Tag Archive | life

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.

Life Hurts – God Heals

How is someone supposed to feel when a Father dies?

An unknown father.

An absent father.

A father who walked away from his own child father?

I had a dad with whom I was raised and I also had a father that contributed to my creation who then abandoned my mom. My mom was married to my bio dad for a couple of years and all the things I know about him are bad. Not at all good.

Every few years, I would get a hankering to do a “search” for my bio dad online. I never found him, though. I had that hankering a couple weeks ago. I found him. He’s dead.

I knew it was him because I remember his mom’s name and his sister’s name, both of whom were mentioned in his obituary. Also mentioned were his wife and three children – now adults, of course. His love for art and how he was able to make so many people smile and bring happiness and joy through his art was also mentioned. My bio dad was an artist. He drew and painted for others. To make them happy.

On par with what all abandoned children feel, we fall into the questions that come with abandonment – why wasn’t I good enough for him? Why didn’t he love me? Did he ever think about me? Did anyone know about me? Was I just forgotten all these years? Did he create a whole new life and just forget his old one existed? Why didn’t he want to know me? Am I that awful? That unlovable?

I have two half-brothers and a half-sister that I know about now. Of course, I’ve spent the last two weeks teetering back and forth about whether to try and make contact. Maybe to my aunt first? She had a relationship with us for several years after my dad left. I was never a secret to her. But what if his kids never knew I existed? Would I ruin their world? Their image of their dad? Was he loving to them?

I’m not sure if he ever got his life together – on paper it sounds like he did. I know now, though, that I’ll never have a chance to know him, to know whether or not he turned his life around, to know whether or not he ever cared about me, to know if he cried for me through the night. I’ll never know that and I’m sorta bummed about it.LHGH-960x550

Things and emotions that I assumed were long gone all bubbled to the surface over the last couple of weeks. It’s been weird.

I honestly don’t know how someone who doesn’t know God would process something like this – it’s all I’ve been able to do is to remind myself that I DO have  an Almighty Father, who will never abandon me.

In Psalm 27:10 (NLT) we’re told, Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. The enemy would like me to think that because the bio dad didn’t hold me close and didn’t want me that I’m not worthy to be held closely.

And the enemy is a liar.

In Psalm 142:4-5 (NIV) David was in a cave, crying out to the Lord and he said this, 4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. And we could leave it right there… but the next verse says, 5 I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

When we’re in a cave, whatever that looks like for us, and when we have a relationship with the living God, we know that we can cry out to Him because He is our refuge. The enemy would like us to think that God doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care.

And the enemy is a liar.

If you’re reading this post and you don’t know who Jesus is, I assure you that He is waiting for you to cry out to Him from your cave. He is waiting to bring you into His arms and give you comfort, to remind you that you are loved, and to let you know that He will never leave you.

Satan wants to keep people under his thumb, tangled in his web of lies and deceit. He wants to tell you that you’re not worth anything – not even worth a father who wants know you. Not even worth a man at all. Not even worth a thing. He’s lying to you, sweet one. He lies to me. It’s his way.

I listened to a message last night by Jimmy Evans. It was part of a series called “The Hurt Pocket” and, surprisingly, it touched some of the hurt places in my own heart that I thought were long ago healed. One of the takeaways was that in order to heal our hurt we have to be willing to bring it into the light and to be honest with God about it. I haven’t done that. I stuffed. Deep, deep down into my soul. Do you do that? I do. I assume it’s healed because I don’t think about it, but really it’s just stuffed. Hidden. Almost to the point of not being found. And then it is. It’s found and it’s hard.

My takeaways for you, if you’re reading this, are to first decide whether or not you’re in right relationship with Christ. If not, let me help you! Email me. Message me. Anything. Secondly, if you are in relationship with Him, be honest with Him. Take your hurts to Him – no matter how old and stuffed down they are – and allow Him the time to heal them for you. He wants to heal our brokenness, we just have to give Him the broken pieces.

Conquering the beast.

The comparison monster. I suppose at one time or another in our lives, we’ll deal with it. I’ve been pretty fortunate not to have a face-to-face run in with the thing for many, many years… maybe since high school.

And then I moved to Dallas. Suddenly, it’s all over me. Creeping over my shoulder when I least expect it. Hiding away near my bathroom mirror as I get ready in the morning. It sits in the passenger seat of my car and whispers its ugliness to me as I drive to my destination. It’s a hideous beast.

I’ve struggled, as I’m sure most of us have, with self-esteem and insecurities at different times in my life. But this beast is different. This isn’t just seeing my flaws in a larger than life manner. It’s seeing those flaws and then comparing them to all the women around me who are prettier, more fashionable, wealthier, more successful, being used by God in big ways, on and on… and on. And on.

It’s just—ew.

So, of course, as God does, He begins to prepare me and show me ways to conquer this beast. I hear Him. I see it in the Word, I hear it in the messages I listen to, and books that somehow land on my table. One of the foundations of something we do at my church is… Hear, Believe, Obey. God is making sure that I have the “hear” part down pat. The next two things are all on me.

While reading Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes Lee over the last month, the eighth chapter called Preapproved, is pretty much all highlighted and scribbled upon. It’s like that chapter was written for me. Like Jennifer sat in her study and allowed God to use her solely for my benefit. She heard, believed, and obeyed. I’m thankful.

She opens the chapter with this verse: Psalm 37:6 (MSG) – He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Huh… He will validate my life. And stamp me with approval. Me? Well, yeah… that’s what He says! She goes on to say, “Eyes cannot look in two different directions,” so I have the choice to look at the comparison monster or to look at God’s word that He has stamped me with approval. When we know that God’s word is truth, we hear it. The next part is to believe it. A few pages later, Jennifer says, “…living like I actually believe what the Savior says. And He says He love me. It makes me feel weak-kneed and deliriously adored.” A couple paragraphs down she mentions how we need to constantly and consistently remind ourselves that “God delights in me.” We have to train ourselves to believe what God says about us is true. That’s when we can really begin to understand it.Screen-Shot-2015-02-27-at-10.07.05-AM

So then, how do we obey – now that we’ve heard and we’ve believed?

Just stop. Stop listening to the monster that ushers those ugly lies – because that’s all they are – into our heart places. Slowly replace those thoughts with the thoughts He has given us over and over again. In this chapter, Jennifer explains how God is a God of “Alreadys” and how we are already preapproved by Him, loved by Him, cherished by Him. We didn’t even have to do anything! In 1 John 3:1, she points out, “I am already His beloved child.” Already. “He is the God of Alreadys, inviting me to turn away from the voices that tell me I’m not enough. His words are an invitation to every unwanted child, every unrequited lover, and every person who has ever wanted to know he or she matters.”

Over the last couple of weeks, once I admitted and accepted that this was something that was beginning to impact me way more than I wanted it to, I was able to seek the things from Him to remind me how loved I am – for no reason at all.

He doesn’t care if I put on make-up every day so that I look like everyone else in this huge metroplex. He wants me to put on Him every day. When I walk out of the house with Him covering me, there is no comparison game. This is how we obey. We stop our own cycle of madness so that we can hear and believe, and eventually obey His truth of love, approval, and attention.

“I am unabashedly, irrevocably loved,” she says. Me too. You too. This is our truth. This is what we’re to believe so that we are able to obey the things He calls us to do in this life, for His purpose.

This beast can be a hard one to conquer, but it isn’t impossible because we have a God who is bigger than impossible. He’s mightier than the beast and will slay him dead, as soon as we hear, believe, and obey. Part of our obedience is allowing God into that part of us so that He can take it out, once and for all.

My friends, if you’re struggling with comparison, I beg you to own it and work on it. It’s a freedom like no other. When we stop wondering if we’re enough, we’ll realize we’ve always been enough. You are already loved, approved, and delighted in by the most loving, merciful God.

Seeing me through His eyes

About ten days ago, I was given a challenge at my bible study. Of course, since one of my mottos is to never do anything alone that I can do with someone else; I challenged some of my friends to do it with me. And now, I’m sharing the challenge with you.

The leader of the bible study asked us, “what is something you wish that other people knew and understood about you?” I didn’t even have to think about it. My answer to this question is easy. I wish people knew and understood how badly I want to share my life with someone. Many of my friends compliment me on my strength, independence, courage, ability to “do it all,” and how confident I am to tackle the world.

No. I mean yes. I would like to think that God has given me some really great opportunities to grow and handle business as a mom, an employee, a student, in ministry, etc… But really… I’m mostly a mess.

I try to figure out ways, in my head, that I might be more approachable or more attractive or more looked upon or more desirable or more open and vulnerable or blah blah blah. I feel like I spend so much time trying to see me the way others see me so that I can fix whatever is so broken in me that it makes me unwanted.

Yeah.

I didn’t share all that in my bible study, but oddly the assignment I was given spoke right to that nasty place in my heart. The leader asked me if I would consider taking a few days to get still before God, just me and Him – and a pen and journal – and ask Him simply, “God, what do YOU think about me?” and be prepared to write down the things He reveals to my heart.blog-el-roi

I am open to ask God anything. Where should I go? Who should I talk to? Should I be part of this or part of that? Asking Him what He thought about me, though? The thought never crossed my mind. It’s like sitting in front of my mom and asking her the same question. Scary.

Naturally, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the conference I attended the weekend right after this assignment was given was all about what God thinks about us. It’s like He lined it all up – just so. Isn’t that how He always tends to do things?

I confess that I haven’t done it yet, but I will this week. And I’d like to challenge you to the same thing. Take a few minutes, over a period of a couple of days, and just sit before God and ask Him – what do You think about me? And wait for Him to reveal His vision OF you TO you. Write these things down and at the end of the days you set aside to do this, go back and read all the things He’s shared with you. I’m pretty sure we’re all going to walk away seeing ourselves a little bit differently.

God saw us precious enough to send His own Son to the Cross for us. I’d like to see myself that way for a while. And I bet you’d like that too. Let’s do it!

The day home met me in Nebraska

She walked in the room. My eyes met hers, I can’t say who saw who first, but there we were – eyes locked and her gentle wave of acknowledgement. I jumped up from my seat and as quickly as I could, without breaking into a run (like, who am I kidding, right?!), made my way into her arms that were opened wide to draw my weary from travel soul into herself. And there, right on her pretty sweatered shoulder, my heart broke open and poured out of my eyeballs.

Like, really, who hugs someone and just cries all over her? I do. I did. And I will in the future, I’m sure of it. At that moment, she represented everything that was home to me. She was my sister, my connection, my friend, my community.

The oddest thing is that I’ve only actually been in her presence on two occasions – both of which I was a complete wreck and in the weirdest seasons of my life. In the fall of 2013, I signed up for a simulcast IF:Gathering and searched for one close to me, it was her home, in VA. Unfortunately, I ended up having to back out because of a commitment with church. However, we connected over Facebook and realized we had some common friends and lived relatively close to one another and decided to meet for coffee.

Right there, in my messiest season, in the middle of the Starbucks at Target, I blabbered and blabbered about life, church, ministry, kids, pain, joy, and anything else that came up. She received with grace on top of grace many pieces of my undoing. I’ve thought back to that time we had and know that I completely monopolized her time, her heart, and her kindness because she took the time to ask me questions and showed a desire to know me. She really was being Jesus with skin for me that day. I don’t know if she knows that…

Her story is hers to tell and I won’t share that, but I will share that all the failings I ever felt in motherhood and ministry and life were not ones I felt alone. And sometimes, no matter how connected we are or how involved we are, our failures still seem to burrow into our ears during the night when our hearts seem heaviest. Our babes will go through life in this world and succumb to the pitfalls, temptations, and veer their way right off the course we have planned for them. We will all have to figure out how to deal with those things with our family, our history, and our expectations in mind. What works for one family won’t always work for another. And she reminded me of that.

The next time we got the chance to connect was in April 2014 at the Winsome Retreat that she hosts in Pennsylvania. If you are close to there or can get there – GO! I’m telling you, just go. Do it. Be there. While we didn’t have much one-on-one time, she did speak and teach and share her passions and burdens with us.PreApproved

I know I’ll share a lot of things that happened this weekend at the Refresh my Heart conference, but for now, I want to share some things that Kim Hyland (that’s the *her* of whom I speak) spoke about over the weekend. The whole conference was about being “preapproved” by God. Being comfortable with who we are as women and accepting whom God has called each of us to be. One of the things Kim said during her session was “let’s be comfortable with our imperfections.” Right? How many times do we sit in front of the mirror only to turn on ourselves and become our very worst enemy? We would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.

“Living in the light of the Gospel is redeeming,” she said. When we take our time to come out of our own minds, being tempted by the lies of the enemy, we can see His light and His goodness for us. We don’t have to live in the darkness and the lies and the dimming of our spirit that satan so desperately tries to drown us in. Instead, we see the Light of the Gospel and we choose to walk in it because it’s for our own good—our own redemption.

She goes on to say, “God’s wants to conform me to the image of Jesus and His plan will not be thwarted.” In other words, I can’t UNDO how God has already made me. He has created me and created you and His sole purpose was to make us in His image and for His purpose. His impression of us isn’t going to change based on how we perceive ourselves. We are His perfect design. Kim translated one version of the word abide (menó) in Greek as: to remain as one is, not to become another or different. Christ has called us to remain in Him. We are made to be who we are for the plans He has for us. Not to become like those around us or to fall into the comparison trap or to wish we were more like so and so, or had more like so and so, or were better like so and so. “We are already confirmed by God,” she says and we don’t need to look for our confirmation from any other source.

Friends, there are so many takeaways I want you to have from this post.

One, do not ever discount the impact that one little coffee, with one broken soul, might have in the big scheme of things.

Two, do not discount that friendships can and are made, grown, and will flourish because of social media, annual conferences, blogs, and speaking engagements. It’s confirmed and many of my dearest people are those I met because of virtual opportunities.

Three, you are loved.

Four, you are made by Him, for Him, and because of Him. You are not a mistake. Nothing about you is a mistake.

Five, in case you didn’t see it the first time, you.are.loved. Deeply. Wildly. Over-the-top kinda loved.

Finding Financial Victory… or really trying to anyway.

Financial victory is amazing, right?! Well, I’m about to find out! A few weeks ago, Dave Ramsey offered a great deal on his total money makeover package and I grabbed it!

Since it’s been delivered, it’s been sitting on my dining room table.

Box opened.

Just sitting there.

Like, I know Dave… I know. Stop bossing me!

It’s funny because I’m not one of those people who has debt racked up in credit cards or anywhere else for that matter. I have one secured credit card for the sole purpose of renting a car, if I ever need to.  And that’s it. The last time I went over my finances with anyone, and I was clearly distraught about them, the couple took one look at my “sheet” and kinda looked at me like I was crazy. Their words, “you realize you have no debt and you’re really not in a horrible place, right?” Well, no. I feel like I’m in a horrible place!

In reality, I’m not in a horrible place. However, I do live paycheck to paycheck. When I moved, I was hopeful to secure a job so that I’d have a bit more breathing room financially, but as of now, that isn’t the case. So, while I’m not worse off than I was prior to the move, I’m really in the exact same place I was before. Paycheck to paycheck. I’ve sat back and asked God about this…”why can’t I be in a place with more financial stability? Why can’t I feel what it’s like to not have to live paycheck to paycheck? Why can’t I just have a wee bit more, God? Not a lot, just a little.” Doesn’t that sound so whiney?? Like, “hey, God, thanks for that job you provided me. But could You please do a little better next time?”

Ugh. I’m an awful person sometimes.

So here I am, trying to find my lesson in all of this. I feel like I’ve cut out lots of things that weren’t necessary, but I’m also holding onto things that I “deserve” because I work really, really hard and NO ONE is gonna take it away from me! *stomps feet!!* (insert awkward, in my heart temper tantrum)

Back to finding that lesson…a890fb13f5cdbe263bd0df1267049d77

How and WHY would God give me more if I don’t always manage well what He’s already given me?? It’s not even that I’m frivolous or living outside of my means because I don’t think I’m either, but I’m clearly not a good manager. In fact, I would say a good bit of my financial stress is brought on by my generous heart toward others and not wanting that person (or people) to want for anything. The problem is that I don’t have the kind of income to do that. But I really try to live like I do. I’m really trying to get a grip on that. I am. (I know my friends reading this are giving me the eye roll, like yeah yeah… heard it before. I’m totally serious this time, guys!)

In the end, today, I know this is one of those areas in which I want to become victorious. It’s one of the areas in my life that God doesn’t want me to struggle and He’s just waiting for me to learn this lesson. So today, as soon as I pay my bills for this month, I’ll begin a new journey to financial freedom.

If you’d like to do the same, so many people I know have gleaned great wisdom and tools from Dave Ramsey’s ministry. Check him out here. Let me know what you think!

I am Victorious because God is Able!

One of the areas in my life in which I’d like to become victorious is scripture memorization. I’m really pretty terrible at it. I think it’s because I try to memorize scripture that others choose for me or by following a plan that someone else created. Yesterday, I came across something new that Beth Moore is doing on her blog called Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015.10385309_10204173332271968_7915259727223994481_n

In the plan she is offering to anyone who wants to participate, there will be a total of 24 scriptures memorized over the next year. That’s only two a month. I can TOTALLY do that! And what I really love is that she encourages us to pick our own verses and that it’s something that is resonating with us, right now, at this time in our lives. It makes it so much easier to grab ahold of it when it’s carrying a great meaning for us.

For me, I’m posting my very favorite scripture as my first to memorize. Because, well, I know the verses mostly… but usually I say it the way I want to say it and not really the way it’s written. That’s how I do scripture, I summarize it. I want to actually KNOW it, word for word.

How about you? Wanna join me? Join Beth? Follow that link up top and go get added to the group y’all!

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NASB) 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [a]forever and ever. Amen.