I’m a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman. I was southern-born and raised, and I currently live in the heart of Bible Belt country. I’m an organ donor, mother, wife, Christian, and an introvert. And there’s a good chance that as you read the previous statements you have begun forming an internal opinion about me.
I, like you, have been labeled by things I cannot change or control, like the region I was born into or the color of my skin. Then there are the labels I chose and I love, like being a mom or trusting in Jesus Christ.
I was an extremely sheltered child. My parents exposed me to plenty of scripture, but my interactions with people from other cultures and ethnicities were limited. When it came time for me to fly the nest and go to college, I was most comfortable with people who looked, talked, and thought like I did. I felt safe with “my kind of people.”
It wasn’t until I was twenty-four years old that my eyes were opened to the treasure it is to know and befriend those from cultures unlike my own. With my husband, I lived on a Caribbean island for two years, followed by another two years spent living on Long Island, New York. I was a newlywed and a young school teacher experiencing life on two islands, both melting pots, that shattered so many preconceived notions I didn’t even know I had formed. So many new things going on in my life at once!
Our roommates and closest friends for those four years influenced me tremendously. The families of the students I taught gave me glimpses into their world and I eagerly soaked it all in. The children and their parents even re-defined the concept of grace to my legalistic mind. God used so many people in those four years to chisel away at my label giving, self-protecting heart, forever impacting my life.
But here’s the thing…while my soul was beginning to be awakened, I still wasn’t fully awake yet.
Not once in those years when I saw her every day did I ask my Muslim roommate what it was like for her growing up. I don’t remember ever sitting across from her and genuinely making an effort to get to know her or her roots better. I didn’t take time to ask my precious students’ families what life was like in Asia or Africa – or even Europe for that matter – before they made the move to New York.
All the affection and interest I had for my new friends never made it past my lips. Although intrigued by the different cultures that surrounded me, I still warmed myself by the fire of self absorption and found shelter and refuge in my own little bubble. My southern comfort zone and my severe insecurities prevented me from looking outside myself for even a few moments to make connections. I wasted opportunity after opportunity to form relationships that went beyond the shallow and superficial small talk.
As I have reflected back on that time, I wish I would have done things differently. I’ve had to ask myself some uncomfortable and REAL questions…
What is most precious to you and God?
Is it rules and legalism or relationships and love?
Has your pride engulfed your ability to be humble?
Do you value tradition or seek truth?
Would you rather argue to be right or listen to gain new perspectives?
Are your words dripping in hostility or bathed in understanding?
Have you sought self-preservation over loving your neighbor?
Who have you written off with a label?
Couldn’t you wrap them up with love by pursuing a sincere interest in their lives instead?
I often ask myself these questions trying to redeem the time I wasted, trying to make right where I missed the mark.
God and people – the two most important things on this planet. It may sound cliche, but I’m going to write it anyway. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
If you’re struggling to understand what exactly that looks like, you can take a look at the greatest example who ever walked the earth: Jesus – God in the flesh. He lived a life of sacrifice, daring to venture into the world of those nobody else even noticed. He spent zero time pushing a political agenda. He never responded out of fear, hatred, or self promotion. He responded with intentional love focused solely on PEOPLE. He did not live unto Himself; instead He lived to die for us. The ultimate servant.
Today we are watching people hurt each other with no desire to love them or understand them. From my experience, insult has never been an effective form of persuasion. But Love has. Let’s follow the example given to us from God himself. Let’s SERVE one another and seek to know, understand, and love others…just as Christ loved us. There’s no better way to show people who God is than to live as He lived. That’s the whole point isn’t it?
Will you join me in breaking through those self protecting walls? Let’s open our lives up to be vessels and let God use us to show others who he REALLY is.
Last weekend, my family and I attended an event full of loud music, excitement and intense cheering. My three (almost four) year old was so excited, clapping and cheering as he gazed at all the incredible scenes going on around him, dancing, singing, cheering, shouting, and music that was so loud you could feel the beat shaking the floor beneath you. He LOVED the atmosphere, the intensity, the fun …and then…as if someone snapped a finger hypnotizing him…he crashed. He fell fast asleep, drool and all, as the event continued on in its’ excitement and decibels.
He was sitting in my husband’s lap when he faded into dream land, and praise God that he was, because he’s a BIG boy. My arms could never have sustained my son’s weight when he’s in his deepest sleep. It’s like holding massive amounts of concrete. NO joke!
But here is the beauty of what I want to share with you about that sweet moment. When the event was over, my husband gently got up trying not to wake him from his sleep. As I watched him carry my son from the auditorium all the way out to our car…I instantly saw a glimpse of our Father. The. Father.
The Father who carries us when we are weak and burdened.
The Father who carries us when we are so overwhelmed and cannot take another step.
The Father who carries us when we are beyond fearful of what’s ahead.
The Father who carried the sins of the world so that you and I can be forgiven…Eternally.
He’s a Good Good Father.
It’s His nature, the very being of who He is.
My son didn’t have a care in the world. He was enjoying deep sleep because he was SECURE in the arms of his daddy. As hard and long as the walk was for my husband, he was determined to carry his son ALL the way. What a beautiful picture of how Jesus looks at His children and says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
He longs to be good to you and carry ALL your burdens ALL the way…if only you will let him. He doesn’t care about the heaviness, the hurt, the uncomfortable or how long it takes. He is a GOOD Father who longs to embrace His son or daughter simply because He LOVES you.
He is a Good Good Father…a good daddy…there is no one else like Him. Let him pick you up today, take your burdens and carry you through…All the way. He is waiting to do just that. What burdens are you facing today? Will you let Him carry them…and you?
Adoption has been on my mind lately. I have a few friends who are adopting, and hearing their stories has made a significant impression on me. For weeks I have been mulling over what it means to adopt, and I’ve reached the conclusion that adoption is God’s will for every Christian.
When you think of adoption, you probably imagine actresses bringing home children from third world countries. Maybe, like me, you personally know someone who is adopting or has adopted. A less common viewpoint is the adoption we experience as children of God and how the word “adopt” is a perfect picture of the Gospel in action. This is what I can’t stop thinking about.
According to the dictionary, to adopt is to choose or take as one’s own, to take and rear as one’s own child, to take or receive into any kind of new relationship. Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, a door was opened that allows any human being to be adopted into His eternal family. He takes us as His own when we put our trust in Him. He calls us His children. He eagerly receives each one of us into a new relationship with Him. In short, adoption is taking those who are without and bringing them in.
The Bible puts it this way:
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”
Adoption is the Gospel lived out. What Christ set in motion with his life, death, burial and resurrection can and should be emulated among His followers. What adoption looks like in your own life depends on a few things…your place, your passions, your possessions, and your perspective.
1. Your place
Where has God located you? You live where you live for a reason. Your job is no accident. Each community, city, state and country is filled with people who are struggling – those who are outsiders to the knowledge of Jesus. The people you see on your daily commute or at the supermarket might desperately need the Light you carry in your soul. They aren’t part of God’s family – yet. There is not a place on this earth untouched by sin and therefore anywhere you happen to do life is going to be filled with people in desperate need of adoption.
2. Your passions
What stirs your heart? When God created you, He made you unique with specific talents, interests, and passions. They are not random. These gifts are an intentional part of who you are and are best displayed as you wrap adoptive arms around someone else who needs you.
Who do you love? Is your heart drawn to children? Perhaps literal adoption or foster care is perfect for you. Do you have a soft spot for the elderly? Think of the difference maker you could be just by listening to their stories or caring for them. Is your heart broken for the homeless? Restore a piece of lost dignity to these downtrodden people by making eye contact, serving a meal, or volunteering at a shelter.
There are countless groups of people who need adopting. Victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. The physically or mentally disabled. Civilians living in the midst of war and violence. Inner city youth. Single parents. Widows. The neighbor across the street. The list is endless, really. You know where your heart is, and if you don’t, make it a point to find out. Who do you notice and then can’t stop thinking about? Just as God the Father sought you, it’s time to pursue that person or group who tugs at your heartstrings the most.
3. Your possessions
As you read this, you might be thinking to yourself, “This all sounds good, but how much can I help with my limited resources?”
It’s so easy to talk yourself out of making a difference when you believe you don’t have that much to give.
While we can’t all give millions to every cause we believe in, most of us have a few extra dollars on hand. Donate to a local non-profit. Pay for dinner. Buy groceries for a stranger. There are so many tangible ways to make a difference for the Kingdom with your money.
Time is your number one resource. Nothing else you possess will make much of an impact if you can’t or won’t sacrifice some time. Adoption takes time. Relationships take time to grow into something real. Be patient with yourself and the process – in the end it will be worth it!
4. Your perspective
What life experiences have shaped you? Good or bad, what you’ve lived through thus far is often the perfect catalyst to guide you on your adoption journey. Abuse, poverty, even affluence and celebrity can be used for good.
I’m thinking of professional football players who grew up on the streets and who now use their wealth and status to go back to their old neighborhoods and mentor young kids.
I’m thinking of abuse survivors who passionately rescue and support other victims.
I’m thinking of men and women who went to law school or medical school and who use their skills to advocate and care for the least among us.
I’m thinking of women who may seem unremarkable to strangers, but who are actively changing the lives of those around them. The world would not mourn their departure, but to the ones these women have adopted, the void left in their absence would be severe, aching, devastating.
I’m thinking of you. I’m thinking of me. Alone we seem insignificant. But each story, every talent, each heart – they all matter to the Father. They matter to someone out there who needs what only you can offer. The most significant thing about you is what you will do with this whole idea of adoption.
Everyone who believes, who has a personal relationship with Jesus, is called to adopt. As Christians our life’s work is meant to glorify God, point others to Him, and continue to be molded into His image as our lives progress. I can think of no better way to follow Christ’s example than to adopt someone or some group into your life, and ultimately, into eternal life.
Where has God placed you? Who around you is without? What are you passionate about and how can you use that to bring someone new into the family of God?
Who needs you to adopt them today?
This past week, I sat down with a dear friend who set me straight. She is a friend who speaks truth even when it’s hard. An iron sharpens iron kind of friend. We all need one (or two) like this. It’s good for our souls…whether we like it or not.
Lately, I have been running high on emotions and strong opinions have been flying out of my mouth and I didn’t even realize it.
My dear friend listened as I talked to her about “my opinions” and the realization that my heart was in a mess. She gracefully listened and when I was done she said, “You need to stay in your own lane.”
And there it was. Bam! (And ouch)
“STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE?”
Everything inside of me wanted to defend myself and not take full ownership of my pride, my control…my sin.
I genuinely do love people, especially those I am close with and I desire God’s absolute best for them and their lives. I don’t want them to stumble and fall. I don’t want destruction and sin to overtake their lives. I don’t want to see them go down a path that God never intended.
It’s NOT MY LANE
I AM NOT GOD.
Ladies – I know I am not alone here. And sometimes it comes out in very ugly ways. How many of us are covered in frustration because we believe we know what’s “best” for everyone else around us? In fact, we know better than they do about their own lives, right??!
I have been trying to run someone else’s race that God never intended me to run. When I jump lanes, I am left burdened, weighted and upset because it’s not going the way “I” think it should.
My own personal life lesson today…We are fooling ourselves if we believe we know better than the Creator Himself. And chances are, there is a deeper issue going on within us that is causing us to jump lanes in the first place.
I realized that at the root of my frustration is control, pride, and a lack of trust that God will take care of them…even if they mess up. He has taken care of me plenty of times when I have messed up. In fact, He’s doing it right now as I write this post.
We were created to run our race with EVERY stumble. EVERY fall. EVERY bad decision…so that we can get back up, chasing hard after Jesus again…and again…and AGAIN. This was one of those stumbling moments for me. I’m getting back up though…and I’m looking ahead towards Him.
Let’s love those around us when they stumble. Encourage them and run beside them. Pray for them. Speak the truth in LOVE when it needs to be spoken allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. Maybe they will receive it, maybe they won’t. Ultimately it’s NOT up to you or me. Release them into our Father’s hands and LET IT GO.
So…will you come along side me? Lets stay in our lanes, love like Jesus, and FINISH WELL.
Then when we finish our race, we will hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
With each new sunrise, we are given a fresh shot at this thing called life. Sometimes we wake up and hit the floor running, creative ideas spinning in our head. On these days, nothing can bring us down. We sing in the shower, wave to the neighbors, and hit all the green lights on the way to work. Other days are just plain hard. Painful circumstances that we feel the weight of can keep us burrowed under the covers and immobilized. But because we are adults, we often have obligations and schedules to keep, so we force ourselves to get up, put on a “happy” face, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until we can drop back into bed at the end of the day.
Pretending and going through the motions of life will always get the best of us eventually. At some point, we have to be real about the struggle we can’t shake. We have to take a day off from pretending and allow ourselves to embrace the mess and face it head on.
A few days ago, my sister came over for a marathon viewing of Fixer Upper episodes and just to catch up. Due to my husband and I being in the middle of painting our kitchen cabinets, my house was in disarray. (We’re talking Pyrex bowls and crock pots strewn everywhere from the living room ottoman to our bedroom end tables.) But quality sister time trumped the condition of my home, plus I knew she’d have McDonald’s breakfast in tow, so I swung the front door open and welcomed her into my messy world.
Over our breakfast sandwiches, I told her how overwhelmed I was feeling with everything around me being so out of place. Then, with Joanna Gaines’ shiplap dialogue in the background, I got honest about all the burdens I was carrying: my messy house; all the half-finished projects looming over me; the beginning of a new school year that I as a teacher am preparing for; and, of course, that ever-present desire for a baby. Everything I had been keeping inside came unexpectedly spilling out like a flood.
Even still, I was trying to hold myself together and not lose it completely. Unfortunately, the straw that broke the camel’s back came when I let my new puppy back in the house from being outside. She ran inside covered in clumps of mud and grass, leaving a messy trail behind her. I picked up my puppy to clean her but immediately broke down crying. My sister took it upon herself to get my broom and sweep up the chunks of mud that littered my kitchen floor. She didn’t complain or tell me to get it together; instead, when I apologized for being such depressing company, she walked up to me, wrapped her arms around me, and told me, “It’s okay to have a messy day.”
Her permission for me to not have it all together was exactly what my soul needed. But she also loved me enough to not leave me to drown in my own pity. Instead, she motivated me to get proactive about taking care of business and reclaiming my joy. We gathered up some of the excess clutter I had already bagged up to donate, and we loaded it in my car.
We also decided to treat ourselves to burgers for lunch because not only was it good for me to get out of the house for a little bit, but my sister knows eating out fills my proverbial love tank. (I bet you didn’t know there was a sixth love language. And that it involves cholesterol.)
By the time we got out and about, I was feeling much less burdened. My sister’s presence alone had played a part, but what resonated with me the most was her grace towards me when I was in a very messy place, both emotionally and physically. Her permission to embrace the mess, along with her companionship in the midst, made a world of difference to me.
So many of us are hurting and barely holding it together. There is so much healing to be found when the mask is removed and we acknowledge our struggles. I encourage you to find that safe person whom you trust and invite them into your mess. Find someone who will listen, encourage you with Biblical truth, and pray with you. Find someone who, after doing all these things, will encourage you to put your armor back on and fight for something better.
If you are not currently struggling, then ask yourself: To whom can I reach out, wrap my arms around, and give permission to have a messy day?
You hear the whispers over and over…
YOU. ARE. NOT. GOOD ENOUGH.
It’s a continual theme that rings through your thoughts like the tune of an annoying song on replay…It’s never ending and you can’t seem to make it stop.
Maybe that feeling of you are “not good enough” comes from past mistakes. Maybe it comes from a parent who treated you as though you were never enough. Maybe it comes from a particular statement made by a teacher, a friend, a close family member – a statement that you have believed to be truth ever since.
It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, what matters is that TODAY you recognize it for what it is….an ABSOLUTE LIE.
I lived in this cycle for years. I could not seem to move past this. I claimed it and received it as truth in my life. Plain and simple(in my mind)- I was NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It didn’t matter how many people would compliment me, encourage me or even affirm that I was, in fact, good enough. I had made a comfy little prison cell in my mind where I sat and replayed this lie over and over. This cell had become my home, my truth, my comfort. Even though it was false, there was security within those walls.
Then one day, I remember weeping in the midst of a bible study because God had wrecked my heart with a ramming revelation of His word. Those lies began to fade – it was a revelation to my soul! Satan had whispered long enough and it was time to clean house.
I tore down the ugly wallpaper renouncing the lies that I had believed for so long and replaced it with HIS TRUTH. If you have ever used wallpaper, then you know how hard it can be to remove! It’s the same with replacing your thoughts. REMOVE and REPLACE. We have to renew our minds with the word of God.
It is now a place of FREEDOM to linger in the beauty of God’s word…His truth about who I am because the captive has been SET FREE!
I am His…
And so are YOU.
Listen to me dear sister – the place where you struggle the most in not feeling good enough is a guaranteed place where God wants to use you most for HIS glory! The enemy absolutely knows that and he wants to cripple you and render you to be ineffective for the kingdom of God.
Know God’s truth and what he says about you! Take a good hard look at that pretty cell you are sitting in and realize that it’s NOT really that pretty at all…If you look close enough, you will see the cracks, the dirt, the imperfections and ugliness because it is covered in lies. There is NOWHERE in scripture that tells us that we are NOT good enough, it reveals the opposite.
You are GOOD ENOUGH because Jesus says you are.
HE. CHOSE. YOU.
You did not choose him(John 15:16). AND…He would choose you in your messed up, sinful, not feeling good enough, self again and again. It was and is HIS purpose to set the CAPTIVES FREE!
Leave that cell changed and renewed by the WORD of GOD and ONLY return as a reminder of the freedom that took place!
YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
Jesus says you are.
I don’t want to write this post. I don’t want to let the world know that I am struggling. I’m okay, but I am struggling. I’m joyful, but I’m sad inside. I’m numb, but I’m trying.
The past few years have been a roller coaster of emotions for my husband and I. And though I feel like a broken record talking about our infertility struggles, it’s where my heart is right now. And I’ve learned that being anything other than real gets pretty draining.
So, here’s the deal: In the past few years, I’ve struggled with sadness, bitterness, numbness, and depression. And because I so desperately want to glorify God through this battle with infertility, I subsequently struggle with shame that I have let myself hit such low points instead of perfectly, at all times, trusting my unknown future to a known God.
I got tired of being let down each month when pregnancy wasn’t achieved, so I tried to convince myself I might be better off if I didn’t care so much. In my efforts to become more apathetic about being a mom, unfortunately, other good, healthy emotions hit the road as well. The “protective” wall that surrounded my heart quickly became hardened and impenetrable. Not only did relationships suffer because of my lack of effort in maintaining them, but my home suffered. I could only muster up enough motivation to do the bare minimum. What that looked like for me was basically just doing the laundry so we would have clothes to wear. I also became good at putting on a facade of a clean house by straightening up but never actually cleaning. My dishwasher ran on schedule, but my floors never got mopped. The bathroom sink might have gotten cleaned, but maybe not the shower. Whatever I could muster up enough stamina to do for fifteen minutes every few days got done. Otherwise, my couch and I shared a lot of wasted, quality time together.
At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m putting all this out there. To be honest, I’m wondering the same thing myself. The only thing I can figure out is that my heart doesn’t want to fake it anymore. I’m done with facades, shame, and secrets. I believe it because I’ve experienced it: secrets lose power over you when you bring them to the light. I know I’m not the only person trying to act like I’ve got it all together on the outside while I’m dying on the inside.
So, in the spirit of being real, I’m going to share a snippet of one of my journal entries from September of last year:
I’m too scared to say it out loud and don’t want to add another burden to a busy world’s plate. But I think I’m depressed.
I lie on the couch, warm tears softly streaming down my cheeks, thoughts cascading through my mind of my dirty bathroom, unmade bed, half-completed projects, and dust-ridden furniture. My disdain for my laziness is strong, but I’m immobilized by a numbing, dull pain.
I’m tired. Annoyances have become heavy burdens that I feel in my chest. Simple tasks have become laborious exertions.
I’m surrounded by people, but I’m all alone. I’m left behind. I’m not a mom.
Lord, I’m so tired. My soul yearns for you, but I can’t muster up a cry out to you, only a whisper of your name. I continue shoveling food into my ever-swelling face.
God, give me joy. Give me energy. Give me faith that moves mountains.
May I some day be brave enough to share these words with someone to help them.
Though I may be in a pit now, my God won’t leave me here.
Every morning, the sun rises on a new day. Every day is His. I am His.
So…are you guys still cool with knowing me, or did I take it too far? This is one of those awkward, I’ve-said-too-much-I’m-just-going-to-walk-backwards-out-of-the-room moments.
But in all seriousness, if you see me on the streets, I probably appear super joyful. That’s because I am. The joy of the Lord is truly my strength, and because he lives in me and I have a strong support system, most days are good.
I am no longer in the pits of depression; thankfully, the Lord carried me through that pretty swiftly. I do, however, still struggle to overcome the numbness. These days, I rejoice when I snot-face cry because that means I’m feeling something. I still entertain the idea of mopping my floors without ever actually getting it done, but Lord knows I’m gonna get there some day.
I have allowed hope to regain entry into my heart, even though that means disappointment could possibly follow on its heels. I’m learning that I can’t feel the good without feeling the bad, and after not feeling much of anything, I’m totally ok with strapping myself back into the roller coaster of emotions and just letting go. I know my God’s got me in the valleys just as much as he does on the peaks.
I take comfort in knowing God knew we would walk through dark days while on this earth, so he filled his word with many encouraging verses such as Romans 12:12, which says: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” That is just one verse out of many that encourage patience through trial; standing firm; relentlessly trusting; and never growing weary.
To those who have been struggling like I have, God’s grace is big enough to cover the mess we’ve been swallowed up in. And when we get to the place where our strength runs out, His is there to carry us the rest of the way.
He is sovereign and perfect. May we all find rest and healing in his massive, loving arms.
Jesus stands at the door. He knocks. I answer and let him in.
He takes up residence in my home, and I willingly grant him freedom to access the front rooms – those I’ve already cleaned out. But I’m a bad hostess. I don’t interact with Jesus because I’m too busy guarding the back room.
The back room is locked and barred. It’s where my darkest secrets lie. I’m trapped in that room, stuck in a mess of my own making. My shame and guilt are stacked high like moving boxes. There’s barely room for me in there, but still I sit. Surrounded by my failures, I spend my time categorizing and alphabetizing so I can easily rewind and remind myself of what a dismal disappointment I must be to my most prestigious house guest.
So Jesus finds himself knocking again – this time he’s at the door of the room where I hoard and cling to my garbage. He’s gently trying to coax me to just open up. He’s telling me that it’s not as bad as I think. That my boxed sins aren’t scaring him at all. That he’s better company than the depression I’ve found in that cramped space.
And I hear him. I want to open the door, but I’m paralyzed with fear. What if he takes one step in and the depth of my darkness is fully revealed? Will he change his mind? Will he consider me too far gone and run away? Will he look at me with disappointment and condemn me to a lifetime lived in isolated despair? Will he force me to get rid of the sin I’ve worked so hard to store away and hide? Will he make me bring it all out in the open and show the neighbors just how filthy my living situation has become?
What if I allow Him to enter that room and cleanse it? What if I give each box over to him and release the hold it’s had on me for so long? What then? What do I do with all that free space? Will I fill it with new sins the first chance I get? Will I run out to the dumpster and salvage whatever remains of those soiled boxes?
I decide I have to know.
In tears, I slowly unbolt the locks and ease the door open a crack. I see Jesus smiling and reaching his hand out towards me. I’m shaking all over as I step aside and he enters that black room. I can’t meet his eyes, but if I could I would see love overflowing and overwhelming me. I can feel it, even though I can’t rip my gaze from the stained floorboards.
He begins to unstack each box, one by one. He takes them as far away as the east is from the west, working steadily and carefully. He sweeps the cobwebs aside, opens the shutters, and light floods in. He fills the emptiness left behind with peace and mercy.
In the far corner I notice new boxes I’d never seen before. Hidden behind my hoard I now glimpse beautifully wrapped packages, gleaming bright and begging to be opened.
So I tear the paper and open each box expectantly. Inside I find the house warming presents Christ delivered on that first day I allowed him into my heart-home. These talents and passions that make me who I am have quietly been sitting in that corner, unable to be fully accessed. Not until I allowed Christ to come in and clean up the mess that overwhelmed me could I begin to put these gifts to use.
I’m clean. I’m forgiven. I’m healed. There’s no place for guilt and shame to take up residence in my heart anymore. That once-barred door is wide open. I’m finally allowing Jesus Christ to have full admittance and free reign in my home. I’m inviting him in. I’m admitting that there’s nothing I can do to improve my darkest places without his help.
My friend, Jesus is a master restorer and maker of new things. He’s at work in my heart, demolishing my past and recovering each surface with new grace. Are you living in that grace? Do you have a back room? Open the door!
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.
Breaking it down…WEIGHT we all need to lose:
“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!
Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Losing_Weight_the_Healthy_Way.jpg
A sweet friend dealing with resentment, pain, and the raw realities of life, recently suffered a loss within her family. A hard loss because he was a VERY close family member, yet also a freeing loss because he was her abuser (in every sense of the word) when she was a child and even as an adult. So many mixed emotions. I can’t imagine.
She made a very powerful statement through text today followed by an even more powerful question. It was honest and raw, coming from a place of deep wounds that seem immune to healing.
“I have learned you can do whatever in life you want no matter how bad and before you die ask God for his forgiveness and you can go to heaven…
so why do the footwork?”
I sat there staring at that text, my heart aching for her, wondering…could I offer any response that would even come close to providing some sense of understanding and comfort to a person that has been affected so deeply by this broken person and our broken world? As I pondered my response, I asked God to show me what to say, and before I knew it, my fingers were texting her back. I’ve summed up part of our text messages in this post and added more thoughts as I’ve continued to work this question out in my head.
We certainly are not forced to accept God or do anything for Him during our time on this earth. So yes, we could live our entire lives rejecting God and “doing whatever we want no matter how bad” and then choose Him as we lay there on our death bed…IF we get that luxury of having the moment to ponder and talk to God before our death.
The thief on the cross next to Jesus got that chance. He said to Jesus, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” The other criminal on the cross rejected Jesus to his death, but the thief that accepted Jesus as Lord lived on with Him into paradise. My thoughts…
Praise God he never gives up on us…no matter how long we have rejected Him…
HE. STILL. WANTS. US.
That simple fact alone makes me love God even more. It may not seem like justice to some, especially those who have pursued God’s will their entire lives or to those who have been deeply wounded like my sweet friend. It can be difficult to understand this level of grace. But that is who God is. He never gives up on us. He never stops loving us. His arms are always open no matter what we’ve done or how long we’ve done it. He just wants us to choose Him.
“So why do the footwork?”
“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16)
If we do the footwork for God on this earth,
we activate His light to people who don’t know Jesus.
He chose US to spread His word.
He didn’t have to. He wanted to. He wants to work His power in and through us while we face the troubles of this world so that we can experience Him and that others may see His work in us and BELIEVE.
His Power is a power that heals.
A Power that transforms…freeing us from the bondage of countless strongholds.
A Power that shows love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, self control – qualities that we struggle to possess if we are left to our own will.
A Power that serves others beyond what our human hearts are capable of doing.
A Power that forgives the unforgivable.
A Power that gives us a new confidence to live life boldly for Him.
I could go on and on about what His power can do in us. There’s nothing that radiates His glory more than that transforming power.
I would rather live my days out on this earth experiencing God like that than live them without him… banking on the chance that at the very last moment I’ll get to choose Him. Praise God for that last moment if you are so graciously offered that opportunity. But you still would miss out on so much awesomeness you could have experienced in your time on earth. Let’s get real, living for sin is only fun for a season. It eventually leads to emptiness. That’s because you were created for so much more than that…you were created to DO the footwork.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
It’s IN the footwork where His light shines the most in US.
It changes us and it changes the world.
Because of the footwork,
We Are Blessed and God Is Glorified.
If there is footwork you’re avoiding today, my prayer is that you will take the next brave step towards experiencing God’s power in your life, that you may be transformed, freed, and renewed, that your light will shine even brighter bringing glory to our Father in Heaven. Amen.