When Your Deepest Pain and Purpose Collide

We want to change the world and do something big. We want to know our lives, pain, and tears on this earth matter. Searching for our purpose, we read books, say thousands of prayers, and beg God to answer the question: “What in the world are we here for?” We get glimpses, but it still looks hazy. We see other people doing great things and wonder if they have some secret hotline to heaven we know nothing about. I read this scripture a few weeks ago and I’m still digging for all the treasures found here. Psalms 126:5-6  They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing. He goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed {for planting}, will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing sheaves with him. Oh friend, we have made this way more difficult than it needed to be. And way bigger in our minds than it needed to be. Our culture tells us that our purpose has to be this “big thing” we must strive for, when God is saying, “It’s right in front of you. Look at those around you who are in need.”  What I’ve discovered about people who have done great things is that it always started with small things done with great love. (Mother Teresa). There is a quote that says, “Show me a man’s wounds and I’ll show you his purpose.”  Think of your deepest pain: the things in your life which have hurt you and cut you so deeply that they just about did you in. Now, ask yourself these questions: Who is out...

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...

He Gives Rain… In.Due.Season.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,  then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” Leviticus 26:3-5 (ESV) – emphasis added The land was vast, and yet, seemingly desolate. A desert of sorts, the people knew that, unlike the Egyptians who had the fertile Nile to irrigate their crops, Israel was solely dependent on the rain season to be able to harvest bountiful crops. When I visited Israel many years ago, I remember listening to the tour guide describing the abundance of its harvest. I had never tasted fresher fruit and vegetables before. Indeed, this tiny piece of land yields some of the most beautiful crops on earth. I find it especially interesting that of all places on the planet, God would choose to place His chosen nation in a land that would completely depend on rain to produce successful harvests. But then again, The Holy God of Israel knew the heart of His people. Had he chosen Egypt as the Promised Land, the people would gladly depend on their own ability to channel the waters of the Nile into their crop beds. Rain would not have been a deal breaker every year, necessarily. However, the success of any given harvest season in Israel did not depend on...

Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

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...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

How to Draw Strength From Christ

When we're at our weakest, when it feels as if our knees will buckle, God's strength is seen most clearly in us. (2 Cor. 12:19) Or at least, that's what we say, but how does that work, exactly? We know Christ is living inside us (1 Cor. 3:16), that He empowers us by His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), but what does that look like in the day-to-day? How, when life completely levels us, can we draw strength from Christ? About five years ago, my husband and I developed a short-term obsession with rock climbing. This was crazy for numerous reasons, the most obvious of which is my incredible fear of heights. And yet, somehow, secured in my harness and attached to my husband by a long, thick rope, I felt better. Stronger. A little. But I'd still tremble. And I mean, tremble enough that my shakes became visible to our guide. He called it the sewing machine leg, and he assumed it came from fatigue. To an extent, it did. I certainly wasn't the strongest or most agile woman to ascend the Arkansas rock face I attempted to tackle that day. But I was determined to make it to the top. And I did, with my husband's help. When I'd begin to falter, I'd feel a tug. A quick glance below showed my sweet husband, pulling on my rope inch by inch. This added strength–his strength–pushed me to the top. Sometimes I envision God doing the same with us. He's secured us in our harnesses of salvation, attached us to Himself, and determined to, inch-by-inch, get us up and over...

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...

Should You Quit Social Media?

I want to quit Facebook. Can I do that? My friend’s question was in response to the frustration of scrolling through her news feed and finding vague accusations and threats, gossip, and one-sided claims that blatantly disrespected people. And…all those posts were by Christians. Can you quit Facebook? Yes, you can. Should you? I don’t know. Sometimes we feel victimized by social media, and we get frustrated, but what about the positive influences? What about the encouragement we give and receive? What about the support (the healthy kind, not the “I’m going to jump on your bandwagon and say, ‘You go, girl’ when I should actually be telling you, ‘Whoa! Take a breath and calm down.'”)? What about the opportunities to reach out to and catch up with people (again, healthy connections)? Just like you have choices about who you hang out with on the weekend or who you call when you have a crisis or need an ear to listen, you have choices about social media. You decide how often you check social media. You decide who you connect with. You decide what you look at the most, which determines, to some degree, what floats to the top of your news feed. You decide what to post and how to engage others. Maybe God is leading you away from social media. And maybe He’s leading you to be more discerning. Apply some of the same lessons to your faith. You might complain about your church or specific people in it. You might get into inappropriate conversations with people, ask for affirmation when you really need accountability, or work...

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,...