Change is Hard (but so is everything).

19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

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I was 27, had taken a big promotion at a young age, and thought nothing could go wrong- then everything did.  I was one of those people who didn’t need God, because life was so good in some ways.  A six figure income in your twenties is the dream, right? There were a lot of contributing factors to everything that led to my abrupt look at what mattered, but essentially, I had to be so worn out to see what mattered and to see the core of God’s creation in me, that I had to leave that whole life behind. I found myself working over 100 hours a week every week, at odds with a new boss, and enslaved to the choices I had made to get ahead versus live. It was like ‘yay, I can buy all the shoes I want. boo, am I going to walk around my house in them, because I haven’t taken the time to make friends or go anywhere other than the office.’  It was not a life, y’all!

When everything changes in an instant and you are grounded in faith, you are miserable.  I was adrift in a hurricane inside, but around me, people were, well, living like nothing was happening.  I finally understood why people said they wanted to scream sometimes! I remember the moment my boss stopped in to chat, and I looked at him and said, “I can’t do this anymore,” and I walked out.  Miss goody goody wannabe overachiever just broke and said “PEACE!”  I was devastated as I got into the car, but then, it was beautiful.  I can still hear the long sigh I let out and it was gone. There was this relief and freedom like I had never felt before.  I mean, durh, I had a mortgage and stressful stuff, but I was taking a step toward a different life.

I look back now and know God had decided it was time to bring me back to Him.  There was a better, fuller life I didn’t know waiting, and had I continued along, I would have never seen it.  Why is it that we are so afraid to just change.  Even when things suck, we just are build to dig in more.  The funniest part is, many of us have experienced His grace and the outcome of obedience in change.  The next time it comes around, though, it’s like we can’t remember that He held us through the last one and is making a better place for us.  When the time comes to change lanes to get back to His grace or to receive a blessing that may come from hardship, may you not be afraid to put on your blinker and follow Him to the new road.  He will not lead you astray, and you will be better for it!

Enough

Is that word even possible today?  As women, it’s especially difficult.  We want to feel valuable, precious and important. We’ve been told we have to keep up.  We can do anything, but then we wake up one morning and find ourselves responsible for everything. We’re trapped in the web of life we’ve created and find ourselves running out of energy and stuck on a wheel that’s spinning too fast to get off, and the whole world lovingly tells us we can do it.

Psalm 139:13-14

 For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;   your works are wonderful,  I know that full well

We love talking about our children with the section of scripture, but what about ourselves. God loved us so much he spent time on our entire being.

Recently, I had a good friend break down to me about not being able to keep up with everything in her life from kids to the house and her job, not to mention her husband not always understanding. I found myself unexpectedly balling my eyes out with her. We both realized we felt like complete failures.  The more it has come up in convo lately, the more I’m learning we are all struggling with this.

Go back to the Psalm, though. We are freaking fearfully and wonderfully made! We have to STOP feeling guilty and not feeling like enough- enough mom, enough at work, enough wife. STOP IT! We have got to recognize that his grace is sufficient, and we are enough!

 

 

 

Just Say It

So I started this blog because I felt called and challenged to do so.  For a long time, I didn’t hide my beliefs but I didn’t actively share my opinions surrounding them either.  I didn’t want the internet trolls to launch on me on Facebook or some other medium or to lose a friend who might have no idea and be freaked by my convictions.

It wasn’t a conscious effort, so I never really thought about it- just kept to myself thinking, people are generally dumb when they speak out online, and who are they to spew their rhetoric on the world.

I was then struck by something a friend said in a convo about being fearless in speaking out.  It’s funny because I am usually the opinionated one, but put me in front of the masses, and my hospitality takes over and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Now that I have a two year old, I am so in awe of his ability to say whatever comes to mind.  To have the freedom to be so open and honest. The other day on a family boat ride he let my dad, his Pops affectionately, know that he had big nipples.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Their is such joy and rest in saying it like it is!

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My dad is now affectionately called gorilla ninnies by all the kids.

When that crazy kid is asleep, I don’t toss and turn wondering what he meant by something he said or how he is feeling about something I said to him. The best part about it is, I know he still loves me!

We hold back so much because of other people and what they may think, but God and our real people love us the most when we speak openly and truthfully.  We were made in His image to be honest and it was sin that shattered that relationship, so we have to fight every day to get it back.

Now I’m not saying as an adult you should go around talking about people’s nipples, but we could all learn a bit from lightening up and saying it like it is.

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For Such a Time as This

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

 

Do you ever feel like the momentum is building and things are moving toward a point, and you can feel the excitement, or at least you hope it’s excitement for something good, because something good has to happen for everything that’s going on, and you feel like you’re just going to explode if there isn’t some amazing rainbow ahead, because aah! Don’t worry girl, you aren’t alone!

That’s simply the frightening stream of consciousness that happens in my brain.  It’s easy to feel sometimes like the hamster running on the wheel, and that you think you’re getting somewhere but in reality, you’re just the definition of insanity.

I’ve got news for you.  God never intended us to be unfulfilled and purposeless.  There is a point, and if we aren’t careful, we might miss an opportunity to grow, help others, or be blessed by His plan.

You see I’ve spent plenty of time in the desert, and Esther spent plenty of time preparing for some day she wasn’t sure would even come.  Miracle of miracles, the one in a million opportunity came, and because she prepared and walked in His plan, she was ready, and succeeded in being part of a miracle.

It’s hard to feel like you could be Esther when your kid pees on you, you’re late for work and you get in the car to find out you’re out of gas, but the simple truth is, God sends us through trials to be stronger and to be more aware of the opportunities around us. The problem is only compounded by just watching the news.  It’s all frightening and it’s all larger than we are. Because it isn’t always easy, we will value every victory that much more, and hopefully be thankful for them.

Whatever is happening in your world right now, remember that it could all be preparing you for “such a time as this.”  Lord knows, sometimes it’s what keeps me going through the day.  You are made for purpose and whether you see it or not, it is there!Stick to the plan.png

Getting Testy

For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

I really hate snakes.  They are slimy, disgusting creatures and I can hardly bare to see an image of one without my skin crawling. We have no problem turning and running from anything that freaks us out or is disgusting. What id someone was such a good liar, however, that our place of rescue began to look like the den of snakes, and the snake was twisted to look like salvation?  That is a dangerous situation.

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It’s a dangerous situation, and it’s very real. That first section of Matthew 4 is serious business. God came to Earth in human form to understand us, to relate to us, and to truly know us. I know I like to picture the cute cherub baby Jesus and the smiling ‘let the children come to me’ Jesus (you know, like in Ricky Bobby).

Jesus had been fasting for 40 days.  He was starving and worn for all the right reasons, but the Devil saw an opportunity to seize. He does the same things to us.  When we feel broken or tired and God is taking us to that place to teach us and to grow us, instead of us learning, our instinct is to find a way out.

Have you ever been in a terrible situation and though ‘I could just quit’ or ‘I could just move away’? The flight instinct is strong when our backs are against the wall and the problem is too big for us.

Satan knows it, and he uses it.  In Matthew 4, he takes Jesus to every temptation affecting Jesus.  ‘Prove you are God.  Prove you can do anything.  Relieve your plight.Return to your rightful seat on your throne.’ He does the same to us. ‘Walk away from your husband. Get another credit card.  Drink until the pain is dulled.’ and in my case, ‘GET THE CHEESEBURGER!’  These battles are real and more than we can bare alone.

We know God walks through temptation with us empathetically, and with the truest form of faith, we can give the situation to Him and trust that things are hard because He is teaching us. Choose today to give it to God.  Allow Him to bear your pain, and save yourself the struggle of doing it alone.

 

Messes are Hot (so I like to think)

Phillipians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Who the Heck are the Hisses?! I sat at the kitchen island, pen in hand, ready to knock out some FANTASTIC Christmas cards.  Yes, they may have been a midnight rush order via some online greeting card site with a skip-the-proof-just-get-those-blasted-pieces-of-paper-here option, but it was way better than my etiquette fail of the prior year- sending out nothing.

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I had stamps and a mailing list, so when that box arrived, I was ready to look as perfect southern mama as ever with multiple photos on the postcard and smiling babies to boot. As I opened the box, I was pleased that the pic on the front looked not crazy blurry from the online impulse buy, but my smugness faded as I noticed a nice little blemish by way of OUR LAST FREAKING NAME being wrong on the back (with a blurry photo)! I mean, people do dumb stuff, but it takes a new level of special to misspell your own name.

In that moment, I could choose to be angry or rebuy for a million more dollars or freak out, but here’s the truth: deep down, I knew everything about this made this the most accurate card anyone would receive.  We are a beautiful, ridiculous mess. Where in the world would we be without some beautiful messes, after all?

While I wanted the world to see one thing, God knew everyone needed us for who He made us to be- crazy and funny and real.

Phillipians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

I spent a crap ton (technical term) of time in my life trying to seem perfect.  OCD cleaning, blowing UP some credit cards on looking the best and having the best; it all got me nowhere. The truth is, though, there is such beauty in the mess.

In Phillipians, He makes it so clear!  Why do we feel today that we have to walk around being something we’re not, pretending to agree with things we don’t?!  Not only, are we stressing ourselves out, but God made us to be these beautiful messes with the choice to make mistakes, because He wants us to choose to love Him back, and if we all make mistakes, then we are that much more capable of being approachable to each other. We are also, through the knowledge of our shared faults, able to challenge each other to be better out of Love.

All I’m saying is that Christmas card taught me a lot.  To lighten up, laugh and let me freak flag fly.  Y’all pray for me, because I’m a hot mess, and it’s okay for you to be one, too!

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His Grace Never Fails

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
How many times have you walked through something and been shown that God’s plan is always best?  Like a million?  If not, you’re just not that old yet.
If we never have the opportunity to walk in faith, we will never learn just how much faith we can have in God.  He is sufficient.
No matter what, He is there.  Every single day as I’ve walked through a trial recently, I have awoken with a roller coaster of emotion.  Every day, as well, God has held me through the day and at the end, His providence has prevailed.
While we can’t just run from every issue, we know He’s going to walk us through every challenge. The realness of our vulnerability is important. It’s important because we all need to know there are others in the trenches, too.

Just how long is a marathon?

This is an easy answer for the foot race, but when you’re in the fire and the word stamina doesn’t even begin to touch on what you’re using to put on foot in front of the other, do ever wonder “What the crap?!  Just how long is this marathon?”

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Male version of me running, active.com

I can tell you I’ve felt it. God takes us to the brink because it’s sometimes the only way we will truly hand it over to him.  Like any good parent, he is always there for us, but to grow us big strong and wise, we have to be allowed to put in work and fight our way out of some hardships.  I personally find Jesus is my bestie way more when I’m only a few miles in and haven’t trained properly.

Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Recently, I had one project where things had started kind of stinky and I learned a lot and we improved over time, so in my head I envisioned smooth sailing (maybe a car ride to the finish), but then I hit a bigger uphill battle than the one before. I can also tell you my prayer time was waning and I couldn’t focus when I went to God.

Many times, I decide my plan is awesome.  I start working said “awesome plan” to realize that maybe I actually have no idea what I’m doing, and had I gone to God in the first place, I might have been saved from the aforementioned “awesome” now sucky plan.

So the race of each difficult time gets longer until we learn the correct path on the course to the finish of that time of growth.  Unlike a real marathon, I can’t just stop running at some point and have a Krispy Kreme (which I would totes do), or finish the race after a finite distance (23.2, and why would that even be a consideration).  This is legit life and we have to finish it to truly learn and move past that difficulty.

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and now you want a doughnut 🙂

How we finish and how many hills we hit depends on our obedience.  My prayer is that you are way better than me about walking in faith through it.

 

Living in Insanity

I have a two year old. Why do I say it like I’m in recovery, you ask?  If you’ve ever had a two year old, you know why.  Today he had time out for the same thing three times.  I felt like I was living in my own personal Groundhog Day (worst movie ever, other than Bill being in it, of course).

I caught myself thinking, ‘does he think he’s just going to get away with it this time or is he expecting a different result? How could he possibly think that?!’

During the third time out, though, mommy had her own moment.  God said, you are no better than he! You keep going down the same roads and I have to admonish you every time to protect you from yourself.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. -Romans 7:15

Look at the entire Bible.  Especially the storyline of the Jews.  Judges is an entire book of prayerful people moving forward with God, then getting comfy and deciding they didn’t need to obey or honor Him, then falling apart to return to Him….and repeat.  This is AFTER they wandered in the freaking desert for 40 years because they were disobedient!

It was such an eye opening moment.  God showed me why He took the time to discipline me, but I also understood the Love He had for me no matter what. It is all-encompassing and amazing.

After the third time, my son ran to me open arms for a huge hug.  To see him run to me and reciprocate my love for him made all of it better. I pray he is smarter than me and learns from each mistake to realize more of God’s beautiful plan for Him.  I pray the same for all of us.

Do you have the Stones?

I couldn’t help myself with the title.  I’m wrong like that.

But it’s so true!  Being freed from sin and the desert to walk into your Promised Land is not this happy-go-lucky skip through a field of daisies.

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It’s more like a mud run.You are fighting to get away from the old life, the bondage of the lies you’ve been told by the world. The voices, a lot of times our own, that say ‘that isn’t important.’ or ‘Who told you, you were made to be more?’

We’ve already decided to get out of the desert.  We’re not going to hang on to the problems that we allow to be problems anymore. When you reach that point, you’re ready for whatever comes next.

Israel reached their point of absolute faith.  I don’t want to wander 40 years to do it, but then again, some people wander a life time. When God said it was time to cross the Jordan, those people, all 12 tribes, were ready without question. They followed every command down to the very last detail and they crossed the Jordan.  God said he would part the waters and He did.  The priests were to carry the ark of the covenant into the water first, and they did. The 12 men representing the 12 tribes were to go back and pull stones from the riverbed and they did.  The people were delivered, because they were freed completely of doing it their own way.  All they had left was trust, so they were prepared for God’s plan.

It takes so long for us to get to that point, unfortunately, so once we’re there and we feel God moving and speaking, how do we hold onto it?  It’s amazing how quickly we move on as humans.  We forget the trauma and the hours of prayer in the tough times, and all of a sudden, we are back to attempting to call the shots on our own, thinking we know better than our Creator.

21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.” Joshua 4:21-23

We’ve got to have the stones to move forward. How do we remind ourselves of the hardship we were delivered through, if we don’t keep ourselves in check and revisit the times in our lives when God came in bigger than ever before and handed you a miracle on a silver platter or spoke so loudly you could practically hear His voice.

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The 12 men selected the stones and carried them all the way to camp just so they could look on them and remember, and tell their children of how God moved and how they obeyed.  How much further can God take us if we actually learned from each path He takes us down?

Once you’ve got the stones in place, you’ve learned to trust, and if you remember and retain what you’ve learned, you are opened up to allow God to take you so much further than ever before.  Get some stones and move on!