Purposeful Faith

Conquering Your Lack of Confidence

Today, I don’t feel like writing. Today, I don’t feel like I am that great. Or, that God has that much to say through me. Frankly, I am coming off an argument that hurt my heart. I’m still bothered by it.

So, what do I have to give you? I can hear all the reasons why I can’t… or I shouldn’t… or I‘ll never… They try to tell me to shut my computer down and to walk away from it all…

Ever been in a place like this?

In this place, there’s a very real and present inclination to agree with the enemy, who says, “Eh, just give up and don’t write today.”  So, there’s that. And, there is also the idea that I can just — carry on, anyway.

Carry on, even though I feel — “blah”.
Carry on and believe God can handle my imperfections.
Carry on and trust that God works in weakness.
Carry on and show up anyway.
Carry on and believe — His grace is more than enough.

Jesus carried on. He showed up on a war-torn earth. He obeyed Father God in the midst of shamers and religious accusers. He carried on with the cross, anyway — unto the point of death. And He, therefore — He brought life.

Our carrying-on may look like the death — of us, but, through Christ, it always brings life — to us (and others).

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jo. 11:25-26)

Jesus demonstrated life from death is not only for heaven, but can also be — on earth. Jesus, soon thereafter stating this, went on to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Death — took new life.

We must beware of letting emotions kill the very things that God has for us to work on. These small deaths can, day-after-day, mount up into huge losses. You may not feel ready..or equipped or good enough. Don’t worry about that.

Carrying on and showing up is part of the process of growing up. All false pretenses fall and we know it is God doing our best work, not us. See? In this place, all the glory goes to God, It wasn’t us, It was HIM!

Glory to God!

My encouragement to you today is: Press on no matter how you feel. Don’t look back. Don’t waver. Carry-on, anyway.  God will carry you. His grace lifts you above the fray. You’ll make it to a clear day (and I will too!) I love you all.

 

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What People Think

I put the broken sunglasses on anyway…even though I knew they’d sit crooked, even though they were broken. I guess you could say — I don’t care.

I don’t care what you think about me.

I don’t care if you give me a side-eye glance because one of the two arms are broken off and the glasses are becoming more vertical than horizontal.

I don’t care that I look odd and that you may be thinking weird things about me.

I don’t care, because I choose to be comfortable outside, more than to care about your inward thoughts towards me.  I don’t care because the only other pair of glasses I own are now lost in some other state.

So, I plop the crooked glasses on my face and confidently hop outside with the couple we’re having over. I don’t care. If you don’t love me because of — my sunglasses, you would have never loved me anyway…

After a bit of chatting and sitting, one of the guests looks at me. He says, “Kelly, your glasses are so ministering to me.”

Really? That’s odd. I’m intrigued now. I sit up and lean forward.

“It’s as if you are saying, ‘I don’t care’.” He explained.

It’s true.

I love you, but…
I don’t care about impressing you.
I don’t care if you think I am too much for Jesus.
I don’t care if you call me intense.
I don’t care if I look odd when I tell people how much God loves them.
I don’t care if I don’t do what everyone else does, because it leads my heart down wrong-paths.
I don’t care if you judge me because of how I look.
I don’t care if you think you have more bible knowledge or good theology than me.

I do not fear you, so I can love you. With this, more and more, do not care…

What I do care about is God and what He is calling me to. I care about love that is pure and without pretense. I care about authenticity and welcoming others to be real. I care about real connection, despite looks. I care about what God is really saying and doing and leading us into, as a family, much more than I do about appearances.

Although a growth process, one of my greatest joys has been God teaching me to — not care! Now I am free! This is life and boldness for the Kingdom of God — like no other.

God speaks the best words over me, so I don’t have to be controlled by yours.

What do you care far too much about? How might God be calling you to — throw up your arms to say, “I don’t care! By George, I don’t care anymore…!”

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ( 2 Cor. 3:17)

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Your Shield

Bam!  

Whatever hit my car — hit hard. It came out of nowhere. With no car ahead of me and only a couple of branches overhead, I couldn’t figure out where it came from.

But, what I did see, clear as a day, was the ding on my windshield.  What hit, left its mark.

Many of us, get hit this way. Something comes from out-of-nowhere and leaves a mark.

Conflicts. Bam!
Arguments. Bam!
Defeat. Bam!
Issues. Financial problems. Health issues. Rejection. Bam! Bam! Bam!

Any way you cut it, the damage feels real. It tears up your insides. It leaves you with regret. It makes you horribly sad. Now you’re looking around you, saying, “How did I end up here? Why is it so hard?”

I understand those feelings. What I also understand, is this:

“My God is my protection and with Him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; He defends me and keeps me safe.” (Ps. 18:2)

You know, I can’t help but think how that rock, or whatever it was that hit me, without a barrier, could have hit me far worse. It could have ripped open my leg or slammed into my face. It could have sent me to the hospital…that is…if a shield was not present. But a shield was present: a windshield.

God is our shield. We may not always see His cover, but His protection is real.

God shields us in ways we cannot conceive or perceive. As a Father, He protects His young. As a Shepherd, He leaves the 99 to chase down the one at-risk child. As the Deliverer, he invaded the world to save us from eternal death.

Yes, there is pain for a moment but our lifetime reward is greater. The damage appears bad, but God knows how to, miraculously, make good come — out of the horribly bad. The burden and pain is a bummer, but God prevents us from living eternally bummed-out. He works in these ways…

Just because you can’t see what God is doing, doesn’t mean He isn’t protecting, saving, helping or equipping you. It doesn’t mean that God’s best plan isn’t in motion. Just because you feel down, doesn’t mean you are really down. Christ says you are seated in the heavenlies, with Him (Eph. 2:6).

Your issues are not a summation of your spiritual worthiness. Break that lie right now. You are not summed-up by what is happening to you.

You are loved and you are protected. Kept and held. Wanted and chosen.

God is your shield. He is over you and all around you. He defends you, keeps you and guards you.

Rest encouraged. Take hope. God has you.

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In the Center of a Trial?

Daniel went straight into the lion’s den — and survived.

Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery —  only to later be made ruler of Egypt.

Job got almost everything taken away — only to end up MORE than restored.

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. .

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.” (Job. 42:10,12)

What you face today is not indicative of what God will do tomorrow. Some of you are facing battles of epic proportions. Giants that look stronger, bigger, and badder than anything you’ve ever faced. Issues that look like they will tumult your body.

While risking that I sound callous, I say, “So what?”

So what — that the people look mighty? So what — that the barrier looks huge? So what — that it seems impossible? So what — that you lost everything?

The God above it all can restore it all — in a split second. Never doubt that for a second. He can. He has. He will take care of you. He is: Provider, Rescuer, Redeemer, Restorer and Deliverer, and those facts will never change. It is who He is, how He operates and what He does. God is faithful.

I believe, God is not as concerned about what you see as you are. For He knows who He is and that His nature is true, always.

Does this mean you won’t experience pain for a moment? No. It means: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Cor. 4:17)

You will see a greater glory, no matter what. So don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. And don’t let your weak knees knock you out. God is faithful.

On another note: I need your advice?

Do you live in the Charlotte area? I am thinking about putting together a prayer/worship/speaking event in the area.

Reply back to this email with:

1. Would you want to attend?
2. Would you prefer a full-day or half-day?
3. Weekend or weeknight?
4. Any ideas on what you would like this event to include?
5. Any other blog posts, subjects or ideas that you have for me?

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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.


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