“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
So many people, Christians and non-Christians are familiar with these words. We decorate our homes, our social media, our keychains and coffee mugs with these words. We use them to inspire us, to keep us motivated when we’re working out, and to encourage people in difficult times.
But, as a long-time Christian, can I admit that sometimes I can’t?
“I. Can’t. Even.”
Maybe you’ve seen those words. It could be in the context of joy, empathy, or dismay. I recently was at a point where I couldn’t do anything. I made a mistake which blew into a much greater mess than I could imagine. (lesson learned: think before you speak and sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all)
And? Due to the emotions stirred up in the fray, there were words spoken about me that cut me to my very core. Words that I couldn’t even process. I was paralyzed.
I couldn’t do all things through Christ. I couldn’t do anything but sit there, stunned at what had been said.
I tried to process the situation a hundred different ways, but still I was grieved, angered, and ashamed. Grieved that I had erred, angered at the responses, and ashamed to have to face people after the fact, not knowing who had heard what I said and who had not and who now viewed me differently and who already knew me and would forgive me quickly.
It took a night with some dear women who know me well, who brought comfort to my hurting heart. Then…a song on the radio that God used to shake me awake even more to the REAL truth. Jesus redeemed me. He already paid for that error, gladly, because He knew my mistakes don’t define me or who He has made me to be! The song was called “My Victory” by David Crowder. I hope these words sink deep into your spirit like they did mine…
You came for criminals And every pharisee You came for hypocrites Even one like me You carried sin and shame The guilt of every man The weight of all I’ve done Nailed into your hands Oh, your love bled for me Oh, your blood in crimson streams Oh, your death is hells defeat A cross meant to kill is my victory Oh, your amazing grace I’ve seen and tasted it It’s running through my veins I can’t escape its’ grip In you my soul is safe You cover everything Oh, your love bled for me Oh, your blood in crimson streams Oh, your death is hells defeat A cross meant to kill is my victory Behold the lamb of god Who takes away our sin, Who takes away our sin The holy lamb of god Make us alive again
Perhaps you too have had those times where you feel that you just can’t. Hang on tightly to His word and let Him be your guide. Be encouraged today remembering that He holds you in the palm of His hand, knowing that Jesus has truly paid it ALL. Forgiveness is free and you can walk in that freedom. And Christ can do all things in you through His Power and His Might and His Spirit, if you allow Him.
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Join me and let’s rest in the freedom our God offers. Blessings, dear friends!
Wow. This wasn’t the post I wanted to write. I wanted to encourage and inspire and share something that would bless other women from my own comfort zone.
Instead, I’m going to tell you something real and exercise the bravery that we try to encourage here at BraveGirl.
I grew up in a Christian home. I was involved in Christian groups at my public college. I even worked at a Christian bookstore (and am currently employed as a schoolteacher at a Christian school).
Honestly, I have really embraced Jesus as my Savior on my own since the year 2000, as a college freshman.
But when it comes to my vehicle, I’m incognito…I don’t claim my Christianity.
I don’t have a window sticker of any of the ministries I support displayed on the back. No artistic rendition of the one cross, or the three crosses. No fish emblem. No Bible verses.
I only have stickers from my local chain coffee shop that I’m very supportive of (they give out really great window stickers btw!)
I have a generic white minivan. The lack of window stickers have helped me avoid awkward moments in the parking lot more than once.
Why am I telling you this? Because there’s a reason I don’t have any Christian representation on my car. I’m afraid.
I know that once in a while, I have been going too fast to stop and it’s questionable if I was all the way through when the light was green or yellow.
I know that sometimes I have changed lanes and cut somebody off.
I am afraid that if I drive poorly, and I am supposed to be representing Jesus, then I will turn people away from Him.
So instead? I hide my faith behind my tinted windows and sunglasses.
There are two solutions to this problem. The first? Become perfect.
Perfect. Driving. Every. Time.
And though I may have good reason to reconsider some of my habits, I don’t think that this is the real answer.
How many of us are waiting to share our faith until we’re perfect examples of Jesus?
Thinking that way means I won’t be sharing Jesus with anyone. EVER. The truth is…our imperfections highlight the NEED for a Savior. Hiding my imperfections says ‘once I needed Him and now I don’t.’ When we claim Him, in spite of our failings, others realize they can also come to Him now. They don’t have to wait until they stop making mistakes.
Plus, it denies them the opportunity to see how Jesus changes us. By letting others see us as the imperfect humans that we are, they will also get to witness Him As He changes us. THAT’S how people see Him most.
So, if I cut you off accidentally or don’t keep my speed in check approaching a traffic light, I apologize in advance. Just know I’m a work in progress. All of us are.
The internet is full of weight-loss tips and tricks.
Since my three girls have been born, my body has gone through that thirties metabolism loss and yo-yo weight fluctuation that I was warned about in my twenties.
Truth…my girls don’t see my soft middle the way I do. They love to put their head on me when I’m sitting down or laying down. If I were rock-hard, I’d be pretty uncomfortable. 😉
Teaching my girls to do a “bridge”. Walking down the door is much easier than pushing up from the floor!
There is weight though…that we all need to lose, weight that affects our health and causes a greater heaviness than our physical weight could ever cause.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27-29 NIV
It’s so easy to worry. The amount of bad news available on our smartphones or desktops is growing. Sunburn versus Sunscreen versus Sunlight Deficiency—no matter what you’re doing, you are probably doing it wrong.
Satan loves to get us all stirred up and bothered and consumed as he takes our peace one worry at a time! His job is to take away from what we know to be true. So fight him with truth.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he came back with scripture every time.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.“ Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless–like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT
How many times do we see those Fabletics ads on our Pandora? Kate Hudson—defying gravity, defying nature, defying age, defying spandex yoga pants?!
Perhaps it’s more subtle. We see the social media pictures that are at just the right angle, or taken moments before the children began to brawl. We don’t see everything. We are often envious of something we don’t really understand.
How do we defeat envy? With thanksgiving.
To quote a VeggieTales video, “a thankful heart is a happy heart.”
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”Proverbs 14:30 NIV
That feeling of inadequacy—somehow you fail to measure up? That is insecurity. It’s an identity crisis that breeds some pretty ugly heart conditions too. So for heart health, for lack of burden, we need to find our security and our identity in Christ.
Who does HE say we are? (BraveGirl Mindy did a series on this that I recommend. Here’s the first one: BELOVED. )
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
You were created by God for His Glory and His Goodness. He planned your purpose long ago, and your “mistakes” and “flaws” were part of the equation. If He wants to demonstrate His saving power in a human, who is better qualified than you? If you were perfect, you wouldn’t need Jesus.
“I could have done that better.” “I wish I wouldn’t have…” “I wish I would have…”
“…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
Paul didn’t focus on what he hadn’t done, but what he had yet to do. Our perfection is in Christ. So, accept His forgiveness. He forgave ALL our sin when He died and rose again. There is no sin you have committed that He has not already paid for.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,
“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 NLT
#5: Harmful Thoughts
Our thought life will most certainly dictate our health.
Are you lugging around unmet expectations? Resentment and bitterness? Those times you were let down once again? Perhaps you were looking for a different savior than Jesus?
Satan loves opportunities to breed resentment, jealousy and bitterness.
Jesus warns us about our heart and thought life.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
James reminds us “in your anger, do not sin.” It is a natural reaction to feel anger, but if we do not attempt to resolve conflict and take a look at our hearts, it only leads to self-destruction.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NLT
Jesus came to set us free. Imagine how much lighter you will feel once you lay these things down at His feet and allow yourself to be refreshed!
Praying for you to lose the “weight” and to embrace the Joy of the Lord this week!
Just before Mother’s Day, my daughter turned 7. We celebrated with a trip to Baskin Robbins.
The next night, we took her gift card to a clothing store so she could buy some dresses.
I decided that for Mother’s Day this year I wanted to buy a new dress. After 11 dresses, I left the store empty-handed and not feeling great about myself.
You see, before children, I was pretty body-confident. I’d gone up in weight during college, but worked at getting fit before getting married.
After two children, my body returned to the illusion of normal. After my third daughter, my abs never fully connected.
And, in the right outfits, you can’t tell.
This is my belly button. Color blocking is supposed to give me curves, but the waist hit too high with this dress.
But, given the wrong fit, well, the preschoolers aren’t afraid to ask eagerly if I have “a baby in my tummy”??
Side-ruching is supposed to give you an hourglass figure. This dress was not too tight, but the fabric gathered at the most unfortunate place for me. (see next photo)
This dress makes me look pregnant. Or reveals that I was pregnant-three times over. So much for side-gathers.
This was actually the closest to a “yes” all night, but the flowers? Too big.
It was SO cute on the hanger!
I wanted to say “yes” to the dress, but this was another “no”.
Modest is hottest, right?
By the time I got to that last dress, I just wanted to cover myself up. Why was everything in so many different colors and styles still so wrong?!!
I googled my body type at home that night. It turns out, those dresses I tried on? Not made for me. My body type is not an apple or a pear. (Or any form of triangle or hourglass). I’m a banana.
Or as they now say, “rectangle”. That means that my middle is pretty much the same as my hips and shoulders. It’s nicer than calling me a hot dog. Or an eggplant.
But, the point here is that if something isn’t made for us, it’s not going to fit.
We’re not going to feel comfortable and we’re not going to be confident.
I do have dresses that fit me and that I feel great in.
Maybe I don’t need anything new. Maybe I need to remember what I have. And maybe in my heart, I need to remember who made me.
Healthy eating and working out can be wonderful, but if we’re obsessed with them, they become idols. We are worshiping our bodies instead of the One who made our bodies.
Raising our kids and doing a good job are noble goals, but even our children can become an idol if they become more important than God. There’s only one throne in our life. It’s up to us to choose who’s on the seat. Is it me and my ability to be “supermom”? Is it my husband? Is it my kids?
I want to surrender that throne to God, and He’s so gentle to remind me when I’m crowding the seat.
The song “Have it All” by Bethel has really ministered to me lately. I’m not the all-Perfect One. I’m not the all-Holy One.
But, if I’m trying to live up to that, then I am trying to be God. No wonder I’m tired and constantly failing to meet my expectations!
God has placed you and I on the Earth right now to minister to people around us. We don’t have to change to be useful. We just have to be willing to be used.
How about you? Have you been discouraged by something lately? How can we pray for you?
Can you love somebody you’ve never met?
Ask any mother and she will tell you “yes”. Before that baby was born, she already loved him or her.
In this digital age, we are networking and connecting to people in different cities, counties, even countries!
When we realize we have shared experiences, we form invisible bonds. The chance to meet these new friends face-to-face is a great reward. And when we find that our new friends are friends with other friends, we grow into a community!
I love some women I have never met face-to-face. They are my sisters. We share one common love. We love because He first loved us. I read their stories and jump up and down shouting “me too!”
I cry at the pain in their stories because I’ve had that same pain. Maybe God loved us first because we really aren’t so different.All of these friends are willing to tell me their shortcomings—and yet that’s the thing that makes them so appealing to me. (And it works the other way too)
Just like me, they are not enough by themselves.
Perhaps you are out there feeling lonely and unloved.
Maybe someone hurt you with their ill-timed good intentions. Maybe someone hurt you on purpose. I want you to know, this is your place.
Here, we’re all a group of real girls, brave not because we’re special, but because we are loved.
We are wrapped in the purpose that God chose for us for His glory. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that our weaknesses exist that the Power of Christ may rest on us, so come on in!
We’ll laugh together, cry together, and most importantly, battle the real enemy together.
You matter. How you feel is important.
So is truth.
Let the lies fall flat. We approach the throne of grace with CONFIDENCE.
God is working through you. Declare it!
And know that your story matters. We’d love to hear it!
If you missed it last week, please read BraveGirl Martha’s post, “#NoFilter“! It’s all about community and being real. 🙂
The laughter and celebration rivals any wedding you’ve ever seen. So much joy and anticipation has led to this day and finally, the groom will take his bride home and they will become man and wife for the first time.
But there’s a twist. You see, the father of the bride switches his daughters at the last moment. A web of deception leads to a dismal honeymoon morning. There was great deceit so that the groom would not discover the swap until it was already binding.
Imagine now, being that wife. Your father orders your new husband to “complete this one week”, and then your husband is allowed to marry your sister. And for seven more years, your husband disdains and despises you while he works for your father and is married now to sisters.
Leah was described as “having weak eyes”, “but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.”
Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.
Leah felt plain, overlooked, forgotten. But God? God chose Leah.
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing. (Genesis 29:31-35)
Out of poor Leah came the priestly tribe of Levi and the kingly tribe of Judah. From this overlooked sister who never had a chance with Jacob (he met Rachel first and kissed her after watering her flocks), God provided a Savior for the entire world that was and is and is yet to come.
Perhaps you feel like a Leah. Forgotten, “less-than”, inferior.
Our enemy would love to convince you that you’re right.
But he is wrong. He’s a liar. And it’s time to know the truth.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Isaiah 43 states that we were created for God’s glory.
“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7)
I cannot convince you, but if you will allow the Holy Spirit to whisper truth and love, then you will perhaps have eyes to see and ears to hear. You are not forgotten. You are loved.
What does it mean to walk by faith? What does it look like to you? Have you ever walked by faith? If so what happened? If you haven’t why not? Maybe we don’t because of the possibility of being exposed to ridicule or being drilled with multiple questions. What about that ugly lurking pride that can’t risk being wrong—especially in front of others. Our words may say we believe, but do our actions reflect what we believe?
My dad recently found a new love in his life after the death of his wife four years ago. This October I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some time with Marge and my dad when they came to Oregon for a visit. She had also suffered the loss of her spouse three years ago. During their visit they shared with the family that they were planning on getting married. The wedding would be in Tulsa, Oklahoma in six weeks!
My family lives a simple life—either we have the money or we don’t. You won’t find any credit cards in our wallets. The savings account was low on funds, the holidays would be here before you know it, and our six month car insurance bill would be in our mailbox soon. For three weeks I prayed, asking God to provide the means for me to go to the wedding. One day, as I was praying, a question came to me. Did I believe that God would provide for me to go? My answer was, of course! If I did believe, then what was I sitting around for? I had a wedding to get ready to go to! As I thought about the preparations I would have to make for the care of my children, it occurred to me that I could share with people that I believed God can and would provide for me to go to Tulsa for my dad’s wedding—which was only three weeks away now.
For we walk by faith, not by sight 2 Corinthians 5:7
The first person I invited on my journey with God was my husband. I asked if he had any objections about me going to Oklahoma if God provided the funds. (Since he would be out of town hunting, our boys would have to stay with friends.) He didn’t have any objections. I opened up to two Christian friends who offered encouragement and prayer support through this.
For the next two weeks there were moments where it was easy to share with others and other times when I couldn’t get the words out. This was definitely exposing my weaknesses and fears. The clock was ticking and I still had no way of getting to the wedding. I felt discouraged when people would say “Oh you’re still doing that?” or “Don’t you think you should start asking people for the money?” and “How are you going to get the money?” There were times when I was tempted to ask a Christian friend who is financially secure for the money. I didn’t want my friend to provide, though. I wanted God to provide. I valued my friend’s wisdom more than her money. What seemed like a simple walk of faith was more challenging than I had anticipated. Countless times my eyes instantly flooded with tears at the thought of not being able to go. One night I found myself sitting in a parking lot with a foul attitude. Not wanting to go home and expose my family to it, I prayed asking God for help and to take my ugly disposition. The truth was that the gift was becoming more important than the giver. My prayer changed as I began thanking God for everything in my life.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me the glory. Psalm 50:14-15.
On a Wednesday morning I made the final arrangement by asking our teenage neighbor to watch our dogs. There were only nine days until the wedding. That night as I sat in the car waiting for my son’s basketball practice to finish, I received a call from my dad. He was calling to find out if I was going to the wedding because I hadn’t responded to his text. What text? The text that he sent on Saturday to all of his children offering to help pay if any of us wanted to go to the wedding. A text that I never received but all my siblings did. My response to my dad was YES! YES! I want to go the the wedding! That night I had my airline tickets to Tulsa!
The next couple days were amazing as I shared with others how God had provided. Even the dreaded “what to wear to the wedding” was a humbling and praiseworthy experience. Instead of complaining that I had nothing to wear and no money to buy something, I shared what God was doing with a coworker. My generous coworker lent me a dress.
I was scrambling to finish all the loose ends at work on a Tuesday when I received a message from Marge’s son. He asked if I would like to say a few words to represent my dad’s family at the wedding. Marge’s grandson would be speaking for their side of the family. My first reaction when I first read it was “No. Someone else can do it better.”
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before the Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” God answered, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:11-12
I decided to take my break and call my Christian friend who just happens to be the same one in this story who is financially secure. She immediately said Yes I should do it, because it’s a wonderful opportunity to honor my father. With no clue of what I would say, I responded in obedience and said “Yes, I’ll do it.” My future step-brother and I decided that this part of the wedding would be a surprise for his mom and my dad.
Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you what to say. Exodus 4:12
Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours before my flight would leave, my husband arrived home from a successful hunt. All the preparations that took me three weeks to plan only took three minutes to undo. I was amazed that my pride didn’t take over. I usually don’t take it very well when all my planning and organizing is undone. We celebrated God’s provision of food from his hunt. I was also grateful to spend time with my husband and our boys before I left.
It was Thursday and I was finally in Tulsa! The next twenty four hours were filled with meeting the new family members and friends. I spent quality time getting acquainted with all my aunts and uncles who I hadn’t seen in years.
Friday evening we all entered the church for the wedding. It was beautifully decorated in an autumn theme. The centerpieces had lit lanterns surrounded by fall leaves, branches and pheasant feathers. There were brightly lit candles on and around the stage. A slideshow of pictures representing both families was presented on the large screen. Instead of your standard wedding cake, they had a magnificent tower of assorted gourmet cupcakes. With the guests seated, the music began and the ceremony started. Within a few minutes, our surprise was in motion as Marge’s grandson was the first to speak on behalf of her family. When he was finished, he handed me the microphone. Here is what I said to honor my dad…
Dear Heavenly Father,
I sing glorious praises of joy to You for bringing all of us here to be a witness to this precious covenant. My heart overflows with gratitude because You have united my Dad and Marge. The presence of Your peace rests in me when I see the two of them together. Thank you Father, for graciously giving my Dad and our family a kind, loving, woman of faith. Please watch over them and protect them. I pray that this covenant radiates the love of Christ and glorifies You.
With all of my love,
I handed back the microphone and returned to my seat. As the ceremony progressed something wonderful happened. I was filled with overwhelming joy! Not just because I was at the wedding, not because I finished speaking, but because my dad was TRULY HAPPY NOW! He wasn’t alone—he had someone who would be by his side and would take care of him. The agony of losing his spouse to cancer and the years of loneliness following were finally over. My dad was not only marrying a loving woman of faith, but he was graciously accepted by her family, church and friends. A new season in my dad’s life had begun. Knowing all this was a precious gift from God.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1
May your faith be strengthened and blessings be bountiful as you walk by faith in 2016!
What comes to mind when you hear the word “slaves”? Do you know that all of us can become enslaved?
We become enslaved to ideals that we can never achieve. We become enslaved to pressures that deteriorate our health. We lose our identity.
Whose are you? To whom do you belong? When you cease to carry all your titles and simply “are”…who are you?
“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”
“No Longer Slaves” is a song we have been singing a lot lately, and I wanted to share the lyrics with you.
You unravel me, with a melody You surround me with a song Of deliverance, from my enemies Till all my fears are gone
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
From my Mothers womb You have chosen me Love has called my name I’ve been born again, into your family Your blood flows through my veins
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
Bridge: You split the sea, so I could walk right through it All my fears were drowned in perfect love You rescued me, so I could stand and sing I am a child of God
Perhaps today you are weary. Perhaps today you are tired of fighting. You aren’t even sure what you’re fighting, but you are tired. Psalm 54:4 is the answer. “But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!”
Another translation states, “the Lord is the one who sustains me.”
He will carry us, if we allow Him. If we will no longer be enslaved to fear, but simply choose to be a servant in His kingdom. We are sons and daughters of God.
How do we do this??
“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.” 1 Peter 1:13
Our pastor challenged us with this verse yesterday, stating that we partially hope in ourselves, our skills, our gifts, our roles, our retirement account, and we partially hope in Jesus Christ. The only way that God can be our helper is if we are putting ALL our hope in Him. If we are placing our security in other places, we will be slaves to fear when those places begin to crumble.
Friends, be encouraged today. You have a Maker. He knows your name. You have a purpose. You have a promise. Your life matters.
I’m facing _______________________”But God is my helper. The Lord will keep me alive.” Psalm 54:4
(And here’s a YouTube link if you can’t see the embedded video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k )
Fall is here. Lately, many of my friends have expressed how tired they are. Some of them feel overwhelmed with how busy they are. And it seems like the pressure is growing. Certainly the start of school brings an element of “busy” that is not present in the summertime, but after we settle into a routine, that rushed feeling usually passes.
This year, the pace seems faster and more frantic. Have you been feeling it too? Do you feel overwhelmed? Part of it is our accessibility. There is never a time where we’re completely able to “shut down” or shut it all off. Between email notifications, texts and videos and pictures being messaged to us, Twitter and Facebook and Instagram updates, we’re constantly being fed without a break.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary.” In the Message translation, Matthew 11:28-30 reads as follows: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Some of our weariness comes from saying “yes” to very good things that aren’t a very good fit for right now. Or, too many good things. Instead of worrying that it won’t get done if we don’t do it all, we need to rely on God to take care of things and ask Him where we fit into that picture. Where does God want me to put my time and energy right now?
That can be a difficult question to ask, because we don’t always want to hear the answer. We like what we’re doing, but it’s leaving us tired and frantic and empty, and it’s not really bringing the fulfillment we are searching for.
“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalm 90:14-16 (NIV)
I’m going to challenge us to see if this makes a difference: for the next few days, if we find a verse on our Social Media or in our email that feeds us, we are going to write it down. Not print it out on a laserjet. Write. It. Down.
Or, write the reference down and then look it up in a paper Bible. (Have you noticed the difference between reading a paper book and scrolling on a tablet? There’s something different about the experience of paper and ink.)
I’m encouraging us to have a tangible connection to God instead of a digital one. This doesn’t mean that the digital isn’t feeding us. I start my day with BibleGateway.com and a chapter of Psalms, and I copy and paste into a Facebook group. It’s feeding me. But, I think we’re longing for our senses to really be stimulated. We want to touch God, to take in His Word. And by writing it down or physically opening our Bibles, we are going to be making a tangible connection to that promise. Something we can “hold on to” to strengthen us. Ultimately, I hope that Word commits itself to our memories and that we can call it to mind when we’re in a crisis.
Sisters, this is meant to strengthen and encourage, not guilt or burden us further. I believe God wants us to no longer be running on empty, but running on a full tank, with joy and fervor! That we’d be able to use our passions for His glory and really find energy and strength in what we are doing. I’ll be committing to this challenge too, and if you would like, find a verse that really gives you strength. I know these two passages are rich. Find a translation you enjoy, or search a few and see how they differ. (The internet is a great resource for this, but please remember to write it down instead of just clicking “print”!)
Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e7/Phodopus_sungorus_-_Hamsterkraftwerk.jpg/1280px-Phodopus_sungorus_-_Hamsterkraftwerk.jpg “King James Bible 1772 – Psalm 90” by Oxford University, Oxford, England – http://dohistory.org/archive/doc155/155_title_img.html / Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:King_James_Bible_1772_-_Psalm_90.jpg#/media/File:King_James_Bible_1772_-_Psalm_90.jpg
As little girls, we long for affirmation and attention. We dress up in fancy dresses and twirl. “You are beautiful, you are worth pursuing, you are worthy of being loved.”
As little boys, we challenge each other and wrestle and race, longing for the thrill of victory. We want to be noticed and affirmed. “You are the champion, you are strong, you are brave, you are admirable, you are worthy of respect.”
As adults, we still have those desires. They run deep within our veins. But who is it we are really trying to please? To prove ourselves to? Whose attention are we really seeking?
I believe it is God. Deep down, we need to be valued. We need to know we matter. God has been speaking to me through the Bible and through books I’ve been reading recently. He sees you. He sees me. He loves us. We love Him because He loved us first. If we are looking for Him, for His approval, and hoping He’ll take notice? We’ll find Him.
You have a purpose. You DO matter. Jeremiah 29:11-14 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.“
What brings us true happiness? Doing what we were designed to do. For an introvert, that will look very different than for an extrovert. When God made you, He chose the time period, the country, and all the people you would meet and affect. He was intentional in His creation of you from the moment of conception.
Ephesians chapter two spells out God’s reason for creating you. “So that He can show the incomparable riches of His grace.” He created you and me to be an extension of Him and His grace.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10)
It is our human nature to do good and call attention to it. “Pay it forward” is a frequent way to boast about our good with a hint at good intentions. Jesus said in Mark 10:43-45 that if you desire to be great, you must become a servant.
Have you ever tried to do things without taking credit for them? It’s more difficult than you would suppose. Still, it is when others call attention to your good deeds that people are moved.
You will find more satisfaction for your unsung deeds than the ones you post about.
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
He is leading me to pursue being a nobody on earth. To celebrate my smallness. To work for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23) To bring honor and glory to His name. For over 2,000 years, the name of Jesus Christ has continued to be known. That is the name that I want to honor and praise and bring attention to. Even if CNN and Fox News never know my name, He does. He spoke me into being. And my name is in His book of life. I don’t have to try so hard if I’m just trying to please Him. He will lead me right where I am designed to fit, and I will find joy. And so will you!
Here’s a song from Francesca Battistelli to encourage you. He knows Your name. 🙂 (Here’s the link if you’re reading in the email. https://youtu.be/ZtlDVleJBtA )