When I Get My Life Back

When I Get My Life Back

Over the years I often find myself thinking or saying,

When the kids are older…

When we get past this big event…

After this trip..

Once our remodeling is done…

I’ll get my life back.

When these things happen, that’s when I’ll find real peace, then I’ll be able to get things done, then there will be a sense of normalcy for once.

In the midst of the things that feel so messy and burdensome at times, I find myself complaining and longing for the finish line, rather than seeing the purpose within the process.

The thing is, the Lord gives us everything we need, not what we think we need, when we think we need it.

The bumpy, messy times within our journey of life are the very times He wants to use to grow our capacity for the more He has for us.

This summer the journey felt pretty rough. There wasn’t a sense of normacy to say the least and I found myself thinking, “when this all ends I’ll get my life back”.

Here’s a recap that really only scratches the surface : Two-week road trip, months of remodel within our home-including no shower/bath, living in our RV for weeks, and a cloud of uncertainty regarding our children’s next season of education—it wasn’t comfortable. On many occasions, I found myself venting to the Lord and finding myself at such an emotional low.

This may seem like real “first world problems”, but it doesn’t always take a tragic event to get us discouraged. Its very often the build up of many little things.

Yet, now that I look back over the past three months, I see the sweet memories made, the laughs, and all of the new experiences for our children. I look at our almost finished home and I’m full of gratitude. Within all the photos from the summer, I see beauty, family, and real life—I see it all as God does…now.

The Lord has really been challenging me to live with His perspective NOW, not in retrospect. Our Father’s perspective is so much higher, so optimistic, so big-picture. I want His perspective in the mundane times, and in the chaotic times.

Putting our life on hold, complaining, not running the race fully, and seeing burden more than blessings only keeps us going around the same mountain of discontentment.

I can’t help but think of the Israelites. We all know the story–the Israelites made what should have been a two-week journey into a 40-year journey and never made it to the promise land. Yet, all along the Lord’s presence and provision hovered over them in the form of a cloud. All they had to do was look up to where their help came from.  Instead, they traded God’s long term, all-encompassing perspective in for their immediate-right in front of them perspective.

Much like the Israelites we all want rescued, and set free. But the thing is, the Lord already died to give us that freedom. It’s already ours.

Have you ever tried to rescue someone from a negative situation, yet once you did, they fell back into bondage again? In the same way–

We are rescued, but if we don’t grab hold of God’s perspective, we’ll just fall back into the prison we came from.

Freedom is worth claiming, believing, and fighting to remain in.

Let’s determine today– no more believing lies, no more going around the same mountain. Freedom is here and it all starts with taking on God’s perspective now, not “when we get our lives back”.

A Letter To My Children

A Letter To My Children

I’m sure you’ll eventually learn this about your mother, but I thought I’d make sure it’s down in writing, just in case you ever needed a reminder. I’m writing only weeks after my thirty fourth birthday, as I’m reflecting on a gathering your dad and I attended recently. This gathering was full of wealthy and influential people, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence within the realm of pastoring or owning a business. This time though, the entire night I noticed such a reoccurring trend of pretentiousness.

This certain attitude used to irritate me to no end. “Who do these people think they are?”, or “Why is it so hard to find real people?” were some of my thoughts.  Eventually, I found myself avoiding contact and being ready to leave.

I’m sure by the time you can read, I will have thoroughly explained this word, but just in case you’re not fully aware of it’s depth, here’s the definition:

pre·ten·tious
attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.
Some synonyms that truly define this as I’ve seen it play out in life:
  • Showy
  • Artificial/fake
  • Inflated
And I’ll add “stuffy”

The thing is, this gathering would have drove me kind of crazy in the past. I would have been planning our escape plan within the first ten minutes. But, the very attitude that used to rub me wrong, is now the attitude that tells me the most about the person. Pretentiousness now acts as red flag; a reminder from the Lord of their need for love.

What I had not realized when I came across this attitude before was that—

The more pretentious the person, the greater the amount of shame hides within.

A person full of shame is believing something is wrong with who they are. Being pretentious is just one of the many ways shame shows itself.

My loves… please be real, authentic, true to yourself, preferring of others, humble and kind. Because, fake-nice faces and halfhearted, disinterested conversations are unbecoming, and obvious to anyone around who has an ounce of discernment.

Be truly interested in what others have to say, not asking questions you don’t truly care to know the answers to.

True honor comes from being humble.

God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.”
James 4:6  (TPT)

I pray that as you grow, you become so aware of just how loved and valued you are by the Father, that shame never stands a chance.

I pray you grow to know your worth, value, and your true identity as His beloved child.

It is only in knowing and being known by your Father that you are able to live life never needing to measure up, look, or act any way other than who you were created to be.

Only then will you be able to live without barriers that prevent you from truly connecting with those who are not just like you.

If by chance, you have seasons or moments when you forget His goodness, I pray you find yourself surrounded by the kind of people who will remind you. The kind of people who only accept depth and truth, over pretention.

And last, I want you to know that you will always come across pretentiousness on all different levels from others. Always remember, every single person is loved deeply by the Father and we are called to love them just the same.

Everything does not happen for a reason.

Everything does not happen for a reason.

I joke often about the fact that I I feel like I have a case of childhood amnesia. I swear I draw a blank for most of the things that took place in my life as a child. But, there are random times that I do remember, and those things remain so clear and detailed in my mind. When I think about this particular moment, I am in awe of the detail the Lord includes and allows us to remember within the story He writes of our lives. The story He is writing even when we have no clue that He is.

In middle school English class I wrote in a poem,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

I stood at my teacher’s desk as she read my question outload, and responded with, “well, wouldn’t we all like to know the answer to that!”.

Reflecting back, I realize what depth that question carried, and what truth her answer revealed. The question I asked in middle school still stands as one of the most commonly asked questions people struggle with regarding faith in God.

The thing is, the closest we can get to having an answer to this question is–Once sin entered the world, so did free will. The fact that people have choices AND that there is a very real enemy working against us, with one sole mission to kill, steal, and destroy are the truths that bring us closest to a clear “why”.

Instead of focusing on the unknown, I prefer to focus on what I know to be true. The Bible is full of promises we can stand on. It’s also full of stories that reveal the true nature of our God.

Too often, instead of building relationship and trust in our Father, we try to answer or justify the unknowns within life by saying things like, “Everything happens for a reason”.  But the thing is, it only takes one tragic event in one’s life before that statement seems kind of cruel. The intention behind it is to bring comfort or resolve to a circumstance, but given the right circumstance such as premature death, sickness, harm done to innocent children, and that saying just doesn’t mesh well.

We might as well classify our Father as an abusive, controlling type if we believe He would cause or allow tragedy and pain to happen to us for any reason.

But, here’s the good news! We do have answers! We do serve a God with a solid track record of making wrong things right. This is where our hope lies.

Once we really start learning the true nature of our Father, we are instead overwhelmed by His love for us. We learn that–

He grieves and weeps with us.

He is closest to the broken hearted.

He is our help in our time of trouble.

And one of my all-time favorite character traits of His is–

He is always working on our behalf to fix the wrong and make it right again.

He trades beauty for ashes.

In the last year or so, my family has experienced such pain, tragedy, and hardship.

I know what it’s like to be standing in ashes.

But, I also know that there’s no story that ends like that, IF we rely and put our faith and trust in Him.

For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise!
Wrapping himself around me like a shield,  he is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all.   Psalm 84:11 (PTT)

We can rest assured that in our time of trouble, when the pain is so unbearable, He is writing a beautiful story. On the other side of the pain is the healing, mending, breakthrough, and beauty. Within my own story, I am already starting to see how the Lord is turning my tragedy into purpose.

The bible says that we can expect the Lord to redeem and restore. This means we can rest in the promises that the Lord is working on our behalf to give us a FULL, COMPLETE AND PERFECT COMPENSATION–Even more than double for our trouble. I believe it, I expect it, and I am already seeing it take place in my own life.

While we may not have all the answers for why bad things happen, we know they did not happen for any good reason. Even in the bad, we can find purpose instead of reason. The purpose is part of the beauty that the Lord forms from the ashes.

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!

Romans 15:13 (TPT)

Less Doing + More Being

Less Doing + More Being

For years, around the Christmas season I sang the songs and listened to the messages revolving around the name Emmanuel, without ever really taking the meaning of the name literal. Most of us know that Emmanuel means, “God with us”, but often time we see it as a name, and not a reality in our day to day lives.  Jesus’ role is to literally be with us always. Every moment of the day His goodness and love pursue us (Ps 139:6) and that reality is worth all the celebration and thankfulness we can give Him.

He is Emmanuel, a God who is here with us always coming in close, making all of the wrong right again. Jesus’ tangible, personal, and real presence is available for us all.

You're like summer in the night

The sun goes down but still I feel You
 And every shadow's turning bright
 Every broken heart is made new

Oh, You're not far away
 You're coming close
 And oh, even as I wait
 You're coming close

And there's no heart unseen
 There's no space between
 You and I
 You and I
 You are closer than
 The very oxygen
 I'm breathing in
 Oh, I breath You in
 You are God with us
 You are here with us
 Emmanuel!
 Emmanuel!
 You are infinite
 Your glory has no end
 Jesus!
 Jesus!

"Starlight" by Amanda Cook

Yet, the very month we as Christians are celebrating Jesus coming to this earth–His presence being made available to us, is the very month we struggle to find the time to take Him up on His offer. The offer that says, “come Be with me”. Yet, I know I’m not the only one rushing around, attending endless parties, and all the fun things that come along with the holiday season.  In the end, all of the fun usually only leaves us feeling pretty maxed.

We are so busy doing, that we leave no time to just be.

Less Doing and more Being

While we can’t always sit in stillness and quiet, reading His word, and praying, we can always make finding time to be with Him priority.  Although He is always with us, even in the busy,  it is when we seek Him that we are most fulfilled. He satisfies our souls like no other.

Psalm 16:11 says,

You reveal the path of life to me;
in Your presence is abundant joy;
in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

The neat thing about this scripture is that there is actually no Hebrew word for “presence.” When the Psalmist wanted to speak of God’s presence, he used the Hebrew word for “face.” It’s when we continually seek His face that we begin to take on His image and reflect that image to everyone around us. His image looks like love.

The Lord is such a loving Father who longs for an authentic relationship with us. He lights up when we make time to be with Him.

When a king’s face lights up, there is life;
his favor is like a cloud with spring rain.  Proverbs 16:15

In these last few weeks of this December madness, lets push pause and say no to some of the things that fill our calendar. Lets regain focus and rest, remembering what is most important. Let’s steal away with Him and make His face light up. After all, Christmas is much more special once we take in “God with us” as a real life relationship we make time for.

 

For The Love Of Conviction

For The Love Of Conviction

I still remember the guilt and worry that consumed me as a child when I found out my sister was smoking. I was about ten years old when for whatever reason she showed me the cigarettes she had in her room. She had started smoking and thought it would be fun to tell ME out of all people! And of course, she told me NOT to tell our parents. It’s as if she did this just to torture me. I tossed and turned all night long wrestling with this new truth, until finally in the middle of the night I went to my parent’s room and woke up my mom. I was in tears as I told her the news. It was as if I was holding on to this tragic thing that I couldn’t hold onto any longer. The thought of this is pretty funny to me now, but at the time it was serious business! It seems I was born with a huge conscience. I used to wish I wasn’t so sensitive to things, but these days I’ve grown to love my convictions because they are a sign of growth.

When all of a sudden I’m getting a check in my Spirit after I do or say something, then I know the Lord is slowly working on me in a certain area. I want to be willing to be worked on. Instead of ignoring the Holy Spirit when He’s talking to me, I allow Him to lead.

Some of the things I’ve felt conviction for lately are things that didn’t convict me before and I’m encouraged by that. The more we follow the Lord, making Him priority, the more He is able to mold us into His image. It’s such a natural progression and nothing that feels like rules, pressure, or being good to measure up.

Here’s how conviction plays out in my life.

The other day I was about to send a sarcastic text (I am naturally sarcastic. Nothing wrong with that, except for when It’s wrong :)) to a friend the other day. But, right before I pushed send, the phrase, “Blessed are the peacekeepers” popped into my mind. Then the scripture-

 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14

Instantly I felt guided. I felt convicted. But not in a negative way; A loving reminder kind of way.

Before I sent that “not so peace making” text message, I put the phone down and resisted the possible text convo that usually doesn’t result in bringing about peace. Let’s admit, sometimes we want to send that text or make that call to a friend to vent…but if we’re honest it probably isn’t going to bring about any good and especially not peace.

Let’s seek peace. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to mold us into that perfect vessel so that we can see the Lord so clearly. Once we see and know His beauty, we can’t help but be transformed.

Who says your life is mediocre?

Who says your life is mediocre?

I recently read a blog that was shared thousands of times in which the writer asks the question, “What if I’m okay with a mediocre life?”

However, in all the ways she spelled out her life as mediocre, I found it to be quite the contrary.

me·di·o·cre

of only moderate quality; not very good.

Since when did living a life that doesn’t include fame or huge and very visible things mean that our lives are mediocre? Since when did being a mom, wife and sister equate to not being enough? Who says bigger is always better? Who says having a not too big and not too small, but somewhere in the middle-sized body is mediocre?  Yet, her questions and writing resounded with so many women. That must mean so many of us feel this tension inside. The need to be more, the feelings of not being enough, and the pressure to strive.

So, what if you aren’t traveling and speaking to thousands, but you do invest in individuals? What if you’re not on leadership at a church, but you make a positive impact within the church body? What if your body isn’t what it used to be before having children and you’re ok with that? What if you don’t start an orphanage in Africa, yet you love and give locally? What if your home is never decorated like so many beautiful homes we see on social media or in magazines, but it’s just right for your family? What if you can’t always keep up with feeding your family super healthy or organic meals and every now and then you enjoy pizza with them instead?

Who says this way of life is mediocre? Who says it’s not enough or you’re not enough?

The world may scream at us to hustle or strive and measure up, but not even the world can steal the peace and wholeness that resides in a women who knows who and whose she is.

The truth is, not one person has it all together at all times. When we see the perfect homes in magazines or social media, we must know that to get a perfect picture of one room, all the other rooms are most likely in complete disarray. When we see a mom or wife that travels often or works most of the week, we must know that they have help with their children and time away from their family is required. Because nobody can do all and be all things to the fullest and we were never called to. I once found myself giving into that lie that we must be all things and do all things to perfection.  In the end, living that lie left me so exhausted and anxious.

True rest comes when we embrace our identity as His children; His beloved. 

Lately I’ve found myself living life at such a calm, peaceful pace. Finally coming to this place of contentment. This place of knowing that I do not need to rush, or hurry to make anything happen in my life. A place where days of rest, quality time, and putting energy and time towards life giving things bring such fullness. I’m content in my role as a mom, wife, and friend. I am content praying and helping others, worshipping, writing from my heart, loving well, and just being His. I’m content, but I am also not allowing myself to stay comfortable. 

While it is true that we are loved and we are enough, we can’t stop there. As much as the Lord loves us just as we are, His love still calls us to the more.  I believe the blog resonated with so many because it allowed us to take a big sigh of relief.  Deep down, we want permission to just be enough and to just stop there.

The thing is, the times I’ve grown the most were when I stepped out onto the water and far away from the boat–the place that keeps me safe and comfortable. 

It’s His love that calls us to the more. The more will look different for everyone, but there is always, always more. The more may seem like too much, but we can do hard or big things with His grace. I believe we can step out into the more He has for us and still live life from a calm, simple and peaceful position. But, if we stay comfortable, we aren’t growing. It’s His good pleasure to give, guide and watch us grow into fullness; and there’s nothing mediocre about a life lived only to follow His lead.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:6-7Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, BUT WE STILL HAVE A UNIQUE PURPOSE UNDER IT.

THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, BUT WE STILL HAVE A UNIQUE PURPOSE UNDER IT.

I remember feeling so confused and discouraged the first time I read the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes from a void in his life and a search for meaning. He reflects on the major accomplishments in his life in light of the reality of our lives being but a vapor.

Solomon writes,

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

That verse isn’t the most motivational for sure. The reader is left with the thought, “Then what’s the point of even trying?” I dug deeper to find his ultimate message is to encourage us to not waste our lives trying to justify our existence with pursuits that ultimately mean nothing. Instead, he prompts us to make our lives count for eternity.

When we love and serve Jesus fully, we are doing the same thing today that we will do for eternity. We are making the ways of Heaven known on earth.  This is the way the Lord intended us to live when He said, “On earth as it is in Heaven”.  Even if what we are called to has been done so many times before, there’s still great purpose in it. Purpose that will count for not only this life time, but for eternity.

Have you ever wanted to try something, but never did due to the thought, “What can I say or do that hasn’t been done already?”

I believe when we are putting Jesus first, He will start leading us to use what He has put in us for His glory.  Whatever that thing is. The thing that you enjoy, feel called to, or do well. That thing that makes your heart come alive. It may be singing, helping others in the medical world, playing an instrument, crunching numbers, painting, photography, writing or speaking. You fill in the blank. Yet, so many of us aren’t using our gifts to make Jesus known in the earth.

It’s true; there really is nothing new under the sun. No matter what your talent or gifting is, it most likely has been done before in some form. History does repeat itself.

But the thing is, the sun is huge,

and there is room for us all to live out our dreams under it.

We need you to do your thing.

We need you to be fully you while you’re doing it.

We can’t do what we are called to fully, if you’re not doing your thing.

We are all meant to play a unique chord in life that certain people will identify with more than they would with any other chord.

What happens when you get under your chord?

Someone else could be great at what you’re great at, but only you can do that thing in the unique way you were created to do it. God created us each with a blue print unlike anyone else in the earth.

I think if we all begin to appreciate the full, complete, and multi-faceted body of Christ, comparison would disappear!

Lisa Bevere speaks such truth when she says, “There’s enough glory to go around for each of us, and when we’re all operating in our created purpose, together we are the most glorious. Paul taught us that Christ’s Body is made up of many members that have different functions.”

These verses are so rich with truth!

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ…. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you”

1 Corinthians 12:12-21

What is your function? He wired each of us so uniquely to function as only we can. Maybe you’re not surrounded by others who see your wiring and encourage you to function. It’s so important to find a church where they see your wiring and set you in place to function well.  A church full of family who love you, see what is in you and encourage you to try something new and uncomfortable.

As Kevin Leal says, “If the gift is not expressed, the person becomes depressed.” We are the most alive and joy-filled when we’re doing what we are called to.

I don’t know about you, but I’m super grateful the Lord made this a team effort. I’m glad that I don’t need to function in all things well, I just need to do what I am called to.

Thankfully, the Lord gives us grace for the place and things He calls us to. I know I’m not in place when the grace isn’t there and I’m having to try too hard. If the grace is there you’re in place.

Let’s find our place and make our lives count for eternity!