I don’t need a cheerleader

Around every corner, the messages are shouted. You are enough. BeYOUtiful. You are strong. Just be you. You’ve got this. You are beautiful. These well meaning sentiments are splashed across social media pages and in the pages of magazines. May I be honest with you? I am tired of them: all of them. I have grown weary of the “I am woman, hear me roar!” anthem. Many days, I just want the pom-poms to be laid down. All these fancy, pretty posts telling me how strong and wonderful I am are utter fallacy. Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy  4:2, NIV) I know myself. At forty-one years old, I can own up to my flaws. I wear makeup to hide and cover up facial features, and I select clothes to hide areas of my body. Honestly, I would prefer to not “just be me.” In a moment of “just being me,” I yelled at my daughter in the middle of Disney World. The harshness of my tone caused her eyes to fill with tears and her lip to tremble. Strong? Nope: not me, not then. I was tired, stressed over the rapid fire questions I was being asked, and completely incapable of handling it. In the crowd, in the constant motion and noise, I lost my mind. Seeing both my daughter’s reaction and the look of surprise on my husband’s face was enough for me to know I don’t got this. I don’t need a cheerleader to fill me with feel good messages....

Will you run to Him?

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10) Christmas decorations have been put away and a new year has begun. Hope fills the air as resolutions are being made. Some will repeat the resolutions of the previous year, while others will set out on new adventures. With the Christmas rush over, we now look forward to what awaits us in the coming days. Maybe this is the year you will experience healing. Maybe this is the year the promise you have been waiting for unfolds. Will this be the year that relationship finds reconciliation? Will this be the year grief begins to release its tight grasp? Maybe this will be the year of new and exciting adventures. Could this be the year hope and peace weave themselves into every fabric of life? Maybe this is the year breakthrough happens. In hopeful expectation, will you run to Him? As I set out in the new year and new adventures, I become easily engulfed in myself. I chart a course, and I venture out alone. All too soon, I become frustrated and exhausted. Surely all these goals will not go unmet. No, this is the year of checking all those ideas off my list! Right? But when I stop, in my weary and anxious state, I turn to find I have not been running toward the One who charted my course. He is calling you, by name, to come to Him. In the book of John chapter eleven, we are told of the death of Lazarus. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’...

I Pray You Hear Him

Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my calling? Am I doing what I should? Is that God’s voice I hear? What if I am not following His lead? Is this all there is? Where is God? Are my prayers being heard? Will God answer me? Why do I feel alone? Questions. Questions of faith, questions of purpose, questions of belief. We ask these questions often, sometimes angrily, sometimes out of our own weariness. We ask because we want answers. We ask because it feels good to be honest in our doubt. I ask many questions. There have been times I rapid-fired questions as if I were worried I would not be heard unless everything was shared. I have yelled my questions, and I have whispered them in between tears. I have so many of them, sometimes too many. I even question my questions. Why do I want to know that? Why is that important? Is my focus in the correct place? Maybe my faith is to small, and that is why I ask. Maybe I believe for too much. 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV) God shows up in our questioning. As I read through Scripture, I see the power of questions. Will you heal me? Will you save your people? Will you send the rain? Will you come again? Where can I find the living...

Are you free?

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13, NASB) If the recent U.S. presidential election has shown me anything, it is how broken humanity is. I saw statements being made on social media that made me cringe. I shuddered as negative, condescending comments were slung haphazardly across the internet. Would we dare to speak those words if we were face to face? Maybe. Maybe not. Being able to voice our opinions while also respecting others seems to be quite the balancing act. We have teetered and tottered, and often crashed wildly into one another. You see, we are free to have our opinions. Certainly, we are free to believe passionately and strongly on issues. We are free to use our social media accounts as we choose. We are free, yet we live as though we are chained. In Galatians, Paul speaks of our freedom. His warnings then are valid now. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things you please. (Galatians 5:17, NASB) How do we know if we are being led by the flesh? Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the...

Are you able to say no?

No. It is a simple word. Two letters, one syllable. Why do so many women have a problem saying it? Even when they are tired, even when there are more pressing matters, women seem to struggle in responding with, “no.” Why do we think our answer should always be “yes”? I wonder, do we have an issue with control? Do we believe we are the only ones who can do a given task, and therefore rarely say no? Or, maybe it is an issue of self worth, or lack thereof. Do we say yes to one more committee, one more item on our to do list because we are trying to fill a void in our lives? Is it to feel needed? Maybe we rely too heavily on the accolades from others. We all like a pat on the back every now and then. Is that what is driving us? What results from being unable to say no? When we shout a resounding “yes!” to everything that comes our way, we exhaust ourselves. With our energy depleted, as we serve and serve some more, we have little left to give those who matter most. Our friends and families are usually left picking up our tired pieces. Even more than how exhausted we become, saying “yes” too often may cause us to miss the “yes” we are meant for. It is not that we should pull away from our community or  stop serving altogether. Yet, we need to be more careful, more discerning, about who or what receives our “yes.” There are many opportunities that present themselves, but I know...

Are you in the belly of a fish?

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. (Jonah 1: 1-3, NIV) The instructions were pretty simple. Jonah, go and preach. Yes, the city was wicked. Yes, the city and its residents needed a fresh infusion of Truth, with a side of Mercy. Go and preach. Instead, Jonah runs. Nineveh? No way. Jonah is out as quickly as a boat can take him. Did Jonah really believe he could deceive God? God sends a great wind, and a violent storm erupts at sea. The ship Jonah is hiding in is not at risk of being sunk. Jonah, in his first honest act, tells the ship’s crew he is the reason the storm rages. The crew asks Jonah what they can do to save the ship and their own lives. 2 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Jonah tells the men to throw him overboard. I wonder if he thought he might drown at sea. Did he hope for his life to end? Was Jonah so unwilling to go to Nineveh that he preferred death? Instead, God sent a huge fish to swallow...

Will you rise?

54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:54-55) Jesus healed a woman with an issue of bleeding. A twelve year problem is solved with one touch of Jesus’ robe. The story is one of incredible faith. However, before the woman with the issue of bleeding arrived, Jesus had been approached by Jairus, a leader in the synagogue. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. (Luke 8:41-42). In the midst of healing the woman with the issue of bleeding, a messenger arrived to report Jairus’ daughter has died. Hope slipped through Jairus’ fingers. Then, hope is returned. 50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Jesus entered the house and is laughed at when he states the girl is merely sleeping. They laugh, but Jesus speaks. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:54-55)   How do we respond? I have read this passage multiple times, always focusing on the woman with the issue of bleeding, or Jairus. Lately, I have been thinking about the twelve year old daughter. When Jesus says, “get up,” she obeys. As Jesus tells her to rise, she does...

Are you ready for action?

Prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13, NASB) Peter is my favorite. I know, we should not have favorites. But alas, I have one. Of all the apostles, Peter is my favorite. While many people gravitate towards John or Paul, I find myself drawn to Peter. Peter, the fisherman turned apostle. He left it all to follow Jesus. Peter, the first to proclaim Jesus the Son of God. Yes, he was the one who walked on water towards Jesus. Passionate Peter who declared he would die in Jesus’ place, then denied knowing his divine friend. Although his foot was often in his mouth, Peter was often the spokesman for the disciples. The day after Pentecost, Peter is the first to preach. I am drawn to his passion. I read through Scripture and find myself shaking my head as Peter, once again, speaks without thinking. His zeal is admirable, but his words often tumble out in a jumbled, thoughtless mess. Yet, I also see the fierceness of his love for his Savior. Peter rejoiced in the day of his death because he would then be reunited with Jesus. He asked to be crucified upside down because he claimed he was unworthy to be crucified in the way Jesus was. Peter, the lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men. I too find my foot squarely in my mouth. I too have spoken with passion and vigor while forgetting the flesh and blood standing before me. Like Peter,...

He Knows My Name

But now, this is what the Lord says—     he who created you, Jacob,     he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;     I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1, NIV) For many years, I wondered if I mattered. I questioned my worth. I doubted I had value or a purpose. Certainly God had little use for me, even if He did love me. Lies spoken to me in my past rang loudly in my ears. They were sometimes deafening, sometimes silenced by truth. Yet, the lies remained. Even in the best moments, the lies swirled quietly in the back of my mind. I was made to feel I did not deserve the grand lives others were given. I did not believe I would measure up or accomplish much regardless of what I did. I would say I was determined, and I expertly developed a strong exterior, but inside I often crumbled. While I tackled goals with tenacity, I typically believed my efforts would amount to nothing, and I would fail. Failure became my identity. Have you come to a place of knowing there was more, of knowing there was something better, yet did not know how to obtain it? As I have dived into Scripture, I have found my answer. I have found answers to my questions, and the rebuttal for every lie. I have found how deeply God loves me. He knows me. He calls me by name. Jeremiah 1:5 says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,     before you were born I set you apart;     I...

Take the Next Best Step

The opportunity presented itself and I could not refuse. A risk, maybe, but it was one I was willing to take. This was an opportunity to draw closer to seeing dreams become a reality; a risk worth taking. I found myself on stage, sharing with others my heart, my story, and my encouragement for them. The negative voices that had coursed through my mind moments before were silenced. I had done what I was called to do. I had taken the next best step. One step led to a vision coming to fruition. Genesis 12:1-3 speaks of a man who chooses to take the next best step. The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation,     and I will bless you; I will make your name great,     and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you,     and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth     will be blessed through you.”    Abram, who will later be called Abraham, is not told where he is to go, only that he should go. Do you know what I truly love about this? Abram’s response. Verse 4 begins, “So Abram went.” No questions, no prayer meeting, no asking what his mother thought, he went. When God directs our steps, we do not need to question if we are headed in the right direction. We simply need to go. As Abram goes, God shows him a land that will be given to Abram’s offspring. Abram’s...