Still Frame

{The Vision} I looked out to see sheets of green dipping into valleys where early morning shadows hovered over the moist earth, only to build up again into curved slopes where wind curled and crashed over the top. From my mind’s eye, the hills stretched up, each touching the horizon in sequence, continuing into an infinitely of wide-open space. Eyes closed, I’d take off running towards the skyline, tension in my arms and the wind at my back. {The Backstory} I spent most of my childhood, until age 13, on a single street in rural North Carolina. Summers were my favorite. I’d wake up early, pick out mismatched clothes from my beloved pickled oak cabinet, and hurry out in search of the morning. A pasture bordered one side of our house. The rusty barbed wire fence, overgrown with prairie grass, separated us from a few cattle, occasionally grazing. The pasture, though small, would not only become a backdrop for some of the first conversations I’d have with God, it would appear as a still frame on a reel of memories, long after my family moved away. God knew that certain events in my life would crush me. He knew that I’d believe things about myself that weren’t true: that I would compare myself to others. Was I enough? Was I too much? He knew that I would strive to please, and how heavy this self-made mantle would become…with anxiety, panic, and exhaustion. He knew that I would make decisions, albeit with good intentions, in order to gain control. He knew that others would betray me, and how many sleepless...

The Lie We Have Believed

You and I have bought into a lie. It was not intentional, on your part or mine. Slowly but surely, we have fallen deeper and deeper into its grasp. This lie has invaded our communities, our culture, and even our churches. I do not believe this lie was meant to harm us. No, the harm came when we took hold of it and ran away with it. We gave it more meaning than it was ever meant to have. We are the ones who gave it the wings now beating us senseless. What is the lie you and I have bought into? We are enough. I know: I am as shocked as you are. We are going to have to do some exploring to discover why the “you are enough” mantra is a lie. We are going to have to be honest. Yes, we are going to have to take a good, honest look at what those three little words mean, and at our own selves (gulp). But, we are women who desire freedom. There is no freedom in lies. We long to walk in truth because truth sets us free. You are enough. We read it, and we see it splashed across social media. How desperately we want to believe we are good, that we do not need to compare ourselves to others any longer. In our comparisons, we have begun to feel less than, and we are tired of it. Enough is enough because I am enough, we declare! We raise our fists and dare anyone to defy us. But sister, can I tell you what I...

Sick of Complaining

I have to admit, the first two months of the new year have been a bit rough. Viruses and the respiratory flu have come to stay in spite of the fact that they weren’t invited. I’ve noticed a familiar pattern when I feel less than my best; something I’m not proud of — I complain. Because good health is the norm, it’s easy to justify my complaints. But complaining is toxic. Just like poison, complaining taints everything it touches. (click to tweet) When I begin a conversation with a complaint, I set the tone for others to add more of the same. Negativity creates a downward spiral that leads to hopelessness. A choice Consider the children of Israel. They had been set free from the bondage of slavery. God had done the miraculous and released them from their cruel taskmasters, the Egyptians. Instead of continuing to trust God to provide for their physical needs, they chose to complain. Listen to one of their pity parties: And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Exodus 16:2-3; KJV Really? Was the food in Egypt that good? Had they forgotten the hard labor and beatings they had endured at the hand of the Egyptians? Probably not. But...

If given a choice, would I choose better?

Do worrisome life situations seem to follow you around? Do cycles of anxiety find themselves recurring in your life? If stressful moments have turned into recognizable patterns creeping up every year…. Then, don’t feel bad. You are not alone. It’s not hard to look around and find worry and anxiety. The data reports it is affecting even children with 1 in 5 kids suffering from anxiety, and 30% of those being young girls (source.) Sometimes the culprit is a lack of choosing well, or a loss of appetite for things of true value. In the dawn of technology and uber-consumerism, chasing after happiness with the next best thing has become a way of life. Our need to stay technologically current is a given and with it comes benefits. It’s less time-consuming, easier, and safer to communicate behind round emojis than in face-to-face conversations. I know because many times I have chosen to text rather than talk. There is deep value in connecting with family and friends, and I am thrilled to live in an age where technology allows us to do this with such ease. But sometimes consumer trends leave me searching in counterfeit places for things of sustenance. The next iPhone, a big screen TV, the perfect app all to create the best jobs, cars, schools, and bodies. Together, I am told, they produce happiness. But do they? While consumer striving grows louder, the authentic voice for what will genuinely make my soul happy grows quieter. And therein lies a tension. Living alongside this tension begs a crucial question: If given a better choice, would I choose it? Jesus...

A Lame Christmas

Christmas celebrations and seasons have changed throughout the years, but one thing in my childhood home has remained the same: the nativity. It is one of my favorite parts of Christmas, but also a favorite part of “home.” As a child, I stared at the details of the nativity for hours. When I was old enough to touch it, I would rearrange it, deciding which king should present his gift or how far away the shepherds might stand. One flaw to the nativity has been there as long as I can remember. The lamb is missing a leg. Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s missing the plaster on the leg. The wire frame is there, so it can stand up on its own…with a bit of teetering. My mom knows how special the nativity is to me, and she was thrilled to come across a old-looking sheep that was about the same size as this one and would fit well with the other figures. She bought it without hesitation. When she got home, she discovered something. Somewhere between the store and home, the sheep’s leg was broken. It, too, was lame. I took it home to incorporate into my own nativity as a reminder. We don’t have to be perfect to approach Jesus. We need to come as we are. Humility is difficult, because it reveals our weaknesses. But that’s where He meets us. That’s where He serves us. That’s where He saves us. He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves: “When you are invited by...

Pressure Holes

There is a lot of construction taking place near my home. When I leave our subdivision, whether I go right or left, there are great machines digging, drilling and moving materials around. One day as I was driving into town, I saw a large contraption drilling holes into a massive, misshapen block of cement. The cement slab was part of the old road, and the machine was breaking it down for removal. I found it interesting that the machine drilled holes into the cement first before applying pressure. Once there were several holes about one foot apart from each other, the machine’s clamps bore down on the cement, crumbling it into chunks. Both the holes and the pressure were necessary to tear down the strong block of cement. Satan knows this is true for God’s children too. The Bible guarantees that we will have great pressures and troubles in this life (John 16.33). The holidays are definitely proof of this truth. Christmas can bring amazing joy, but it also may add great amounts of financial, emotional, relational and mental pressures that are intensified with the busyness of the season. This is the time that we need to make sure that we are filling our weak areas with God’s grace. Are we staying in God’s Word? Are we communicating with our Heavenly Father? Are we renewing our minds in Christ daily? Are we finding rest in the Holy Spirit’s strength? Satan wants nothing more than to crumble us to bits, stealing our joy and robbing us of special moments. He wants to watch us fall and make the lives of...

Get Over Yourself

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV Listen, I know when you first read the title you were probably taken aback a bit, but I hope you hear my heart on this–sometimes we really do just need to get over ourselves. We live in a world where it’s all about ourselves and what makes “me” happy. The problem starts when we live a life that is only focused on ourselves then we can become entitled, self-righteous, judgmental and sometimes downright ugly. When our thoughts and lives are filled with only thoughts about us and our needs/wants, then the rest of our relationships become strained or even nonexistent. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who only thinks about themselves. So, what’s a person to do who is struggling with this? First, I’d say get a copy of Tim Keller’s book, “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness”. It has radically changed my thoughts on this whole concept. In his book he talks about a gospel-humility that takes thinking of ourselves right off the table. How do we even do that? Through lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of practice. I read this book over a year ago and it’s still been something I wrestle with daily, but something that I intend to keep on wrestling with and working through. We spend our days scurrying around trying to fill our lives with more of stuff to make us happy, but the reality is that the “stuff” we long for isn’t really going to bring us the fulfillment we...

No More People Pleasing! It’s Okay To Be YOU!

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 ESV Do you want everyone to like you? Do you spend time trying to make sure everyone is happy? Does it worry or bother you if you think someone doesn’t like you? Then chances are, my friend, that you are a people pleaser. Oh, I am right there with you on this one. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure when it started for me but for the most part, I can remember that most of my entire life I’ve wrestled with wanting people to like me. I guess it was one thing when I was an awkward teenager, or the constant “new girl” in school (yep, went to 3 high schools), but for crying out loud, I’m a grown woman now: what’s the deal? It wasn’t until the last few years, particularly this last year, that I’ve really started to wrestle with letting this whole people pleaser thing go. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is or has wrestled with this, so let me share with you what God has been teaching me about what’s wrong with being a people pleaser. I’m not being true to who God has called me to be if I’m trying to be something I’m not. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) I am not perfect. (Romans 3:10) I can’t make other people like me and it’s okay if they don’t. (Galatians 1:10) Listen,...

Looking for the Garden of Eden

“And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed…Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’…And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:8, 18, 25 (ESV) Aren’t we all searching for the Garden? Deep in our souls, we know that’s where we belong. Walking with our Father. Sharing our heart. Worshiping Him. Praising Him. Knowing His love. Love, perfect, complete “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 (ESV) Yet, she was tempted. She wondered if there was more. She had everything. No need unmet. Unconditional love. Complete acceptance. Walking perfection. Pure heart. Untainted mind. And she wanted more. Perfection reached out for more. “Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 3:23 She lost the Garden. She lost perfection. She lost everything — Except what was most important. Unconditional love. His love cannot be thwarted. His Son took on flesh to mend what was broken. His Son suffered and died to restore that walk. Jesus restored what was lost. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and...

Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...