entered to win an Amazon gift card!
Have you ever felt like you went too far? That you were too vulnerable with someone? That you were standing right at the brink of feeling out of control? Wondering if you would be pushed over and taken advantage of?
We have all been in these situations.
Often, we share and open up, only to feel sorry we did, only to feel put down or only to feel a recipient of unwanted advice.
I understand. It can feel easy to want to hide, to cover our heads, to shut down, to close off, to get defensive and to self protect. I do these things all the time because sharing is risky. Being open is threatening. People’s responses are uncertain. It’s sometimes easier to stay on steady ground.
Standing completely open to another’s reactions, views and perceptions threatens to redefine who we are – or simply hurt us at our very core. It makes us feel like others hold control.
And, none of us like being acted upon – to feel unsure where things are going. It can feel too much to handle. Overwhelming. It’s much easier to avoid these situations by maintaining control.
This way, we can avoid doubt, self-reflection and feelings of inadequacy. We can avoid wondering if we will be accepted, judged or criticized. We can avoid worrying about others worrying about us. We can avoid worrying about being punished for our beliefs.
At the bottom of it all, we fear others, we fear ourselves and we fear we won’t be loved. We fear we are not good enough and others will know.
And, sometimes these fears feel justified. We remember what happened the last time we were in a position like this, we remember the result and we remember our feelings. It was hard. Painful. Damaging. So, when we come against it again, we stand afraid – ready to fight – or take flight. Either way, we know we aren’t going to be treated the same way as last time.
What are we to do? How are we to be honest, transparent and vulnerable with others when we constantly feel in fear? How can we move towards relationship without feeling like we need to move away?
God has been stirring up these questions in my heart lately. I know he wants me to see beyond fear, but often I wonder how. I am coming to the realization that I will never feel completely fearless with others; I will never feel completely safe based on who I am. It is impossible. We are all fallen.
And, I will never be completely good enough by my own merit, so if that is my goal – it is unattainable.
Only One makes us good enough, only One can be our refuge in a time of trouble, only One can be our rock when our ground is sinking and only One can be our hope when life is hopeless.
I know these things. I do. But, talk is cheap and the heart is what counts.
I don’t want to be a talking testimony; I want to be a walking testimony.
God sees my desire. He is opening my eyes. Gently, He is revealing truth – to change my perspective and to make me effective.
He captured my eye with just a couple words in His Word that made all the difference in my world.
The Lord said to me, “You are sealed.”
(He) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:22)
On face value, this may not appear the answer to all fear. But, these words have a powerful ripple effect that extends to the deepest levels of our hearts.
Why? Because being sealed means that we are enveloped in love. Like a letter wrapped in a sealed envelope, we are entirely covered above and below – wrapped by the ownership and power of the Holy Spirit. It covers us. Nothing can penetrate the seal or the mark of the Spirit.
Because we are in Him, our ultimate security is secure. We are sealed. Shut. Marked. Owned. Sent. Made right.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… (Eph. 1:13)
The King’s seal is on our hearts.
If he took the time to seal us, won’t he protect us? Guard us? Ensure we are ok? Help us forgive? Encourage us to speak his truth with love?
Afterall, we are his letter and words to all nations.
In this, we don’t have to live scared. If God stands with us, who in the world can ever stand against us (Ro. 8:31). At our deepest levels we are secure.
People can say or do what they are going to do, but it doesn’t matter, because the seal of the Spirit keeps us safe. Nothing can change that seal. The Spirit forever marks us.
And, when we have been marked, we have been marked as belonging to the Lord. We are united. One. He will help us. He will not abandon us. He knows us. He approves of us because of Him. We are protected.
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)
How could God destroy his very self?
Even if, in the moment, we are threatened – or at worst – taken advantage of, God always has the advantage. He always has a plan. He knows a way. He has a vision.
Do we trust Him?
We need not fear being hunted, threatened or hurt because – in the end – God will always be victorious. In fact, he already is. He has already won the battle. It is finished. Because of this, the battles of present day can lose their sting, because Jesus endured the ultimate sting.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jo. 19:30)
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Proverbs 15:1 A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)
I scurried into the store and made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.
There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”
I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”
Someone bigger than me got the better of me.
Just as the key verse from Proverbs states, the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.
What made her act that way? I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.
I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.
I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well. Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash. I didn’t necessarily like some of the tones played out in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.
But God does.
In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake. Needless to say, my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”
The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.
Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.
Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.
I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.
1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.
2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.
3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.
Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.
Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window, or a hysterical woman in a department store.
What about you? At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?