On being transparent…

I might have a problem. At least some people would think it’s a problem…

I’m a little bit ridiculously transparent. You ask, I answer. You don’t ask, I still answer.

I remember when social media turned from ‘… is taking a break at work.” or “… is going to the movies.” into something more like, “I’m taking a break from my awesome job that pays me enough to go buy the latest Range Rover and the new iPhone.” or “You guys, my kids are so beautifuuullll. Look at how awesome they are when we go to the movies together and they are so well behaved and can sit through a whole movie at only 2 years old because they’re just perfect, you guys!!” And thus began a whole new game of the “Comparison Trap” and I was bound and determined NOT to play it.Imperfect

Unfortunately, it meant that my pendulum swung way in the other direction. I told myself I would never be one of those “perfect, plastic people” and everyone would get a front row seat to the madness that was my heart, mind, spirit, life.

Of course, that wasn’t entirely true either. There were and are still some things that I hold very close to my own heart or I’ll share it only with the inner circle or, sometimes, just one person.

I still overshare now and then, but am encouraged when I know that someone, even if just one person, was able to see some strength in that vulnerability that was on full display and it encouraged her own vulnerability.

I know “story” is kinda like a hot button word right now, but I truly do believe in sharing stories; in walking with my sisters, in building up my brothers, in the hope of redemption, and watching faith explode when miracles happen. There is a richness that comes from each of us when we’re willing to walk in our transparency and to tell our stories, even when it’s really hard to tell. We’re not all called to do that on a social media platform, but I pray that we’re at least willing to do it within our families or within the safe space of a small group or circle of friends.

masterpiece

There is something special when we’re able to see the work being done and the rawness afforded to us by other people in our lives. It gives us the opportunity to step into their heart space and embrace them with an understanding that we might not have had without the transparency from that person. We are able to foster deeper relationships and connections with people when we allow ourselves to be transparent. In Galatians 6, we’re told to bear one another’s burdens. We aren’t able to do that if everyone is putting on airs all the time. Paul tells us in Romans to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. We are told to care for one another, y’all. How can we do that if we’re choosing to hold in the things that make us vulnerable or the things that will draw us closer to the people whom He’s provided to us?

Finally, our prayer needs get met. This is probably the one that most speaks to my own heart. When I know that I have a pack of people, or heck.. even just one other person.. praying with me about something specific, this girls love tank fills to overflowing. Having agreement in prayer is biblical and we’re not able to do that if we’re not able to have some transparency with other people. Anyone who has followed me on Facebook over the last several months has had a front row seat to the journey with my foot and the prayers over this darn left foot of mine have been magnificent! Also, when I get to partner with other people in prayer; whether it’s surface level issues or substantial heart issues, God is giving me a piece of that person’s soul to carry to the Cross and there is nothing but overwhelming honor and love in that specific act.

Wait, finally again… I forgot, where’s my head, y’all?! Glory to God. Amen? When we are able to be broken, process though, and come to the other side – we offer hope to those who’ve been able to journey with us. If my story is good for nothing but showing one other soul that he or she is not alone, then God has done exactly what He intended to do.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as Christ’s sufferings are ours in abundance [as they overflow to His followers], so also our comfort [our reassurance, our encouragement, our consolation] is abundant through Christ [it is truly more than enough to endure what we must]. But if we are troubled and distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted and encouraged, it is for your comfort, which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same sufferings which we b]”>[b]experience. And our c]”>[c]hope for you [our confident expectation of good for you] is firmly grounded [assured and unshaken], since we know that just as you share as partners in our sufferings, so also you share as partners in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about d]”>[d]our trouble in [the west coast province of] Asia [Minor], how we were utterly weighed down, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life [itself]. Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death [and were convinced that we would die, but this happened] so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. 10 He rescued us from so great a threat of death, and will continue to rescue us. On Him we have set our hope. And He will again rescue us [from danger and draw us near], 11 while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then thanks will be given by many persons on our behalf for the gracious gift [of deliverance] granted to us through the prayers of many [believers].

Advertisements

You are good enough…

For many of us who have been single for a lifetime, or what feels like a lifetime, this can be a question that creeps into our heart time and again. The thoughts of never being the chosen one, being third, fourth or last choice no matter what we do, having to face another day of rejection… those can be so overwhelming. When allowed to gain a foothold, I believe it can actually cause physical side effects (problems with weight, acne, little energy, etc…) along with the spiritual battle for your heart that ensues inside.

Our first reaction is typically to start building that wall or to put the wall back up because we should’ve known better than to let someone in, right? We get mad at ourselves for being foolish, for dreaming, for thinking this time we might actually be enough finally, for believing in the idea of love and how it might be for us after all.

79ca52c150dc49e187d0b1cfd9796441

Stop. It.

Friends, those are all very real feelings. And they are HARD to deal with on what seems like an ongoing basis… ask me how I know.  But allowing those thoughts to rule in our hearts, define our worth, overtake our days; even worse overtake our nights means that we are not walking in and believing in the sovereignty of God Almighty.

Do we think, I mean with the deepest places in our hearts, that God wants to see us in pain? That He wants us to consistently question our own worth? That He wants us to live in a place of unmet desires and expectations day in and day out?

So how do we get out of that funk? That heart place the enemy is desperately trying to overtake with his lies and his deception?

First we lean into our Father God, into His word and promises for us. They are never not the right thing to do; read, pray, worship. Then we lean into our inner circle peeps.. the ones who hold our hearts and who passionately run to God on our behalf. And, finally, pour into other people; serve, pray, love.

I know I don’t know everything, I only come to these things from a place of experience.. I don’t know all the answers. I know what works for me and what God has revealed to me. I know that God is faithful and that He has no desire to see me or you sitting in a place where we’re consistently questioning our own worth, goodness, value, etc…

The Spirit of the Living God lives inside you. Believe me, you are enough. Walk in His strength and power today. Remind yourself that not only do you belong to the King of the world, but that the King of the world is residing inside of you.

Let me know how I can partner with you. If you’re in the pit, I wanna help you out.

God tells us:
Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Making way

I’m pretty sure, in my world, every traffic situation can somehow be turned back to a relationship analogy. I don’t know why… maybe I’ve spent too much time in traffic…  maybe because of my hard work over the years to develop good, solid relationship skills; with a goal to reach mastery level by the time I make it to heaven, has been such a priority. Who knows.. I’m just here to share these weird traffic/relationship analogies that hit me in the head when I’m driving down the road.

Anytime I’m in the car with someone who might potentially be someone I want to do life with, I will pay particularly close attention to the way he drives because I feel like it will tell me so much that I need to know about how he will approach most things in life. No pressure, though, potential suitors. 😉

This week as I was driving, wait… first. I love driving. I feel like I’m a really good driver and it’s not something that frustrates me or puts me on edge. I like to be behind the wheel. Traffic doesn’t phase me; it just is. Also it allows more time for the car concert that is most certainly happening.

Okay, this week as I was driving, wait… you guys, TX driving is unlike driving anywhere else I’ve been. The level of pure self-centeredness on the road is on full display every.single.day #evenSunday. Talk about opportunities to pray over people.

Okay, really now… this week as I was driving, I was paying particular attention to when/how/why people allow or do not allow other drivers to merge or come into their lane.

When a person is merging onto the freeway or just simply needs to change lanes, I can’t understand why some people hold the line so tightly that no one is allowed to get in front of them. When we think about it, it’s just pure selfishness. The driver holding the line is valuing his time and need to be somewhere above any other driver on the road. Even if allowing a merging driver in is actually better for the overall traffic flow for all of us, that selfish driver is determined to hold his own space so tightly that no one can get ahead.

How often do we catch ourselves holding our own space/things/time so tightly that no one can get in? So that no one can get ahead of us?

The term that kept coming to my head way “Waymaker” and while I know that is often used in reference to God, I think there is some space for us, too, to be [little w] way makers for people. Am I a way maker? Can we all be way makers just creating space for one another?

Can this be how we approach something as simple as merging traffic? Faithful in little, faithful in much…

Digging a bit further, am I being a generous way maker or am I begrudgingly making way for this person? I’m brought back to 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God’s word is telling me that I will reap bountifully if I sow bountifully and if I do it with a cheerful heart, He loves that!

Even driving down the road we can do some sowing and reaping, friends. Think about that frazzled momma who is just having the worst morning and the simplest gesture of her not having to fight for her spot on the freeway because someone made way for her has the ability to change her whole morning. Or the guy on the way to the hospital to see his dad he’s not seen for 15 years and he just needs a calm spirit when he enters that room. Or even the completely arrogant business man who just didn’t prepare or manage his time will that morning and is running late, even him.

C’mon over, bro.. I’ll let you in here.

I’ll create space for you.

I’ll slow down so that we can both win.

I’ll be a way maker for you. I know you have things to do and places to be, and they might actually be more important than the places I need to be.

It’s safe here. I’m safe.

way maker

 

God didn’t give us a list of people we should or shouldn’t make way for while here in the world. We were created to be His example. THE Waymaker has created opportunities for us to be way makers for His people; and sometimes those opportunities are during rush hour traffic on the way to work. How precious to know that He trusts us to show His love in the smallest ways that, in the big scheme of things, takes so little time and effort on our part, but could potentially have a huge impact on another soul. 

The beauty is that when we learn how to make way in small ways, making way in bigger ways doesn’t seem like a big deal. It just becomes part of who we are and how we operate. My hope and prayer is that we all become way makers for Him and His people. All of them. Even those ones. And that one. And especially that one. Baby steps, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking up with Toast

A few weeks ago, I felt a strong prompting from the Holy Spirit to give up my nightly toast habit. I was like, really, HS? You’re worried about my toast habit?

Months leading up to the breakup with toast, the Holy Spirit was laying other small things on my heart which needed to be broken away, other areas that I needed to pay attention to, and particular focus on some fruits of the spirit I was neglecting.

What I didn’t realize until after the toast breakup and even as recently as today was that God was checking to see if He could trust my obedience. Was I going to follow through on what He was asking me even with something as small as giving up toast, with practicing better self-control, breaking unhealthy ties, being more gentle with myself? Was I ready to be entrusted with more?

8112e8536733cfb540e63ca9a91b8ed8Luke 16 tells us the parable of The Unrighteous Steward or the Dishonest Manager. It’s really easy to think of this in terms of money or mammon only, but really we can say it’s about anything which God entrusts to us. Money, responsibilities in the home, spouses, children, jobs, people, ourselves, etc… We are told to steward well anything that God gives us.

10 One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

So how was I stewarding things He’d entrusted to me? Was I taking good care of the hearts He’d given to me? How was my money management? Where was I with my purpose?

Honestly, not always very well. In some areas I was knockin’ it out of the park, but in other areas I was totally missing the mark. We had a trust that needed to be rebuilt; in other words… I had to climb back onto the altar. I needed to be wrapped into His steadfast love for me – just me and Him for a while.

It’s okay to admit that we just need to crawl into that space with Him, all alone, sometimes. I know it isn’t easy when we’re already juggling way more than we have hours in the day to complete, but if we go back to the principle of tithing, and giving Him our very first, that includes our time. No excuses.

When He knows we can be trusted with the little things, with the hearts of others, the time in our day, the money He provides – we give Him the space to do more through us and with us. His true riches will come to us when we are stewarding well what’s already in our care.

With our good stewardship, He will begin to reveal His gifts for us. We will be trusting Him to provide for us the things that will further the Kingdom and He will trust us to follow through with those gifts. It’s a beautiful manifestation of obedience on our end.

Maybe it’s time to think about your “toast” and see what needs to be eliminated or removed in order to make way for the Holy Spirit to speak into your heart so that God can fulfill His kingdom purposes through you. Maybe you’re already there, and you’re living the stewardship out fully; I want to be like you one day. Until then, I will constantly be evaluating my “toast” and seeing what things need to be tossed aside so that I can move forward in a spirit of trust with the Maker of the entire world.

Re (new) ish things…

So we’re here again… writing (and reading) the “I’m back to blogging” blog post that I’ve written maybe more than once. Or twice. Or three times.

Something is different this time, though.

Remember… waaaay back… when I first moved to TX and I was all like… “man, God is about to elevate this call He has on my life… I’m gonna be writing, speaking, loving on all the Jesus-lovin women in TX!” and then it didn’t happen… ? Yeah… well, that sucked.

17f8fa6fea6da3c789c1b472b6809b9c

The good news, though, is that God’s call on our lives doesn’t just stop! I believe it can shift, maybe because of something He’s decided or because of my disobedience or unopened eyes. But He still has a purpose for me… and for you.

I’m not fully aware what that purpose is just yet, but what I am 100% sure of is that Jesus is working overtime in me and is pouring deep into my heart in such a way that I can’t hold it in.

If you’re following this blog as an ol’ timer or as a brand new reader, I hope that God uses me to speak to your heart, to make you laugh, and maybe even heal some brokenness. We’re in this thing together, you and I. ❤

 

He Is Faithful and Good

For whatever reason, the blog has been getting a lot of views lately – both on the wordpress site and on Facebook. As you may have noticed, nothing has been written in quite some time. Well, nothing blog worthy anyway. With all the looks, though, I’m guessing that it means I might need to write something.

“Something.”   😉

Truth be told, it’s been a very trying and difficult season. None of which I will go into now 3e28307761b240f34c56bdf91cd6ea31– I do love my transparency with things, but most of this isn’t mine to share and some of it I’m just trying to process still. Sometimes, writing can be part of the process, but other times, we just need to be still and find answers and peace in His solitude.

And that’s exactly where I’m at right now. Sitting at His feet, thanking Him for the little things, praying for big things, and doing my best to stay in His presence despite the enemy’s desire to pull me away.

When times like this come, and they will and do come, please please please – find Him and find the people
whom He has put in your path to help hold you up. Life is not about doing it all by ourselves. It’s about leaning into Him and His people.

The good news is that He is faithful and I am seeing the fruits of consistent prayer in this challenging season. Prayer really does change things, friends. Not just the things for which we’re praying, but it changes us.

My head is above the wave, the tides are changing, and He is good. All the time.

Stepping into the War Room

By now, many of us have seen the movie War Room. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I would be seeing it. First because it’s Priscilla Shirer, and anyone who knows me, knows that’s enough. Secondly, I wanted to see it because it’s about prayer. I love prayer. I love to pray. I burden for others and that’s a gift that I love having. Usually. =]

My problem, sometimes, with movies like this is the perfectly wrapped ending. By the end of the two hour movie, life is almost perfect and the War Room has done exactly what it’s supposed to do.

What about those times when there isn’t a perfectly wrapped ending? What about those times our prayers aren’t answered in the way we hoped or expected? How do we continue without being angry with God or doubting that He ever hears us?

Just. Keep. Going.

That’s my only answer. I’ve had some prayers that have gone unanswered for years and I have others that get answered in ways I didn’t expect and some that get answered immediately. I can’t understand why.

The idea that we have a perfect God who is always willing to listen to us when we cry out to Him is something that still amazes me. I wanted to share some of my own war room scriptures and quotes with you.

10385309_10204173332271968_7915259727223994481_nEphesians 3:20 – 21. My friend created this for me as a going away gift when I left my last workplace. It’s probably my most cherished gift. It’s my favorite scripture, handmade into this beautiful design and then placed in a frame.  (let me know if you’re interested in seeing more of her work! I’ll direct you to her FB page.)

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“You own the skies and still want my heart.” – a quote from a Hillsong United song – Up In Arms.

“You make me brave.”

“Oh, men and women, pray through; pray through! Do not just begin to pray and pray a little while and throw up your hands and quit; but pray and pray and pray until God bends the heavens and comes down.” ~ R. A. Torrey

“Try a little harder to be a little better.” ~ Gordon B. Hickley

“You can’t save people, you can only love them.” ~ Anais Nin

Sometimes, I will pick up that thing You’ve asked me to lay down. I’m thankful for Your grace. I ask for your forgiveness.

Surrender.

“You see the depths of my heart and love me the same.” ~ Chris Tomlin – Indescribable

2 Timothy 4:17 (NKJV) 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me

Psalm 116:2 (NLT)Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

ed9dad428360e3f19fec260048b864eb

 

I used to be really scared to pray. I don’t know why – shame? Guilt? I’m sure it was both.

Let me encourage you – we can’t all have a “war room”, but we can all have a time and place in which we can wage our war on our knees (or on our butts, or face, or driving down the road…). Please don’t let *rules* stand in the way of having a conversation with our Creator. He really, really wants us to talk to Him. He is relentless for us. For you. For me.

It’s hard to be honest with Him and ourselves, putting all of our hopes, dreams, despairs, struggles, heart for others, etc… out there. It is. I get it. Trust me when I tell you, it doesn’t always have a happy ending like in the movies. But when we listen, when we’re still, and when we faithfully step into that war room with Him – it will always be right.