Trading in my Weights

I’ve been praying for the next hurdle in my faith journey, my own holy temple- me. I’ve struggled with weight pretty much my ENTIRE life, and never felt really beautiful or revered.  There are 50 million reasons the world will give for how people have spoken it over me or not given me the affirmation I needed, but at some point, it comes back to my disbelief in what God’s word says.  I can blame an old lady who mentioned that I would be breathtaking if I lost 15 pounds (which made me find another twinkie, OF COURSE), or I can recognize the fact that I took the word of a fallible human like myself over the breathtaking, life giving words of my heavenly father. WHY do I do this?!

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Last week, my pastor was speaking on the year ahead and what we would leave behind as we moved into a new place.  In the time of prayer for revelation, the words ‘weight’ and ‘wait’ were all over me.  My father was speaking promise over me and I was completely overcome.

This year, it is time.  It is time for me to stop praying for a sunrise and for a change and for the next thing to happen. It is time for me to let go of the weight of, well, life and my personal wait, and rest in the wait for Him and His promises.

Isaiah 40:31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Waiting in Him. But what the heck does that mean?!  Waiting in worldly terms kind of sucks, so why do I want to wait to be renewed?!!! I want to wait in Him because waiting in Him means no worry in the wait, no weight in the wait.

When I get up each day for the swift paced life and I’m waiting in Him, I am seeking and following His will, taking His directed steps, and I am confident in the peace that He will always be there, a constant presence with perfect timing- delivering what I need and my hearts desire when and in the manner I need it most.

I may foreclose on a house (totes did that in the market crash as a 28 year old), or spend what seemed like an eternity wondering if I could tolerate a marriage (I can and I love him), or wonder if I would ever be able to have a baby (3 kids in four years is plenty o’ children), but He walks me through that because when He gives me a promise, I value it. I steward it, and I am reminded that once I worried I would never have it.  To keep it, I must always understand and remember those difficult times He walks me though so I stay on the path set out for me.

God, in 2018, I pray you help me continue to remove my weight (literal and figurative, lol) and that I live fully and restfully in your wait.

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Living in Exile

How many of us feel like we wake up in the morning to a world gone mad?  Good is bad, bad is good, and your own personal safety can be at risk simply because of your belief system.

It’s so easy to be angry. I find myself questioning how we got here, and looking at my littles and wondering what they will be up against- thinking about what they are already up against.

The only thing I have chosen to speak over my house is scripture and love.  I never understood just how easily we become, as a dear friend always says, two degrees off.  That two degrees out of God’s will is enough for the next generation and for all of our interactions and relationships to begin to be further and further from the beautiful plan our father has for us.

This morning, I found myself in Jeremiah 29 and verse 7 had never jumped at me until today.  In all the anger and attempted avoidance of the world,  I am being called to spread his Love. How often to I pray for my city, my country? Not enough.  This struck me that no matter the happenings or beliefs of the world around me, He has called me to pray and trust His plan for the rest. It’s easy to lay down the sword when the battle is His every day.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (1)

The Sacrifice of Service

Also titled: Do Your Freaking JOB

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -GALATIANS 5:13

So multiple times this week, I’ve heard ministry leaders mention needing help, seen them actively request help with no response, and also seen one struggling with what to do because people are quitting the teams she leads because she is passionate and <<gasp>> has come up with plans to move the needle and engage them. How dare ANYONE CARE about the future of their communities enough to take action and seek help as they have been CALLED TO DO BY GOD HIMSELF?!?!?!

I know.  What are these jerks thinking?  They’re already making millions trying to save souls and feed the hungry, care for the widows and orphans, etc. etc. etc. and they have the audacity to ask us to SERVE.  We’re busy being healthy, driving the cars, living in the houses, and raising the children God entrusted us with to steward and steward well, and someone has the nerve to say we are supposed to share some of that time and good health and those assets back to the one who gave them to us in the first place.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

No I’m not kidding you.  The children’s bible study that we view as glorified babysitting is potentially the only peaceful hour that kid gets all week.  They come full of joy that they have a safe place, and hear about a father who loves them versus the one who may not be present or may not love them.

This isn’t me screeching, though.  This is a love letter, actually.  This is a love letter to the people who answer this call.

You see, I always would have friends tell me they felt called to foster or adopt, and I would say “I’ll be praying for y’all, and please let me know if you need anything, but we’ve never felt the call.”  About a year ago, God heard me say that for the last time, and July 19, 2016, we literally got a phone call.

Over the next year, we found ourselves fighting tooth and nail for a beautiful child of God who at times, didn’t even want to be with us, because she had no idea who we were.  We learned that her life and that of so many others stood at the mercy of a broken system that was neither timely nor certain. Two days ago, I learned of yet one more hurdle to jump, and found myself crying out to God in agony, a blubbering mess. I was ready to right a venomous article about a system that was committed to nothing and ill-equipped to solve a never-ending problem.

In that moment, though, God spoke.  I was driving down the road trying to understand the method as to which I was supposed to climb through the newest hope in our battle to be her parents and how I was going to lose it online about the whole thing, when God said ‘It’s your own fault. It’s your own fault because you are part of a broken body.’ This broken body, his body.  Designed to be a well-oiled machine had become fat and lazy and lukewarm.  I and the rest of the body had become so #blessed and #busy that we no longer did our jobs effectively, and we expected someone else to do it for us.

In that moment, God humbled me, and made it clear that a broken system surrounding an issue the government should have never needed to take responsibility for would never be right.  An agency could never achieve the vision of love and family God called forth in his people, yet we expect it to be done and be done well by others.  I am working through a system of which I am one of the creators, and if we aren’t careful in our service, we could all find ourselves dealing with the ramifications of our laziness and distraction.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. – Galatians 6:8-9

The bad news is really bad, and the good news is really good, but there is no longer a middle in this world, and we need to understand that the small acts of faith and our walk carry MAJOR weight in a heavenly battle. Each step we take as part of the body could be a step toward eradication of a battle the enemy has started entirely.

Let’s start with children.  Children are the future of this world we live in, and let’s face it, when we are asking where we are and what day it is, they’ll be the ones deciding our care and what to do with us. 43% of children today are growing up in a home without their father and roughly a quarter of them will watch a parent go through not one but TWO divorces.  So almost half of the kids in a small group, sunday school or other ministry, are walking in the door not fully understanding the concept of a father who is always with them and loves them unconditionally, and we don’t see the weight of the role we play in, as believers, telling them they are AMAZING and FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY MADE by an omnipresent father in heaven?!  This conviction today made me think twice about saying I was unavailable to serve some days when I was called. Thank you to every single person who gets it, hears the call and goes.  You have already changed an entire future- in many cases before the opportunity for mistakes arise.

Adolescents.  Where to begin.  People say they’re sassy or difficult to handle, or that they don’t want to serve this demographic because they don’t have experience in it. Is their life worth it? Between drug use and suicide, by the way suicide rates have doubled in female adolescents in the last ten years and increased 30% in males over that same time, those of you who take the risk of awkward interaction for a bit to build a relationship with these kids in any capacity deserve a medal. The most amazing thing about those of you that get on the level with this age group and love them, have no small task in telling them “you are not a statistic.  You are amazing and were made to do amazing things.”  The world is telling them everything on the contrary and that everyone their age is doing everything to the contrary.  You are an amazing line of defense in teaching them that no, not everyone is doing it, and you will be a beautiful story of God’s love.

Worship. Teaching people to worship at every age seems simple, but it’s not.  No matter if it’s in a park or in a church, if you’ve been given the gift of leading people in this or just demonstrating it by example, the beauty of perfect commune with the spirit in that moment, when you can feel God’s presence with you, as if you’re alone, is unmatched.  The ability to both teach people this and make it ok for them to get lost in that moment and be unashamed in praising the God of all creation is an important peace in leading people into a relationship with the savior.

I could go on and on, but I have never been more convicted in my life about our job to love and give like no one else, and I have been so guilty of wearing the right thing, saying the right thing, but conveniently skirting doing the right thing. It is time we walked those words God gave us all the way through.

I personally had check the boxes, signed up to help with this or that and do some charity work, and I still had the audacity to say that I had not been called to do something. Now I know that I don’t know anything, that his grace if sufficient, and we are supposed to give what we can wherever we can.

 

 

An Exercise in Anonymity

2 Timothy 3:15

And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

I’m sitting here in my little prayer room with windows all around, and thinking about all of the ways my life has flip flopped in the last two years.  We’ve gone from one kid to three, sold a house, built a house, sold a couple of businesses, and in the mornings now, I’m not gunning it to get to preschool but bopping around the kitchen at 8:40 saying “It’s time to get in the golf cart for school!” for our little half day program.

Old me does not know what to do with new me, nor does she even find me interesting.  New me, however, finds old me fairly cliched, but also beautifully necessary to where I am now.

We moved to a new town, and I totally felt super awkward when we were meeting the neighbors, and they asked what I did.  I have always been someone defined by what I did.  It was all I had to cling to.  The achievement, the brass ring, it was what people cared about and it was what I needed for validation.

So now, I have no business, I have things with our family that really are no one’s business, and I have a whole lot of time with God to show me who I really am. You know what, He is making me feel more beautiful than any time I took the plan into my hands.

I don’t mean everyone should take this walk I’m taking. No stay-at-home is not the way to go, and trust me, free time is something I’m really amazing at making evaporate with a very full calendar still.  What I do mean, though, is that now, that devotional doesn’t get missed, and those family dinners where my three year old tells me church is God’s house but so is our house and my teenager talks to me about her friends and what she thinks about her faith walk and life are not to be traded for the world.

We started a new church, I serve with a new 501c3, and long story very short, half of my family is no longer speaking to me.  I don’t blame them. We are speaking different languages and the chasm between us is too wide right now.  It’s okay, because I’m resting in Him.

I am used to having my people.  I would call or make a request, and it would be done.  I was in my industry for a while and built relationships.  I lived in the town I and my family were from, and knew enough people to get things done.  It was easy- and it was probably too easy to not feel like I needed a heavenly father.

Looking back on all the change at once (just a few months removed from it), God knew I needed some excitement to pay attention.  It wasn’t one thing, it was ten big things.  He needed me to understand the weight of my retooling.  He wanted me to see the sky writing that said I was called to something new.

My thankfulness is that I listened. When I felt the first tugs at my heart, I listened, and because of that, when my house needs me most I’m here.  I may run this place like a business and not necessarily fit into the world’s vision of my role, but man, I Love that I’m here.

My phone doesn’t blow up anymore, and I rarely talk about my resume or compare the battle scars of business ownership, but wow, that rush cannot surpass the rush of speaking life over a friend who is dying inside, or taking the hour long phone call I would have declined before, because the call to serve Him is unmatched and unavoidable and life changing.

How do we break up with it?

Yesterday, I said good by to a lovely man.  My grandfather left a legacy of joy and generosity.  For someone his age, it was by today’s standards, a packed house.  Men in their 50s and 60s came to pay their respects to a man who poured into them as youths and changed their lives for the better.

My father spoke of all the things he loved about him and how over the years, his understanding of love had grown biblically and how that aided in his parenting and influence.

It was amazing and he was amazing, but there was something that struck me and is a continuous pondering of mine- do we truly understand the weight of our decisions?

The same impact of improving the lives of men through simple actions that cause them to remember and return to thank you 50 years later, can just as easily be marked if you were negative. My grandparents had been divorced in the 80s. I was too young to remember them ever married and my grandfather remarried a truly lovely woman, who we all adore.

What struck me sitting there now, though, is the impact of the end of that marriage- the impact of all of our decisions to go or stay, do or don’t. We are a culture of quick decisions and rapid change, and we haven’t even seen the ramifications of this shift in thinking fully yet from a societal perspective.

How do you reconcile at the end of a life, that one thing, that one blip?  I looked at rows of family constituting his offspring and multiple generations that were the result of that marriage, so how do you look back on his life and properly honor everyone, the biological mother of all those generations with the woman who now loves on them all?

Furthermore, do we even begin to think of our actions as far out as what one simple act could do not only to our own lives, but to our children and their children? With at least half of marriages ending in divorce now, let’s use that as a relatable example. Personally, on both sides of my family, the previous two generations of marriages ended in divorce, so I’m well-versed in walking away <insert awkward laugh>. When deciding to walk out or to cheat or to fight for it, have we thought about the fact that one day, our children will need to figure out something as simple as how to give a eulogy that both honors their biological parent and the new spouse who is sitting on the front pew praying not to be forgotten? How do we honor everyone appropriately when the situation stems from a place of complete dishonor?

The answer is simple- God can renew and resurrect us to his truest vision and can make any situation His, if we give it to Him.

My question is, however, what if we followed His plan in the first place and never had to walk through that pain? That funeral, beautiful as it was, would have shown complete unity, complete peace, complete honor of the woman who stood beside him his whole life, and a unification of people in utter completion.

There would be no worry of offense for unequal respect, no heart murmurings for my father to balance the two lives, and no need to avoid an elephant in the room.  The experience was perfect and honorable, but what if none of that weighted it.

Deuteronomy Chapter 28 is pretty amazing and as encouragement to run the obedient race.  I couldn’t separate it all because I need to come back and reference it when I want to give up:

28 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lordyour God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Isn’t all of this worth the fight?! Not to mention, the beauty of knowing you beat the enemy- no recovery from defeat, just whole basking in His presence.

Praying today that we can all run this race so our own funerals are a demonstration of an obedient life well lived.

 

A Place for Us

We built a house, and it was an adventure.  You have to pick so much crap, and it was wonderful!  I know I’m weird.  I spent a few years feeling like a shallow loser for liking pretty things, but truly I get into this stuff.  We’ve moved five times in seven years, and it’s really the nomadic spirit of our marriage. E left home at 18 with the military and has been everywhere.  I began asking for travel as gifts in my teens, took my first major trip without them or a field trip group at 16, left the country without my parents for the first time at 17, and couldn’t get enough.

When we moved into our first place together just after our first anniversary- yes, you read that right.  We spent our dating life and first year of marriage in separate countries. We moved in together to furniture E had bought but placed straight into storage where it sat for years unused.  Those first few years, we loved our homes, and loved to fill them with life entertaining and life.  They were fun investments, and they each served their purpose for that period in our lives.

The last house, we lived in a year and a half, had a baby and walked through the toughest time we’ve had as a married couple.  God was changing us for the better, but in that sweet little beautiful home, I made no changes.  The same grey from the day we closed on it still adorned the walls the day we sold it, and it’s open floor plan, beautiful light and one story layout with oaks served as our hideaway to retreat from everything the world was throwing at us.  Beautiful memories happened there as our babies grew brighter and funnier every day, but it’s purpose was for that time.

As our family is growing and we emerged from the cocoon of that period, God called us out to a new place, and in that a new part of His plan. We’re in a new town, more separated from what we knew.  We have a new church community and now I’m home more to focus on these little people and whatever God calls me to do.

People always think we’re nuts for all these moves, and I’ve heard plenty of jokes about our nomadic ways, and I don’t really disagree, lol. God is beginning to reveal the whys of it all, though, and I think sometimes we don’t realize how our physical locations can impact everything about us.  It wasn’t the houses themselves that mattered, but it was being in the appropriate space for our needs and hearing His voice properly in that time.

I’ve been spending time in Genesis and Abraham’s story and my goodness did he ever have a place for each time in life.  God called him out and to the places his family needed to be.  Look at how his life was multiplied and carried on because of his obedience.

Now people want to know things like what this house looks like and how we love being so far away from everything we know, and truthfully, it’s wonderful.  I haven’t really thought about sharing it, because it hadn’t occurred to me. It hadn’t occurred to me, because we’ve been more focused on our little crew without the distractions we had built up.  I can feel the spirit pulling me home when it’s time and calling me to serve where I am needed and no more- nothing to leave my people distraught or without as we go through a critical time of growth.

This space is us, it’s the roots of where we will help our babes feel safe and make memories with their friends. We are working every day to cast aside anything that will give them from completely fulfilling their God-given stories and have our eyes open that there is much in this world coming up against us, but that there are also beautiful stories in this world and, as a dear friend says, ‘the good news out there is really good.’

I hope you’re taking the time to be the good news you were created to be.  I hope I am too, for that matter 😉

 

Stop Pretending

Saturday morning I sat in a beautiful park overlooking Charleston harbor amongst beautiful oaks, homes and sunlight and prayer.  Just after sunrise we started the day with prayer for our fair city, and we wept and read, and it was amazing.

What did I get out it, you ask? (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to ramble anyway.)

I sat looking at that beautiful harbor and those fantastic larger-than-life antebellum abodes, and all i could think about was slavery. What was it like to be a woman and see all of those ships filing into the harbor, and to know your own lifestyle was tended to by people who had no choice but to do the work for you. How would I just ignore that pain?

Standing on a piazza then, looking out on the busy harbor, how did they live with the lie it was all fine?

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

-James 2:14-17

God said to me in that moment that I would have ignored it.  I would have looked away from the devastating human condition all around us.  Just like the way we look the other way when there is someone begging for food beside us at the red light- the way anyone ignores the family rift at Thanksgiving dinner, the way we don’t talk to that friend with the substance problem about what’s going on, the way we don’t know what to say to the friend whose marriages is falling apart so we say nothing at all.

At what point does our imitation ignorance of a situation make us culpable in it? If we ignore the Spirit’s telling us to move, at what point does He give up on using us?

Our savior literally DIED for us and our crappy decisions and we can’t even ask each other real questions for fear of making someone uncomfortable.  We also have no idea how to call for help ourselves when our marriages are falling apart right up until someone walks out the door. We would rather die than face the real problems or confess our sins to the Creator who can truly save us.

So, just like those antebellum women, we get up and dress and put on a smile and ignore the wailing and gnashing of teeth happening outside our doors.

Keep Him Pure, People

rrThis morning, I sat in awe of God’s presence and looked out to the ocean and prayed with other women over this city and the fathers of it.

I was so moved by the scripture and the prayer and the presence of the Spirit, and the weight of the honesty of it all.  As we all walked back to our cars, I noticed these gentlemen.  Standing on the battery positioned between the confederate memorial and Ft. Sumter the stood in silent.  They weren’t shouting, they weren’t angry, they just stood in silence. I didn’t sense hostility in their nature, yet the symbols they had chosen provoked such horrendous emotions to seemingly all around.

If you want to sense electricity in the air, this is the town and this is the time. We sat in unified prayer and reference to our Holy Father across denominations and ages praying for our city to be healed.

In the distance, we saw this .

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A mile or two away, a block from where I sit and write this, people are gathering in peaceful assembly for a unity march through Charleston. In the shadow of Emanuel AME, people cry out to lay down our personal agendas, but no one can seem to figure out how to do it completely.

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Though the stories are varied, we all want unity, and we all want respect and we all want to honor things and people we feel need honoring.  We all have experienced, in this little space of ours, inexplicable pain from the different sins committed by others in our community, and, quite honestly, our forefathers. The problem is, if they aren’t biblical, then they carry weight when compared to our faith.

In looking at those flags this morning, I hurt.  I wasn’t angry or wanting to shout.  I wanted to understand, because these men started right.  They put the symbol of our faith first on the top of that pole, but then they took that message of love and truth that God has given us through the Bible, and tied it to a belief of their own- a political piece, a symbol for a defunct nation made by men who chose to rebel from authority of the government under which they served.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.    

-1 Corinthians 8:9

But then God reminded me that there were easy targets in the blame game, and there were harder ones, too.  How often do we take our God and tie Him to something completely non-biblical to justify it?

Fiery ginger that I am, I am frequently moved to scream by the rants of the day from people.  My walk of recent as God works on this project that is me, is that I have to sit and listen, because it is super easy to start ranting as well, tie it to a ‘God spoke this to me’ and tell myself thats ok.  The truth is it’s the worst, and the truth is many times we don’t even realize it.

You see those men were trying to gain awareness to something that for some reason or hurt they’ve experienced think that flag they are waving matters.  Tying one of the symbols of our faith to it, however, perverts it.  It doesn’t make the flag seem more peaceful, it creates the potential for someone to not want to know anymore about our faith because seeing that is enough for them to not ask questions and turn away from it completely.

We have been called to more, so if we truly believe in everything that top flag symbolizes, it would never occur to us to fly the flag that is placed beneath it, whether it’s the flag of a nonexistent nation, the flag of hatred toward someone who wronged you, the flag of judgement to someone you have decided is wrong.  I was no better than them as I drove away.  I ached to try to talk them through their mistake, but decided it would in poorly or in vain- another calling and opportunity missed. God says we are all the same with these hangups we have. They’re human.  Some are just less socially acceptable than others.

 

 

 

What is this healing of which you speak?

So I managed to slice the tip of my thumb off in fantastic fashion last weekend as I prepped a cheese tray for a dinner party at my home that had already begun.  In true Magyver (no idea how to spell that, but you get the gist) fashion, my husband went all field med on me and before I knew it, I was rinsed out, super glued and electrical taped back together so the party could continue. Yes, garage items are way better than actual medical supplies in this house, guys, because look at the great double duty they pull! I can’t talk because I’ve broken a toe, drilled into my hand and now lost a fingerprint all during events, and we didn’t stop the show.  You ask why I feel like I have something to prove, and I say ‘that’s a layer to the onion I haven’t reached yet!’ but I digress.

So back to the thumb thing.  A piece of me was damaged and broken and honestly completely gone.  I honestly wasn’t sure what things were going to look like going forward on my poor fat thumb (especially since all the sudden my fingerprint is coming between me and the easy unlock on my stupid iPhone).

Today, I’m changing the bandage and what do I see, new skin appearing- fingerprint and all! Some medical journal gobblety goop I referenced to be sure I’m not dumb said “in most cases, because of the engrained imprinting in the deeper skin layers, once exposure to the abrasive, caustic or hot conditions cease, the fingerprints will grow back.” That is fascinating to me!  I was amazed to see it but there it was, and to be sure I checked and science agreed!

The cooler thing about it, is in that moment, God spoke to me.  He used it to show me what I have been struggling to put into words.  You see, the entire world is telling us we are defined by our scars, our victimizations, our poor choices.  I read a bio for a very popular author and speaker the other day.  In it she wrote in depth about her struggles, her addiction, her pain, and how she was defined by all of that negative and now she wore all of that with pride, unashamed. Sounds great and good for her right?

My counterpoint is this: It is not beauty that endears, it_s love that makes us see beauty.

There may still be a scar when it heals, but that fingerprint, that original creation that makes us HIS, that makes us created with specific skills and gifts for a specific purpose is still there.

God says we were fully formed  from DAY 1.  He made our souls, selected our traits, gave us our gifts, and put that beautiful person inside that tiny little body, so as we grew and were still small, the world would see all of it begin to shine through and no matter what the world threw at us, the sin, the dust that dulled our shine, we will NEVER be something different at our core than what He created.

We have to CHOOSE to believe that God is bigger than everything, that the bad things that keep happening, the monsters that keep coming or the ones we’ve chased, are proof that He is with us always and He is loving us through.

What are the consequences?

The consequences are Satan wins. He won every time anxiety closed me into a ball and I couldn’t be around people or show them hospitality, because I was too afraid to move. Are you going to let Him win over you?  He would love to come in and bind every one of those amazing things God put in you to show his love and light to the world.  It’s your choice whether you do it or not.

Getting back

Who did people describe us as when we were five? What was that beautiful little creature known to be then- before life got hard and we knew too much.  Ask yourself that question. Heck, ask your mama that question, if you feel like it’s been too long since you’ve seen that shining person He created in you.

Whatever those qualities are, consider the sin, whether you committed or someone else, that bound you up, rendered you useless or neutralized for the kingdom. What I’m finding as I work through the pressure points that trigger my panic, is that every single thing was perfectly designed to bind up a gift from God when He created me.  Run the test on yourself and see what you find.  For me, it has been amazing to look at each piece and see it as a planned attack on me.  It allows me to separate myself from it and see it for the lie that it is.  My Father is there beside me and that potential divorce, bankruptcy or even worse, is an outside force coming at us to render us useless, and knowing that is the first step to beating it.  It’s the step towards recovering and protecting who He told us to be.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. -John 17:15

We are here. We are supposed to be in the world, but we are not ‘of’ the world.  Christ wanted us protected from the evil one. He wanted us to remain who we were to be the true lights God envisioned us to be.

I believe that there is true healing.  I believe it’s from good.  I don’t believe we are to wear our sin and the victimizations put upon us as our badges.  We are not to be named by the world.  We are to take what the world throws at us as the attacks they are and love anyway, praise anyway, serve anyway.  That is our call.

Proverbs 31- Not for Weenies

Have you ever heard someone talk about the Proverbs 31 woman and thought ‘I could never be her’?  I always thought it meant being a meek and sweet woman who kind of baked and cleaned the house and was ok with whatever her husband said.  

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Well fast forward a bit, and God has really convicted me about who He made me to be.  None of it is meek or mild.  He needs forces in the world.  If you are a woman on the verge sometimes, like me, then He made you that way to drive the change He needs to glorify Him.  We have a purpose!

Our walk comes with precision.  We have great people like husbands and those who came before us to guide us in addition to His word, and what better word than the proverbs 31 woman.  Once I started digging in, I learned she is a serious force to be reckoned with and she does not stop moving.  Everything she does is efficient and effective and her whole world is blessed by it.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?!  That’s exactly why we get so fired up, isn’t it?  We want to change things, to win the battles and to make it all worth while.  That is the Proverbs 31 woman, so if you are like me, and have long fallen asleep when thinking about the religious view of a woman, read it for yourself and be fired up today!

Here it is verse by verse, with what God laid on my heart in reading it with new eyes:

31 The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!

   Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!

3 Do not spend your strength[a] on women,

   your vigor on those who ruin kings.

-We have to be careful as firestarters not to become dangerous women or road blocks to God’s work.

4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—

   it is not for kings to drink wine,

   not for rulers to crave beer,

5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,

   and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,

   wine for those who are in anguish!

7 Let them drink and forget their poverty

   and remember their misery no more.

-We are not called to sloth.

8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,

   for the rights of all who are destitute.

9 Speak up and judge fairly;

   defend the rights of the poor and needy.

-We are called to protect the innocent and go to the aid of others.

 

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

This is an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet, so this is the A to Z, if you will of who we were created to be!

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?

   She is worth far more than rubies.

-We are called to have noble character, strong in our values

11 Her husband has full confidence in her

   and lacks nothing of value.

-He has full confidence in her. We SHOW UP. We are present and trustworthy.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

   all the days of her life.

-We can be trusted to do our part.  It says we ‘bring good.’ We have to make the good happen.

13 She selects wool and flax

   and works with eager hands.

-These items are not delivered to her. We go out and bring in what is good, what is a comforting. We are excited to go out and do.

14 She is like the merchant ships,

   bringing her food from afar.

-Women of noble character go out into the field. They do what it takes to feed others and take care of the needs of their houses. The merchant ships piece of this is critical to understanding what we are called to do.  Merchant Ships are not pirates, taking whatever they want, and they do not do it alone. Merchant Ships go out into foreign lands, they build relationships with those they don’t know and they used their skills to obtain the things they needed.  We, like the merchant ships, must go out and use our gifts to care for our families and to change the lives of those in need. We are not called to go out and take it or scream until it is handed to us. Merchant Ships also spread their culture and belief system through their relational trade.

15 She gets up while it is still night;

   she provides food for her family

   and portions for her female servants.

-So many scripture references about God’s feelings on being idle.  This is no different. Prov. 6:6-11 God just goes off on laziness. As Christ following women, we rise to help others rise above. We provide through our work and we must begin early to ensure everything is tended to.  If we all sat out, would it make a point that the world needed us.  But at what cost to our children, our husbands and everyone around us we serve does that selfish move the needle.  Pray for the hearts of the offenders, the users, the abusers, and the nonbelievers to broken open wide for Christ so that they are personally convicted to change their outlooks and actions. Pray they commit to a savior versus complying with mob.  We are called to rise and rise above!

 

16 She considers a field and buys it;

   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

-We contemplate the ramifications of our actions and what God has called us to do. We use our earnings to do things- what is in our reserves. We do not make decisions that will put a strain on our houses.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;

   her arms are strong for her tasks.

-We stick with a task and follow through.  Women of noble character do not give up or walk out on their commitments.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

   and her lamp does not go out at night.

-Women of character trust God will provide and use God’s word to be the lamp into her feet.  We use His word as our only guiding light in the darkness around us.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff

   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

-We are above no menial task and we set the example with our work ethic.

20 She opens her arms to the poor

   and extends her hands to the needy.

-We labor not only to provide for our own families, but we also work to personally provide for those in need.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

We trust God’s plan. We will be provided for and warm. Not only will our families be warm, but dressed in the color of warmth, delighting in it.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;

   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

-We make our own way, and God blesses us for our hard work.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,

   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

-We are properly positioned in our homes.  Our husbands are proud of who we are and they feel empowered and supported by our strength.  We are the Esthers.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,

   and supplies the merchants with sashes.

We produce a good product to share with the world.  Whatever our work, it is exceptional, and worthy of sharing. We make ourselves indispensable.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

   she can laugh at the days to come.

My FAVE verse- a reminder of what God gives us to move through this life in proper placement. Being clothed in strength and dignity.  We NEVER part with them. He is with us and we are living in His word and empowered by that. We can experience joy because we have a peace that surpasses all understanding. We do not walk angry or downtrodden, because we make our own way.  We get up every day and know that His plan will prevail in our lives.

26 She speaks with wisdom,

   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

We think things through.  We speak carefully and we are guided by God’s word. Our message is constant and clear.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household

   and does not eat the bread of idleness.

We are constantly revisiting the word and looking for new ways to help our families.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

   her husband also, and he praises her:

We are honored by our families, because we honor our families.

29 “Many women do noble things,

   but you surpass them all.”

  We are honored for our hard work by our families.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

   but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

We can only be true to who we were created to be if we fear God.  All else false away with our submission to His will, and under His authority are we truly made whole and noble.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Our hard work will pay off.  We must be prepared to run the long race as we will be blessed either in this life or the next for continuing to move forward. When we see our heavenly father’s face and hear the words ‘well done’