Browsing Tag

Written by: Kelly

God, Identity, Judging, Relationships

Judging Stephanie

August 13, 2014

Back in the day I used to know this girl named- well lets just say Stephanie.  Stephanie lived in my neighborhood.  There was a group of us that would always hang out and  Stephanie wasn’t one of them.  She was different.  She wore really short shorts and cropped tops usually showing most of her bra.  Her long blond hair was always hanging down the middle of her back and her face was hidden somewhere beneath all of the makeup.  I remember my friends and I would talk about her a lot.  Things usually like- “I can’t believe she is wearing that.  Who does she think she is?  I can’t believe she smokes…. that’s so wrong.  She’s really bad and we shouldn’t be associated with her.  So glad we’re not like her.”  Words like these were exchanged for a whole year between me and my friends.  But one day we stopped seeing her around.  We didn’t think much of it until we met another girl who used to be friends with her who told us what happened to her.  Stephanie had moved away because she was a foster kid.  Apparently she would stay with a family until they got sick of her and then she would be shipped off to live with someone else.  Most of her life she felt unwanted.  When I heard this I remember feeling sick to my stomach.  Here I was judging her without knowing anything about her.  Without knowing her at all.

“Judging others is a blindfold.  Judging others is a blindfold that blinds us to our own grime and blinds us to the GRACE which others are as eligible and entitled to as we are.” – Voskamp

 Everyone has traveled their own road.  Everyone has a story to tell, pain they have had to suffer, and life experiences that has shaped them one way or another.

Matthew 7:1-5- ” Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your (sister’s) eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your (sister) Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your (sister’s) eye.”

Phew!  Girls!  Where is your heart?  Is there someone that you may be presuming assumptions upon because of the way they look, because of their attitude towards you, because of the choices they have made and all of the outward things your eyes may see??  Ask yourself do you know their story?   Do you know them at all?  Or are you just sizing them up to be the very thing you want them to be in order to make yourself feel better about yourself? Have you looked at your own heart lately?

 “Do you hold other people to a standard of perfection instead of letting them all be held in the arms of grace?”- Voskamp

Oh sweet grace.  We can rejoice because we are covered by GRACE!!  We can rejoice because they too are covered by GRACE!!  I am dancing and singing with my arms outstretched because of who I am in Christ!  The more I believe in His love for me the more I am able to love everyone else regardless of who they are or who they seem to be.  We are called to love and we are ALL entitled to grace.

And then there are those of you who find yourself on the other side of it.  You feel alone and isolated because you have been accused of being a certain way.  Or other girls have their opinion about you because they are only looking at your outward appearance and not taking the time to really get to know your heart.  Maybe you’re the one who has had to travel a dirty road leading you to a pain so deep that the only thing you know to do is to inflict pain onto others.  Maybe you’re hurting others because you yourself are hurting.

There is hope for you dear friend.  “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord sees your whole story and sees the very depths of your heart.  He is lifting up your head, staring into your eyes and carrying through the weight of each day.  You are not what everyone else says of you… you belong to Jesus and He says that you are His child!  You are His friend. – John 15:15  You are justified and redeemed. Rom. 3:24  You are a fellow heir with Christ.  Rom 8:17  You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 9:19  You are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him.  1 Cor. 6:17  You are a new creation  2 Cor. 5:17  The list goes on and on.  Who cares what others say about you… who does Jesus say you are?  The one who knows everything about you actually calls you one with Himself!  Hold on to this truth and be careful to not find yourself judging those who judge you.

In whichever situation you find yourself in, go to Jesus.  May he open our hearts to our own sin and dig out the filth that has been piling up needing to be plucked out.  I pray that pride will fall and shame will be thrown to the ground.  I pray our eyes be taken off of ourselves all together and placed on the cross. I pray we live each day with kindness on our lips uplifting one another, encouraging one another and loving each other because we have been given kindness and love when we do not deserve it ourselves.  May we not find ourselves assuming the worst in someone but may we find ourselves always seeking to understand.  “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord: keep watch over the door of my lips.  Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil….” Psalm 141:3-4

I wish I could go back to that little neighborhood where all my time was wrapped around my friends like my feathered bangs wrapped around my head, and Stephanie sitting on her front porch with a cigarette between her fingers.  I would do things a little differently.  My hope is that I would walk up to her and say hi.  I would tell her my name.  I would sit down next to her and maybe ask her questions about herself.  I would try to get to know her.  I may even risk being associated with her.  After all- Jesus was associated with sinners.  The tax collectors, the drunks, the prostitutes……hmmmmm….. even me.

I was no better than Stephanie.  I am no better than you.  We are all just children in need of Jesus.

“When this life ends we will all see each other for what we really are.  There will be surprises.  One of those surprises will surely be how ill-willed our judgements were.  Another will be how much suffering we caused others through wrongly judging them.  Yet another will be how often we were guilty of the very thing we judged another for”. – Anonymous

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Fear

July 30, 2014

Yesterday my oldest daughter almost got hit by a car.  We were out to eat with some friends which included 7 kids.  It’s always a bit chaotic when we get together because you have one eye on your child and the other eye is in the present conversation.  As Eisley was running ahead of me to leave the restaurant I called her back and very intently told her to stay close to the adults.  She listened for a moment but then I looked away for a brief second while a jeep slammed on his brakes and the driver practically shaking in his seat told me to watch my kid more carefully because he almost hit her and it scared the *#@* out of him.  I then see Eisley running towards me from the street and into my arms.  My eyes welled up with tears.  Did that just happen?  How did she even get in the street?  I was relieved and mad all at the same time.  ” Eisley- you know not to go in the street!!  Why did you do that?  You could have been hurt!”  And then she proceeded to say….” I know mommy.  I’m so sorry.  I won’t ever do that again.”  This fear began to well up inside of me of losing my daughter.  The thought of her getting seriously hurt or even killed brought me to my knees.  But then her words that followed blew me away….  “I was running and then Jesus came and helped me run the other way so I didn’t get hit by the car.”  I sat there for a moment wondering if I heard her correctly.  Jesus helped her!!??  I just held her tightly thanking God for protecting my baby girl in a moment when I had absolutely no control.

If you have followed our blog for a long time it will be no surprise to you my struggle with fear.  In all honesty it’s a battle I can’t say I have won.  I have good days and bad days.  I’ve had two miscarriages and difficult pregnancies which has led me to fear losing my children.  I have had past relationships with guys who gave me more attention if I was looking pretty which has led me to fear losing acceptance from people if I didn’t look up to their standards.  I fear messing up my daily routine and schedule for fear of being left with a messy house and moody children.  I long to be used by God yet fear being used by God.  I fear that one day my husband will get sick of me or will no longer be attracted to me even though he has never given me any reason to ever worry over that.  I fear God will bring some major tragedy into our lives in order to teach me a valuable lesson or build more character within me. Sometimes I even draw back from praying for certain things out of fear of the cost it will take in order to receive it.  I fear losing friendships, gaining friendships, being judged, sagging skin, dying, truly living, darkness, being alone, what people think about me, others being used more than me, change, making the wrong decision, disappointing God, disappointing my dad…the list goes on and on.

Like the apostle Peter, I love Jesus wildly and passionately, but when given the option of looking at the wind of my fears or looking at the face of Jesus, my fears often win.  It’s hard to step out of the boat when we are anchored to our fears.  I think that’s why I tend to be a little over controlling in some areas.  However, last night Jesus showed up to my little girl and controlled the very thing that I could not.  Even when my trust in HIm has been lacking and my faith has been sinking in the storm… He still showed up.  I can’t help but think all my self- preserving and self-protecting has kept me from truly seeing His hand at work in all the things I fear.  Am I missing it?  Am I missing the sight of goodness because my fear keeps my eyes so busy?  God calls us out of ourselves and into Himself so we might live and leave everything up to Him.  So we might be radiant and full of peace.

God is calling us out of our fears.

“When God calls us up, it’s easy and tempting to look down at everything we lack.  We feel the limitations of our humanity and we become acutely aware of our weaknesses and foibles.  When we focus on our fears ,the risk of stepping out feels greater than the potential reward of living by faith.  In Christ we’re called, appointed, and equipped to live lives bigger than we are.  We need to stop judging ourselves by what we lack.  We come alive, find courage, and gain ground to the extent that we keep our eyes on the One who says we lack no good thing apart from Him.” – Susie Larson  Do you trust HIm?  Do you see HIm?

“What a God we have!! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand- new life and have everything to live for! Including a future in heaven- and the future starts now.  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The day is coming when you’ll have it all- life healed and whole.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5 The Message

” I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to HIm are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”- Ps. 34:4-5

Those who look to Him are radiant- meaning They found light!  Their faces brightened up and became cheerful.  Their minds were made calm, for they felt assured that God would protect them.  In Hebrew it means “to flow together”.  When you look to Jesus, not only will your face shine and be lightened but you will flow as one with God.  Look to Him and be lightened.  Look up to God in prayer and by faith, when in distressed and uncomfortable circumstances, for help and deliverance.  Expect mercy.  Your face will not be covered in shame which means you will not be disappointed by your hope but you will find relief.

I am sure there are past experiences you have had that has created fear within you.  However, we need to be careful to not blame the past for our fears or even allow that to give us permission to fear… because Jesus commands us DO NOT FEAR!  We have no excuse.  His power resides within us and His death as overcome fear itself.  Its easier said than done.. I know.  I’m not one to sit here and say I have the answer because it is a daily struggle I face.  But I am aware of my lack in trusting God… are you?  Will you trust HIm today?  Will you lay down your fears, look to His face and shine?  Will you surrender your past to His loving hands and stop making excuses for your fear?

“Climb out of that drugged, dead comforting pit that is keeping you paralyzed and break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for, in the now of your life, while there is till time and hunger in your veins.”- Voskamp

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

The Water of Life

July 16, 2014

 

So I struggled with writing this post.  Not because I have something very important to say, but quite the opposite.  I don’t know what to say.  When you find yourself writing as much as we do you tend to find yourself falling into ruts.  I really think my rut happened because, in all honesty,  I’m just bored.  I feel like we write in circles.  I find myself writing on the same topics, the same struggles, reading from the same authors and going back again and again to the same verses.  We need reminders all the time…. but I’m bored.

As I sat on my front porch watching the storm roll in last night, I realized something.  Maybe I’m bored with my writing because I’m bored with God.  Did I just say that?  How embarrassing is that to admit?  Have you ever felt that way?  I think I’m bored with God because my time with Him, when I do spend time with HIm,  has become a thing to do and not out of necessity or hunger for His presence.  HIs words have become just mundane words to me.  I find myself in circles with Him- saying the same prayers, reading the same books and all around disinterested.  Of course I desire HIm, I want to know Him and be in His presence but I feel so dry.  I’m in this season of business and it has left me in the desert thirsty for new life and thirsty for God himself to supply water to my numb soul.

There’s this girl in the Bible my heart has always gone out to.  Her name is Hagar.  Poor Hagar.  Here she is minding her own business just serving her master, in this case Sarai, like the good little servant that she is.  And then boom!  Sarai comes to her with this crazy request.  She asks her to sleep with her husband in order to get pregnant and bare him a son because Sarai herself cannot do it.  Hagar does as she is told and has a baby boy.  But then Sarai becomes jealous and despises her!  She begins to mistreat her and look down on her and the only thing Hagar did in this situation was obey!  Later on Sarai has her own son Isaac and decides to send Hagar and her son away because she fears that they will have to share the inheritance.  Hagar is sent away with just a little food and little water.

” She went on her way and wandered in the desert… When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.  Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought- ‘ I cannot watch the boy die.’  And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.”- Gen 21

” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” Gen 21

Here is Hagar and her boy dying of thirst with a well less than a bowshot away!  What’s interesting is that God let her get to the point of almost death before He opened her eyes to the well.  He let her get to the point where she had absolutely nothing before reminding her that He is faithful and He Himself is life.

Even in the desert there is always a well of water nearby… we just have to open our eyes to it.  The very thing that will quench my thirsty soul is right in front of me… please God!

 ” What insanity compels me to shrivel up when there is joy’s water to be had here?”  Open my eyes to see your words afresh!  Open my heart to hear your whispers new and full of life!  I want to taste and see that You are good.  The reason why I’m so disenchanted with life in His presence is not because I’ve tasted and come to find there is nothing exciting about it.  But because I haven’t stopped myself in my crazy busy life to actually sit in His glorious presence.  His words are not mundane and boring.  His words are powerful and refreshing!  My eyes have just been focused on other things.  He is in this moment.  The well is always here- God is always here because He cares about me.  He cares about you.

Gen 16- ” Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her.  She said, ‘ You are the God who sees me.'”

Its amazing to know that even when I find myself in these ruts, these  so called deserts – God sees me.  And because He sees me He will never stop pursuing me.  He sees you friend.  He’s not looking at you with disgust and anger when you are not spending time with Him.  He looks at you with love and compassion and longs for you to experience the greatest joy you could possibly experience through HIm.   He sees your very heart, all of your secrets, all of the dry places and complacent feelings towards Him.. and He offers you water of life.  It is always available, always refreshing, always exciting and true.  He’s just asking us to come.  I pray that He opens your eyes to it.  I pray that His words come alive in your spirit.  I pray He do the same in me.

 

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

Dear Despair

July 2, 2014

 

Dear Despair

You used to be an old friend of mine.  We would sit for hours while you told me lie after lie and I would listen.  You saw into my heart and you knew the strings to pull bringing me closer to you and farther away from truth and peace.  You somehow shadowed my vision so that all I saw in front of me was the painful circumstances at hand.  It was as if your home was a deep pit and once I walked through the door I would fall onto your cement floor and stay for awhile.

You sat across from me and told me this life was too much for me.  You told me there would be no more money to provide for my needs.  You told me there would be no job coming to my door and my searching would go in vain.  You told me I would be alone forever and no one would ever want me.  You told me that I wasn’t worth much.  You told me death would win and I would be left only in sadness without hope.  You told me my burdens would continue to push me down and this struggle would get the best of me.  You told me there was only light if I could see it, feel it, and sense it.  You told me to put my hope only in my friends, family and others who I admired.  You taught me how to put people on pedestals and secretly worship them.  When I sat there crying you told me I had every right to be upset- I deserved to feel hopeless- I deserved to feel like the victim, to remain the victim.  In some twisted way that brought me comfort.  In some twisted way it gave me control.  You told me God was failing me and He didn’t really care at all.

For some reason I trusted and believed you.

But even in my doubts of a loving God and in my believing of your lies… truth broke through as it always ends up doing.  You were wrong.  You didn’t tell me- ” He knows what He is doing with me, and when He has tested me, I will come forth as pure gold!!” (Job 23:10)

You didn’t tell me that God may be calling me to live my life without something I never thought I could live without.  But if I have Him- I have the only wealth, health, love, honor, and security I really need and cannot lose.

You didn’t tell me that these present burdens are actually mercies from God.

You didn’t tell me when it feels like God is killing me He is actually saving me!!

 You didn’t tell me of the redemption that lies at the end of all this.  The Joy available to me in every moment.  The peace residing in me who is Jesus.

My trust has not been in God but has been in my circumstances, public opinion and my own competence!

I may not always understand… but I now see the truth.

God will provide for all of my needs.  (Matthew 6)

I don’t have to fear because God is always with me and I’m never alone.  (Isaiah 41:10)

I am worth more than sparrows.  (Matthew 10:31)  The sparrows were worth nothing… and yet God was concerned with them!  He cared for them and not one of them fell to the ground without God knowing.  If God is concerned with these birds… how much more He must be concerned with me?

Death may come and sickness may sneak in, but even death cannot overcome me or my God.  (1 Cor. 15)  There can somehow be peace present in the pain.  Unimaginable peace.  Unexplainable hope!

There is light.  When I don’t see it, feel it, or sense it…. it is there.  (2 Sam.22:29, Ps. 27:1, Psalm 4:6, Ps. 119:105, 119:130, John 8:12, 2 Cor. 4:6, 1 Peter 2:9)

God will not fail me.  (Jos. 1:5)  At times I feel as though He has dropped me from His hands.  But in those times I now see my faith is found in God, not my feelings.  He is Gracious and Holy.  Merciful and Loving.

You’re very good at persuading me to look at what God may not be doing.  But you forget that it’s all about who God is.

Dear Despair

You won’t win.  You cannot have my heart, my thoughts and my body.  I have believed your lies too often and now I see the truth.  For even when I am discouraged I will look to Him and rejoice in what He did for me, I will have the joy and hope necessary- and the freedom to follow the call of God when times seem at their darkest and most difficult.  I choose to not remain a victim.  I will stand up and shadow my eyes from the darkness so that all I can see is Him standing there with me- lifting my heavy shoulders, teaching me how to walk again up the mountain, and bringing me out of this shining as pure gold.

“We’ve all felt it- the uncertainty, pain or fear that leaves us on the brink of despair.  Perhaps you are feeling it today as you rise to meet what greets you.  We close our eyes and drink in the truth like water: He is our hope.”- Anonymous

 

Body Image, Family, God, Identity, Relationships

My Digital Friend is Taking Over

May 29, 2014

I consider myself to be a pretty well rounded mother of three. I do the laundry, cook the food, clean the messes, bandage the boo-boos, read stories and kiss little cheeks. I’m a multi-tasker to the max and I take pride in getting many things done at once.

I also consider myself an excellent phone consumer. I can scroll through Instagram, check my email, search the weather, pick through Pinterest and text my friends and family all at once.

What’s truly impressive, however, is my ability to be a mother and a phone consumer at the same time. Although impressive, this “talent” you could say has led me down a path of habit, addiction and absence.

My i-phone has become another member of the family. I catch myself constantly saying “hold on a minute, wait one sec, let me just finish this sentence, I’ll be right there, etc.” as I hold my phone in my hands typing away as my child pulls on my pant leg and as my husband waits for my full attention to say something. I hear the bing of an incoming text and I’m answering its call as if it has trained me to come like a dog by its master. Somehow everything seems urgent on the phone. My friend asked an important question, this person needs something from me, I need to get back in touch with this person right away…. Or else what? What will happen if I just wait to answer? What would happen if instead I gave my attention to those who are right in front of me? -The ones looking at my face waiting for me to make eye contact with them. The ones who are wanting to know if they are more important than the machine in my hand.

According to Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Family and Childhood Relationships in the Digital Age- she says that I am not alone. “ Kids suffer as a result. After interviewing hundreds of kids and adults, I have found that what kids feel the most is sad, isolated and alone. They feel like it’s impossible to get their parents’ attention. Walking into a room to talk to a parent and being told brusquely “in a minute, hold on,” makes the kids feel deflated and bad about themselves.”

This breaks my heart. And it’s not just kids who are reaping the consequences. It’s relationships period! The husband and wife who sit next to each other and instead of looking at one another in conversation they are looking at the screen. The friend who is sharing something important while the one across the table is reminded to look at a picture or an email instead of being fully present. We cant even watch a movie all together without the majority of us looking up facts about the movie, where else did we see that actor, and when was this movie made all leading us back to our phone.

It has become a crutch to lean on when we find ourselves in awkward situations, when we find ourselves alone while waiting for someone to show up, when we are wanting the world to think that we have it all together when really we don’t. My husband just said the other day….. “Do we ever do anything anymore to just do them? Or are we living our lives to make for a good picture on our social media?”

In the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” there is a scene where a photographer has traveled across the world to take a picture of a snow leopard that rarely makes an appearance. As he sits there gazing upon the animal as it emerges from the caves… he doesn’t take the picture. His friend asks if he plans to capture this moment and his response is so profound. He answers by saying there are moments so good he wants to remain in them fully present rather than interrupting it with a push of a button.

Our lives are filled with precious moments and we can certainly miss them.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 it says “ …. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Sounds like all the times we’re on our phone. Right? And yet its talking about verse 5- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Phew.  The majority of my day is spent with my mind on the phone rather than on loving God with my whole heart.

Before you even read this post, I’m sure you were already aware of the digital problem we face. You know this, but have you done anything about it? Of course it isn’t realistic to throw away your phone or stop emailing and answering texts all together! I mean the phone allows me to see my husband when he’s gone.  The phone allows me to connect with people.  But we definitely can learn to manage better. This is about boundaries. This is about what our minds and hearts are constantly stayed on as we go about our day. We can learn to check our phones when we want, not when it wants. Set your boundaries, walk outside and be fully present where you are.

Uncategorized

the friday overflow: buffalo dip

May 16, 2014

all right y’all.  this recipe is a favorite amongst so many i know.  it is the one thing that i make for any BBQ, any dinner party, any picnic, and really anytime i need to bring a dish to an event.  my husband can eat this as a meal and has already given the recipe for this glorious dip via instagram… but if you haven’t seen it yet… hear ya go.

ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken

2 8oz packages of softened cream cheese

1 package of shredded cheddar cheese

1 jar of “wing time” buffalo sauce (of course you can use another brand if you prefer… but i’m tellin ya that this specific kind makes all the difference in the world- you can find it at whole foods)

1 bag of delicious chips of your choice

 

shred all of the white meat on the chicken

blend together the cream cheese and buffalo sauce until smooth

fold in chicken and 3/4 of the bag of shredded cheddar

once all mixed together pour into a 9×13 pan and even out

top with the remaining cheddar cheese

bake at 350 degrees for 35 min

enjoy!

Body Image, God, Identity, Judging

So I Walk Into This Bar……

May 14, 2014

 

Ok.. so not really a bar… more like a restaurant/ bowling alley/coffee shop and it happens to have a bar.  It was a rare night out for me.  Usually my nights consist of folding laundry, giving a child a bath, cleaning up dirty hands and maybe if I have time I’ll eat some food along the way.  But here I was 8:30 at night after the kids went to bed and I’m out on the town.  I didn’t have time to change clothes or fix my makeup, but I didn’t really care at the moment.  I was just thankful to be out in the life of the living.  It was no longer me and a frying pan… It was me and the rest of the world!  Come on world!!!  I have conquered my home and now I will conquer you!  ;)

As I walked through the doors, however, my confidence seemed to melt right off of me and run for the nearest exit.  As I looked around at all the other girls in the room I noticed their ‘perfect’ hair down to the middle of their backs, every curl in place.  I noticed their ‘perfect’ makeup on their ‘perfect’ skin.  I noticed their awesome clothes and the amazing style that must have cost them a fortune.  And all of a sudden I am now aware of the baby food stain on my shirt, the dirt stuck under my finger nails, and the less than “cool” outfit I have been in all day while wiping bottoms and cleaning the floor.  Right then I wasn’t pretty enough and I wasn’t good enough.   And for the rest of the night I felt self conscious and anxious to leave.

Ugh!  Why is that?  Have you ever felt that way?  I was so confident before I started to compare myself to everyone else.  I didn’t care how I looked until I cared how other girls looked.  I looked at them, then back at me, then back at them.  My eyes were all over the place and my heart was all out of place.  And the sad thing is this wasn’t the first time.  I seem to find myself comparing how I look often to others… and there I am left measuring myself up against everyone else.. instead of looking to what God sees in me.

” There will always be people who see everything in the world as a measuring stick of their worthiness, instead of as a burning bush of God’s gloriousness.  If your life looks like a mess- to them – they whip out a measuring stick and feel confident of their own worthiness.  If your life looks like a monument- to them – they whip out a measuring stick and start cutting you down for their own empowerment.  (And how often we do the same to others… am I right?)

The world isn’t a forest of measuring sticks.  The world is a forest of burning bushes.  Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind OR ahead!  Everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here!  That God is working through this person’s life, the God is redeeming that person’s life, that God is igniting this work, that God is present here in this mess, and God is using even this.”

When my eyes are off of myself and onto God I don’t notice if I’m lacking or if I even think of myself as better than someone else.  I just see God.  And when I look at someone else I can see them as a soul who is loved by God.  My sight needs to change, my heart needs to change.

“Walk through life with a measuring stick- and your eyes get so small you never see God.  Comparison is a thug that robs your joy!!  But it’s even more than that- Comparison makes you a thug who beats down somebody- or your own soul.”  When you compare yourself to others, you not only are hurting yourself, you are measuring up that other person to a scale of judgement.  ” Scales always lie!!  They don’t make a scale that ever told the truth about value, about worth, about significance.  Measuring sticks try to rank some people as big and some people as small- but WE AREN’T SIZES!  WE ARE SOULS!  There are no better people or worse people- there are only God-made souls.  There is no point trying to size people up.”  No point into sizing yourself up!  You can’t measure souls.

Comparison is something that I fall into on a daily basis.  The funny thing is I started my night out all wrong in the first place.  My confidence was in myself.  I had already set myself up for failure.  I felt ahead and found myself feeling behind.  Maybe if I had been focused on God and His all encompassing love for me that day… I would be confident in Him and my eyes would have changed to see everyone else as a God-made soul whom He is working in.  Maybe I would have even seen myself as such.

The measuring stick is killing us girls!  It is robbing us of joy on a daily basis.  I want to throw my stick away and burn like fire in the gloriousness of God’s love!!

” Girls rival each other.  Women revive each other.

Girls empale each other.  Woman empower each other.

Girls compare each other.  Women champion each other.”

*All quotes are taken from Ann Voskamp

 

Identity, Judging, Relationships

Don’t Give the Mouse a Cookie

April 30, 2014

 

Do’s and Don’ts I have learned in the last month.

  • - Don’t form ” I hate so and so clubs.”  Even in your mind… look at everyone with an open heart.
  • - Do freak out if you see a mouse run across your kitchen floor like I just saw.  It’s ok to feel invaded by their little presence and you are allowed to have feelings of animosity towards them.  This mouse is not welcome here and we will be sure that his little friends get the message.
  • - Do stay present in the midst of conflict.  Sometimes marriage, friendships and other relationships just get hard.  Don’t run away from them…. fight to resolve it and your relationship will deepen.
  • - Don’t wear white while cooking spaghetti.  You more than likely will receive a beautiful orangish stain somewhere on your shirt that will leave you feeling frustrated and sad.
  • - Do color outside of the lines.  Sometimes we get so caught up in being perfect that we forget to allow ourselves to let go and let our creativity just flow.  I am reminded of this as I look at my daughter’s version of strawberry shortcake.  Lets just say her blue face and multicolored hair screams originality.
  • - Don’t always hold your feelings in.  If you’re upset, tell a friend.  If you’re sad, cry with someone.  If you’re mad, be real about it.  If you’re needing someone to rejoice with you, go find that someone and dance until you can’t feel your legs.
  • - Do paint your toes hot pink.  Sometimes a little color goes a long way.  And it’s spring for pete’s sake.
  • - Don’t hold grudges.  If your friend hurt you… tell her, forgive and move on.  (enter here the saying you have heard a million times- Life’s too Short!!!!)
  • - Do floss.  I’ve always been really bad about this.  But suddenly I have a fear of losing all of my teeth when I’m older.  Seriously, How horrible would that be??  Flossing it is… no matter how much I hate it.
  • - Don’t let the loss of your favorite sports team ruin your day.
  • - But… DO yell at the TV if they just aren’t playing like they should when they get paid millions of dollars to win.
  • - Don’t pet a lady bug… it ends up peeing on you.  You think I’m kidding… just try it.
  • - Do run in the rain.  It’s freeing, and invigorating, and childlike.
  • - Don’t watch Parenthood… you WILL cry!!
  • - Do watch Parenthood… you WILL cry!!
  • - Don’t go to Target expecting to walk out with just the one thing you went in for…. you always walk out with more.
  • - Do pray for someone right when they ask you to… out loud with them….because lets be honest, we say we will pray for them and a lot of times just forget.
  • - Don’t look at your phone more than looking into the face of someone else.
  • - Do look into the eyes of the person who is talking to you.
  • - Don’t look around the room to see who else is around while someone is talking to you.  It makes them feel unimportant and unloved.  Pay attention and show them that you care. That’s what you would want isn’t it?
  • - Do take spontaneous road trips with your favorite music and your favorite coffee.  Sometimes just a drive with fresh air and some good tunes is good for the soul.
  • - Don’t compare yourself to everyone else on instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.  You are lovely and you are worth more than what a picture says.
  • - Do call your grandparents.  If they are around they want to hear from you and they think about you probably more than you think about them.
  • - Don’t judge someone just because they do things differently than you.  Always seek to understand.
  • - Do think about others more than yourself.  Better yet find things to get involved in that keep you from thinking about yourself at all.
  • - Don’t always wear makeup.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be natural..
  • - Do force yourself to pray when you are feeling anxious.  You may not feel peace immediately… but it does come.

Do know that this life will hand you ups and it will hand you downs, but we are no longer defined by our successes or failures.

“And if you have not been enchanted by this adventure-your life-What would do for you?”

-M. Oliver

“There is a time to be born.  And there’s a time to die.  There is a time to plant.  And a time to pluck up what is planted.  A time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” Ecc. 3

 

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

When Will the Evil End?

April 16, 2014

 

I’m really trying to make sense of it all.  Trying to understand why bad things happen.  Why evil is so real and so awful and why I seem to be so clueless to the pain people feel at night when I’m safe in my bed.  I’m trying to understand why God chose me to have this life and why others have to go through “hell”.

Sometimes life shakes life up a bit.  Sometimes it even shakes my faith up a bit.

Tossing and turning in the storm as waves start crashing in the boat and I’m told that God is in control.  Most of the time this gives me hope, but today it makes me angry and confused.  Do I believe God is in control?  Absolutely.  However, I’m a little terrified He sometimes choses to not stop the storm.  To allow it to persist and to let evil get away with evil per say.

You don’t really think about evil all that much when you’re running to do errands, cleaning the house, in class, having coffee with a friend. But then there’s moments when you come face to face with it.  When you see the murder, you see the sexually abused, the physically abused, the scared and the starving, when you see death right in front of you.  You see it presently in the life of someone you know.  Then it becomes real.

She stopped at the side of the curb with her tire spitting out air and becoming a flat.  I had just finished a run and stopped to ask if she wanted some help.  She stepped out of her car with her messed up hair and her thin frame.  Her bony fingers began to shake a bit as she began to explain that all she did was look down for a second to put lotion on her hands when her car hit the curb.  She then looked up at me and on the side of her face was a massive hole in her cheek.  Looked like someone took a cigar and burned her cheek until it practically burned through to the other side.  You could tell she didn’t want me to see it.  She tried to look at me from the corner of her eye so that her face was hidden.  Her husband wasn’t the kind and friendly type when he showed up.  He was definitely not “thrilled” that she had a flat and even his shirt posed some kind of threat.  I walked into my house and felt my stomach drop.  Who knows what kind of life this woman was living right around the corner from my life in here.  Was she being abused? Was she constantly having to defend herself physically?  Did she fall asleep at night in fear of screwing up and fear of what the outcome might be?

We all ask the question “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”  And not just bad things… horrible things!  I typically have the answer- God has reasons beyond our understanding.. reasons leading to an ultimate good.  But tonight I am searching high and low for God to give me a really good reason for all the pain in this world.  Because I am seeing it with my own eyes in people that I love and I don’t think this is ok.

In my searching for “why”… I was answered with “who.”  The heart of God doesn’t think this is ok either.  His heart is broken.  When we search the heart of the Father we find that He is not this big powerful being just watching it all happen without a care in the world…He is weeping and angry and ready to pounce.  ” …..how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.  And they shall know that I am the Lord.”- Ezekiel 6:9  God, even more than myself, wants evil to end.  He hates evil.  He will not let evil go unpunished.  And that, my friends, is where I find hope.  I may not know why but I do know there is punishment waiting for those who walk in evil.  And there has to be judgement.  Either on the sinner or Christ for the sinner! There will be redemption! He will make right everything that is so wrong.  This life will be made new and these scars will be wiped clean.

” He will bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God’ to comfit all who mourn; to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit….. for I the Lord LOVE justice; I HATE robbery and wrong with violence.” – Isaiah 61

We have hope in the God of justice and love.  We have hope in His wrath knowing that He will have revenge on all who have chosen to take the path of idolatry and evil.  And we have hope in His love for us… He is fighting for us and He has died for us.  He is coming back! Your kingdom come Lord!!

” Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is hoy continue to be holy.  Look, I AM COMING SOON!!  Bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes.  ( In His blood)  They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.  Outside the city are the dogs- the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches.  I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.  I am the bright morning star!.” Rev. 22:10-16   

” I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage… in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for ALL hearts, for the comforting of ALL resentments, for the atonement of ALL the crimes of humanity, for ALL the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”- Fyodor Dostoyevsky,  The Brothers Karamozov