Purposeful Faith

Tag - fear

Moving Into The Scary

Moving Into The Scary

Do you trust yourself? I mean, really, trust yourself?

I have noticed a little trend in my house. My son asks me for something, I clearly say no and then he asks me again and again until I say yes. Feeling frustrated that I gave in, I ask myself, “Why can’t I hold firm?”

Underneath it all, I know it is because I doubt my decision. I fear that my direction is all wrong, that he will suffer as a result and that things will not work out in my favor.

This kind of thinking is not isolated to parenting. In many arenas of life, I ask myself:

Will people want to move with me if I am honest?
Will they get angry if I tell the truth?
What will they think of me if I am real to me?
How will things play out if I take a hard stand?

This gets me to wondering, what would happen if I happened to stand in the shoes of John the baptist, or rather, in the water with him? As I stood there, face-to-face with Jesus, looking into his eyes, him standing before me, would I repeat the same words as John?

“I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” Mt. 3:14  

Absolutely, I would!

But, the real question is-how would I respond when Jesus replied, “Let it be…? Mt. 3:15

Would I argue with him? “But Jesus,
I really am just this sinner who has no right to honor you in this way?”

Would I laugh and hand the baton to someone else saying,
“I don’t want to be responsible if things don’t go well”?

Would I baptize but be filled with grief
that I am not performing up to the standards of – ahem – God?!

Would I put his body under, yet miss the moment,
because I was filled with anxiety?

When we live unsure of our calling, we miss the chance to live it.

I praise God that John was obedient, submissive and honoring to the will of God, despite his flaws.

When we live questioning our abilities, we live by inability.

Yet, because John listened, Jesus was able to display incredible humility, submissive honor to God and a relatable human-nature that is touching to see.

When we letting our minds pull us around on a leash, we live chained like a dog.

John received an honor that no one in the whole world would ever have, only because he accepted.

Do you act decisively and accept the gifts of God
or do you run, skip and hike over them, landing on safer ground?

One who answers the call of God, has an opportunity to hear the incredible and sees the unthinkable. Taking a step towards his will, means taking a step towards his heart.

The result is sometimes unexplainable:

At that moment heaven was opened, and (Jesus) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mt. 3:16-17

Could you imagine the honor John must have felt to be a part of this extravaganza? Can you imagine the heart-pumping honor it would be to watch the literal presence of God, the Spirit, descend like a dove? Can you imagine the million little light bulbs that would be flashing in your mind as you heard the approval that God grants over his beloved children? 

I praise God that John basically said, “This is me. I am unsaintly, perhaps unsightly, unable and unworthy to have this honor, but if God is entrusting it to me, I will do it anyway.”

How often should we speak the same to our self? “This is me. I am unsaintly, perhaps unsightly, unable and unworthy to have this honor, but if God is entrusting it to me, I will do it anyway.”

What glorious unveiling may we be walking into-and not even know?

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10 Things The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Know

The Devil Doesn't Want

I knew where I needed to go and I was laser-focused on my goal. I was running hard, pushing with the endurance and perseverance that God calls for, until…

…until I hit a little snag in the road. Until I started to feel like all the goodness I had been orchestrating with God was anything but that. Like the project at hand was really going to be the project that lost.

I started to say things to myself like:

I am going to fail.
No one really cares about this goal.
My progress is short-lived.
God won’t help me
This is going to stink.

If I have learned one thing, over my small life-span as a Christian, it is this: When the red flags of doubt and discouragement start waving, we can be sure that we stand on the starting line of the devil. He loves to send us off on a race of futility.

Where do you stand?

Are you listening to his mumbles, messages and mixed up words of defeat
or are you listening to God’s powerful words of “I am with you?”

10 Things The Devil Doesn’t Want You To Know
(and what God does)

1. You must fight to win in this thing called life. Work hard and do your best and some day you may be good enough.

Truth: You already have the victory in Christ Jesus. Step out and act like you believe it.

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb… Rev. 12:11

2. You have no identity. Find it in other things: work, men, partying, affairs, perfectionism, etc. If you can’t find it, there’s another way-simply, numb the feelings with suppression of feelings, food, alcohol, and drugs.

Truth: Your security in Christ’s plan is more stable than the cross that Jesus died on.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. Gal. 2:20

3. You are not forgiven. That thing will mark you forever.

Truth: The second you repent, your sins fall off of you faster than you can say “I can’t forgive myself.” Your sins are moved as far as the east is from the west, to the depths of the sea, where they are counted no more and where there is no charge against you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9

4. God doesn’t guide people like you. He abandons the poor and powerless on the curb of unloved.

Truth: Sinners are God’s greatest calling.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Lu. 5:32

5. It’s fine if you know God’s Word, but you can’t know God’s love. Then your heart may take flight and seek to live it in all you do. Can’t have that!

Truth: There is no fear in love. Find love, find faith. Find love, find peace. Find love, find grace.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13

6. It’s all about your needs. YOLO and FOMO rule!

You only live once (YOLO) so do whatever makes you feel good, no matter the cost.

Be fearful of missing out (FOMO). Overextend yourself so you can never overjoy your heart in the overflowing peace of God.

Truth: Moving at high speeds only serves to move us away from our first love.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Ps. 62:5

7. Walk by feelings, not by faith. Feelings make you feel good, so why not follow their leadings?

Truth: You can sidestep discouragement and despair by walking around feelings to solely stand on the rock of God’s promises. Believe only what God says about you and you will not be shaken.

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. Deut. 32:4

8. Live in the past. Dwell on your pain, keep the band-aids of injured on, be angry, irritated and a hoarder of all the things and people that hurt you. Remember, so that you can live guarded, hardened and resistant to others.

Truth: Today is the only day we presently have. If we live in yesterday, we miss the gift of now, which is the only working ground for real life transformation.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Is. 43:18

9. Fear everything. Look at life as a catastrophe on the near verge of exploding death and to imploding your dreams. You will walk stifled and baffled at how you are getting nowhere. You will tread in the currents of failure and be no threat to me.

Truth: God is more with you than the hairs on your head.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6

10. God saved you for eternity, but he doesn’t save on earth. God is only good for getting you through the heavenly gates, then you are stuck exposed, crazy and delusional in this dank and dark world. Good luck out there. I am coming to get you.

Truth: He will run to arm you with the protection of his love.

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. Ps. 91:14-15

Stand bold. Stand firm. Stand on truth. God always holds all power. He loves us and is our greatest advocate.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20

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Loving Past Our Fears

Loving Past Our Fears

How do you press in to relationships that are hard?

How do you let your heart show up
when it has the inclination to run?

How do you push past fears,
when God is calling you to a great,
but difficult, mission?

Author, Jill Lynn Buteyn faced questions like these as endured with friend and blogger, Kara Tippetts, as she travelled a painful road from life to death to terminal cancer.

What a story! I couldn’t be more delighted today to welcome Jill to Purposeful Faith today for an interview as she teaches us a lesson on loving, listening and just showing up.  Welcome Jill!

Kara&Friends_00621. What moments and memories of Kara do you hold closest to your heart?  

Kara had such a great sense of humor. I don’t know if I remember really big moments as much as I just remember laughing and joking around.  It was a joy to be with her.

She would still ask questions of her friends—about our marriages, our families. One night I stayed with her in the hospital and when she woke in the middle of the night, she asked me who was checking on a friend of ours who had moved away.

Many of my memories revolve around her being sick—she was sick much of the time that I knew her. But we still talked deeply and celebrated life. 

2. How do you “Just Show Up” to be present with someone in the face of pain, difficulties and hard times?

Often the reason we aren’t there for someone who’s in pain or sick is because we fear we won’t know what to do or say. These are legitimate fears, but if we can fight through them (and we delve into some details about this in the book to help) there are so many blessings to be found when we walk through hard with each other. I would tell them to take a step toward a friend… to start somewhere, maybe with something small, and watch for the blessings God has planned.

3. What tangible steps might you give to help others overcome their fears?

Ask God for help, to show you what you can do and how to help someone else. If you fear entering into community, you might need to start slowly. That’s okay. Just taking a step toward others is such a huge thing. It’s lonely without community. Try to find a few safe people to grow friendships with. And in terms of fearing how to be there for someone who’s sick or in pain, a good place to start is in simply choosing them. Decide that you’re in, even if you’re afraid, and that you’re going to make movement toward them. Lean in. Don’t head in the other direction. Honestly, that’s where it starts. It can be scary getting in the trenches with someone, but it gets easier the more you do it.

4. What bible verse provided you comfort and how did it come alive in your life?

My favorite is Isaiah 41:10. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

I love this verse because it’s all about HIS strength and not mine. He’s holding me up. The picture this paints is such a comfort to me, and I constantly have to remind myself that it’s not about what I can do but what HE’s going to do.

5. What fears did you hit during this period and as you wrote the book, “Just Show Up”?

Well, I am exceptionally good at fear. Ha! Not something one wants to brag about. I was afraid people wouldn’t want to read what I had to say—that they’d only want to hear from Kara. She was beloved, and for good reason. It was hard for me to think someone might pick up the book wanting to read only from Kara. Though really, people obviously know it’s written by both of us, so I’m not sure why that fear gained so much traction.

The phrase that would often go through my head was, Lord, let me be enough. I feared me and my writing wouldn’t be enough. And God never failed to ask me, for whom? He reminded me I only needed to be enough for him, and I already was because of what he’d done for me.

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About Jill Buteyn

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 4.25.15 AMJill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). A recipient of the ACFW Genesis award for her fiction work, she has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children.
Connect with her on social media, at Jill-Lynn.com, or at MundaneFaithfulness.com where she guest blogs.

6 Ways to Find Refuge When Finances Tumble

Ways to find Refuge

What do you do when finances take a hard swing, threatening to tumble all you have built in about a split second? What do you when the force of debt, loans and goods become the wrecking ball to a once-sturdy foundation of security?

Dire finances can pull apart a foundation of hope. They can crash into established dreams. They can bulldoze temples of peace shining for the Lord – if one is not careful.

Is your bank balance dictating your emotional balance or
is your great God balancing your mind with his never wavering foundation of his truth?

God knows this trial is not easy and I love how he loves us. He gives us a helping hand when obligation seem to rise higher than our devotion.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea… Ps. 46:1-3

If you are in need of help, God is your run-to-the-rescue deliverer. He offers incredible-Hulk-like strength. He brings an I-will-not-fear mindset.  With God, the-world-can-fall-around but theology still remains sturdy and steady.

Do you find refuge in God
to find God’s rescuing and aiding help?

6 Ways to Find Refuge:

1. Dwell in the presence of God with you and for you.
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge…” (Psa. 73:28).

2. Find the goodness of the Lord, amidst the harshness of the world.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;  (Ps. 36:7-8)

3. Love the one with the power to protect you.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”  and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him (Ps. 91)…

4. Continually dialogue with the only one with the real power to save.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:8

5. Confess your wrongs and find freedom.
The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned. Ps. 34:22

6. Be confident in the one who has all control.
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. Prov. 14:26

God blesses those who take refuge:

They drink the river of God’s delights (Psalm 36:8-9).
No harm will hit (Ps. 91).
Protection will come (Ps. 91).
They find help (Ps. 46).
No disaster will arrive. (Ps. 91).
Angels guard. (Ps. 91).
Praises abound (Ps. 91).
Big enemies are beaten (Ps. 91).
Lifted on a rock (Ps. 27).
Find safety (Prov. 18:10).

Refuge is one who sits in the center of God’s heart.
He finds all he needs from the pulse of God’s truth.
All his hope is from the promise of God’s security.
All his courage from the picture of what awaits.
It is not always found on earth, but it is always promised in heaven.
There is no fear for this one because he sits next to the throne of the one in control.
He is with the God who promises to be for him and with him.
He trusts the one whose hand rules all the details of his life – and he feels at ease.
​Refuge lays his head on the shoulder of his first love, waits and expects to receive goodness.

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The Best Way Out of Fear

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

All I wanted him to do was pedal.

I pleaded and coerced, ran behind the bike and offered words of encouragement.

“You can do this. You know how. Just keep going.”

But as soon as I let go of the seat, his feet went down. Every time, without fail. And as much as I tried to hide my frustration, I knew it was as obvious as the sweat gleaming on my face.

I wanted him to succeed at this, but I couldn’t do it for him.

We put the bike away for a few weeks and he went back to racing his Dodge Viper around the cul-de-sac. Yes, my six-year-old was driving a nicer car than his Mama, complete with a rechargeable battery, radio and gear shift.

Little brother rode shotgun, occasionally grabbing the wheel and crashing the car into the overgrown flowerbed. A loud mixture of laughter and aggravated shouts poured out of the vehicle.

I buried myself in my latest copy of Hello, Darling and told myself the training wheels would come off eventually. He wouldn’t start high school with them on, right?

Skimming over the pages, one article grabbed me. The authors, both child psychologists, were talking about fear. Yes, this was what I needed. Some sound advice from those who understood how the mind of a child worked.

Their advice? Tell him it was okay to be afraid. Tell him it was okay, but he had to walk through it.

In the words of my favorite poet, Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”

Yet so often instead of confronting the fear, we want to run and hide.

I know. I’m an expert, and I’m sure my son’s behavior was modeled after his mom, the master hider.

When we hide from our fears we do nothing but fuel them.

When we confront them head on and walk through them, we expose them for what they really are: lies. And the father of lies would like nothing more than for us to live life cowering behind a self-made façade of what-ifs.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV

The following day I sat down with my son and the mid-summer heat.

“Hey buddy, you want to give the bike a try again?”

“No.”

He didn’t elaborate.

“Why not?”

He paused, considering his answer.

“Because I don’t want to fall again,” he said in all honesty.

I looked him straight in the eyes and silently prayed my words would sink in.

“Buddy, it’s okay to be afraid. But it’s not okay not to try.”

He stood there, thinking about my words and taking his time. Then he turned on his heels and ran toward the garage, not waiting for me to follow him.

That evening, my son rode his bike without training wheels for the first time. His joy was contagious, and within hours he couldn’t even remember why he was scared.

As I stood there watching, God pressed his message on my heart. While fear of the unknown was as certain as the sunset, my response to it didn’t have to be.

Sometimes we just have to do it afraid.

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*photo credit

Guest Contributor Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly   pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Are You Stuck Waiting?

Waiting for Help

I could feel it – but I didn’t want to “feel” it. I didn’t want to deal. I didn’t have time for it.

I was too busy living days of baby insanity –
coping with a screamer who didn’t know night from day or day from night,
that mom sometimes needs 5-minutes without high-pitched wails and
that spit-up is actually the worst kind of perfume.

Babies don’t get all that.

So, even though my legs were going numb and my vision was faltering, I ignored it. Even though it seemed I was wearing 3-D checkerboard glasses of black & white, I said, “Plug on! Mamma, ain’t got time for that.”

Pull, it together, body, you can do it. We have feedings, poopings and sleepings to handle. 

But, as avoidance always does, it catches up; it grabs an just an inch of your leg and doesn’t let go.  It always leaves you with the stark reality of all that is happening and a feeling that you won’t survive.

The words Multiple Sclerosis hit me like a freight train. I longed for those spaces of denial once again. Safe spaces. Known spaces. Comfortable spaces. But, I found myself in hated spaces – waiting rooms.

My waiting rooms turned into fearing rooms with cool magazines and no windows.

My waiting rooms turned into holding cells where worst-case dreams come true.

My waiting rooms turned into agony for ones who hate being hurt.

And, the thing about waiting rooms, is they don’t have to be windowless to trap you. They don’t have to be small to make you claustrophobic with the thought you will never breathe the same again.

I waited to be tested to see if I was going to spend a good part of my life in a wheelchair, to see if the face of my life would be forever changed and tested by God for who knows why.

I wanted to say, “I trust you,” but all I could mutter was “set me free.”  
I wanted to say, “your will be done,” but all I could think was “change my situation.”
I wanted to say, “help all the other people with issues that sit around me,” but I could only whisper “get me out of this torture chamber.”  

Aren’t we all stuck in a place of wait – in one way or another? 

Waiting.
Waiting for a cure.
A release.
A pain to go away.
Deliverance from finances.
A Job Solution.
Children Worries.
Fears.
Family dysfunction.
Relationships.
A legal issue.
An unreachable dream.
A let down.

We are all waiting.

Our waiting rooms can make us feel like an imposition, relying on a paper prescription, that keeps us focused on our affliction. Our waiting rooms seem to hold us captive by an assailant who says, “You will never come through. I will get you.” Our waiting rooms become fights against life, where we always become the projected loser.

What do you when everything is breaking?

When your very body can’t seem to deal with life?

For me, my screaming baby midnight hall walks, turned into screaming midnight baby prayer talks. I called from the depths of my heart for a “great fixing” of all that was wrong. So did my husband, so did countless others.

Sometimes, all you have left to do is pray.

And, sometimes, all you needed to do was pray.

Prayer opens the waiting room door to the Great Physician.

His healing work may not always bind up broken bodies,
but it is always binds up broken hearts.

His surgeries always work,
always bring newness, always surface peace.

His work turns fearing rooms into hoping rooms –
because he clears new room for love.

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 Jo. 4:18

My doctors were positive of MS.  My symptoms said yes, but test after test after test – after multiple MRI’s – they still couldn’t fully diagnose me.   So, what was a certain reality, became certainly “not MS.”

God hears prayers. Miracles can – and sometimes do – happen.  But, sometimes the greatest miracle is not the answer to the prayer, but God’s answer in to what plagued our heart. 

He always goes for the greatest healing.

So, don’t give up because you think the great physician has left the office.
Don’t give up because you feel forgotten.
Don’t give up because he is attending to others first.
God has the perfect course of action for you.
He hasn’t forgotten you.
He asks you, will you trust me?
Will you believe that in this wait I have something amazing for you?

And, as we do, he does something amazing.

He changes it all.

Our fearing rooms turn into trusting rooms.
Our holding cells turn into praying cells.
And, our fear turns into a deep knowledge God is near.

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A Moment We All Need to Give Ourselves

A Moment We All Need

Occasionally you meet a person you know is an instant friend. Location doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t care and methods of communication aren’t valid – what you know is that this one counts for something. This is how I feel about Rachel Macy Stafford. She shines all things pure and beautiful and it is my delight to know and love her.

R.Stafford headshot

In other exciting news, Rachel’s latest book, HANDS FREE LIFE, has permanently marked my heart with awe-inspiring and heartfelt life change. I feel my life going from bouncy ball crazy, to focused and intentional. I feel my attention moving from scattered to attentive. I feel my heart charging from empty to full again.  I feel grace speaking, rather than condemnation. This book has reserved a permanent spot on my bookshelf of “keepers;” I will be referencing her words for my whole life, I know that. Thank you Rachel, just thank you. I feel your love in this book.

Welcome to Purposeful Faith as a guest contributor for a day.

Post by: Rachel Macy Stafford

Understandably, many people want to talk to me about distraction. More specifically, they want to tell me about the distraction incidents they witness in their neighborhoods, at restaurants, parks, and sporting events. They want to tell me about the texting drivers sitting next to them at stoplights. Many well-intentioned people want to tell me how sad it makes them feel to see distracted people oblivious to their loved ones.

I must admit, these comments make me uncomfortable.

My mission for sharing my Hands Free journey is not to bash the distracted people of the world. My mission for sharing this journey is to bring awareness … namely, self-awareness … the kind of self-awareness I was lacking a few years ago.

Because you see, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about where I came from.

I was that distracted person oblivious to her loved ones.

I was that distracted person texting at stoplights.

I was that distracted person who made excuses as to why I was too busy to spend quality time with my family.

I was that distracted person who couldn’t see my beautiful life slipping right through my busy little fingers.

But I can assure you the judgment was harsh. The judgment was cruel. It was downright unbearable at times. But this condemnation didn’t come from an outside observer, well-meaning friend, or loving companion. Oh no, this ridicule came directly from me.

If you have read my “About Hands Free” page then you know that taking an honest look at the way I was living (or more accurately, not living) was a necessary step in my Hands Free life transformation. In fact, meaningful efforts to let go of distraction would have never happened (or lasted) without honestly evaluating the cost of my distraction.

But despite the fact that assessing my behavior was a vital step in changing my distracted ways, living in regret was not. I’ve come to realize that continually berating myself over what I missed is a waste of precious time. Self-forgiveness and healing have been just as much a part of this journey as my difficult truths.

But every now and then I get waves of remembrance—a taste of “life overwhelmed”, just enough to sting me, just enough to bring tears to my eyes.

It happened the other day. I’d stayed up too late working the night before. I had several deadlines to meet, and I was not as close as I hoped on any of them. I needed to get the kids to a swim meet. We were late. I was tired. The word “Mama” began every single sentence that came from my children’s lips whether I was actually needed or not.

And there I stood in front of the pantry, unable to remember what I came there to get. Part of me wanted to shut the door to that little space, huddle under the boxes of Fiber One cereal, and cry.

That’s when I heard it.

That voice.

It didn’t use the exact phrase that originated in the years of my highly distracted life, but it came painfully close.

“You are a bad mom” was the token phrase my inner bully liked to hiss during my highly distracted years whenever I felt like I was falling short in the parenting department. I’d almost forgotten I used to say such hurtful things to myself.

But then again, I don’t think I will ever completely forget.

I gave up on whatever it was that I intended to get from the pantry and told my children I needed a moment. I went to my bedroom and turned on my fan for soothing white noise and began reminding myself.

I reminded myself that The One who loves me, The One who took my hand and placed me on this transformative journey, still loves me even when I fail miserably.

I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that even the “best” parents have their moments of self-doubt and frustration.

I reminded myself of how I reacted when a tornado came scarily close to our house. It was the day I realized the fierce love I have for my family outweighs my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections.

I would run through fire to spare them.

I would beg kidnappers to take me in order to free them.

I would offer my plasma, my organs, and every single one of my limbs to save them.

I would sacrifice my life without hesitation, without question, if it meant allowing my loved ones to live.

Even in my most distracted, overtired, stressed-out state, my fierce love for my family is always ready, willing, and able.

Once I was finished reminding myself of these important things, I said a prayer of thanks and released a heavy sigh. I centered my disheveled, puffy-eyed self directly in front of the bathroom mirror and said one word.

“Grace.”

As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.

DSC_0509 (1)

A few minutes later, my children and I were on our way to the swim meet. I turned on one of our favorite songs, which beautifully articulates the value of human scars and imperfections. I felt a slight smile come to my lips as I listened to my children belt out the chorus from the backseat:

“These bruises,
Makes for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
I
t’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”

~Train

I suddenly feel better.
I just needed a moment.|
Don’t we all?

I think we all do—at some point in our day … our week …  our life—need a moment.

And so when I hear someone describing the unbecoming behavior of a distracted person, I cannot join in the condemnation. I once was that person and remain a work-in-progress.  And that is okay. That is human.

The other day, someone I love and respect as a parent and human being said something powerful to me. My mother said, “Rachel, even at your most distracted, you were always a good parent.”

With those words, the divine light of forgiveness shined like a beacon for my misdirected soul.

Even on days when I can’t tear myself away from my distractions …

Even on days when I overreact over something trivial …

Even on days that I obsess over bulges and wrinkles and things that don’t matter one bit in the end …

Even on days when I want to lock myself in the pantry and weep …

Even on days when I am at my worst,
I remain that person who would sacrifice her life
to spare her loved ones from pain and tragedy.

Perhaps you know someone who would make the same sacrifice. I bet you do.

So when you see that less-than-perfect woman or man staring back at you in the mirror … or the one at the restaurant who can’t quite seem to put down the phone and see the gifts in front of him or her … I ask that you extend grace, rather than judgment.

We are not the sum of our distractions.

Sometimes we just need a moment.

And every moment is a chance to start anew.

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BIO:

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Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of www.handsfreemama.com where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA. Her highly anticipated book, HANDS FREE LIFE, releases in one week! It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to live better and love more despite the daily distractions and pressures that try to pull us away.

 

Those who pre-order Unsaved Preview DocumentHANDS FREE LIFE from now
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Why You Lack Friends

lack friends

You talk too much. Alone.
Your words are simply dissertation on yourself. Alone.
You judge others. Alone.
You live too far. Alone.
You make me feel uncomfortable. Alone.
You don’t go deep enough. Alone.
You are a square peg in the round hole that I have designed for my ideal friend. Alone.
You are only free when I am busy. Alone.
You just didn’t end up being who I wanted you to be. Alone.

No wonder I lack friends right now.

I never intended to feel so isolated and so absent of peace in the friend category, but this is what happens when your standards are higher than Mount Everest, when busyness takes precedence over connectedness and when people become more burden over blessings.

I kind of know it is my fault. I do. I have forgotten the fact that unity, relationships and bonds are a calling. When you are called to something, sometimes the jog over to the destination is a bumpy road filled with pot-holes, but all the same – you go the distance – for God.

God will always give the “go,” when all appears impossible. We simply rely on him and he shows us His way.

I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.… Eph. 4:2

Paul tells us we can do it.

We can walk like people who know, in the end,
their God will take care of them.

We can go in humility, making way for people’s weaknesses. What better way is there to show someone you love them?

We can show tolerance – loving others just as they are, exactly as they are. What better way is there to confirm to our heart that God loves us just the same way?

We can show patience that excuses the mishaps that drive us nuts. What better way is there to become a person that doesn’t drive others nuts with high demands?

We preserve the unity of the Spirit knowing that if this person is a brother or sister in Christ we are bonded forever. What better cause for celebration and unity is there?

The result is staggering. It feels worthy of a jump-up-and-down celebration and a big victory arm raise to my bond-decayed heart: God bonds me over again with his bond of peace.

What is better than that? Suddenly, what looks fallen apart has hope for being pulled back together again.

It’s making sense. While I thought peace was found by running from the horribly unpeaceful, I’m seeing, sometimes, it’s about submitting to the seemingly awful.  As we release our high demands, our relationships fall into better hands. Hands that heal, rather than steal our joy.

Friendships aren’t just about me; I am learning. It seems obvious, but sometimes it can be, oh, so hard.

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Linking with #FiveMinuteFriday and #DanceWithJesus.

It Is Not My Fault

Not my Fault

This was kind of a thing in my house. If something went missing into the great abyss and you were at that point (you know, the one where your ready to pull out every last hair), the accusations would start flying.

Suddenly, all people in the house became, not family members, but culprits.  Bad guys, not common blood. Offenders, not friends – who should be charged, judged and accused. Suspicions would run high. Who misplaced that item?

Why is it so easy to point the finger?
To blame?
To say something like, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

I at because of him!
It wasn’t me!
You see that bite in the apple? Not may fault!
Him! That one! Look over there.
Blame him.

We hunt for relief from our shame, a shelter from the burden, a hope that we don’t have to carry its load. Can I offload on you?

God’s big lesson is less in Eve’s response and more in his question, “What is this you have done?” Gen. 3:13

He knew what she did, but wanted her to know too.

Hitting a hard realization, often pushes us away from immediate rationalizations.

Knowing he sees us, is knowing we can’t pull a fast one on the great one.

The beginning of recommission, often starts at admission.

In fact, just hearing his voice – and answering it – makes us immediately aware of where we stand – naked and hiding in a bush deathly afraid. 

We push away our sin on to someone else because we don’t want it to land on us. It would wreck our good girl image, our seemingly great place and space in God’s garden, our joy in being free as a child of God, or so we think.

So, we scramble and pick up the gameboard of God’s players and try to scramble the board, we mess up progress in a way where no one knows who did what – hoping that chaos will realign the whole mat.

But, we forget who the master player is, don’t we? The one who stands it all the whole time. Just like a kid getting ready to cheat, our moves are made from the same place – we want to win in the end.

I do. I don’t want to disappoint him. I don’t want to let him down. I want to stay child – numero uno. I want to be in good graces. I want to still be loved.

And, that, right there, is the greatest lie of the devil isn’t it? That if we bite into the apple that we will never be loved again. He gets us on that one.

It’s our biggest fear, it’s what makes us rip off our clothes in shame, hide in a bush and beat our knees together out of a pulsating heart of fear.

But, here, we listen to the wrong voice. The other voice, the voice of God says, “You can’t do something that will ever make me stop being something, doing something or giving something for you.” 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro. 8:38-39

When we stand on God’s ground, we stand on loved ground.

When we find Christ, we are branded as his.

When we find love, we can’t be thrusted outside of its confines, no matter how bad we act.

With these anchors as our holders, we can be okay with God’s instruction that “each one should carry their own load.” Gal. 6:5  

We can carry our own load, because Christ carried his all the way to the point that complete forgiveness was poured out.

In the end, we will be okay. We will be pulled in tighter than a mom with a loved child. We will be held close as our mouths force out the words, “I am sorry.” We will find the lesson under the mat of the gameboard and it will bring us closer to God.

We will look at ourselves and see – we were wrong.

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Fight Trials Like Jesus

Fight Trials Like Jesus

What if Jesus was ready to redefine the way you endure hardships?
Would you listen?

What if – rather than trying to run from that tsunami of terror,
you were to find some peace as you head into it?

For me, it sounds kind of crazy, because normally when I see trials on the horizon I ball up like a hundred and one rubber bands balled up and ready to break at the same time. My tension is high, my anticipation is big and my worries run fast.

Jesus though, didn’t run from what threatened him, he threatened what tried to make him run.  We may not think of Jesus as an aggravator or a reprimander, but hold tight, because in one way his strategy was just this.

Before we get into that, Jesus teaches us much about resetting our mindset when we are being set up to be torn down.

Here’s how his ways can restructure ours:

People hated Jesus for no reason. Jo. 15:25
He said they will hate us too.

God had the power to save him from suffering through prayer. Mt. 26:42
Prayer is the one door that never closes. When we walk through it we always find God.

His “kingdom did not belong on here.” Jo. 18:36
When we know our true home, we don’t get as concerned when our earthly one gets ransacked.

He had complete authority, always and at every minute. Jo. 19:11
When we know that Jesus is in complete control, suddenly we realize he holds the handle on all that wants to sweep us under.

“I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Jo. 15:11
If Jesus could find some happiness in the road leading to death, we can too.

Jesus knew he was under control of the one completely in control.

To walk Jesus’ walk, we have to walk, like him, doubtless and faith-full.

I get Jesus’ approach, because every time I let the doubts creep in, the faith creeps out.

The devil said,

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

The devil challenged Christ’s ability, status and loyalty.

Do you ever feel challenged in doubts of what you can do,
what God can do for you and how he will get you through?

Jesus, doesn’t stick around playing games with these kinds of words, these change agents of faith, instead he fights back by:

1. Using the word of God as his best weapon.
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mt. 4:4

2. Telling what is bad, what is full of questions about God, to move aside.
Away from me, Satan! Mt. 4:10

3. Knowing who is in control of all control that ever controlled and that will control.
For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Mt. 4:10

When the devil started to show Jesus a way out of the trial, Jesus knew, sometimes the calling is through the fire. He wasn’t going to sit around while his strength was depleted.

Even when the man after God’s own heart, Peter, spoke doubts as he pulled Jesus aside, Jesus spoke: “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.” Mk. 8:33

If we think like God, God will help us think in a way where we endure, where we make it, where we aren’t burdened, but blessed by our trials.

He will get us through.
He will hold our hand.
He will fight on our behalf.
He will pave a way to eternity.
He will lead us in all truth.
He will hold us on the pillow of his love.
He will not leave our side.

Let’s fight back like Jesus.

When we do, we will see, like Jesus that:

God is for endurance and the devil is for discouragement.
Doubts pull us away from our mission, yet faith commissions.
The Word of God is the Word that helps.
God’s control, brings our heart under control.

Fight trials like Jesus. Go in his faith. Know that God is with you.

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