Just say something…

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. Isaiah 50:4a

Every 2 hours and 7 minutes a person under the age of 25 dies of suicide. It’s too much. It shouldn’t be, and yet it is.

Have you ever noticed a hurting person only to pass them by? I have.

It’s not because I didn’t care. I was just nervous. I was afraid I would say something awkward or wrong. Maybe I would make things worse. Maybe I would just stand there speechless. At first I called it nervous…now I call it pride.

The anxiety manifesting in me is nothing but pride. I don’t want to look weird, or stupid, so I do nothing! I avoid! And it’s just not right.

Forgive us Lord for the times our own pride renders us unavailable.

If this is you, I want to challenge you today with a simple phrase: SAY SOMETHING! You aren’t going to damage the hurting unless you get preachy, or put them down. Use words that instill hope…or just ask how they are doing and listen! Just knowing you care could be the difference between life and death.

God has given you a well instructed tongue. The power of the Holy Spirit is within you. You can make a difference. Sustain the weary. Say something.

Perfect hope, imperfect progress…

When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19 (NLT)

I went to a conference yesterday focusing on treating anxiety and depression. Going in, I expected some fancy treatment model that I couldn’t understand and would have no idea how to implement. What am I getting? Hope.

With all this mans amazing credentials and research, the single most effective treatment for these disorders is building hope.

And I couldn’t help but think about Chapter One of Unglued. Imperfect progress is okay. Why? Because it instills hope. Progress, no matter how small, shows us that we are moving. Progress eliminates stuck-ness. Be it forward progress, or backwards, we are moving. And that’s always better than feeling hopeless for change.

Emotions can feel overwhelming. I know. I have them too. But with God there is hope.

You have learned certain things about your emotions over your lifetime. Things that are right, wrong, and somewhere in the middle. But when we surrender our emotions and make them obedient to Christ – imperfect progress is what we get!

Keep moving forward ladies! Hope lives inside of you. Be confident in your expectations for change. Work at it. Refuse to give up, and keep stepping forward.

Saddle your donkey…God will provide…

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14

I’ve always been fascinated by Gods provision. I’m learning to trust that He will provide. But it has not come easy. As hard as I’ve fought to embrace God’s provision, Satan has fought to convince me that God is not enough. I’m constantly debating with myself – if I choose obedience, will God show up? Will His grace be enough?

Obedience is hardly ever easy. What He asks us to do may look weird. I think about the story of Abraham and how God asked Him to sacrifice
his son. What could be weirder than that? But Abraham did not question. The Bible says he got up the next morning and saddled his donkey. He didn’t consult others or wait months for confirmation.

God spoke. He acted.

I’m not saying in every situation we are called to immediate action. His Word tells us to seek godly, wise counsel. But in this particular circumstance, Abraham knew God was speaking to Him, and he acted without question.

I wonder how he could be so bold?

It wasn’t just any command! It was the sacrifice of his beloved son! But Abraham believed God would provide. He trusted Gods provision beyond the shadows of his doubt. God’s provision would be enough.

And it was.

God provided.

Abraham raised His hand ready to plunge down, and God stopped him. He trusted God up to the end. Perhaps he thought God would raise his son from the dead. Perhaps he had no idea. It didn’t matter…he trusted God and that was enough.

The mountain on which these things happened was named “The Lord Will Provide”. Jehovah Jirah – God who provides.

Maybe you are on your way up the mountain. You saddled your donkey. You are ready to go, but God seems absent.

Will He still provide?

Obedience up to the blind last minute is faith – trust untainted by our views of the world. It requires a divine intervention of blessed assurance and action unmoved by our own fleshy doubts. This kind of faith says even if I don’t see you, even if it turns out bad – it’s still Your provision, and I trust it all the same.

So my donkey is saddled…he’s ready to go. The mountain terrain looks bleak, but I know somewhere up there I’ll find the Son. And His grace will provide.

Goats just poo…

A goat pooped near my foot today. I almost stepped in it. I could have blamed the goat for pooing. I could have stepped in the poo and blamed myself for being careless and inattentive. Or I can just accept poo for what it is, be glad I stepped around it, and move on.

You might be wondering why I’m talking about goat poo today. Maybe I’m just really tired and this is all my mind has left, LOL! Or maybe goat poo will make us laugh and let go of a little proverbial goat poo all around us…

My daughter has a meltdown over socks…poo

My husband leaves his dirty boxers on the floor…more poo

I leave my wallet at home on accident…poo

My client stands me up…poo and more poo

There is goat poo all around us. We can spend all day whining and complaining about it. We can blame others. We can blame ourselves. But at the end of the day, goats just poo. People disappoint us. We mess up. And then comes grace.

Grace allows us the freedom to admit fault, speak truth, accept consequences – and then MOVE ON!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Untempered grace…

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“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” Proverbs 29:18

I love to ponder the beauty of God’s grace. It’s everlasting, lacking nothing. Grace is all we need to get to heaven and all it takes to snatch from hell. It’s beautiful…amazing. Grace is the price paid that has given us our freedom. But when we lose our view of grace, our vision of wonderment, something happens…

Where there is no vision, we cast off restraint. Grace is God’s beautiful vision, perfected in Christ, but seeds of doubt plant illness in our minds and we lose the beauty of it all. We cast away the wonders of sin forgiven and let pride dust away the mercy of grace and power of forgiveness.

His grace can be the restraint that prompts our obedience. Choosing to be a blessing with our freedom is grace delivered to others. We bless them by showing the power of a life bathed in forgiveness.

Let us not cast of restraint but rather tie ourselves onto the belt loop of His righteousness. Plant yourself as a display of His splendor. It is in this action that grace comes alive and overflows into the lives of others.

Untempered grace. Redeeming love. Passionate faith. These and more are visions of His sacrifice. Maybe we could be this vision to someone in need today…

Feast of Trumpets…

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of Sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’” Leviticus 23:23-25

Today at sundown begins Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish New Year. This is also the day of the Feast of Trumpets spoken of in the Old Testament. It is a feast in which a shofar, or ram’s horn is blown, and people are encouraged to reflect upon and repent from sin. It is a day of new beginnings!

New beginnings are spurred forth by grace. In fact, if it were not for grace, a new beginning would be impossible. It is by grace that we are redeemed and set free. However, when I think upon my own sins, and the bondage patterns my heart has been stuck in, I am prone to guilt. And I wonder what the difference is between reflecting upon my sin and ruminating about my sin?

Reflection upon our sins spurs repentance. Reflection calls us to notice the things in life that are causing distance between us and God, asks us to turn from those things, and walk towards truth. Rumination on the other hand causes guilt and stuck-ness. In fact, when I looked up the definition of rumination, it stated that to ruminate can mean to regurgitate partially digested food to chew again. I know that is a disgusting visual, and I apologize if I just totally grossed you out, but it’s so powerful! When we ruminate on our sin we literally regurgitate it, and we are left gnawing on chewed up guilt.

Dear daughter of the King, you were never meant to ruminate on your sin. Repentance is the key to freedom. Today is the day the trumpet blows. It blows and calls you home to your Savior. Repent of your sins and thank the God of grace who never ceases to give second chances. It is the Feast of Trumpets – your chance to start anew. Allow Christ to remove the guilt once and for all. Choose to walk in the forgiveness bought freedom of Christ Jesus.

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When decisions are painful…

The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8 NIV

I have made some tough decisions lately. Decisions that I know are right, and in line with the will of God, but tough none the less.

It’s easy for us to believe that if we are in the center of God’s will, life will be easy. That if we act in obedience and make the right decisions, everything will breeze right on by. It’s much more difficult to realize that sometimes God calls us to step away from things we love.

Sometimes I look with longing at the things He has asked me to step away from, wondering why I can’t have them anymore. At times it almost seems cruel. Like a punishment I didn’t ask for and feel like I don’t deserve.

Through these trials, God has been showing me two things. The first is that God is a jealous God. He pulls anything away that would compete for our affections. He wants our hearts to be centered on Him and Him alone.

God may call us to step away when our hearts are drawn from where our true affections need to lie. It may feel as if the rug is pulled out from under us, and in many ways it may have been. But when we get that feeling the rug we find ourselves standing on is not the rock on which we place our lives. If anything charges at our lives and beckons more attention that we are giving to God, He loves us enough to pull it away.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the center of God’s will doesn’t always look pleasant. Jesus died on the cross because He was acting in God’s will. He acted in obedience even though His flesh wished for this cup to pass any other way.

Acting in the will of the Lord is hard at times, downright painful. We may mourn and weep over what He is asking us to do, and even when we have done it, the sadness may continue. However, we must rest assured that when we act in His will there will be joy in the morning. Just as Christ was resurrected from the cross, He redeems us from our circumstances when we act in obedience.

I tend to trust my emotions, a little too much at times. Greater though is trusting in Him and His promises. He always has the best in mind for His children. He does not abandon the work of His hands. We can trust that He will always be faithful.

He cracks the pavement…

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

My feet hit the pavement tonight to the tune of Brandon Heath’s “Jesus in Disguise”. It’s one of my favorite songs. I’m enthralled with the idea of seeing Jesus everywhere I go.  While singing a rather breathy version of the song I traipsed past a small plant sprouting from a crack in the pavement. Normally, I wouldn’t think much of this, but the timing was perfect. The plant was Jesus in disguise.

My mind was captivated for the rest of the run. What could be powerful enough to call forth a plant buried beneath cement? At first I thought about how strong that little plant must have been. To decide that it would bust right through the concrete. It must have mighty strength. Mighty strength – or could it be something else?

We are quick to think that by our own strength we have found the Lord. That we have sought Him of our own accord. Maybe even that by our own strength we have been able to burst through difficult life circumstances. But it’s not by our own strength or even our own desire that we have come to the Lord. We know the Lord because just like a plant is called towards the sun, God has called us by name.

You may feel buried underneath the weight of life. Concrete barriers are blocking the light. You’ve tried and tried to break through the bondage, but you aren’t strong enough. The layers form quicker than you can push past.

There is One greater.

Greater than the thickest cement block. Greater than the heaviest circumstance, or strongest storm. His strength is enough to pull you from the wreckage and into His light.

It’s not the plant’s mighty strength that makes it grow. It doesn’t have the power to bust though the pavement. Something greater calls it forth – the sun.

Someone greater calls you forth – His name is Jesus – the Son. He cracks the pavement of your heart so that you can breathe.

He calls you in your weakness, loving and wooing you to burst forth not by your own strength – but by His. His awesome power, mighty strength, and chain shattering truth is the one and only thing that can set you free.

Do you hear Him?

Even if you are surrounded by darkness…

Even if you crushed under the weight…

Even if you find yourself chained to the wall…

Even afraid to lift your head out of the gutter…

He is calling you…

He will pull you through the pavement. Do you want to be free? Look to Him. All power on heaven and earth is His. He calls you by your name. He calls you redeemed. In Him, you are free.

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When writing releases wreckage…

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

There can be a great deal of wreckage that comes to light when the past is brought into reality. For this very reason, I spent years in fear hiding behind the mask of performance and seeking perfection. Eventually my fears and shame began to ooze out onto paper, and I am still thanking the Lord that it did. Writing has been an avenue for me to walk with Christ on the road to freedom.

Writing or drawing is a great way to start the process of revealing our past. We write our stories or draw them long before we are able to speak about them.  Paper may seem safer than verbal reasoning. However we begin the process of coping with our past, it is often the first step in moving towards God’s plan to revive our present.

When we write about the hidden things, we allow our minds space to be honest and approach the darkened corners. Places that contain those deeply embedded internal messages are allowed to surface.

When I started dealing with my past, I remember writing strings of inappropriate language. They made no sense and weren’t directed at anyone specific. The anger and internal rage buried deep inside my heart began to bubble out. It felt good to write these things, but it also scared me. I felt wrong for having such hurtful and negative images burned into my mind. However, if I hadn’t begun the process of getting them out with paper and pen – I would have continued to spew rage towards inappropriate targets.

We often hide our past because we are afraid revealing it will only make things worse. However, the wreckage compounds when our past is hidden. When the truth is revealed the internal storm starts to dissipate. There may still be quite a mess to clean up, but at least the tornado stops swirling.

If you are fearful of approaching pain from your past I would encourage you to try free writing or drawing. Just write or draw whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to make sense. You will be surprised how much this activity reveals about your internal state of mind and how much of a relief it can be just to get these things out of the body and onto paper.

Facing my fear of the humble smack-down…

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

Humility needs space. I don’t like being vulnerable when surrounded by others. It’s a bit scary – okay VERY scary. I know God won’t hurt me, but I’m not always certain about people. Sometimes, I’m afraid to pray for humility because I don’t want to be seen as a let down. If humility requires a fall, I want to do the falling alone where no one sees my face turn red.

James 4 tells me that God will lift up the humble. That humility is not something to fear, but rather something I should strive for. Yet being humble carries an extra nugget of fear for me. I associate it with weakness, and weakness with hurt. Despite my own strides towards healing I still want to avoid hurt at all costs. And so has gone my prayer life over the last few years – pray for humility pops into my head – I open my eyes and run away.

But just like anything else we run away from, eventually it catches up…

In the quiet spaces He beckons me to trust. I remind Him that I am afraid. I just can’t ask for humility and mean it.

He says, “grace”.

He whispers to my heart, “I have more grace…and more grace…and yes…more grace. And when you can’t ask for humility with a genuine heart….my grace covers the gap. Ask for humility and I will give it to you gently. You don’t have to get bruised and beaten to become broken over pride. I can break your pride without scaring your spirit.”

So things changed for me today. I asked for humility. I am still afraid to get it.

What will the process look like?

I still see it looking like a smack down that I’m completely unprepared for…but I trust His grace. And if pride comes before a fall…humility seems like the way to go.