WHY?!

So…. ummm… here goes.

It has recently come to my attention that we are walking around in the matrix.  Just when you try to find contact info to get me some help, hear me out.

I believe we were created with purpose in mind.  With plans to prosper and love and add joy to the world.  We are all so different, but “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)  With that in mind, WHY are so many of us walking around making ourselves something we aren’t?

The Psalmist doesn’t stop there.  He goes on, and here is the part where we are accountable to not using that with which we’ve been gifted. “your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” God doesn’t make mistakes, so why do we think there is a mold we must fit, a certain way to act? Why do we squander our gifts?

Feeling myself walk through this process, the past few years have been wrought with waves of anxiety- sometimes envisioning the worst case scenario in what should have been the most joyous of times. Each time the enemy came to me and whispered these fears to me, I may not have let him overtake me completely, but he slowly stole who I was piece by piece.

You see, I’m realizing my true gifts now- hospitality.  Here are the things about hospitality: it sounds really fun, but they come with a lot of frustration on the side.  Hospitality is all about making others feel welcome, connecting with them, inviting them into your circle. Have you ever walked into a room and instantly were drawn in, warm, welcomed? Everything about that experience encompasses hospitality.

Exercising your gifts is not a hard thing to do.  It becomes harder because the enemy is always waiting to stop you. Using your spiritual gifts means more defeat for him.  Every time it gets tough, or someone says something to belittle the importance of what you are doing (in some cases it’s that voice in your own head), you have to know it is Satan trying to stop you from furthering the kingdom,  from helping your fellow man, from sharing truth and Love as you are called to do.

When I quit using my gifts, I actually thought I was becoming more of what I should be.  We humans have a pesky problem of conforming.  Even as believers, we think we should behave a certain way to be a good Christian or to be the right wife and mother. By trying to calm the fire within, I became confused, unsure and unable to further the kingdom in the ways God planned. Any time I think I have it figured out, I challenge myself to read this passage and ask, “are you sure?”

Proverbs 16

1To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

We are equipped and called to do more and be more.  The tools, however, come with precision.  Just like we have to train to use tools when building a project, we have to walk with precision in our gifts.

To be hospitable, but to tell the hard truth when challenged to do it, is hard, but we are accountable to the steps we are called to take but do not.  We are accountable for actions we don’t take when we should and we have to have a controlled burn as He pours His spirit into us or we may just take the whole place down around us.  So go, light your own fire, but let it be a blaze for Love and truth.

 

 

 

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The Beauty of the Uprising

I cried yesterday.  I sat in a little sandwich shop having lunch with my family in Charleston, SC, and I looked at a television screen and found myself weeping. My three year old excitedly asked if the Gamecocks were about to play when he saw my stare and the large crowds.

As I responded no, it hit me- my son saw me moved and assumed it was over sports! I’ve clearly been doing something wrong.

Because of various views backed by the marches (I’m not getting into it because those causes and opinions are not where my focus lies today), I chose to ignore yesterday and treat things as a normal day. I had no place in them but I was thankful to see we seem to be alive and awake again as humans. I was thankful because in that moment, watching my babies eat lunch, God said ‘STOP.’

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

-Rev 3:15-16

That verse has come crashing over me since that moment. Stop pretending that you are okay and that everyone is living to the fullest and it will all be wonderful because it can never be on this Earth. I watched these women and men passionately crying out for their causes, for their voices, and I had chosen to go appliance shopping instead of following my own convictions and spending that time raising my hands in praise and prayer to the One over all creation; prayer that He would take it all into His hands and reign over us; that we would drop our causes and turn to the cross, because through Him all will be properly positioned.

In that moment, God said, “You have spent so long dancing  within the lines of earthly love and social acceptance that you believe you’ve gone as far as you can in this, but I’ve equipped you and so many believers for more and it is time that you answer the call.

The beauty of the palpable energy in the air right now is this: we cannot sit on the shore safely from the waves any longer. No matter you’re feeling, your occupation, your upbringing, it is nearly impossible to be lukewarm.

Silence in this moment puts everything at risk.  As beautiful women of God, if there was ever a time to rise up in fierce faith, the time is now.  We must put on those fabulous gowns of armor (I mean, a gown just sounds so much more comfortable for a fight, being able to tie it up or spin around in it) and go out into our own battlefields. Our children and the world’s knowledge of our faith depends on it.

I know now just how unpopular my thoughts may seem, but I no longer am afraid.  For the sake of my relationships that may be sacrificed, I want them to know I Love them enough to risk everything to tell you about my God and the beautiful peace that surpasses all understanding. While the world is full of fear, confusion and anger, He is steadfast and loving and reminds us that these moments are barely noticeable in the span of eternity.

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I believe in the Bible and everything in it. I unapologetically accept it and know that in doing so, I am condemning myself for my sin.  I also know that redemption is available to all who believe, and if I don’t speak now about my faith while the world is crying out, I don’t know what it would take for me to do so, and then I would truly be lukewarm.

We are all down in the tranches battling for our causes, when we only need to turn our eyes upward to the cross.

No Peace or Know Peace?

It’s the holidays.  We have visions of cookie baking, present wrapping and hanging ornaments on the tree. Real life isn’t the vision though, and before you know it, the baby’s first Christmas ornament is broken, the cookies are burnt and you’re ordering pizza and praying for bedtime.

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The question is, does this ruin it all for you or become an embraceable story- a funny memory and a reminder that Jesus is the only constant and true North star this season.

I know I have totes found 50 ways to fill my days to the max in a season where reflection and peaceful joy should prevail.

1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

What could be more peaceful than that?  If you believe in the constant presence of a living God and his Son saving us all, then the rest begins to move into the back seat where it belongs.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

 

Election Smellection

Who loves election season?! Yeah, crickets.  I am soooo over it.  I can’t even fine the best vine videos or pics of people’s kids on Facebook, through all of the whining and personal jabbing about politics.

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I will give some street cred to the people who are trying to put some above bar thought out there and analysis on the whole situation, but let’s face it, I’m not going to Facebook to connect on a deeper intellectual level, so I’m prob not going to list it in the sources of my next great political thesis.

That all being said, it’s super tough to know what is right as a believer when it comes to politics. That whole WWJD situation tends to fly out the window when the mud starts slinging- especially if you have a candidate who you feel is the clear choice.

What a beautiful mess that Satan has created by taking something designed to help, unify and protect God’s people, government, and turned it into the exact opposite (just like he does with everything).  We find ourselves this election a people divided, angry, personally offended.

All of that aside, what does the Bible actually say about civil government?

Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens   Exodus 18:21

You may read that and have a specific candidate in mind.  You may read that and think, ‘CRAP! Now I have no one.’ No matter what you think, our job as His people is to pray and uplift our leader and trust God’s hand on it.

Look at Kings in the old testament, all the kings, if you will. In the whole of the Old Testament there is an ebb and flow of man doing well obeying God and then getting smacked back down to the reality of how small he was because he would begin to think he could do it on his own. This happened again and again and again, and they never learned. Why, because they were people! We know better than to put so much faith into people, and we have to be the ones who remember that, that everyone is flawed and we all fall short.

What we can do now is pray for our leaders, pray for God’s hand on who our leader becomes and pray for the heart of that leader.  Pray that our new leader speaks and believes in truth, and pray that for all levels of your government.

What will I do? For whom will my ballot be cast?  At this moment, I honestly don’t know, but I do know I am praying for clear direction, and for my shallow kid picture viewing to stop being interrupted so much by all the rants 😉

Give Like There’s No One Else

Recently, I was in a meeting and a charity came up someone had heard about in another town. The concept was simple and it was an event completely structured for the group at the table.  We were all well-equipped and excited about the idea. Keep in mind, in this meeting we were trying to select a new charitable activity for the group.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Someone suggested we host a similar event here.  The head of the meeting immediately shot it down, and said “we’ll just wait until that group comes here to do one.”  No one batted an eyelash.  I chimed in questioning why we would wait on a simple idea we could handle that would help many, and I was told they knew the way to do it, so when they started doing things here, then we could get involved. Wait. WHAT?

This logic is everywhere and it’s KILLING me.  The following just occurred and it is apparently normal logic?!

  1. We saw a need
  2. We had the tools to address said need
  3. We had people excited to help and a clear plan of action
  4. We chose to ignore the need because we expect an organization to eventually address it for us and maybe we can help?!

Am I being punked?  We were given everything we needed to help, but chose to wait for someone else to come along and do it.

It’s easy to not give and to hide your gifts when you don’t have to connect with your service.  How hungry would the world be if we all put a face and name on it.  Would you could a meal for 8 instead of 4 every night, if you knew their names and they lived next door?  You would figure that out, but we don’t want to share the pain, the discomfort.

I see so many political posts about wanting more government programs to fix this problem and that problem.  My question is “what are YOU waiting for?”  If you feel so passionately that a group or issue should be helped, how are you personally connecting to the problem, pouring your time or assets in to fixing it and actively looking for solutions?

Don’t bury your talent.  Don’t be that sad wasted gift.  Sitting in that room in that moment, it couldn’t have been clearer that I would, from that day forward. be incessantly hounded by serving where I could.  I pray the same for you 😀

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.