Day 7…

This is my favorite day yet…

List 12 songs that you’re loving right now. 

In no particular order:

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Abba Father…

A few months ago, I had a pretty significant conversation with one of my dearests about calling God “daddy” or “dad” or “papa” and how I struggled with it. In some ways, I felt like we were reducing this big, huge, almighty, most powerful, awesome God to something so small as a dad. I also felt like my idea of what a dad is and what God is just didn’t line up – the two things didn’t match in my brain or my heart.

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Then comes along a guest speaker at church yesterday, and the title of his message was “Call Me Dad”. sigh. The Holy Spirit was about to do some work in my heart, I knew it.

1 John 3:1 (AMP) says, “See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

Luckily that was the only scripture for the whole sermon because there’s definitely enough in there for me to unpack without any additional words.

One thing I learned yesterday is that there is a brokenness in my definition of the word “dad”. What it means to me is not God. And in many ways it’s not a good word at all. I also am beginning to understand that my definition of the word dad was never meant to be based on my earthly experiences or understanding. If I’m trying to make God synonymous with an earthy father, the two will never align.

Part of yesterday’s message was trying to understand how God wants me to see Him. “How do I get Him the way He wants to be got?” was a repeating question.

We need to understand how to rest in God’s great love. As we know, it isn’t based on our own works. We can’t earn His love. Nothing we do will make Him love us more. This is such good news! It means that no matter what, His GREAT love – not minimal love, not mediocre love, not withholding love – but His GREAT love is already ours. We had nothing to do with the way He loves us, He just does it. If we’ve been a believer for any length of time, this isn’t new news, but it is news that we sometimes forget. Or that we can’t fully grasp. Let’s continue to remind each other, okay?

We need to learn to receive the gift of lavish grace. The pastor used an analogy of biscuits and gravy and the way he told it would be no good in written format, but it is something we can visualize… a plate of warm biscuits with gravy smothering so much it’s running off the plate – that’s God’s grace. It’s so much that it overflows and we can’t even get all of it. Similar to His love, we can’t buy or earn His grace, it’s just ours. And it’s a gift… we all know that once we try to earn or buy something, we take the concept of it being a gift away. It’s free. And it’s ours. He gives it no matter if we think we deserve it or not. Addictions? Grace. Adultery? Grace. Porn? Grace. Lying? Grace. Selfishness? Grace. There’s literally nothing His grace cannot touch.

Finally, as it’s stated in the scripture above, we have to allow God to rename us. He calls us daughter and son. He has given us that name and when we (I) take that away from Him and refuse to call Him dad, I’m saying what His word says isn’t right or true. I’m saying that He didn’t rename me to be His precious daughter. We have allowed the world around us to name us. We’ve picked up the names the enemy has given us; unworthy, unattractive, unlovable, unbelieving, fat, guilty, shame, dumb, ugly, etc… These names have been given to us by someone who has no power or permission to name us. Our identity comes directly and solely from Christ. We have to stop giving the rights of who we are and to Whom we belong away so easily.

So, I’m convinced. Calling Him “Dad” is not minimizing who God is nor is it comparing Him to my own definition of what a dad looks like here in the world. Abba, Daddy God, Dad, Poppa, or whichever version of Father I land on, is allowing my heart to be consumed with a great love that shows lavish grace to me and Who calls me His own. Thanks, Dad.

Being alone, no more…

Since I moved away from home a billion years ago, people have lived with me. Before my man child was born, there were other wanderers and friends that occupied empty spaces in my home. After he was born, it continued initially with my people/friends, and as he got older, with his people/friends. My home has always been a resting place for weary souls who longed for safety and security – and a good meal, who am I kidding. 😉

When the girls left (DIL and grandbabies) in August last year, without warning, I was shattered… and alone. I grieved hard and long for the loss of them in my home and in my everyday life. Of all the people who ever passed through my home, this loss was the most devastating. Not only was my home empty, but I truly felt like my soul was empty. I was angry. At me. At her. At man child. At God. A lot mad at God. I stopped going to church. I stopped believing that anything good would ever be for me. I stopped believing that He cared for me, truly. I mean, how could He? I remember asking a friend during that time why God thought it was a good idea to let me walk around feeling so brokenhearted all the time. I was hurt.

Then, in January, I had a surgery that left me immobile for a time. I realized later that I really needed a time of true rest, true reflection, and, ultimately, true surrender in order to come to peace with so many losses, including the girls – and it came by way of a seriously broken foot! I had a lot of time then to reflect and think about so many things; including my relationship with my Creator.

He brought me to a place where I was finally able to embrace my home and empty space there as a gift and no longer as something that would just hurt me day after day. Lots of good things have come from that space since then! I started to write more, read more, study more, exercise more, eat better, pray more, etc…

And then…

My empty home was needed. Some weary souls needed a resting spot. And, of course, my door opened.

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to figure out why my spirit felt all out of whack… little reading, no exercising, eating has been meh, no writing or studying… ah-ha… my solitude and empty spaces, that I’ve learned to cherish over the last several months, have both been filled. I was able to finally come to terms with the emptiness, and it’s been difficult to readjust to the fullness. I was finally able to dedicate my whole self to chasing Him completely, and now have to switch up and redirect some of that dedication to something else again.fa0560f81d8aa15497248bb5808e465b

While I’m figuring out my new normal, the enemy would like me to lose some footing and to fall into a place of complacency and possibly set me up for another period of grieving when the getting emptied happens again. I’m not a fan of purposefully challenging the enemy, but I am a big fan of reminding him how big, loving, and amazing my God is and how he might try to pull me off track, but he won’t win. Not this time.

Galatians 5: 7-8 says: You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. 

This specific scripture is referring to false teachers and allowing them to pull us off the path God has set aside for us, but I believe the enemy falls into that camp as well. The devil can use anything in our lives to try and destroy us. We have to continually be alert and keep our eyes wide open, our hearts tuned into God, and our spirits filled up on the Word.

1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.”

Not today, satan… not today.

Mother’s Day weekend…

This weekend is either really great or really terrible for so many of us, and for a variety of reasons.

Some of us are mommas.
Some of us are longing to be mommas.
Some of us had to really fight to become mommas. 
Some of us are mommas whose babes have never gulped breath.
Some of us are mommas whose babes have gone on to heaven before us.
Some of us are Daddies who have to do a mommas job.
Some of us are children who’ve lost our mommas.
Some of us are children whose mommas have left or abandoned us.
Some of us are mommas because we’re raising a baby birthed from another momma.
Some of us are mommas but are letting other mommas raise our babies.
Some of us are single mommas who are struggling to keep up.
Some of us are temporary mommas.
Some of us are mommas to prodigals.
Some of us are mommas trying to get ourselves together so we can bring our babes home again.
Some of us are trying everything to become a momma and nothing is working.
Some of us are spiritual mommas.

Whether or not someone calls you momma, your value as a woman does not decrease and your worth does not change.

You are important. And special. And kind. And loving. And necessary. And wanted. And needed.

It’s so easy to feel as if we’re failing as a mom or failing at becoming a mom or failing at being a good son or daughter or failing at reaching that lost babe. It’s so easy to get caught up in what others have that we don’t or to be angry that we’re being denied something good.

I can’t begin to understand why anything happens really. The only answer I have to help us not feel all those things is… Jesus.

If tomorrow is hard for you, spend the day doing something you love. Don’t feel obligated to do the church thing or the brunch thing or the anything… Do exactly what will make your day less sucky.

If tomorrow is not hard for you, I hope that you enjoy the sweet memory making with your babes and the celebrations for getting to do life with them!

Women, we need each other and I hope that we’re gentle with our sisters this weekend. I hope our words are healing and loving. If you aren’t sure what to say to someone tomorrow, just give her a hug.

You are wildly and deeply loved.

Not into (relationship with) you…

This advice applies to men or women, despite the gender noted in the quote… I’m a girl, I pick girl quotes.😉

It’s so difficult to fall out of relationship with someone and not want answers and closure that will make sense to our hearts. I’m talking about any relationships. When the girls left, I was desperate for answers that just weren’t being given to me.

Anytime a meaningful relationship ends and we weren’t the ones ending it (but even sometimes then…), we are going to feel gaps in our day, our night, our heart because they were once filled with that person(s).

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The level of restraint that needs to happen, when we so desperately want to connect, is what I call miracles of biblical proportion. 🤐

I’m a word person, I want to communicate. I long to make sure my feelings are known and understood. I also want to make sure that person knows, no matter what’s happened, I’m here. I don’t hold grudges, I’m not angry, and to remind them, in case they forgot what kind of person I am, relationships and people are important to me.

But God…

His word is where we need to press in when we’re feeling a desire to fill that gap or hole. His word will reveal to us truths about ourselves in order to move through the day. It will give us strength to be filled up with HIM and not with the desire to connect with someone who’s chosen to walk away.

And if you’re anything like me, you may be constantly checking your phone or messenger to see if they’ve finally come to their senses… Probably not. And constant checking might be our own slow form of torture… stop that.

Allow yourself some extra time to study what He has for you. He is always there to fill those spaces that are empty and a little bit needy.

Ephesians 6:10 (AMP) In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.

Philippians 4:8-9 (AMP) Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.

It’s not you, it’s…

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I feel like I’ve had too many opportunities to grieve for people who aren’t dead, but have chosen to walk away or abandon relationship with me. Often times, when my heart has been invested, and someone walks away – especially with no explanation – it causes me to really turn inward, to question who I am, my personality, my motives, my pride, my appearance, my goodness, my obedience…

It makes me wonder what it is about me that makes me such an easy person to leave.

In theory, I should be able to easily grasp that I’m not always the reason they’re leaving. Admittedly, sometimes I am, though. I should also understand that other people have their own stuff to work out and their own wrestling match with God happening. I should also acknowledge other people have a choice to walk in their own obedience or not. These things I know and understand, in theory.

If only we could live in the land of shoulds and theories.

God has been doing a solid work in me over the last couple of weeks as I came face to face with another round of rejection. I made a promise to write more about the things that hurt, otherwise I would normally steer clear of sharing such a raw, tender spot. However, I know God has called me into this space to share and that He will use it to encourage another broken soul.

Friends, the enemy will try to invade, attack, and worm his way in by any means necessary. Ephesians 6: 11 tells us to prepare ourselves with the full armor of God to protect us against the schemes of the devil. If the devil can use a diminished sense of confidence in order to gain a foothold in our heart, reminding us how we’re not worthy of relationship with others, or we’ll never have the family we crave, or whatever tactic he tries, then we’re giving him a power over us that he does.not.get.to.have. No.

We have the Holy Spirit of the living God living inside us! The Creator of the world and the devil cannot reside in the same space. It’s not possible. That means that every time the enemy tries to attack, we have to pull up the armor of God, we have to connect with our community and those God has given to us to be our helpers and unbinders, and we have to walk back into the confidence that God has poured into us as we’ve built relationship with Him.

Choosing to no longer invest in others or to no longer be vulnerable isn’t reasonable, or biblical.

We do get to choose to stay in the Word, remain prayerful about our relationships, to remain connected with community, though. While that won’t necessarily stop the pain or the grief from happening, God will be there to comfort us in that grief. He will give us the power to walk in a spirit of grace and forgiveness. It’s okay to sit back for a bit, learn some lessons, restore our broken parts, refresh our spirits… but then we have to surrender ourselves to Him again so that He can continue to teach, mold, and use us for His glory and purpose.

Walking through a broken moment or season is much more tolerable when we’re allowing God to walk alongside us. He loves us so deeply and with such fervor. And He will never, not once, not even for a nanosecond, decide to walk away from us or abandon us.

Ephesians 6:10-18 Amplified Bible (AMP)

10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 16 Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.

We all need people…

82b7e60e9b1ad83d0b2776295d311fb8If you know me personally or have spent much time with me online through social media, you know that I’m a professional retreater. I’ve written about it and my desire to get over it time and again. I’ve gotten very used to pulling into myself when I’m mad, sad, frustrated, disappointed, etc… I have little desire to talk about whatever’s bothering me until I’ve had time to get really real with God about it and to get over it myself. Then I’m happy to talk about it; mostly.

I talk about the importance of community all the time, to all the people. And yet… I heed not my own advice. It means visibly displaying weakness, disclosing my mistakes for others to see and judge, preparing myself to defend my actions or inactions. No thanks.. let me lick my wounds, make confessions to God, share with someone in my inner circle if I need another voice to help me. I know this goes against everything I say, advise, and talk about.. but… well, this is my continual hope to come clean and to be a better person.

Today at church, the message, in part, was about how we need community. It was really about Lazarus and raising him from the dead… but one point that I kept being drawn to over and over is that when Lazarus was called out of the tomb by Jesus he was bound tightly in burial linens, even his face was covered. Jesus instructed Mary and Martha to unbind him and to let him loose. Lazarus wasn’t able to unbind himself – he needed Mary and Martha to help him be free. He needed his community to unwrap him.

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Friends, we can’t unwrap ourselves. We can’t get free all alone. We need to invite people into our spaces and places, giving them permission to help us unwrap ourselves. God will continually bring people to help us walk in freedom as long as we keep seeking Him. We have to trust and have faith that the way He answers our prayers and cries to Him is the best for us and for us to see His glory working out right before our eyes. Either we trust that He’s faithful or we don’t.

If you don’t feel like you have a community, I encourage you to find one.

Now.

Immediately.

God does not have any of us walking this journey alone. If we’re alone, it’s because we’re not being obedient.

Find your tribe.