SLIDER

Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faith. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Living The Bitter (less) Sweet Life / when you've been hurt



Life is good. I could end right there. It's good.

Life has been good for me for awhile now. I've gone in and out of troubling scenarios with my kids or my health, but by the grace of God, I survive. I gain wisdom, understanding and strength. I'm way stronger now than I've ever been.  Not physically, but that's an whole other topic. But I know who I am and what I want more than I ever have. And I know who to go to when life seems off kilter.

Seems being the key word. Because the word "seems" usually parallels to the word "feels." And we know that what we feel in a moment or in a season may not necessarily be truth. Although, I do validate feelings, because they are real. You can't tell someone to not feel hurt or sad if they are hurt or sad, but the question is 'where do we go or what do we do with those feelings?' Is it possible to move on?

I wanted to share something that the Lord spoke to me recently that has helped me a ton to move on and live in freedom and really love people. I'm mean for real. Love them. It's super simple, yet chock full of wisdom.

Last summer, I was feeling yuck. I can't really put my finger on it. But I was feeling sort of hurt, offended,  and just overall sad. People were making me sad and it seemed as though I was living a life of being either let down or full on abandoned by people. It's sort of the unfortunate nature of the beast when you are a preacher's kid. And I just got used to it. People leave or people talk, and you hear about it. And if you let it, it can take a little piece of your heart every-single-time. And I was feeling weary and worn down of living the past 30 years this way. It can be rough. I was honestly just tired of smiling and hugging people or liking everyone's facebook status in my very best attempts to 'walk in love.' I was doing a pretty good job of pretending I was okay. I was letting it roll of me 'like water off a duck's back' as they say. Yet inside, I was one big Blahhhhhh! Ho-hum. Wah-wah.

I was taking a walk, talking to the Lord about it one day. I didn't want to try so hard to walk in love. I really didn't. I was tired of making the effort to love. What I really wanted was to genuinely love people. Friends, enemies, frenemies and naysayers. I really just wanted to be genuine when I prayed for people. I really just wanted to hug people and not feel burdened on the inside with bitterness or sadness. And I was honest with the Lord about it. I told him like it is and how I felt. Because really, who wants to live like that? It's a crummy way to go through life. And God is cool like that because he listens. And He tells YOU like it is back.

The weird thing is, I didn't even realize I was holding on to any bitterness. I honestly thought because I was doing my best to smile and walk in love, that this was enough. My very best effort to walk in love was equivalent to forgiveness, no? As I was talking to the Lord about it, He said "Why don't you forgive them?" Wait, what? But God, I liked their facebook status. I smiled at them at church. I hugged them. I waved when I saw them at the grocery store. I did my very best, didn't I?

To even try to walk in love in our own strength, in particular when we've been hurt, will never be enough to move on or feel happy or content on the inside. It's a nice try and your heart probably is in the right place when you go on pretending as if all is okay for the sake of your 'love walk.' But if you truly want to feel free to love, it starts with forgiveness.
By that I mean, speak it. Say it out loud. God, I forgive 'so-n-so" and I release any bitterness and all hurt I have felt because of him/her. I want to love that person like you love them, with your love. I thank you for going to the cross for me, I thank you for forgiving me and because of that I can and will let go of any hurt or  pain because of what they did or said and I will let go of any resentment I've harbored ...and I give it all to you.

I hate to say it, but I had lists. Things I didn't even realize were hurting me still. And I went through them one by one. People I loved, people I didn't care for all that much, anyone and everyone. I remembered situations I had let slide. I remembered things said that made me cringe and my stomach sink. The tears rolled. But I gave every last bit of it to the Lord and I forgave 'em all. And wouldn't you  know it, my heart is free. It's free from all the yuck. The sad feels. The irritable feels. The frustration. And I can love people authentically now.
If a new situation occur or things get said that make me want to crawl back into the hole of contempt, I remember what God said to me... "Why don't you forgive them?'

I told you, Simple...yet profound. And liberating. Stop trying so hard. Just forgive them. And love will be easy.

I want to challenge you now. If you are thinking of a person or people that you've tried hard with. You've smiled. You've hugged. You've let it roll off you, in sort of a pretense of walking in love. Maybe you forgot to give it to the Lord. Maybe you forgot to actually forgive them. Maybe, like me, you need to ask God for his forgiveness for hanging on to it and trying to do it all in your own strength. Do it now. Say it out loud.
God, I forgive them. I want to love them like you love them. I want to walk in freedom from hurt and bitterness. I give it all to you and from this point on I can smile and hug  and love with sincerity. I don't have to pretend any more.








Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Saying Yes To In 2017!



2016 taught me a good many things about what I want out of life. Particularly as I sat down this fall and began to give myself a few hours to really pray and think over what I did and didn't want. Like most of us do, I want the good stuff. But a lot of the time I'm too busy, too scared or talk myself into a frazzle or frenzy to really embrace the good stuff. Somewhere in my brain, the good stuff becomes the bad stuff. Because the meaningful and good responsibilities and opportunities in life feel more like chores, chaos, hard or things I have to do.  But I started to think, it's not the stuff that is bad or overwhelming. Could it be our perception of it has gotten off, rather? And although we may need to say no to a few things, a lot of time, we end up saying no to the things that were intended as blessing and abundance of joy and peace.

My friends and I talk a lot about how we need to get together. It's not like we ever walk away feeling disappointed in the once or twice a year that we actually do it. Yet, somehow getting ourselves to that point. That point where we HAVE to get dressed- HAVE to go out of the house and do something enjoyable with the people we love feels like a chore. Why is that?

Why do that things that are good for our spirit and soul and body feel so extremely hard some days?
I began thinking about how this happened. How did the really good things in life somehow become the things we sort of dread and maybe even stopped doing. We've lost perspective. We've lost sight of the blessing and joy we once felt really being with those people or doing that thing we used to hold important.  Over time we let life overwhelm us and we start saying no. But we start saying no to the wrong things. We began saying no, because we got preoccupied with unimportant things. Or busy things. Or us things. And the more we said no, the easier it has become to say no and eventually just stop all together. Probably not on purpose. Maybe our intent was a little break or me time (which isn't wrong) but somehow when we began focusing more on us, we forgot the things really made life worth living to us.

So recently and going into 2017, I'm saying Yes to saying Yes. I'm not letting the perishable things overtake the worthwhile and eternal things. I'm not letting my No be sort of an automatic response just because it's what I've become accustomed to doing in my, dare I say, laziness. I'm weighing the importance of the things I'm presented with and I'm choosing the good things.
I'm pushing myself to really esteem the people, the family, the church, my body, the calling and this life God gave me. I hold them highly enough to remember them, the spend time with them, to work on them, to encourage them, to smile with them, to talk kindly about them, to work diligently on them, to serve willingly with them and to enjoy doing it all. Because I don't have to do any of it. I get to. They are beautiful opportunities given to me by a merciful God who loves me and a Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me. A God who sent His son, Jesus to give me an abundant life.

I only got one shot at 2016. I missed chances to be present. I missed chances to change my attitude. I missed chances to love others. I missed chances to work on my health. I missed chances to smile and laugh with my people. I missed chances to honor and encourage people. I missed chances to step into what God called me to do. But in 2017, I am saying Yes more often.

What I'm saying Yes to in 2017!

-Being Bold and Brave in what God has called me to do. I know bits and pieces of my place in this big enormous puzzle of life. I don't know everything. But what I do know, I won't shy away from. I will walk confidently in it, because I know the Greater One lives in me. And I believe when I speak, God will speak through me. So I will walk in what I know...

-Spending more time with my parents. I see my parents often. At least twice a week. But I've taken for granted 'seeing them' and replaced really loving them with my time and heart for a brief hi and bye at church a few times a week. We've had a few scary moments (at least for me while my parents were in the hospital), though my trust was in the Lord. But these past few years I've seen how important it is to be with the ones you really love. Because life can pass quickly and for some too quickly. And I never want to have any regrets. I want to give my all.

-Actually seeing My friends. Sometimes this means girls nights in. Sometimes this means girls nights out. Sometimes it means play dates. Either way, I'm committed to not getting lazy and actually acknowledging my friendships someplace other than social media. I have never ever walked away disappointed and almost always walk away needing my inhaler from laughing so hard. This is so good for my soul. So YES!

-Going to church and liking it. Ok, I grew up in church. I was/am a preachers kid. Ever since I can remember, I've gone to church 3 times a week, if not more. As an adult with 4 kids of my own, it got more difficult, but we've tried our best. Because really, no one ever got hurt from learning about Jesus and sitting in His presence, listening to His word and being around other believers (for the most part). It's a habit I want to instill in my kids. Maybe it sounds old school. Going to church more than once a week. Hardly anyone does it anymore. And as our church has gone from 3 to 2 services a week and our midweek volunteer status has dwindled. It's been easier and easier for me to say NO to church more than once a week, because I honestly have no one to watch my toddler. However, with the convenience of the situation, it affected my attitude somewhat. Not negatively per say. Just indifferent, I guess.  I truly love learning the Word. I've been sitting under the same preacher (Daddy) since I can remember, yet rarely when I go to church, do I go in rolling my eyes thinking I've heard this all before. Because the Word of God is life and His presence is refreshing, no matter what. And I know if I go in expecting to receive, I will. So I am saying Yes to church and receiving what God has for me in the place he has me. If I'm going to skimp, this isn't the place I want to do it.

-Laughing and playing with my kids. 4 kids are a handful. I have a toddler, a teenager and two in between. It's not for the faint of heart. I've gotten overwhelmed and stressed and snippy and cranky more often than I like to admit. I've looked at my phone when they had to repeat their question over and over again...more often than I like to admit. And I want to have fun with them. More game nights. Movie nights (though those rarely go over well in my home). More conversation. More one on one date nights. I want to give them moments to remember. So when they grown up, they don't just remember how much I yelled at them, but how much we played and talked and snuggled.

-Fun day with Wyatt once a week. Wyatt is with me at home, all day, every day of the week. The little dude is the happiest kid in the world when we get to go somewhere. He loves to get out of the house and explore. So I committed myself to attempting a 'once a week' outing with him at a gym, play yard, fun zone, park, pool, wherever it may be.

-Gain Knowledge and Understand Truth. I am generally a really touchy feely sort of gal. I'm a heart girl more than a head girl. When God speaks to me, it moves me, tears me up, inspires me and really gets me thinking. But lately, I've sensed myself shift in a bit of a new direction. I want to gain knowledge and rescue truth in a world where so much opinion, false doctrine & political correctness is esteemed. And now when God speaks, it get's me excited because I can see His plan and purpose laid out throughout time. I want to know and understand what God is saying, why He said it and to whom He said it to without preconceived ideas. I want my heart to be wide open and my eyes to be wide open. I want to understand people's hearts too, yes, but so that I can better relay God's truth. Because His truth is the only one that will set people free from bondage. And I feel there is a reason God is shifting my time with Him.. I can't place my finger on it quite yet though. YES to Knowledge, Understanding & Truth!

-Writing. I started writing on this little blog of mine 4 years ago today! Whoa, I just realized that. And I've toyed with the idea of book writing or writing a devotion. Time, motivation and lack of confidence has kept me quieter as the years have gone by. But this year, I'm upping the ante and getting back into the swing of things. Yes to slipping away more often and letting the words pour on out.

-Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. I really hesitate even putting this out there, because ever since Wyatt has been born, I've failed miserably in all three areas. However, with current health issues and toddler issues, I really, really, really see (and feel) the need for good health and I have to start somewhere. I'm saying yes to better choices. Going to bed earlier more often, Yes to healthy foods (not just no, to junk food) and Yes to exercise, no matter how hard it seems to do it.

-Date Nights. Really, what are date nights? I sort of pride myself on letting the world know that Jeff and I have only been out alone maybe a total of 5 times alone since Wyatt has been born, for 4 hour increments at most. We finally took a little 2 night trip for our 20th Wedding Anniversary (What?!) But no more. We will budget and plan date nights (or days) this year. If they have to be in house, they will be, but they will happen. YES to fun and romance with my man!

-Serving and Encouraging. I sincerely enjoy serving people and serving my church. I like encouraging others. But at times, it has felt like 'what's the point?' When we are not recognized or felt like we are not needed, we can get apathetic in this area. But the Lord has spoke this to me, as written in a recent post, "Do It For The Ones That Show Up." There is always someone who needs what you have. My church needs me and someone needs to me to say or do what I can say or do. So despite what it looks or feels like some day, I will continue to step out and step in with a good attitude. I will continue to set my hands to good things.

-Prayer and Life Speaking over others. I'm tired of the complaining. I'm tired of the whining. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the tiny sparks our mouths may have set that turned up forest fires in the hearts of others. I'm tired of spoken fear, disappointment or lack. From my mouth and from others. And I'm done. I've said enough and I've heard enough. And I really don't think I've prayed enough about that things I was whining about. Have I said spoke blessing? I've let fear sit on my tongue. But no more. These past few weeks, I've made it a point to begin speaking LIFE. I've began praying for others. Lifting families and hearts and lives up to the Lord. Speaking blessing on people. Forgiving people. Speaking life over our church. Blessing over our nation. And thanking God for his continual presence & anointing resting upon the leadership in my life. I'm saying Yes in 2017 to using my mouth to speak blessing, rather than cursing.

-More Selfies! Haha! This is random and I get that it sounds self absorbed. But honestly, I think my lack of selfies has been more self absorbed than anything. My lack of pictures of myself, with my kids or with my husband or friends really has to do with my lack of self confidence in my appearance. The weight I put on with Wyatt, I only lost about 1/2 of so far. I've always lost my pregnancy weight easily (and trust me, I gain a lot!) and I've never been stuck so far above my 'normal' weight for such a long period of time. He's two and a half.  And I'm several years older since I've really taken a decent picture of myself or with my family to top it off, so I'm really just trying to come to terms that this is me, right here and right now. And I'm going to want pictures of myself with my kids. So, I've been working on it. A few snapshots here and there. Because I will want the memories. And I think when we say, "I don't want to be in the picture' it's more or less because our fear of social media. But yes, we will want the memories with our people.  And I want to believe in myself, not just my appearance. This is one time, I will say Yes to more selfies!




What about you?
What are some things you can say YES to more of this year?
Jesus came that you could have an abundant life! Are you saying YES enough to the things that are good for you? Are you saying YES to the blessing He's been trying to hand to you? Are you saying YES to having a fulfilled life?
Don't let your NO become your normal. Just say Yes!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Moving To Stars Hollow.




Out of all the articles that could have caught my attention today, the one that stuck out to me this morning was a sponsored post titled "5 Real-Life Towns Like Stars Hollow that Gilmore Girls Fans would love." Ahhhh..... You can thank me later. Small towns. As a kid, I used to live in a small town. I don't remember having any problem with it, but as I got older and we moved to the city, I remember thinking I'm glad I'm in the city. I could never live in a small town.

But now... Now, It feels like a good place to shuck responsibilities and hide out. Not that if you live in a small town, you are irresponsible. But a quiet life sounds more and more appealing every day. Stars Hollow. Some days, I wish God would speak to us and tell us that's where we belong. Just a small town girl and guy attending a small town church where her kids could grow up, get married, have grandkids and then they could grow up. Far away from the banter of the city life and the ruckus of people and opinions. 

In case you haven't noticed, the momentum of sin and chaos in this world is growing. It's not slowing down and I don't think it will. What was once nearly unheard of, is now becoming ordinary. And for the record, instigating chaos never brings peace, comfort, justice or any such thing. No matter which way you spin it. Yet, people seem willing to settle up and get cozy with it. But seeing it all, hearing it all, reading it all overwhelms my soul some days. I don't know what to say or what to think. And aside from all the opinions being spewed forth all over social media, I think a lot of us really don't know. What do we do? All I know is to pray and to listen for His voice...

We're spinning in a pandemonium of fast paced, lit up, hyper active, uber-cool, politically correct, over-opinionated, superstar, morally decaying, self absorbed, agenda pushing, dehumanizing, non-submissive, extremist activity and rhetoric all throughout the world. And, I for one, would be totally OK, if I lived in a different time. In a galaxy far, far away. 

If opening up my Facebook news feed each and every day wasn't heavy enough, with all the stories and shootings and demonic activity in this world staring me right in the face, what is even more disheartening is watching Satan play on the minds of Christians. And them not have enough sense to take authority over his lies, his deception and his obvious mission to divide their marriages, their families, their churches and ultimately the body of Christ. 

We need to start learning to really know God's voice and start discerning what is an attack or lineup of the devil.

1. Stop Dreaming About Stars Hollow.
This isn't a time where we should run from our foundations. I know I know. I said I wanted to hide out in Stars Hollow. And I'm not saying I still don't or wouldn't. But it's not time to hide. Our families, our spouses, and our churches are the people we should stand and fight with, not against-- lifting up one another, encouraging one another in the faith. We need to put on the armor of God and fight against the attacks the devil has placed on each of these unions and relationships God has entrusted us with. If God put a relationship in your life, He is trusting you to tend that garden. If Satan can destroy our unity in our families and marriages, He can weaken the body of Christ on much larger scale. If he can break apart our churches or Godly connections, we can be left standing alone with no one to hold us up. Recognize when the devil is at work. Don't abandon your foundations in faith. And Fight!.

2. Don't Get Your Knickers In A Twist. 
The things happening in our nation and in this world are bigger than your issue with dot dot dot...While we are busy daydreaming about greener grass, the devil is busy using that open time slot to run his dirty little agenda. While we get negligent, it opens the door for him to get busy. It's not the time to become selfish. It's not the time be needy. It's not time to run to something bigger, brighter or flashier just because you have issues. It's not even the time to run to something or somewhere smaller because you have issues (Ahem...Stars Hollow), for that matter. Suck it up, buttercup, and let's stop getting our knickers in a twist. We've got bigger (but actually smaller) fish to fry. I'm just saying. Let's not let our issue carry so much weight that it hinders the plan of God for our lives or our churches. This world needs us now more than ever. And it needs the message of strength and hope in Jesus, not division and bitterness.

3. Crawling out of the Depths of Despair.
One of my favorite movies is Anne of Green Gables. One of the best quotes is Anne, over dramatizing as usual, as she says "I'm in the depths of despair." Then she asks Morilla, her adoptive parent, "Are you ever in the depths of despair?" Morilla is point blank. "No!" 
Every now and then, I feel myself start to sink into the depths of despair. I hear something or read something or come face to face with something in life or family or ministry and my feet start sinking in. I want to give in. I want to feel sorry for myself. 
But I've already been there. I've done that. I've had bad stuff happen. I've had issues with him and her and you and them and myself. I've made bad decisions. I've wallowed a bit. Then more. And where did it land me? The depths of despair. I've been through depression. It sucked. I refuse to allow myself to sink into that crumminess again. If you are feeling discouraged, overcome with depression or perhaps in the depths of despair, the Bible says to give all your worries and cares to God. (1 Peter 5:7) Worry or anxiety will do you no good and won't better the situation. It just won't help. I understand depression is real. I know all too well. And thank God for doctors, and even better-prayer and His word to speak over our lives. But if you are just starting to sink, crawl on out before you begin to even start feeling stuck. His Grace is your Strength, friend. 
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4. Say No to Sweet Nothings.
There is a lot really cool sounding, new things being said these days. New priorities (us). New Agendas (us). It sounds enticing. New doctrines. New churches. New ideology. And guess what, a lot of it is centered around us. What we need, our human rights, our claim to fame, our need to justified, validated, loved and accepted. No matter what we do, it's still about us. It all sounds really romantic. Because of course, God loves us. But when do we start loving Him in return? When do we start making his heart for this lost world our priority? When do we start really helping and loving people by speaking the truth, instead of just validating everyone and everything that comes along? Not everything that is being said is of God. And not everyone that speaks using scripture is God ordained. Use discretion. Know God's Word. Listen for His voice above all others.
 And in all your ways, acknowledge HIM... not them.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

5. Stay In Character.
I've had a lot of discussions recently about staying in character. What I mean by that is knowing who you are and not letting the junk in life derail you. And not letting the world around you have it's influence on who you know you really are called to be. Have you felt bored, had a let down, set back, run in, been down played? Have you heard the gossip, read the stories, tasted pain, felt the fear rampant in this world? We all have. But where did it take you? Did you cling to the Lord? Or did it change you? Did it take you down a path further away from His heart or did you draw closer, clinging to His every word? We may have all had different experiences. But we have all known trouble. Living in this world, we are not exempt from these experiences. But in the end, we know we are victorious. Jesus said, "In this world there will be troubles, but I have overcome this world."- John 16:33. We know who has the victory. So don't let troubles change who you once were. Don't let whispers of the world and agendas of the enemy disrupt God's call on your life. Don't become desensitized to God's sweet presence. 

Don't allow yourself to be influenced by it all. YOU be the influence!



Read Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.



Monday, May 16, 2016

Being Known Vs Being Loved


We have the same discussion over and over again. My son and I. He's a gamer. He's a youtuber.
That's a thing now. Being a youtuber. I used to be a youtuber several years ago. After a few random and brief episodes, I saw no future in it for myself. But it's hard to explain to an adolescent boy the concept of hard work and sometimes the stroke of luck. Because he doesn't just admire youtubers. Nor does he just intermittently create videos. He has a goal in mind. His goal: being famous. Eventually he wants a full time job of youtubing. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. Oddly, people make a living off it. And I'm not saying he lacks the skills. He's pretty bright when it comes to this big world of technology we live in. But I don't want him basing his self worth on how many people are subscribed to his channel. Because there have been tears over this. 
He says, "I'm never going to be famous" with that look of defeat on his face.

Most of us have had our "I'm never going to be famous" moment of defeat, in our own way...
As immature as it may sound, (because we all know better), it's all to familiar in our current world. 

When I was a kid, you measured your self worth based on how popular were in school. Lucky for me, I could have cared less. I'm a quiet, keep to myself, kind of person to this day. I don't think it was until I reached the thick of adulthood that I even cared for the approval of others. And it wasn't until the invention of social media that I saw the desperate and silent cry of way too many adults needing to be known. And that look of failure when not everyone on myspace liked your music. 
Suddenly self worth went beyond the high school walls and reached out to win the admiration of not just our peers, but of the entire world . So crazy. But we remain hopeful.

Last fall, I attended the Influence Conference. The final 'big' one. I had to go. I had gone to the first one and I just really wanted to be a part of the final one. I went knowing just a handful of people via social media and blogging and just a handful of people knew me or had even heard 'of' me via social media. I'm going to be honest, It's not the best feeling going somewhere where you don't really know anyone and the people you do know are known by so many others- If that makes sense. But I like to challenge myself occasionally and like every other person who has had a first time for anything, you work your way through the uncomfortable feeling to put yourself out there. And I did the best I could.

I remember leaving the conference and writing up an Instagram post, saying something to this nature: "I didn't know a lot of people. Not alot of people knew me. But everyone I met was friendly and showed me kindness. One thing it taught me was that being known is not the same thing as being loved." 
And I didn't think too much over it until recently

Because I'm an overgrammer. I insta my kids, my days, my location... sometimes a lot. And I like to use a few hashtags, mainly regarding raising kids, having kids etc or along the lines of being a christian woman, reading devotions, having influence. The main reason I use hashtags  is because I write. I write here if I'm feeling ambitious and I write on Instagram when the mood hits. And if I can write something that someone else relates to and if that something will encourage them, help them in any way...than in my own small way I am making a big difference. I may not always know how I'm making a difference, but I try to be responsible with my words and stay open to the leading to the Holy Spirit in everything I say, so my job is done. So I hashtag (at least for now), to put myself and my words out there. It's a simple and mostly harmless way of being seen and heard.

If it was just about being seen and heard for my own sake, I wouldn't do it. This online world we live in has the ability to affect and reach so many more people than ever before in history. We can scoff at technology or reflect on the good old days, but when it comes to our influence, we have more now than ever. And if we don't use our influence for good, someone else will come along and use theirs for bad. So I say, let's do what we can and use the tools in our hands today for the glory of God.

I'm off topic, but this is where I am going. With hashtags and whatnot, comes along a lot of "likes" and "comments" and "follows" that are false in nature. People follow along with the hope of getting you to see them or follow them. Perhaps they own a shop or are a creative of some kind. They write, they speak, they are a fitness coach, they sell wraps, whatever...and sometimes they just have a really cool Instagram aesthetic (which is it's own awesome kind of creativity, in and of itself)!
So I get it. I get people need to put themselves out there, they need to put forth effort to get people to see what they do and what they have to offer.
But where I've learned to draw the line is lacking integrity in doing so (especially if you proclaim Jesus in your bio). When we gain or seek followers under false pretense and someone responds in kindness by following us and then we unfollow once we get their approval (or if we don't get it), I see and hear junior high & high school all over again. It sounds so super silly even typing this out. But as silly as it sounds, it's a real thing with millions of people online desperately hoping for the approval and distant admiration of others, but lacking the integrity to really earn it. If you have any sort of social media account, you've probably know what I am talking about.

I think the reason this has been on my heart is because I've been there. I have felt like I needed people to like or know me when I first started this journey of blogging and writing online. But little by little, God has shown me to just follow his leading. I will affect and reach the people I am supposed to reach if I always stay obedient to Him. Remember Paul when he said "Follow Me as I follow Christ?" (1 Cor 11:1) It wasn't about Paul. He had already been known and not in the best kind of way. That's not what he wanted any longer. But it was about Paul setting an example so in turn others would follow Christ and find hope. 
Maybe today, I will set the example in my home. Maybe this weekend, it will be at my church. Maybe on Tuesday, it will be on the phone or at the grocery store or mall. Maybe next week it will be online. Maybe he needs me to reach 10,000 women or maybe He already has someone else doing that. Maybe I am supposed to reach 10. Maybe He wants me to fiercely promote what He has laid on my heart, or maybe what he is teaching me is just for my small group.
Maybe it changes from day to day.

The point is it's all about Him. It's about making Him known in a real way to this world. It's not about being known or gaining momentum, just to feel admired by a majority. Whether you are a writer, a church, a worship leader, a parent, a creator, a speaker, a photographer, an entreprenuer, an Instagrammer, a doctor, a computer programmer.

Whatever you do. Whatever hats you wear. Make it about Him. And honor that commitment.




Because, being known doesn't always mean being loved. I think our current politics teach us that. There are a handful of names I could spit out right now and everyone in the world would know those names and thousands of people would respond with sarcasm or fury or annoyance. But true love and acceptance comes from your Heavenly Father, who knows every bit of you and from the people in your real life who love you no matter how many or few people admire you from afar off.

If this is an area you are struggling in or have ever struggled in, my prayer is that the Lord to show you the depth of His love for you. That you would feel brave and confident and beautiful knowing who Christ is in you. And that you would seek His wisdom for your life and in following His leading, you would find true happiness and rest in simply being known by Him and doing what He has called of YOU, and you alone. 

His word says He knows the stars by name and every hair on your head. He knows you. 
He knows when you lay your head down and when you wake up. 
He knows your voice shakes when you speak in front of a crowd, but when you counsel a friend, His wisdom comes pouring out smooth as butter. 
He knows, you might look like a kindergartner when you try to create with your hands, but genius shines through when you create online. 
He knows that you write there instead of their, and loose instead of lose and people make up memes about you, but you have the anointing of God flowing through your words when you speak. 
He knows that you can't sing a single note in key, but can certainly make that musician sound amazing in the studio.

It doesn't matter. Because He knows you. 
He is the one who truly knows you. He is the one who truly loves you.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Change Your Picture



I'm told I don't have a life. I don't know how often I've said that to myself. Or thought it.
But it's been a lot.
And I want to address this subject of 'not having a life' we hear of and speak of so often.

About 3 weeks ago, I was honored with the good ol' parental obligation of taking away privileges. It became a big thing in our home that day. BIG. I won't even go into the original reason, but we took computer privileges away from my oldest, about to be a teenager-but still a child, son. The original sentencing consisted of 2 days or so, but gradually additional days were added per attitude. Somehow, we wound up around the 2 1/2 week mark with no laptop, no phone.

He has only had a phone for a couple of weeks and technically it doesn't have service, but it's my old phone and is still able to connect to WiFi, so we thought we'd let him use it, all the while making it clear that it is still my phone and I am able to let whomever use it of my choosing. But mainly, he's the oldest, so we let him keep tabs on it. It was long awaited and begged for and he loved it from the moment it was handed over. So along with the laptop (his first love), it was the 2nd to go.

When do I get it back?- is always the first question. Usually in disgust.
NOT how can I change my attitude to get it back or what can I do to win your trust again, Mom?
When rolled eyes (by him) and pure frustration (by me) changed to let's sit down and talk, I was finally able to pull together my thoughts on what was happening and why. And then we talked.
"You will get it back when I feel you understand what life is really about and what it's not about."
I know that's big and deep, but it's not really. Life is not about the computer. Life is not about the phone. Or the tablet. Or the Wii U. Or the Xbox One. Or even 'wince'... Netflix. The computer we let you use is not a right. It is a privilege.  And your phone is not real life. When I say "Do your homework" or "It's time for church" or "Get ready for school" or "Come and eat" or "Let's do something as a family" - I am not interrupting your real life with things like family/ God/ responsibility because I loathe you and want to (I quote) ruin your life. Despite what you may feel at that moment.

Life is simple at this point. God. Family. Responsibilities. That's what I told him.
That's what having a life is. For real.
(I will add friendship on as well, because obviously that is important. But if you tell that to a 12 year old in the year 2016, with friendship automatically comes skype and gaming or things of the like, and we aren't going there for now.)

My heart to heart with my son turned into a day date with him with lots of hugs, apologies and him nodding his head in agreement of what I was trying to teach him. We had a fun day. However my words sat with me so much longer than that day.
What is life really about?

Just days later, those very words "you don't have a life" were casually flung in my direction (not by my son, for the record). Whether or not it was intended doesn't matter, because either way it made me think hard about what I do each day, what I want to be doing and who I am doing it for....

I don't currently work outside the home. I had a good 20+ years of work on the outside starting at the age of 14 and will probably get back there someday and will have the rest of my life to do so, but for now I stay home with my little man and of course, my four kids in the summer. I don't really want to miss a moment. (Well, maybe a couple moments wouldn't hurt -hint: free babysitters please) But it's just where I am, personally. And it's where I want to be. Over the course of the ups and downs of my adult life, I've realized what I want out of this life and I am 'going for it."
Going for it sounds small to to others when you are "just sitting around" -at home. But raising a family, being with your children and involved in almost every single moment of every day and experiencing every moment with them is gigantic. And beautiful. And exhausting too, in it's own way. If being a mom and who God called me to be isn't enough, I do also home school my oldest son part time (which even part time feels like a full time job some days- props to you full time home school Mommas!). I watch other peoples kids occasionally so they are able to work. And I volunteer more hours than people realize for our church all week long. Not to mention, I write my heart out when I can squeeze in some midnight moments like tonight.
But primarily in this season of my life, it is my honor to just be Mom. I can't imagine it any other way. When I tickle and snuggle my baby boy after the big kids leave for school in the mornings or when I pick my girls up from school and Leila talks my ear off or when I sit with Jada and we do devotions together or when I sit with Wesley and we go over his home school lessons together and he gets distracted with telling me minecraft stories, I never ever thought of it as not having a life. Every single time, I think to myself, this is what life is all about. Honoring the Lord, by loving my family and training them in the way they should go. This is the desire God has given me. In this particular season, yes, this is what I am designed for. For such a time as this...

All the other things we can desire or strive for on this earth, I wouldn't say they are always distractions from the true abundant life, but they certainly can be if we let real life become more about them and less about what will stick with us...

It makes me ponder all the Mommas out there who have had this very thought or said these very words out loud. I don't have a life.  I don't get any sleep. I can't get a babysitter. I don't ever get a break. I used to love to read. I wish I had time for myself. We say it jokingly in our facebook posts or to the other moms, but half way crying on the inside, wondering where our life went. All this because real life is kicking your tail every single day.
Girl, you DO have a real life... and this is it. The circumstances may have changed (and become better really, I think)...But this is abundance if you know how to really live smack dab in the middle of it.
Be so so thankful and embrace each breath, each giggle, each minute. Work hard and at the same time, just rest. You're doing it. You do have it all. The dream. You just have to change the picture in your head of what life is supposed to be. (Thanks for that, Hart of Dixie!)

To all the Mommas that work so hard outside the home and come home to just a few short hours with their babies each night, to all the Mommas busy creating and writing and designing in between those home school lessons, to all the Mommas who desperately love their children, and are taking care of someone else's children too and never seem to have a kid free moment... I just want you to know, what you are doing is important. This is life. It's not a matter of not having one. It's a matter of what you what you want out of it, make of it, who the grace comes from and all glory goes to.

Change Your Picture.

When our desire and pursuit of God's heart, 
our recognition of the beautiful design of family (and friendship), 
our ambition to take on responsibility genuinely and with integrity, 
and our passion for honoring the Lord by using our talents and chasing those dreams God placed inside of us...
When these things all come together, then we have found a beautiful life and yes, a real life.
We have found the abundant life Jesus wanted for us and gives us. 
It's not about the things, the jobs, the titles, the comparisons...
It's about knowing who you are in Christ and embracing all He's placed around you and on the inside of you. Don't let it sit there. Stand tall in those roles you play in life. Wear all those hats proud. And as you do every moment, do it in honor to the one who gave it all to you.




Monday, April 4, 2016

Apology For Being Me



A few days ago I caught myself semi apologetic... for being myself.

I heard myself saying to a friend, "I wish I wasn't like that, but I am. I wish I didn't wear my heart on my sleeve. I wish I didn't share stories. I wish that with every post on social media, 75 bazillion words didn't accompany it."  Or something of that nature...
But words. They follow me like that cloud of dirt that follows Pig-Pen around on Charlie Brown. They spill out of me, out of my mouth, off of my fingertips, and they will swim around in my head for days and days if I don't liberate them in some way. It's almost embarrassing. Almost. But not enough to stop me.

I realized that somewhere in between the end of 2015 and now, I've said nothing. Strangely enough. At least not here. 
And I tried to do a little soul searching to find out why the silence. We (writers, bloggers, and the like) go through our "I've been quiet" phase and we usually have a good reason for it. For reasons that usually bury themselves somewhere between moderately intellectual and magnificently heart expanding.

But honestly, sometimes we just aren't feeling it. Sometimes it simply boils down to the truth in what we say, when we say "I have kids. I was tired. I was watching Netflix. (yes 3 months of Netflix)." Sorry, but it's true.

I'm forcing myself, for tonight... to write. Because I love to write. I love to think. I love to process. I love to explain. And I'm sure it's a treat for my husband too. Write something. Anything. I've had an assortment of well meaning, well thought out topics of things to write about these past few months, but you know... Netflix and whatnot.

But let's bounce back to my apology for being me. There has never been a time in my life where I felt more confident in who I am. There has never been a time in my life where I recognized and understood and knew the Greater One on the inside of me, so much so that I've challenged and trusted myself to stand tall and strong because of Him. Each and every time an accusation against me and who I am dares flatter itself in my presence, I am reminded that its' not me, but Christ that lives in me. 
So why am I apologizing? Now I apologize for apologizing. 

Really, I think some days I owe God a great big "I'm sorry" for not trusting Him and His purpose in creating me.
 
I'm sorry for not realizing you really do want to use me. I'm sorry for thinking that all the quirks and personalities and genius in this world aren't something you can work with. I'm sorry for forgetting that you created this world, you imagined and spoke the 7.77 million animal species and the 298,000 plant species into existence. Why wouldn't you be the one to create a human race with distinctive skin colors and personalities and passions and expertise ? And why wouldn't you want to use each of us for your purpose and your glory, in our own significant and exceptional way?
It's all you, God.

I'm someone that gets a kick out of the vast and colorful array that makes up the human race. I don't mean skin tone. I mean, I unquestionably see God's handiwork in the abnormal, the artistic, the eccentric, the intelligent. We don't serve a robot and he didn't manufacture us to even be comparable to one another, really. We are all convincingly vibrant in our own way. And it all comes directly from our amazing Creator and Heavenly Father.

So, why do we question His design? Or even the purpose of His design. Scripture is clear. He knit each of us together with thought and purpose. We were intended. Why wouldn't He use our sense of humor, our words, our dreams, our quirks, our charisma, our passions for His glory? 
After all, It's not ours. It's His. We are His. 

YOU are nothing to shy away from or be embarrassed about. Your story is not yours. Your story of creation and redemption and everything that comes along with being His prized son or daughter... is for His glory. 

Use what He put inside of you. Be loud with it. Stand tall and be brave. Clutch it to your chest tightly and embrace it even. But don't bury it. Cultivate it and watch God continue to weave His purpose and plans into you and through you. 

There is nothing more rewarding in this life, than really truly knowing that you are His, knowing that He is big inside of YOU and He wants desperately to let Him use all of YOU (yes, you), for all of His glory.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth...
Psalms 139:13-15



Monday, November 16, 2015

Your Future Is Bright




Over the weekend, I've been trying my best to process what is happening in our world. The evident evil taking over otherwise happy, everyday moments of so many lives in so many places. From threats of terror to movie theater and school shootings, life can really feel unpretty these days. Like the rest of the world, my heart was aching the moment I heard about attacks of concert goers and city dwellers in Paris. My heart was aching and my mind was fearful. Then articles started pouring in about suicide bombings in Beirut. And hashtags start switching from #prayforparis to #prayfortheworld as people around the world began letting their voice be heard of their own tragedy.

Everytime I hear of a mass attack on humanity by any means, two things automatically cross my mind. One, what happened to these people? These were once someone's tiny sweet innocent babies, full of life and purpose. How did they get to this place where this was okay in their mind? And second, why oh why have I brought children into this world? I am just one person and can only protect them so far, so how do I protect them from things like this, because it seems to me, no one is immune.

In the midst of all our facebook filters and hashtags rallying support around others that have had tragedy strike, we either live in fear or we keep convincing ourselves to just keep living fearlessly, because we may as well make the best of our life, do the most that we can, while we still have breath to breathe. We know our true future is in Heaven, but what about now?

My 12 year old son was showing some concern on and off over the weekend for the "what ifs?" What if it happened here?  How do we arm ourselves and our families? How do we not show up at the wrong place at that wrong time? And as I was looking to the Lord, he showed me that our only answer is to know His voice. We need to know the voice of God's spirit. We need to learn how to let it lead us, how to let it stop us and how to let it give us the go ahead. The Holy Spirit was given to us as our comforter and helper, to reveal to us the deep things of God and to show us things to come.
1 Corinthians 2:10, John 16:13.

In times like these people tend to think that God doesn't care, but the fact remains that he gave men dominion of this world for this time period. They do with this world what they wish. For some, it's evil. For other's its selfishness. For others, it may be just living life oblivious to what we are truly here for. But while he gave mankind dominion, He gave believers the Holy Spirit so that they would allow Him to lead them and guide them throughout their life. And we better have our ears tuned in to His voice, because our future and life depends on it.

It frustrates me at times, watching the enemy working on the lives of Christians, getting them to a place where they compromise truth for lies. They compromise living lives in close communion with the Lord to living lives based off quotes and memes on the internet. Honestly, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter how inspirational a person or his words are, if it's not the whole word of God, it's not truth. And memes and quotes aren't going to save anyone when the enemy is working on someone's mind to blow a up a building that you just walked into. Being led by God's spirit and knowing His voice is our only hope and comfort in this time. We need to know Him and be willing to obey his leading. We need to stop getting in our own way, stop playing the devils games and get serious about this life, friends. Clearly the devil is serious. He means business. He is at constant war with humanity because his sole enemy is the God who created them. So why do we play games in a world he's infiltrating?

I know this is a serious post, but this is a serious time we live in. And sometimes I fear for people that want to say as long as we love Jesus, everything is okay. Love Jesus or not, if we don't know His voice, how will He ever warn us or show us things we need to know? Time away from this 'world' and spent soaking in God's presence is key. I believe God will and does show all kinds of people all kinds of things they need to know for their future, but if you are too busy following all the other voices that are beckoning you in this world, online, in books, on youtube or even in our own mind... you will always second guess or flat out disobey his voice--His voice that was trying to show you things that will protect or bless you and your family.

I get tired of the gross darkness that is attempting to cover our world and even infiltrate the body of Christ. And I just had to say it. It's deceptive. It's sneaky. And It's meant as a distraction to water down the power and presence and anointing of God in our lives. And ultimately, it's meant to deter the body of Christ from hearing His voice and doing what they are called to do. God's love is bigger than acceptance which seems to be the mantra these days . Jesus came to set people free from the things that hold us captive, to give us authority over the enemy, and then He left us with His Spirit to keep us growing, moving, protected & guided. All incredible acts of His incredible love.

And right now I'm thanking God for all the tools He's provided for me. I'm thanking God I don't have to live in fear. And it's my hearts purpose to make better use of what He left for me to use, both for myself and for the world around me... I'm thanking God my future is bright. My kids future is bright. My husbands future is bright...

And yours can be bright too, friend.

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. -Jeremiah 29:11



Monday, October 12, 2015

Leaving the Ninety-Nine





Over the past few years, I've discovered a lot inside myself that I enjoy and love, actually. That sounds weird to say, but I don't think it's crazy to love the things God has stirred and placed inside of you. I don't think it's crazy for you to love YOU. Especially when the you that you are loving is really just the things He put on the inside of you. All those things that make you, YOU... are really just Him.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at a women's breakfast we had at our church. Public speaking is still semi new to me and I've only engaged in it a hand full of times. I'm still in the place of feeling completely awkward, but also "Okay, I can do this." I've sort of fallen into the role of coordinating our ladies ministry, but never really feel comfortable saying "Ok, listen up Ladies. I've got something to say and I think you need to hear it." I'm fairly confident when I hear from the Lord, but I'm never sure of other people's confidence in me, so I hesitate. I step in and sort of just micro manage all the event details of this area in our small church without really having to 'teach' for fear of "What if I'm wrong?"  

But at the same time, I know when I'm hearing from the Lord. I'm careful as to when I speak up or when to keep silent because God is speaking just to me. I've learned over the years when to...and when not to... You live and learn.
I was weighing (overthinking) all the pros and cons of  stepping on stage with a mic in hand and all my notes in front of me, saying "God said...". I told a friend my hesitancy both because I was unsure, but also because I told her I didn't want people to think that I thought I knew it all, because I don't. 
(that darn fear of people).

And her reply stuck with me...

"It's okay to be confident in yourself and your abilities. It's okay to know you are good at something. It's okay to do something  you believe in with boldness and anticipation. It's okay to know you hear from God."

That was the jist of it. It's okay to believe in yourself.
It's okay to love who God made you.

I've done a lot of digging these past few years, deep within myself, and I have to say , I love where God is taking me. It's not big and flashy. It's not really bold and sassy. But it's me and it's Him. And it's unique. It's beautiful. And it's ours. And I love that. 
Sharing my heart, using way too many words, dancing with creativity-I love it all.

And it's okay to love who He made me.

I truly thrive and find such purpose in being used by the Lord to speak truth and life and encourage others. I love watching Him work, not because I am so great, but because I am willing.
And it's okay. 

It's okay for us to be happy and excited with where God has us. It's okay if He promotes us to different or or even monumental spheres of influence. And it's also okay to want to be used more and more by Him. I don't shy away from it as much as I used to , because more than anything, I know if I can't do it, He can... and He's just using my life and my story and my mouth to tell His story. 
His story of redemption. 

But what I keep finding out over and over....and what I keep hearing the Lord ask me is, "Is it okay if I keep you here for awhile? Is it okay if this is just your season, if this is just your place for awhile? Are you okay with just being a friend? Are you okay with just encouraging people with a smile or a conversation? Are you okay with letting your small be  my great?" 

Taking giant leaps in life doesn't always glitter or feel snazzy. Maybe just a few see you sparkle from close up. Maybe no one sees you sparkle at all. Or maybe you don't feel like anyone sees you, because not enough see you. Are you okay with just letting him use you in His way? Not yours?

I was reading the 'parable of the ninety-nine' earlier this week in Luke 15 and it struck me in a new way. In this parable, Jesus talks about the shepherd who had one hundred sheep (or one hundred followers, if you will) and he lost one, but he left his ninety-nine in search of the lost one. That lost sheep was valuable. Clearly, he was a wanderer. He was probably dirty and smelly, which isn't cool. He didn't follow the crowd and wasn't in the corner coffee shop sipping on a chai tea latte keeping tabs on hipster subculture. But he was important enough to leave the ninety-nine that were...
In this technology savvy culture we live in, where we shine our bright lights on the small hand held screens of our peers and our fans, would we be okay leaving our 'ninety-nine' to reach the one lost and hurting one? Or have we so exhausted ourselves undertaking the masses or even just the busy-ness of life, that the small lost sheep gets shuffled aside? 
It spoke something fierce to me. I'm just like the rest of you. We all want people to notice us, our hard work, our deep thought out sentiment, our creativity... but would we leave all our likes and favorites and follows behind, would we pause our busy lives if there was just one small person that needed us? Would we notice them?

And that is where I got stuck all week. Am I noticing them?

God was saying, "Who is that one person that you've been thinking of lately? Are  you willing to take the time to step away from the hype and glam to reach just that one person? Are you willing to use your influence for something small? Are you ready to stop being too busy? Because if you are, what you might deem as small and perhaps insignificant, I am calling great. 
I want to open my life for God to use me, but I'm just more and more seeing that His ways are so much more grand than mine. His thoughts are higher than mine. And we are filled with so much contentment, satisfaction and everlasting joy-- when we aren't getting in the way of his big work in us and through us in seemingly small ways.

Matthew 25:23
His Master said to him 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.


"We long to see God's power and glory, the miraculous and supernatural breaking into the temporal. But let's not forget the one. Don't forget the one next to you-the person to whom you can be Jesus' hands of compassion. In God's economy, the person who just reaches out to one and sees that one find grace is just as important as the evangelist who leads thousands to Christ."-Heidi Baker













Friday, September 4, 2015

Because I Hate Bad News.



Me: (via text) Hey Mom. What are you up to today?
Silence
Me: (via text) Are you doing anything tonight?
Silence
Me: (via text) Any chance you would be able to watch the kids tonight?
Nothing.

Finally I hurdle through *what feels like an impossible* challenge of using my actual words for an actual phone call to possibly hear an actual real time rejection of my request. It's so much easier to ask a favor via text because then if I am turned down, I can sulk quietly in the privacy of my home. On that same note, it's easier for the favor to be asked of someone via text because they can ignore the request and pretend they didn't see it. I'm not saying that's what my mom does, I'm saying we all do it. Because we hate bad news. And in some cases, being stuck babysitting on a Friday night is bad news.

Am I the only one who avoids looking at my bank statement because I'm scared of what it might say? Or avoids going to the doctor because what if it's serious? I do it like I'm watching a scary  movie with my hands covering my eyes and I peek through the space in my fingers. I have pillows on either side of my ears to drown out the intensity of the music. I want to know what happens, but I dont really want to see what leads up to it.

I was talking to my mom on the phone one morning earlier this week and I asked her about the possibility of  'unpleasant news' and she said to me, "I haven't thought about it yet. I want to get into the presence of God first and pray and read my Bible. Otherwise it will ruin my day." {On a side note: Can I just say I love my mom for that? She's sets such an incredible example of looking unto Jesus first, and not circumstances.}

As I was mulling over these thoughts yesterday, I forced myself to go over in my head all the *bad news* and things that I had thought about these past few weeks.
*Wow, I can't believe she died. Where has she been all these years anyways?
*Guys are such jerks. What on earth is wrong with people?
*Who on earth is that disgusting? Perverts.
*What do we do if ISIS was here? And I hear it is. Seriously, what do we do?
*Another mass shooting? Do I ever want to go to a movie again?
*Her Instagram feed looks so cool. What's the point? I'm not that creative. I can't compete with that.
*I wish I was cute and skinny again and had money for clothes like that. Those days are gone forever.
*Ugh. This country is getting more and more corrupt and immoral. I can't even handle it anymore.
*Do they ever see their kids? Is she ever happy or in a good mood? Can they ever not share gossip stories on facebook?

The list goes on.

So many thoughts that hit my mind regularly are negative and derived from something I was looking at online, either in the *facebook trending* news or on social media of some form. You guys, I'm not sure how I feel about  the shock of celebrity gossip or watching our society recklessly abandon biblical principals on the regular or shuttering over heart wrenching death being at the forefront of my day. I was always one to sort of avoid 'the news' because I didn't want to feed on anything that was going to cause me additional fear or pain. Maybe that's just me.

I often have this inner battle with my online status and whether or not I should step away from social media or the internet occasionally because of the way it affects me.  I think alot of us do. It almost seems silly, but the internet riles us up, ya know? It can boil our blood, put us in tears, cause us to roll our eyes, confuse us, sadden us, frighten us and deter our faith if we let it. And it's real. I hate to say it, but it's not just silly social media anymore. It's real life.
You know why? Because it really affects our hearts.



Above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been rolling around on the inside of me this past 24 hours. Guard your heart. You guys, protecting yourself from 'bad news' or whatever it is that trips you up, isn't silly. It's actually biblical. You are the one who is responsible for your life and what flows from it. You have a responsibility to your people. Your kids. Your husband. Your community. Is life flowing from you to them? Is joy and peace flowing from you to them? Or is frustration, fear, irritability, confusion, doubt? Whatever it is, it's coming from somewhere.

What you are filling your heart with is what will come out. And if you aren't filling it with life, then life isn't what is coming out. You know the saying- Garbage In, Garbage out...

This post has nothing really to do with facebook or instagram or the internet within itself. In fact there is so much good online. So much that has inspired me and given me hope. But this has to do with what is affecting your heart for the worse. We might blow it off like it's not a big deal or tease people because they take it so seriously and abandon their social media, But in our culture, social media is *a thing* for a lot of people. Internet temptation is real. Fear is real. It just is.
Online life *is* real life for the majority of our society.
And if that is what is affecting you daily, then it's up to you to protect yourself. It it's something else, then guard yourself from that. Don't feel silly about it. Take your heart seriously.
You are responsible for the life (or death) that is flowing from you to your people, to your dreams, to your vision, to your purpose. I don't know about you, but I want life flowing into my vision. I want life flowing to the people I love and serve.

I'm not saying never go to the doctor because you don't want to hear bad news, or don't take cover when a tornado siren is going off. Obviously, we should use wisdom and we know there are tests and troubles in this world. We go through them with Jesus by our side. And we overcome.

But don't go looking for unnecessary ways to crush your spirit and spew death into the inner most parts of you, because you are responsible to give life and you can't give life you have none in you to give. 

Semi Side Note: Of course I know the word of God says to "cast down all thoughts and imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God" and I do when they come, Thank God for His truth.  But what if we didn't feed on or help plant those thoughts to begin with?

Bad news isn't entirely unavoidable. But feeding on it is. Where is your bad news coming from?






Friday, August 28, 2015

Mom Guilt.



This afternoon my girls started walking out the door to head next door to my sister's house (yes, she lives next door) and immediately I went in panic mode. My sister has a brand new three week old baby girl and who knows where my kids hands have been. I don't keep perpetual tabs on what their fingers are digging in or playing with, but I know whatever it is, it probably made their fingernails grimy and black and sticky and I can only assume that no one wants the gritty fingers of adventurous children touching the cheeks of their first precious baby girl. So I panicked. I made them scrub their hands and I pulled out the toenail clippers, because I couldn't find a fingernail one. A toenail clippers will do just fine. And I cut those babies down as far as they would go. I breathed a sigh of relief. Almost. I knew Leila had just been running through the dirt without her shoes on. Here's to sending her off and hoping she doesn't take her shoes off while she's out of reach.

Mom Guilt.

Last night, my son sort of went into a mild hysteria. It suddenly dawned on him that school was just around the corner, when I told him at 10:30 it was time for bed and it was time to get on a school bedtime schedule. His bedtime is actually 9:30 on school nights, but I'm easing him in. He nagged, cried, yelled a little, begged and then he mumbled something about people 'controlling his life.' And before I knew it, the word "brat" popped out of my mouth and everything in me wanted to pull it out of the air. I also wanted to take back a summer full of bedtimes at midnight for him, but what can I do about it now? Deal with the repercussions of my inconsistencies as a parent. Inconsistencies suck.

Mom Guilt.

Last week, the girls were playing quietly and working hard all day in their bedroom. I saw blankets and tables being dragged into their room and I turned a blind eye to the inevitable tornado I was sure had hit their bedroom. I knew it was being demolished. But they were being so quiet and I was enjoying the silence.
And also, I'm a type B personality. I'm not saying a bit of panic or irritability doesn't set in when the house is a mess and people are on their way over or if I'm trying to work or watch TV and there are clothes and lucky charms strewn about. Stress happens. But usually, I tell myself to chill. Enjoy life. Yes, I can enjoy life in a mess, because my kids come before the house. My happiness is found in Jesus. And I simply don't have time to do it all. Particularly not in the summer when I have 4 kids and their friends over all the time. So I rest in the fact that I will get to it when I can.
However, this particular Saturday, I had just recently put the mattresses back on the bed from the bridge the girls built the day before with them and I left the house. The moment we had re-entered the house, I caught them in their room with the mattresses back off the beds and they said they were "making a book" with them. I put the kibosh on the book making fun and Jada told me in character of a typical nine year old that I was mean. In fun, I took the situation to facebook and asked how many moms out there were 'mean' like me and would not let their kids turn their mattresses into a book. The response basically bit me in the tush because it boiled down to 98% of them were mean by their own claim and were seemingly appalled that I had let it go that far.
I basically got the "I would never!!!" vibe.
And suddenly it kicked in.

Mom Guilt.

Most days, I realize the mom guilt or self condemnation by any nature sets in when I compare myself with other people. Other moms. Other pictures on my Instagram feed. Probably type A's. In any case, I compare and I suddenly feel like I don't feed my kids the right foods. My kids aren't being home-schooled. I don't do crafts with my kids (at least not on a regular basis). I'm not a room mom at their school or on the PTA nor do I care to be. I let them make bridges with their mattresses occasionally. And yes, they eat in their room and their carpeting is paying for it. (Not to mention, my eyes and sometimes my feet.)

Am I the only one that feels the tremendous guilt weighing down on you when you find out what someone else is doing or isn't doing? Perhaps you are a working mom who longs to be at home with your children. Perhaps you are a stay at home mom, who feels like you should be providing better for your family. Maybe you rush home after a busy day only to feed your kids cereal or a peanut butter sandwich. Maybe you feel like you don't have time to study up, much less have money to buy organic, gluten free, paleo foods for your family. I've been in tears as I've watched other moms from a distance. I've seen their successful businesses made with 6 kids in tow while they homeschool and pastor a church or travel the globe and I think to myself, "How Lord? How do they do it and still seem so happy?"

All I can come up with is that God has equipped them in this time and this season to do what they are doing. And same goes for you and I. God has equipped us in this time for this season to do what we are doing. He hasn't asked you to do more. He hasn't asked you to do what that girl is doing. As a mom, God gives you the direction, you the grace, you the time to just be MOM. Being mom doesn't come with a rule book or a play by play. And the rules and suggestions of our culture are always changing so you certainly can't go by that. You have to go by your heart, your intuition and where He is leading you to. Sometime his leading allows for some unstructured fun in your kids bedrooms. I'm not kidding. I've felt that 'nudge' to let go of my own self proclaimed precedent about what life or family should or shouldn't be and I've learned to go with the flow.
I've followed His leading. His simple leading to enjoy life. Enjoy my family.
Don't wait for the weekend or for vacation. Enjoy it today, even in the rush.

I'm not saying structure is wrong. Or rules are wrong. Or schedules are wrong. They are all great. And perfect for you, if you know how to work them and maybe you thrive on them. But I'm talking to the 'everyones' who feel guilty because they don't feel like they match up to the next persons way of doing life. Maybe you are a structured by the book kind of mom and you wish you were more laid back. All I know is this: Follow that God appointed parental intuition on the inside of you. It's there for YOU and YOUR family.

I'm always learning. I'm always re-evaluating. I told my son last night as he was in tears about 'having to go to school to learn' that  90% of our life is learning (okay I don't have the statistics on that, but you get what I'm saying.). It never stops. I told him, I'm learning right now how to talk to you & work with you. Life is a continual process. And when I screw up and say something to my kids I feel badly about, I make sure to set the standard at apologizing with sincerity. Mommy makes mistakes, but I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it. So they know that it's okay to make mistakes, but it's better if we learn from them and resolve the problem or hurt we created.

So for all of us moms. Or parents.
Know that you are fully equipped with everything it takes to be a good parent... or a better parent if that's what you desire.. It doesn't take more money or healthier foods or more craft nights, being on the PTA or less mess. Or maybe it does. But just know you have what it takes. You have the ability to make sound decisions and fill their hearts with love and adventure right where you are.
You are enough.

Because He made you to be.




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Am Not Broken.


I've been noticing this trend in our culture.
This trend where we dare to break free from fear of what people might think and we do our best to live authentically. It happens in all circles. Political, religious, personal. We are 'authentic.' No more being afraid of what people think. No more secrets.

We open the pages of our lives, for most of us it's online,  (unless we are a published author or speaker or celebrity) and we dig out the nitty gritty dirty things of our lives and we share them. We parade our humanness in order to relate to humanity. We want people to know and understand us. Sometimes we need them to know us for our sake. We need them to get that 'we are only human.' We fall, we mess up, we suffer. So please, cut us some slack. But I think more often that not, we want to empathize with people. In order for people to hear us out, we need them to know that we understand. We've been there. We are there. And we are working it out. Someway, somehow... this too shall pass.

I've dipped my toes in these waters. I've opened my pages for others to see bits and pieces of my story. The messy parts. The hard parts. And the promising parts. I don't think I've dived completely in, but I've waded, somewhat hesitantly. And I've stumbled around, finding my place of comfort, my place of discomfort and where I can be stretched... and those places where I sense the Lord is giving me the 'go ahead' to lay it all out there.

And just like you, just like us all, I have been through the wringer. Some days the wringer has wrung and wrung and wringed and wrung. Some of those days have turned into weeks, and some of the weeks into long tormented seasons.
But here's the thing. I am still standing. Here's the thing. I am a daughter of God. Have I had brokenness in my life? Yes. But I am not broken. Have I had messy days? Yes. But I am not a mess. Have I failed? Yes. But I am not a failure. Have I felt hurt, been sick, lacked provision at times? Of course, we live in a human world.

But my identity is not wrapped up in my brokenness.
My identity is wrapped up in redemption.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 "...I delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
So I get it. I understand that it's when we finally realize we can't do this hard life alone, that Christ's power can work through us. But it's for that purpose that we recognize the broken, tough, icky messed up parts of us... we recognize it, so that we can then become strong. If you are a redeemed son or daughter of God, you are not broken. You are not a mess. You are not a failure. You are not weak. You are not frail. You are not empty.
YOU ARE STRONG, friend. Walk in it.

Does our need to relate to others sometimes have us glorying a little more in our weaknesses than in His strength?
Have our immensely poetic and philosophical thoughts and quotes carried us to to a place where we just float and sulk in a weighted heaviness that Jesus already bore on the cross and redeemed us from? Sometimes I almost think it's unfair to Jesus, that after everything He went through for our salvation, healing, provision, joy, peace, abundant life and redemption as a whole... that we still qualify ourselves as 'broken.' We sing melancholy tunes of our empty lives that Jesus already filled.

Our testimony to others isn't in the middle of the mess we made of our lives or in the pain that our circumstances caused us. Our testimony of God's goodness comes when we walk out of our mess into our victory with confidence and thankfulness to our Redeemer.

I understand that people, all people... relate to brokenness. People relate to hurt. People relate to screwing up and making bad choices and being let down. And that is why all people need hope. They don't just need us to empathize with our own sad stories and a tidbit about God thrown in at the end. They need more.

We all need more. We all need Jesus.

People need to know 'I am just like you. I've been depressed. I've been abused. I've been poor. I've been sick. I've failed too many times to admit. I've been a bad parent. I've neglected my spouse. I've rolled my eyes, gossiped, wallowed in self pity, been addicted, experiences loss....
But that is not who I am.
I am not broken, because I know the restorer of broken lives.
I do not fall apart daily because my God is the lifter of my head.
I may fail but I am not a failure, because I know someone who forgives and empowers me to keep going.

Life can get pretty dicey sometimes. We live in a natural world. But as sons and daughters of God, we are no longer broken, but made whole. Let's show the world how big Jesus is, what he can do with broken lives and how his redemptive work brings healing and newness.

Old things are passed away. All things are become new.




 
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