Blog Feed

Overflow

Rest is good. And there’s never a bad time to open up God’s Word and dig in.

But I have a tendency to rest too much and a habit of always reading and very seldom ever doing.

I have two devotional books that I use during the day. One for home and one for work. I like to read the one at home before I leave the house. The one at work I read sometime in the afternoon for a quick encouragement.

I recently bought a third devotional and thought I might could add it in at night. As I sat trying to read it yesterday, the words seemed to bounce right off my brain. I couldn’t process what I was reading and I had a unsettled feeling in my chest.

“Why, Lord?” I asked.

Immediately an image came to mind of a pail already packed to the rim with sand. And as I tried to pile more sand on top, it would simply fall over the sides and back onto the ground.

I heard the Lord saying, “You’re full. Give some of this away first.”

I honestly didn’t feel full. I didn’t feel like I had anything to give. I needed to learn more, read more, rest more before I felt qualified to give anything.

The ironic thing is that even though I am absolutely sure God was speaking to me, I still set the book down and proceeded to spend the rest of the evening watching TV with my kids.

I wasn’t ready. Even though in my life time I’ve written more words than I can count, for some reason I still don’t feel ready.

It’s so hard and so vulnerable. And even though I tell myself over and over again it’s not about me, the fear of rejection can be crippling.

But sometimes my fear is more about actually experiencing God in new ways than anything else. Because I know that the more I experience Him, the more I change.

The Lord shows me more during the actual process of writing than He does before I start. Maybe He allows an idea to sprout in my mind but it’s not until I sit down and tend it that He really shows me what’s it’s about.

Experiencing God can be terrifying. And rightly so. In Exodus when Moses askes God to show him His glory the Lord responds that “you can not see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

But in His goodness the Lord allowed Moses to speak with Him and to see a glimpse of Him after He had passed over. And when he came down from the mountain, he was changed in a way that was visible to all.

Something in our very souls understands the intensity of being with God. Of hearing Him talk and seeing glimpses of Him.

And it can be very tempting to stay busy with other things in an effort to “miss” it.

“I’m doing these other things right now, Lord. I don’t have time to stop and listen.”

I think of that day when Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha. And I wonder if maybe the reason why Martha rushed to prepare was really in an attempt to avoid the intensity of the intimacy with the Son of God.

Maybe she was afraid of what He would reveal to her. What He may see in her heart. What He may ask her to give up. Or what He may ask her to do.

And understanding even in our limited capacity who God is can make it hard for us to face ourselves. So we hide from both.

We don’t want to submit our wills and lives to God. We are afraid to let go of our mirage of control. We don’t feel prepared and we don’t like stepping into something when we don’t know what to expect. We don’t want to preach and love on those people because they’ve hurt us. And even though we’ve justified our own sins we cannot justify theirs.

We pray… but we do most of the talking. We read… but only to feel like we are actually doing something. We worship… but only to feel good.

And even in all that selfishness, He still fills us up.

But when He says pour out. We don’t. We won’t.

Because we fear that if we give it all away, we won’t have anything left.

We don’t understand that it is not our own knowledge… our own understanding. It is not our capabilities. Our gifts. It is not for our own glory or fame.

Sometimes we will be like Joseph in Egypt. Storing up blessings and gifts and love for years to come. And maybe we find it easier to give then. But sometimes we will be like the Israelites in the wilderness… when the only thing we have to give is what we hold in our hands that day.

Lord, help us to give…out of our abundance or out of our lack. Help us to give. Because it all belongs to you anyways.

Lord, help us to quiet the noise and the busyness… to sit at your feet and listen. To give up this ridiculous idea of control and allow ourselves to be truly changed by You.

Lord, help us to loosen our grip. To let go of the things that are not pleasing to You. To submit ourselves before You and trust… trust Lord that even if it hurts and even if we don’t understand… YOU ARE GOOD. YOU ARE FAITHFUL.

Your grace abounds Lord. Thank you. But may we stop using that grace as an excuse to forge our own paths and do our own things. May we stop claiming grace in areas that You want us to claim freedom.

True worship is not just standing in church on Sunday morning with arms lifted and voices raised. It is the quiet and hard laying down every day of our own pride and will to live a life that points all the lost and hurting people back to You. A life and a voice to glorify God.

May we trust You when You say we are full. May we obey You when You say to pour out. May we follow You when You say to go. And may we be our absolute bravest when we simply agree to hear and experience You.

And all the people say… AMEN.

Giveaway!

It’s time for another giveaway!!!

You can enter by going over to the Facebook page and liking and commenting on the giveaway post OR simply comment on this post. I’ll make sure your name is entered!

Winner will be announced on Monday, October 21st.

Finding Comfort to Give Comfort

I don’t know about you but comfort isn’t exactly how I’d describe some of my most difficult times.

To be honest- it was during those times that I felt the farthest from God.

I didn’t feel comforted. I felt abandoned.

And that perceived abandonment caused me to rebel and lash out at God in ways only the wounded can.

Every time God has taken me out of my comfort zone I’ve raged and fought and wrestled. I’ve run and hid or turned and did the very things He had commanded me not to.

And it is only after He’s let me wear myself out, only after He’s come to find me, picked me up and put my feet back on solid ground that I’ve been able to look at my circumstances with any clarity at all.

I heard a song today by a Christian group called Social Club Misfits. In the song they sing, “When you’re afraid is the only time that a man can be brave.”

And I couldn’t help but think, “When you’re hurting is the only time a man can be comforted.”

I won’t even attempt to put God into some easy to understand box and try to explain why we experience some of the hardships we do. Because I don’t know. And I doubt I ever will this side of Heaven.

But I can say with one hundred percent surety that God carried me through each and every one of those hard times in my life. Maybe I felt alone but I never was alone.

The comfort hasn’t always been so evident. And most of the time it won’t be.

That’s because there are too many things in this world to distract us. The enemy doesn’t let you call a respite. He will kick you hard and fast when you’re down.

And lately God has been showing me three things that keep us from the comfort He wants to give.

Sometimes our focus is off.

Colossians 3:2- Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

God’s word tells us to give thanks in every situation. But when we face the hard ones we often believe we have nothing to be thankful for. THAT IS A LIE.

We have so much to be thankful for yet we can’t take our eyes off the bad long enough to see the good.

Other times our pride stops us from experiencing the comfort He has to offer.

We’re so angry and offended that things aren’t how we thought they should be. We think we know better than God and the very idea of doing anything other than reminding God and everyone else how we’ve been wronged causes us to puff ourselves up and miss any comfort coming our way.

The third way I’ve missed God’s comfort is in my stubbornness. This happens when I refuse to experience the hard situation. When I do everything I can to distract myself from what’s going wrong in an effort to spare myself the feelings of loss, loneliness, and hurt.

But the comfort that I now see so clearly is revealed for a purpose. And that purpose is to give that comfort back out.

All of those difficult situations have given me a heart for those going through similar things. And it’s because of the comfort I received that I have anything to give to others.

2 Cor. 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians goes on to say that “then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

The truth is that we may never know why God has allowed certain hardships to touch our lives but no matter the what’s and the why’s what we do know is that everything is intended to bring God glory.

Even our troubles.

Some of the greatest healing we will ever experience is taking a situation that caused us pain and using it to be God’s hands and feet in this world. Using our troubles to bring comfort to those around us.

When life gives you lemons and all that… you know? And yes… it makes you want to roll your eyes and scream.

But honestly what better way to look at our hurts and hardships than as learning experiences. As times when we can be filled with all God has to offer so that we overflow into the lives of those around us.

No. Life isn’t easy. And sometimes those “hard” times are more like crushing times. But even in the worse possible times truth is still truth. The Lord is good and He is faithful. And one day He will wipe away every tear.

Until then, maybe we can help each other stand when the sting of salty hurts blurs our vision.

 

 

 

Responsibly Free

I wonder how many of us would connect responsibilities with freedom.

I have a responsibility to pay my bills, go to work, feed my family. While there are many other smaller responsibilities, those three alone take up a huge portion of my time. And that doesn’t always leave behind the feeling of freedom.

And that can cause me to be wary of taking on anything more. It even leaves me with a heaviness sometimes when I think about this ministry that I long to see growing.

How will I have enough time? And what if I mess up? What if I let people down? What if I let God down? Can I truly do the hard work when I already have so many other things to do?

I think those thoughts can hinder us all. Especially those of us that don’t feel like we’ve experienced a whole lot of wins in life.

I’ve done the wrong thing more often then I’ve done the right. Can I really be trusted with this?

Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!”

Oh how I’ve faltered!

And not only have I faltered but I’m sure I’ve caused others to stumble as well.

Matthew 18:6- but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Cast me into the waters!

The wrath of God over those He loves is enough to make even the most courageous shake in the knees. And most days I don’t feel at all courageous. Only just surviving.

So it’s tempting to sit on the sidelines. To ignore God calling us onto the field. Because we think that once we step out over that line, all eyes are on us. And that’s a burden we don’t want to bear.

But what if we didn’t have to bear that burden? What if it wasn’t our burden to carry?

What if we needed only to focus on one thing? The one thing that Jesus called “the first and greatest commandment?” And the second?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbors as yourself.” Matthew 22:37

What if we finally wrapped our minds around the fact that our one purpose is to glorify God? It’s the reason we were created.

We aren’t here to impress people. We aren’t even here to save people. Because we can’t.

We can, however, love.

We can plant the seed but only God can command it to grow.

Over and over again in the Old Testament we see the cry for a savior. An advocate.

We have that Advocate in Jesus Christ. He told us to cast our burdens and cares on Him. To come to Him for rest when things get too heavy to carry.

And stepping out into whatever role, position, or life God is calling you will most definitely be too heavy for you to carry.

But consider these words:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24

Maybe you don’t think this applies to you at all. Maybe you’ve never thought about being in any sort of leadership role before.

But the truth is, if you have breath in your lungs then you are indeed in a position of influence for someone… even if it’s your spouse, your children, or your coworkers.

And if you’ve ever shrugged off God’s calling because you’re not quite ready to give up somethings in your life then this is definitely for you.

How can I say today that I want to point people to God when tomorrow I may get frustrated and only point my finger in blame?

How can I ask you to take a step forward when tomorrow I may take two steps backwards?

Grace. 

It’s a simple as that. And if you can’t believe that for others then I’m sad. Because that probably means you don’t believe it for yourself.

Don’t misunderstand. This grace is not a free-for-all do whatever I want kind of deal. The ground we walk upon is holy. And we must tread carefully.

But it is Free For All. Free for all who come to Jesus handing over their burdens of sin and shame and receiving with newly emptied hands His forgiveness and love.

When God puts others in your sphere of influence you are responsible for being faithful in that position whether you accept it or not. Whether or not we acknowledge the gifts and callings He has given us, there will come a day when we must return to Him what was given to us.

What if on that day you can hand back more than you were given? What if you can hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant?” And what if when you look around those that were placed in your circle, under your care, are standing there beside you hearing the same words?

It’s exciting, right?

The beauty of it all is that we don’t have to be perfect to experience that. We won’t be perfect. Because if you fail… if I fail- and we will- we can rest assured that while others may only see our mistakes, God sees our hearts.

So today hopefully, my words can lift you up so that tomorrow you can lift me up. Today I’ll encourage you so that tomorrow you can encourage me.

In my few years of homeschooling my children, I discovered something amazing. We often learn more teaching the lesson than we do being taught the lesson.

The lesson here is love.

And we trust Him with the rest. We can be responsibly free to plant the seeds we’ve been given to plant. Maybe we dig a little too deep with some and not deep enough with others. Maybe our rows are a little crooked. Maybe we plant too many in one spot and not enough in another.

But they can grow all the same. And when they do it’s not our abilities that get the glory but His strength and power. Because in our weaknesses He is strong.

Lean on Him. Follow Him. Trust in Him. Wait on Him. Seek Him. Because the One who calls you to step out is faithful, and He WILL DO IT.

 

Deep Waters

We’ve all been there. Some more than others.

Those times when life seems like a constant struggle to keep our head above water. And the more we fight the current and waves the more tempting it gets to just give up and sink.

We look around and it seems like everyone else has made it to shore. Or it seems like maybe they were never struggling in the first place.

And we begin the chore of comparison. Maybe we start thinking that somehow they must have something we don’t. That they must be “better.”

And sometimes we can even begin to think that God loves them more. That He has blessed their lives because they are more important to Him. And that we’ve ended up being the equivalent of a red-headed stepchild in God’s kingdom.

And we console ourselves as we sink fast with the world’s most depressing party. The one of pity.

We give up and accept our lot in life. That of failure. Of being overlooked. Of loss.

The ironic thing about throwing a pity party when you’re in over your head is that it only makes you sink faster.

It’s like using a bag of rocks for a life preserver. The tighter you hold on, the deeper you sink. 

The truth about going through overwhelming circumstances is that no one is exempt. We’ll all experience the desperate struggle with things stronger and bigger than us. Things out of our control.

And not one single person is worthy of being rescued. Not one single person.

Because I understand that feeling of shame when you realize that your own choices brought you to those deep waters.

Believe me, most of the difficult things in my life right now can be directly traced back to some pretty crappy decisions in my past. If I’d made better choices then, I wouldn’t be struggling through it now.

And I understand the temptation to believe that because I deserve what I’m getting that somehow I’m not capable of anything better.

But here’s the thing… deserving and receiving are not the same thing. At least not in God’s kingdom. I may not deserve God’s mercy BUT because of Jesus’s death and resurrection I am capable of receiving God’s mercy.

Maybe all the people around you say to sleep in the bed you made. But our Father in Heaven never does. Instead He says that it is by grace that you are saved- not by works.

Your salvation is a gift. Not a purchase. Not a reward. Not a prize won for a job well done.

One of the most important things you can do is to pray that God would send His Spirit to reveal to you all the lies you are believing about God, others and yourself. Because those lies are rocks slipped into your pocket by the enemy with the sole purpose of taking you down.

And then simply pray the words of Psalm 144:7:

Reach down from on high; rescue me from deep waters.

Maybe you wrestle with those lies for a while. And you can be sure that the enemy won’t give up easily. But keep turning your thoughts back to God’s undeserved love and mercy. Don’t underestimate the power of taking every single thought captive to Christ.

Examine them closely through the lens of His Word. And if it doesn’t fit… cast it away. Far away.

You won’t be able to do this alone. Or in your own strength. The truth is if you try to you are biting off more than you can chew. You’ll be fighting a battle you’re not equipped to win.

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Armies.”

By His Spirit. Only by His Spirit can you be set free. Only by His Spirit can you be rescued from the deep waters.

I haven’t always understood walking in the Spirit. And honestly most days it’s more like crawling in the Spirit. Because I tend to still think of my actions as being the solution to my problems.

But the thing I’ve come to realize is that in deep and rough waters it doesn’t matter whether I breaststroke, backstroke or doggie paddle. I’m not getting out of it on my own. I have to look to Him and trust. Having faith that whether I sink or swim He is in control. He loves me and He will be glorified.

Wait. Trust. Lift up your eyes to the One from whom your help comes from. Don’t let bitterness and anger keep you from calling out. As a matter of fact let Him have that too.

And remember that the deep waters-whether you jumped in or were thrown in- can be a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your faith and experience His goodness and mercy.

You just need to rest, relax and trust that He is working all things for your good. To enable you to accomplish the plans He has for you. Be willing to learn. Take your time with the lessons and know that you are getting better. Even if… ESPECIALLY IF… your feet still can’t touch the bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing…

Hey guys!

Meet the winner of GO{LOVE}YOURSELF’s very first giveaway.😊

This woman is such an inspiration to me!

I met Ash seven years ago when we were both working for the same company. She instantly became someone whom I love dearly.

Over the years, we’ve both walked with each other through some very rough times. And she’s always been such an encouragement to me. Not only in my hard times but in watching her through her own. I’ve seen her continue to trust God through situations that would have made me ball up and hide!

Ten years my junior, I still can’t help but think I want to be like her when I grow up! 😂

I am so proud to call her my friend!!

How to Keep Loving at the End of Your Rope.

I have a confession. For the past three days I’ve been binge watching Netflix. The Gilmore Girls have been my quiet escape from any and everything.

I haven’t written anything. I’ve barely prayed. I’ve done the bare minimum with my devotional.

I’ve stayed up late and woke up late.

And I’ve let the rules of the house fall by the wayside in an effort to keep my own personal peace bubble.

I’ve found myself holding things that I thought I’d left behind long ago.

In the midst of everything, it’s the only way I felt I could survive.

Make myself small. Build up the walls. Shut myself down and everyone else out.

Each night as I’ve gotten into bed I fought the overwhelming feeling of disgust.

Why can’t I be productive? Why am I falling back into these same old patterns?

I promise myself the next day would be better and wrestle my mind to sleep.

But the next day comes and I don’t feel any better. I’m still tired. Uninspired. Anxious. Desperate.

So I spend what energy I have trying to force pieces into places they don’t fit all in an insane hope that I could feel some semblance of control.

I run dry mid-morning. And walk thirsty through the rest of my day. I think I’ll fight the temptation to hide when I get home. But a defeated sigh escapes me as I sink into the couch and search for something mind numbing.

I’ve failed in loving myself lately. And I’ve failed in loving others. I’ve failed in loving God.

Instead of trusting in Him with all these different messes, all these broken pieces I try to fix it all myself. And when I can’t I sweep them under the rug.

Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

How sweet those words are.

But what about when you’re too weary and burdened to come? What then?

When we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place what do we do?

In a time long before cell phones and Netflix. Long before over extended schedules and long work weeks. Before we felt like we were looking at the possibilities of the world through a chain link fence. He knew.

He knew and He provided. He provided the way and the encouragement.

If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? Matthew 18:12

We tend to think of astray as meaning a purposeful leaving. A rebellion.

But that’s not necessarily the case. It can mean lost. Adrift. Off course. Wandering. Vanished.

“Astray” can be intentional. But it can also be a unexpected.

And when we find ourselves lost, off course, adrift. When we find ourselves unable or even unwilling to find our ways out He comes to find us.

This time it was only three days, but there have been times in my life when I spent years “astray.”

But whether three days or thirty years, He comes. He finds us and He brings us back.

In all the huge hurricane size waves that have hit me lately I still heard Him calling. Urging me on. But when I couldn’t stand any longer and I couldn’t find my way to dry land, He came to find me. To save me.

We are but feeble humans. Weak but prideful. And we’ll find ourselves at the end of our ropes over and over again.

Sometimes we pay attention and realize that our steps are starting to falter. We can use our last bit of strength to go to Him and fall into His arms.

But sometimes we are unaware. We keep locking our knees and slipping and sliding trying to stay firm. And before we know it we have nowhere to go and no way to get there.

And in God’s good and great mercy, He comes. He comes.

Like Peter, one moment we’re sinking and the next we’re safe in the boat.

He loves us when we can’t love ourselves.

In hindsight I wish I would have spent the last few days going to bed earlier. Turning the TV off. And even though I didn’t have the energy to read His Word or pray, resting in His promises. In His goodness.

I didn’t though and I can’t change that. He’s given me back my footing even though I don’t deserve it. I can’t dwell on how I’ve failed. It’d be throwing His gift back in His face. I can only move forward. Remembering how He pulled me through.

Maybe you’re there too. Maybe you’re in that season of feeling overwhelmed and undernourished. Let me assure you. It’s OK. It really is.

Because His grace is sufficient. And His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

This season will end. You’ll find your footing. And when you do. Don’t look back. Just keep moving forward into the next thing.

He loves you. And the time you’ve spent lost hasn’t changed His plan for you.