Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

What You Tolerate

The social media image said, “You get what you tolerate.”

I paused from scrolling for a second to ask myself questions: What have I been tolerating? Putting up with? Grinning, and bearing?

Scripture doesn’t say, “Tolerate the enemy.” It says, submit to God. Resist the enemy and he’ll flee. (Ja. 4:7)

Never once, did Jesus meet a person and say, “Oh, so you are struggling with sin? That’s okay. Not a big deal; grin and bear it.” Neither did He say, “So, you are feeling attacked? Just keep going, pretend that what you’re facing is not there and hang out with it for a while.”

No. We DO NOT tolerate attacks, bondage, lies or defeat. We do not give room for lesser things to overrule God’s great truth. We shut annoyances up and shut them down. Immediately, in the name of Jesus!!!

Never, ever, should we permit lesser lies to overrule our prominent position in Christ Jesus. We are dead to sin and alive to Christ! We do walk with a new nature! Nothing can take away what Christ has done for us…unless we allow our mind to agree with falsehoods. Or, we decide to ignorantly walk in sin.

With this, we must allow nothing to steal our identity in Christ Jesus.

Instead, we can choose to adamantly, radically, and furiously block lies, attacks, offenses, unforgiveness, bitterness, rejection and self-pity from redefining who we are. From morphing us into something or someone we are not.

To do this, we must disallow anything from putting separation between us and our first love.

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” (1 Jo. 5:21)

Because we are children of God.
Because we are eternally loved.
Because we are chosen.
Because we are called.
Because we are wanted.

Forever. And ever. And ever. And ever, more.

We are not slaves to fear. We are not defeated foes. We are not forgotten. We are not working to gain back ground. Or, trying to work around an angry father. We are not made to shirk or shrink back. We are not defined by the past. Or the sum of what others have said about us.

We are children. We have a dad who loves us. Who chose us. Who wants us. We have a Savior who died for us. A great path ahead of us. Nothing can stop us, in Christ Jesus.

Cast off whatever is entangling you. The enemy is a liar.

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“Ahh!!!!! Mommy Come!”

I heard the scream, but I didn’t react. Here is why: it was a crying-wolf situation. Her brother is always going in her room and she is always screaming at him. If I haven’t heard it once, I’ve heard it one-thousand times. I figured it was her yelling at him, and then at me, again. So, I kept on talking to my husband.

It wasn’t but a few minutes later my son shouted from the top of the stairs, “Mom. It is serious.”

I ran up there like the wind. And, there was my daughter, hair-attached to a dancing ballerina figure going round and round in her musical jewelry box. Her hair was getting eaten up in the circling wires of a rotating doll.

My girls’ face looked terrified. As if she was wondering, “Is this ballerina going to eat my whole head up?”

I got some scissors and, while she was still screaming, I cut her hair, where the demanding plastic figurine was devouring it.

Then she looked at me, with rejection in her eyes, and said, “I called for you, mommy. I screamed for you…and you didn’t come.”

My stomach sank into my chest (which makes no sense at all, but somehow this is exactly how it felt in the moment). The last thing I wanted my daughter to think was: Mommy is not there for me.

But, she was right. I wasn’t there for her.

Maybe people weren’t there for you either. Maybe they didn’t come when you needed them. They didn’t listen, when all you needed was a listening ear. They didn’t side with you, even though we were right. You were left screaming and crying, and rejected. Calling out for help, yet, fending for yourself.

I wish I could go back to turn-back time. But, I can’t. What I did is as done as done-is-done.

But, what I can do is trust that – in the gap of me being a good mom, God is a better dad.

Sometimes, in people letting us down, we can come to see how God holds us up. I pray my daughter might come to this realization. Because, I will never perfectly be there for her. I will never give her all she needs.

And, neither will people ever perfectly be there for us.

But, God always will be. God will always be perfectly there for us, if we just turn our face towards Him. If we let Him be.

Why not invite in God’s healing today? Into those places and spaces where people let you down, abandoned you or rejected you? There is a Father, much better than any earthly Father or Mother, who wants to love you whole-again.

 

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The Value We Don’t Realize

I had no idea that a hobby would teach me so much.

My son started collecting pennies. He is radical about it. He consistently wants to knock on our neighbor’s doors to ask if they have any spare pennies. And, this sounds odd, but, we actually ventured to a stranger’s house after posting on a community Facebook page that we were ‘in need’ of pennies. A kind soul answered. Not too long ago, we also brought a few of my dollars to the grocery store and exchanged them for penny rolls. He has a one-track mind, these days: Pennies. Pennies. Pennies.

Everywhere in the house, he spreads out coins, to examine them. We look for errors. Because errors mean “worth”.

After all, I know about pennies, and how much value they could potentially have, I can’t believe how carelessly I’ve treated the pennies, in the past. I’ve likely thrown out “worth”, tossed aside value, and given away a penny that could be worth hundreds, thousands, or even a million dollars.

The issue was: I didn’t know what I held.  Many of us don’t know: what we hold.

This is an issue, because: when we don’t know what we ‘hold’, we don’t value it.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)

I am a chosen race. I am a royal priesthood. I am a woman who is God’s possession.

When I forget these things, I forget the light of Christ in me. I throw out the beauty of Jesus in me.  I doubt my existence. I feel insecure. I shirk back under the pressure of what others think of me.

But, when I know what I hold? Then, I “proclaim the excellencies of him who has called me.” I shine. I share. I walk with a purpose. I am called-to-action. I am intentional. I am focused. I am on-fire.

What about you? Do you know the value of what is in you? Of Christ in you? Or, do you just trash it and toss it aside.

We are a prized possession of the High King. Let us not forget: we hold value.

On another note, as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I wanted to let you know that I was SO blessed to receive a free copy of The Jesus Bible, Artist Edition. I particularly loved the large margins on the side of the bible. It left me ample room to write notes. I am enjoying the commentaries from various biblical scholars. Just letting you all know in case any of you may be looking for a bible with wider-margins. It feels good to be able to keep a log of all the ways God is speaking through His word. I love looking back at my words, years later. For artists too – it may be a good investment.

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Weakness on Display

So, my husband and I joined a new gym and, really, we’re just trying to finish the workouts. After every workout I turn to him and say, “We did it, again!” Those words feel like victory.

The truth of the matters is we haven’t really worked out for months. We don’t have muscles yet.

Today, in the class, the instructor, seeing me struggling, called out, “Kelly, go down in weight.” During the workout, I also forgot what movement we were doing, more than once. I had to ask for help. While everyone else carried-on, he had to show me.

The reality is: I don’t have muscle yet, in the places where others do. And, I am still learning the moves.

Shame would have me hating the fact that I needed help. It would keep me, in pride, rather than in humility asking for help. Godliness, however, does the opposite. It frees me up to embrace my truth: I have muscles that aren’t there yet. I don’t really know entirely what I am doing. It’s okay to ask – for help.

I got the info I needed from the trainer and got back on track. I finished the workout, again!

Likewise, some of us, are afraid: to ask for help. We figure we have to show up on the first day looking like we have all the muscles that everyone else does. But, the truth is – some of our spiritual muscles are not formed yet.

We all learn at different times. We grow at different paces. We discover in certain seasons. Why do we hate ourselves for what muscles God has not grown? Why do we berate ourselves for what we haven’t yet figured out?

We can ask others for help, without shame – that we aren’t — there yet. What we are dealing with is not a hindering weakness, but a forthcoming strength – if we let it be.

Imagine what sort of growth could happen if we freely admitted our need, so that other’s learnings could become ours?  Might we grow 3 times faster, as we allowed someone else’s wisdom help us?  Might we divert pitfalls, ones where we get hurt, give-up or tire-out, as we let other sharpen us?

God gave us people to help; some of us need to allow the blessing – that is “another” – into our heart.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)

 

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When There’s No Seat for You

As I entered the restaurant, what seemed to be a million people scuffled around trying to find a table. Was there a table for me?

I spotted a row of empty tables lined up a corner. Great. There still is a place. People must have transitioned from these tables, after breakfast. So, I pulled what seemed like a 50-lb table away from the rest.

The restaurant was filling and filling, fast. I felt so grateful to have a place to sit. Adjusting my stuff, I heard someone call out loudly in the restaurant, “Excuse me.” I didn’t lookup. They couldn’t be talking to me.

Then, I heard it again. “Excuse me, mam!” I looked up, everyone staring at me.

“That table is reserved. You cannot sit there.” He screamed from a counter 20-feet away.

You are not good enough for that table.

Embarrassed, I stood. “Busted,” I hated that there wasn’t a “reserved” sign on the table. Caught, he just went back to his work. Wrong, I put my head down and walked away.

I was not good enough to sit at “that table”.

Kind of like the time I wasn’t good enough to sit at the special table with the special people because they were a little bit higher and more important than me. Or, when I wanted to be known and the ‘known-figure’ had no idea who in the world I was. Or, when I desired to be acknowledged for what I gave and people walked right past me to the next girl, the more popular one.

There is no place for you, Kelly, at the table.

“The table is not reserved for you – and it never will be. Scram!”

I went in the bathroom and cried.

I cried out to God, “Father, why is this hurting me so much? Why am I being triggered by a stupid table?”

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Ps. 23:5 ESV

It’s as if God said, “Kelly, it is not the reserved tables, where you want to be, but the table with me – where you will become free.”

I went outside and sat in my car. There, I ate some nuts from my purse and let Jesus love me whole again. It wasn’t a seat in that restaurant that was most favored or blessed. It was that seat in my car. God met me there. He encouraged my heart.

God’s seat is our best seat. Where He speaks and loves us is the place of wild wholeness.

Prayer: God, I want to be where you are. Help me to stop looking at other people’s place-settings. What you give me is good. It is good for my soul, my walk and my wholeness. Thank you for leading me in your love. Thank you for setting me aside and marking my holy. Thank you that my hurts, healed, are now being used for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Being There

Post By:  Kara Lawler

My morning shuffle takes about an hour, and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot of my school this morning, my cell phone rang.  It was my son’s teacher.  Not even an hour after I dropped him off for the day and headed to my job as a high school English teacher, he felt sick and wanted to come home. He specifically asked for me to come and get him.

I made arrangements at school and turned around to pick him up.  He had to wait for me because my school is 30 minutes from his, and when I did finally get there, he seemed like he just wanted to come home.  He had a belly ache and whispered to me, “I missed you.”  And he grabbed my hand.

We got home and I poured him a 7-up and got him a snack and as it seemed, he wasn’t all that sick after all.  I tried not to be annoyed and it was then, as I fought back my feelings of frustration, that I noticed his hands.  As he sat, eating the bagel and muffin he asked for, I watched his hands. For some reason, I couldn’t stop staring at his hands.

His face is thinning out and his neck is elongating.  When he crawls into my lap, I can feel ribs where I once only felt the cushion of a baby, toddler, boy.  His arms and legs are starting to form muscles, and he started to lose teeth this past fall.  All of his pants are suddenly too short, and his hair, once blonde, is growing darker by the day.  All of those facts are reminders that he’s growing up and will be seven this summer.  And while his hands have changed and thinned out, too, they still look like the hands of a little boy–my little boy.

And as I sat, watching him eat his bagel and wondering if he had just been hungry after all, his hands reminded me that he still needs his mama.  And for whatever reason, he needed to hold my hand today when he really should have been at school.  And for most of the day, we sat like that–his hand in mine.   I think it was just what the doctor ordered.

Later, he wrote me a poem to thank me for coming to get him because he knows words are the greatest gift for me.  As he gave me the poem, he told me his belly felt so much better when he saw me.  This boy who holds my heart in the palm of his hand wrote:

“You say you love me.
I love you more.
I love you 100+44.
You are my best friend. ”

And you know what?  Today, he just needed me, I guess.  And while I know this can’t continue (and we had that talk), I’m glad he knows I will come to him in his time of need.  My vocation is to be his mother, to hold his hand like Jesus holds both of ours.  I will hold his hand.  And while my job isn’t to be his best friend, it’s my greatest honor that he thinks I am, in the here and now.  It’s days like today that I will treasure when these hands turn into the hands of a man.

There’s nothing holier than holding the hands of those we love and sitting with them when they need us. I hope you take some extra time to hold hands with someone you love for just a bit longer. Holy, free for the taking.

*If you liked this story about staying grounded in the moment, you might like her new book, EVERYWHERE HOLY: Seeing Beauty, Remembering Your Identity, and Finding God Right Where You Areavailable now everywhere books are sold. www.everywhereholy.com

BIO:

Kara Lawler is a mother, wife, teacher who grew up in and lives again in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range.  Kara’s work has been featured in many media outlets and some of her essays have been read millions of times.   She has been married to her high school sweetheart for close to 18 years.   After struggling with depression and anxiety, Kara remembered and accepted her identity—the person God made her.  Kara loves children, animals, and drinks her coffee on her porch every morning, no matter the weather, so she can admire the mountain view and listen to her rooster, Henry, greet the dawn.

5 Tips When You are Tired of Waiting

I sat on the curb after practice, wondering, “Is mom ever going to come?” It was a particularly hard high school year. For one, my nose got hit with a field hockey stick. Even today, it sits a little crooked. And on this particular day, after all those sprints, shooting pains shot up my legs. I could hardly sit. Every position was agony. So with my teammates long gone, I moaned. Then, I replayed everything: the shots I didn’t make, the girls that were faster than me, and how I must have looked downright stupid.

Five minutes turned into twenty. Would she ever come?

Times of waiting are battles – the sense of “not knowing” compounds everything. Here, we tend to think, “If she isn’t there for me, God won’t be there either. I’m unworthy. I’ll be left behind. I brought on this problem. I’m stuck. Bound to fail. Surely, I’ll make a fool of myself again.”

I find it is here that old injuries, gut-wrenching feelings of abandonment, and age-old failures come back to attack. They often rob our faith.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder: If waiting times aren’t uncommon to Biblical men and women, why do I think they’ll be uncommon to me?

I mean, Sarah waited decades to have a baby. Blind people waited what probably felt like forever to be healed by Jesus. Mary waited while Jesus grew up. The other Mary waited for her brother Lazarus to get healed. Moses waited to get out of Egypt. Jesus waited decades to start His ministry, then about three years to die on the cross to defeat death.

Even in the worldly sense, waiting times have value. A delayed inheritance makes a son wise. A pregnant mother gives nine months time for the baby to grow. A toddler girl learns to swim before jumping in the deep end.

What if our times of waiting aren’t meant to torture us, but to grow us? And to prepare us for a greater land ahead?

“The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden… It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” (Deuteronomy 11:10, 12, NIV)

The new land has new terrain. New obstacles. New preparation is needed for that place.

Consider, if you want to adventure through new terrain, you must prepare for it. If you’re traveling over rocky ground, you need the right wheels. Perhaps an SUV. If you are climbing a new mountain, you need to have a harness, and one you trust. Waiting gives us time to prepare to go to the places God has planned for us.

We can wait well. Here are few ways to do just that:

One: Remember the cross.

Encourage yourself by saying, “Jesus’ sacrifice fully covers me and now protects me from any assaulting words of the enemy. Even if I don’t do things perfectly, through the sacrifice of Christ, I am hidden in Christ.”

Two: Reconsider who you are.

Think, “I am a daughter of the most-High King. He knows how to take care of me.”

Three: Reestablish who God is.

Say, “God is on my side. He will pull through for me, help me and rescue me. I can trust Him.”

Four: Remind yourself: Waiting ground is faith-proving ground.

Choose to delight in and dwell on the little blessings God gives day-to-day.

Five: Reflect on the learnings.

Encourage yourself by saying, “God, teach me what I need to know through this time of wait, so I can grow in faith.”

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The Right Perspective

I didn’t expect this to happen… I stood at the window and watched multiple birds land on the bird feeder. It was an almost empty feeder. With this, time after time, bird after bird, none of them were eating anything. They just figured there was nothing left for them. So, they landed on the rod and…flew off…

But, one was different. He stuck his head in — and then — he got all the remaining food. He just sat there eating up what everyone else couldn’t see. Simply because he reached in…

I think a lot of us have lost hope. We have sort of given up on believing like we did before. So, we don’t reach up to heaven to pray anymore… We just sit there, and — worry, stress or fear…

But, for those who reach-deep and reach-up to God, who keep believing in “God’s more” and who keep seeking– they are the ones who find the bread of life.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

Remember when I prayed for so many of you weeks ago? God did breakthrough. For one, someone got miraculous transportation provided for her ministry.

Do not give up on prayer. God hears.

I was just reading this morning in 1 Kings 19 that Elijah prayed seven times — seven times!! — for rain. Even Jesus prayed more than once for the “man who saw trees.”

Just because you haven’t seen it — doesn’t mean you won’t. All is not hopeless. Keep persevering in prayer. God hears. It may not be on prayer #1, but on prayer #8 that breakthrough finally comes.

Persist. God is faithful.

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The Greatest Thing

“The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

Who is God calling you to love?

Love is not always simple. Love costs something. Love is paramount in God’s Kingdom. It makes up the pinnacle moments in our life.

We tend to think it is what we’ve obtained. A level or a status. A house and some stuff to pass down to our kids. A good sense of self. A fine and respectable status amongst men. God conveys, “Nope. It’s love.”

Love me with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

Everything else is peripheral; love is the main thing.

Who are you loving? Who is God calling you to more greatly love? Don’t fear the outcome.

The outcome belongs to the Lord. The out-working work of love belongs to us.

And, it starts with us and God in the quiet. In the reality of what we face. In the truth of our heart. In the call of our soul.

Us, looking up to Him. Him, pouring out the love, grace, and mercy we so desperately need. We look-up. He pours down. We go out. He gives us the love to hand-out.

Are you making time for God’s love to so work in you that it flows out of you?

It’s a worthy question. Because the greatest of all things, the most enduring — of all things — is love.

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How to Change Our Focus to See God

For years, I didn’t realize I viewed God through a lens distorted by lies and half-truths. I lived as though he withheld something from me, and spent my days trying to measure up to some invisible standard.

I was kicked out of a private Christian school during my senior year, and I adopted the belief that God wasn’t happy with me unless I followed a rigid set of rules. Since I knew there was no way I could possibly measure up, I broke the rules instead of trying to follow them. I didn’t see how tired and angry I was toward God and the church until years later, when God removed me from everything familiar.

To shift our perspective, God often takes us out of the place where we’re comfortable.

This is what he did with me as a newlywed, when my husband and I moved over two thousand miles away from my hometown. The reason we saw was a job opportunity, but God’s reasons were quite different. He wanted to transform my thinking, and he knew a drastic life change would push me to seek him like never before.

For months after the move, I faced culture shock. The area of Utah where we lived was beautiful, with snow-capped mountains and an endless skyline. But the predominant beliefs were different than the “Bible Belt” area where I grew up. The stark contrasts forced me to ask myself, “What do I believe? Who is God, anyway, and what does he want from me?” When I discovered we were expecting our first child, my determination to find a firm foundation and belief system became even more crucial.

In the four years we lived on the Wasatch Front, I discovered many things I didn’t expect about God. He led me to books, friends, and a home church where I became grounded in truth.

But there’s one truth that continues to transform me today as I discover its vastness: God wants my joy.

As a matter of fact, before his brutal death, he prayed for each of us to experience it. Full and without measure. Not was the world perceives it- as the result of something we do or achieve, but a direct fruit of his Spirit in us.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13 NIV

If we think God is withholding something from us, our actions will reflect it, and its effects will cascade into every aspect of our lives. But if we view him through the lens of his grace, we will experience joy and peace. Every good thing we have is because of him. He doesn’t want our perfection, but our love and trust. This is what transforms lives, not endless to-do lists.

Instead of asking, “What is God withholding from me,” we can ask, “What has he given me?”

Rather than clench our hands with worry, we can open them with confidence that he’ll act out of his love and goodness.

When I became honest with myself after years of running from God, I realized I made a lot of poor choices in my early adult life. But God, being rich in mercy, protected me from a life of regret. My bitterness over addiction and codependency in my family turned to prayers for their release from bondage. My thinking shifted from being me-centered to others-centered.

God is still working on me, and he won’t be finished until his return. But as his Spirit continues to transform my thinking, my view of him is clearer.

Each day he shows me see that we don’t have to wait until we’re fully transformed or perfect to witness his hand. We can see it right here.

Sometimes, we just have to adjust our lens and change the way we look for God. We have to alter the ways we view him and uncover lies we believe. This is the journey I invite you to take with me. Will you join me?

_____________________________________________________________________________

Is there an area of your life where you want to see God, but can’t? Perhaps you had a clear sense of his purpose and will in your life at the begi

nning of your journey with him, but it’s become blurred and foggy.

If that person is you, I wrote my new book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, for you. What I discovered is that we don’t have to wait until we’re on the othe

r side of the struggle or mess to see God. But if we want to see him, we have to change the way we look for him. Let’s do this in 2020.

If you preorder Shift today, you will receive several freebies, including a gorgeous “Forward-Moving Faith” printable and the first three chapters for immediate download. You can order right here, and claim your freebies here!

 

About the Author:

Abby McDonald is also a writer, speaker, wife, and mom whose work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, Crosswalk, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a BA in English from the University of South Carolina and teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences each year. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at abbymcdonald.org.