Knowing who (and whose) you are!

It had been a morning—battling a defiant 2-year-old, brokering peace between two stubborn, warring sisters, and exerting some serious discipline in relation to truth-telling.

Wrung out and exhausted from a challenging parenting week, it was a pretty intense start to a Sunday morning. And then I heard it:

“You’re not good at this.”

Where it came from I didn’t know, and yet in that very moment, I could not disagree with it.

You’re right,” I conceded. “I’m not.”

“You’re failing them. Should you even be a mom?” And I paused and wondered, “should I?”

The questioning voice continued all the way to church as my children continued to antagonize, and I continued to react in kind.

Defeated, I stood to sing as the familiar lyrics from Hillsong Worship reached my ears:

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am”

I am who YOU say I am.

Not the enemy. Not unrealistic societal expectations or impossible social media standards. Not anyone else who may have an opinion—not even myself.

Only Jesus.

Everything else is a lie. A lie that to a tired, crushed spirit seems almost believable. A lie that can so easily take root in my heart, poison my mind, and distract me from who I truly am. Who God says I am.

A beloved child of God—worth dying for.

If you find yourself today, struggling under the weight of so many lies, misconceptions and distorted truths, hear this, friend:

One bad day doesn’t make you a bad mom.

One lost opportunity doesn’t make you a lost cause.

One day where you didn’t feel that you were enough, doesn’t make you any less than enough for Him.

Because, grace.
Because, Jesus.

So, on those days when you believe the very worst lies about who it is that you are, take captive every thought that is not from Him (2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:5‬‬‬). And replace it with Truth. Then you will remember who HE says that you are.

And you will smile.

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Reclaim your Year

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In case you missed it, the 2020 train has already left the station—not late, not early, but exactly on time.

We’re almost halfway through January for goodness-sake. Resolutions have been made and are already underway. Goals have been set, vision boards constructed. Your word of the year? People are no longer asking—it’s already so passé.

And me? I’m still running to catch up with that train.

Two weeks in to the new year and I already feel like I’m scrambling. I didn’t have a “word” planned out. I didn’t set goals—heck, I haven’t even reviewed the ones from last year. It feels like I’m already behind, and the year has barely begun.

And yet, this is more than a little representative of the season in which I find myself. A part-time working, full time SAHM to two preschoolers. There is so little margin, mere scraps of time to fit it all in. I multitask, I try to be present in the moment, filing away plans and ideas for another time, another season. “There will be time for that THEN,” I tell myself, while trying not to resent the limited time and resources I have in the NOW.

This year may be just as messy and chaotic and crazy and wonderful as the last. BUT, if I don’t reach out and grab it, it’s going to slip away before my eyes, and nothing will have changed. I won’t have changed.

So, better late than never, I claim back this year from the thief of time. I choose my word, I set my goals, and I take ownership of the woman God wants me to become—in body, mind and spirit.

Becoming means “begin to be.” And so this year, i will aim to do just that. “Begin to be more like the woman He designed me to be: mentally, physically and spiritually.

Becoming is a process—I don’t know yet where it will lead, or what it will look like for me this year. But I do know this—I can’t wait to start!

 

For The Joy Set before Us…

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I had never really noticed it before: The jarring juxtaposition.

The joyful arrival of the longed for Messiah—and Bethlehem’s massacre.

When Herod learned of the birth of this supposed new King—and threat to His throne—and took action, ordering the death of all the baby boys of Bethlehem.

I can scarcely imagine the scale of such loss. The grief and unbearable pain. The broken hearts and shattered lives.

They had been promised the Messiah. And now He was here! What excitement. What anticipation. They worshipped Him with awe and wonder, awaiting the joy that had been promised.

Instead, they got a massacre.

“How can this be?” They must have wondered. ”This isn’t the way things were supposed to happen.”

And two thousand years later we utter the same lament. Experiencing life in a corrupt and fallen world—sickness, hurt, betrayal, loss, death—our faith slowly fades or disappears altogether.

Yet the joy that was promised—it was never supposed to be a quick fix. And the Christian life—it was never promised to be an easy ride. Nevertheless, our present troubles, inevitable though they are, do not nullify the cross—nor its future hope.

“For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross” (Romans 12:2). And for the joy set before us, we must endure too. Trusting in faith that the joy WILL come.

“But me, I’m not giving up. I’m sticking around to see what GOD will do. I’m waiting for God to make things right” (‭‭Micah‬ ‭7:7‬, MSG).

Whatever you’re suffering through this Christmas season, be encouraged. Persevere. For that baby in the manger became a man on a cross and gave a weary world cause to rejoice once more.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (‭‭Psalm ‭30:5‬ ‭KJV‬‬).

 

 

 

I Am Who You Say I Am

“It’s not you, it’s me”

“We regret to inform you we will not be moving forward with your application at this time.” 

“We appreciate your submission but your piece has not been accepted for our publication this time.”

It doesn’t matter how kindly it’s delivered, or how neatly it’s packaged, rejection hurts. 

Like tiny arrows, negative words—well intended or otherwise—hit their target with devastating precision. Eroding our self confidence, affirming our long held insecurities, and leaving an often permanent mark. Until, before long, an entirely false narrative has been created. A narrative we begin to believe about who it is that we are. 

You are not worthy of love  

You are not good enough 

You are not equipped for this calling.

And then Jesus comes along and with three words: “it is finished,’ puts those lies in the grave—where they belong. 

Countering the lies with His truth, He offers us a completely new narrative. One that we can believe in and count on, no matter how our mind may try to trick us, or what the world may say against us. For He sees not as man sees. And He knows us better than we know ourselves. 

“You ARE  loved,” He says. “So much so that I gave my life for you, and would do so again.

You do not have to keep striving to be good enough. You ARE enough because I created you. You are my masterpiece, I delight in you. And when you make mistakes, I will give you grace. Grace that offers hope in the face of failure, restoration not condemnation. Grace you do not need to earn, but is already yours.

I WILL equip you. I have plans and purposes for you in this world, for your good and my glory. I have given you skills and passions and where  there may be weaknesses and vulnerabilities, I will meet them with MY strength so that MY power would be seen through you.“

“I am chosen. Not forsaken. I am who You say I am.” ~Hillsong Worship

Who do you believe that you are? Will you listen to what the world says? Or will you let the affirmations of Jesus shape your identity and be your ultimate truth. The choice is yours.

 

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No Match For His Grace

Volatile mom showed up today.

I don’t know where she came from, but she certainly made her presence felt.

Volatile mom is not very nice to be around. Sharp, careless words roll off her tongue. She is impatient and too quick to react. Resentment and frustration simmer beneath the surface, like water on the boil, bubbling away until it reaches a crescendo. A sudden eruption of anger, that leaves everyone scurrying in its wake.

Volatile mom doesn’t play well. Her rebukes lack kindness, her hugs are cold. Tired, disconnected, and distracted she is simply getting through the day as best she can.

I don’t much like her—this volatile mom—and neither do my children. She is so very far removed from the kind of mother I am called to be, and certainly not the kind of mom they need, or deserve.

And yet.

In spite of it all, these little people that have borne the brunt of her mood all day, still reach for her at bedtime. With forgiving hearts and abundant love, they cling to her for warm, sleepy snuggles, finding warmth and comfort in her familiar embrace.

I love you mama,” they whisper. And they mean it. But how? How can they mean it? How can they give so much love back to one who has not earned it, who is not deserving of it, or even of them today?

They are giving her a lesson in grace.

I love Ellie Holcombs take on Lamentations 3:22-23:

As sure as the sun will rise,

And chase away the night,

As sure as the sun will rise,

His mercy will not end. His mercy will not end.”

Every day, like my sweet, forgiving children, He gives us grace. New mercies with the rising sun. And oh how we need them.

Grace that says: “I know it was a rough day today. I love you anyway. Let’s try again tomorrow.”

And so she will.

Because even volatile mom is no match for His grace.

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A battle of wills

The battle lines have been drawn. On one side is a child, small but fierce. Filled with all sorts of opinions on how to live her life—the majority of which are somewhat questionable, and would most probably result in a rather prompt visit to the ER.

On the other side is me— the parent, not so little but equally fierce. Filled with strong and mostly contrasting opinions about how this small human of mine should live her life, and preferably stay alive in the process.

We both fight valiantly, though ultimately I prevail. But I don’t feel much like celebrating— this is not a battle I feel like I’m winning. In fact, increasingly,  I feel more like I’m on the losing side.

When will she see? That I’m not the enemy, that I’m not trying to ruin her life. That I truly do know what’s best for her. Why won’t she heed my advice, listen to the wisdom that will keep her safe.

And just like that, it is me who sees. That this small, defiant child is me. Fighting against my heavenly parent and His will for my life. Trying to do things my way, in my time— and suffering the consequences for my lack of wisdom and trust, my short sightedness and my childish pride.

When will she see?” The Father whispers. “That far from being the enemy, I’m on her side. That instead of trying to ruin her life, I’m trying to save it. That I alone know what’s best for her because I alone created her. That if she would only listen, seek my counsel, and heed my advice, she would thrive, not just survive. Flourish instead of fall.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

And so, as the battle continues to rage, I choose to wait. Waiting for her to one day understand that I am on her side. Fighting, not against her, but for her, and with her. Waiting for her flag of surrender to appear over the horizon, and for  peace to reign once more.

Until then, I wait.  And so,” whispers the Father, “will I.”

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Standing on the precipice

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“I don’t think I can do this.”

That was my initial reaction to being offered a spot on the editing team for Tge Joyful Life Magazine. I had zero editing experience and was more than a little overawed by the incredible women involved in this ministry. It would have been easy to say no. Defer to someone more qualified, and experienced, someone who actually knew what they were doing!

And yet it was clear that God was doing something. Opening doors and pushing me beyond my self imposed limitations. Forcing myself to reach a point where I had to let go of my doubts, my worries and my deepest fears—and simply trust.

Trust that I didn’t have to do this scary thing all on my own. That the God who created my innermost being would know how best to utilize my gifts and passions, better than I ever could. Strengthening and equipping me— for such a time as this.

It’s hard to sit back and let God take the reins. To stand on the very precipice of our comfort zone, staring into the abyss of the unknown, and prepare to jump— relying on nothing and no one but God to catch us. It’s risky, it’s terrifying. And yet when we do…

Our passions meet our purpose, and God’s divine plans and provision intersect for our good and His glory. Bringing joy, fulfillment, and peace.

When I said yes to God—and Joyful Life, I could never have envisaged how far this journey would take me in such a short time, and how richly it would bless my life. Beautiful friendships and community, answered prayers, and the discovery and confirmation of gifts and passions lying dormant within.  And to think I almost said no.

There is no telling what is on the other side of that precipice for you. But two things you can be sure of:  God is already there, and it would be a travesty if you never found out.

“Don’t let your lack of confidence become the death of your calling!” ~Steven Furtick.