Where is Your Medicine?

Proverbs 28:26,“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”

Can you remember the last time your heart got you in trouble? I can! In fact, just last night my husband and I got into an argument. The argument ended with him telling me to leave him alone and me letting him fall asleep on the couch and literally leaving him alone there.

I was alone in bed half the night.

That may not seem like a big deal to you, but we NEVER do that. We always go to bed together. The next morning, we both felt terrible.  It seems that when I follow the desires of my heart in the moment, I am hurting myself and those around me.

It’s incredible, really, what we can fool ourselves into thinking when we follow the foolish desires of our hearts. Especially when we are fearful of the discomfort that comes from looking in the mirror.

I wanted so badly to blame someone else for my sins. I felt unloved, unwanted, ashamed and guilty. But, surely, none of that could be my fault, because let’s be honest here, no one truly wants to take blame.

We are all victims, right?

That is what I thought until a couple of years ago. I blamed my self-disgust completely on my husband’s struggle with pornography. Hear me, his sin DID do a number on us. On our marriage, him, me and numerous other areas. But, THAT sin did not CAUSE my sin.

Ouch.

His sin was from HIS heart and my sin, well, that was from MY heart. My sins were in place before I even met my husband. We were both following our foolish hearts.

My feelings of insecurity stem from not connecting with God fully in my heart. My feelings of guilt stem from not allowing myself to be forgiven fully in my heart. My feelings of shame stem from not letting God shine his light in some areas of my heart. My feelings of being unloved stem from not fully realizing the price God ALREADY paid.

MY SIN. Not my husband’s. Not anybody else’s. Mine.

I know that all of you are struggling in life somewhere right now. I am here to encourage you, that you are not alone in those struggles. EVERYONE struggles. Look around. Our entire culture brings about struggle.

The standards of the world put insane expectations on us. I mean, women especially. (Not that men don’t have expectations!) We are expected to look like Barbie, cook and clean like Susie homemaker, perform like porn stars, be successful in our careers and be Pinterest-worthy mothers! That is ludicrous. No one can measure up to all of that AND not sin somewhere along the way.

The standards that the world puts on us begin to define who we are if we let them. Trust me, don’t let this world define you.

Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things above, not earthly things.”

When you set your mind on earthly things, your thought life never ceases to tell you how you have horribly failed in this life!

Guess what? A sinful thought life leads to a sinful way of life.

Your thought life is the first step. The initial sin.

When you continually allow yourself to think sinful thoughts, eventually you are going to act on them. Or medicate them.

I know so many people who go through life medicating all the sadness, guilt, shame, inadequacy that they allow to brew in their thought life.

What thoughts are you allowing to hang around?

Are you medicating? with Alcohol? Sex? Shopping? Gossip? Anger? Resentment? Jealousy? Food?

BUT LISTEN: There is GREAT news! Your sin is not the end of your story. Jesus can be your medicine.

The truth is, God didn’t create you to be so stuck in your mud that you can’t move. You are not destined to sin! Romans 6:14 says “…sin shall not have dominion over you.”

God’s standards, unlike the world’s standards will set you free! God created you to live life to absolute fullest that is possible.

But here’s the thing, you simply cannot live in darkness and stand up in your full potential from God.

I was reading an article the other day called 7 Truths to Help You Triumph Over Sin by Michael L. Jacobson and he brought about this simple but life altering question about sin. Do you believe that sin is inevitable or do you believe that sin conquerable?

God says that, with him, we are more than conquerors. MORE than CONQUERORS. We have the choice.

Do you want to continue down the path of self-destruction or do you want to begin to walk wisely and be delivered?

Are you ready to look in the mirror and face YOUR sins? That is the first step. You no longer need to play a victim. Listen, God already gave us what we need to conquer sin. We have his AUTHORITY. He keeps us upright. We just need to step in the ring.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For the spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Pray. Step up.

I encourage you to this week to sit down and dig deep into your thought life. Where are you sinning? WRITE down those sins. All of them. Pray and ask God to forgive every single one of them. Let me be clear here: in asking for forgiveness of these sins, you are not creating your salvation. Jesus already did that. He died on the cross for our sins. Asking for forgiveness of these sins allows you to find closure there. It allows you to find freedom there.

Lastly, start to recognize the triggers that cause you to stumble in your thought life. Recognizing these triggers allows you to take back your thoughts. Once you can recognize and capture the sinful thoughts (guilt, shame, jealousy, etc.) replace them with Biblical truths.

Stop the lies and build the truths.

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

It takes time. There is no overnight fix. Work at it. Work at it because you are worth it. Work at it because you do not have to play a victim. Work at it because you are worthy. Not only in my eyes, but in our Creator’s.

He loves you. He cares about how you are living. He wants you to listen to his word, not YOUR heart.

Let him help you break free from these chains.

Let him be your medicine.

Do You Feel Worthy this Season?

This year, there has been this reoccurring theme of worth. Worth seems to be linked to everything we do. Or don’t do.

According to the dictionary worth means: “sufficiently good, important, or interesting to justify a specified action; deserving to be treated or regarded in the way specified.”

Do you ever feel unworthy? Have you thought that you weren’t deserving?

It isn’t just you. It’s me. It’s all of us. We constantly feel unworthy. In fact, as I write this, I am second guessing every word. Ugh.

Unworthiness is a crazy stronghold. It is time that we, as people, break free from those chains. It is time to remember to whom we belong.

“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” Ephesians 2:19-22

I figured, what better season to talk about our worth than right now. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember who we are in Christ because we are celebrating him!

Jesus loves us. He wants us to feel worthy.

Feeling worthy is vital. Feeling worthy allows us to live life better. When we feel that we are deserving, we open up to love and happiness. Guess what happens when we feel loved? We love other people better!

Feeling worthy is a necessity, especially if you love Jesus. Listen, friends, he did not put us here to feel bad about ourselves. Jesus doesn’t look at us that way. He loves us exactly where we are. In the thick of our craziness, his love is there.

So, why do we feel like we aren’t deserving?

The enemy. Plain and simple. All those self doubts, negative thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, those aren’t from Jesus.

DO NOT listen to those negative words.

Would Jesus love us so much that he died for us so we could spend eternity with him to only then tell us how horrible we are? NO!!!!

Stop listening to those negative words.

The only reason those thoughts creep in is so that enemy can handicap us.

I heard this great quote at a convention I recently attended: “You can only love other people once you love yourself.” Wow. Guys, that says it all.

What is our command from Jesus, friends? To LOVE God and to LOVE one another. How can we do that if we don’t feel worthy enough to be loved?

Trust me here guys, we are worthy. Jesus says so.

Do me a favor, listen to God instead. He loves us. He wants us. We are important to him.

This Christmas season, show other people how much he loves us. Remember to whom you belong and put on your crowns.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Laundry and Dishes

Hubby and I had the week off from our kids last week. Before they left , I thought that I would be doing all sorts of things from household honey-do lists to shopping for fun. Then the real kid vacation began and I honestly didn’t do much of anything. It was pretty anticlimactic. And, honestly, eye-opening.

Let’s back up a bit. I have been struggling hard with who I am at this point in my life. I keep asking myself what on earth do I have to offer other people; how can I help. I thought maybe going back to school to finish my masters would be the best thing to do, but it just doesn’t work at the moment for numerous reasons. I have been at a loss. Am I really here to do laundry and make dinner? That just seems too quintessential.

With all that on my mind, I thought for sure that I would have a great time catching up on all sorts of things and maybe have some epiphany of who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do with this life while the kids were gone. You know, come to see the bigger picture of what God was wanting in my life. (Which is a whole different post to discuss at a later time, lol!)

Guess what? I did have an epiphany. I realized that, my most important work right now is my family. I am meant to lead those children to become disciples. That is a hard realization. That is an answer which requires me to die to myself daily; to die to my own glory for the sake of God’s glory in them. Ouch.

After being punched in the face with that reality, I felt ashamed of not thinking that I was doing any work worthwhile. I felt guilty for thinking of only me and my life. And then I was brought to my knees with the weight of the task at hand. Hubby and I are our kids examples and leaders to Christ. That is INSANE! That takes my breath away.

So, here we are on the first day of the school year (we home school, yes, we are that family) and I feel more fulfilled than I have felt in a very long time. It has astonished me that serving other people, like my husband and children, actually makes me feel better. All I have to do is give it up to God. Every. Day. Give my life up to God. I wish I would have learned that sooner.

Is God Interested in my Comfort?

What is your version of comfort? I know that when I grab a big fluffy blanket, some hot tea and curl up on the couch, I am comfortable. I will literally ask one of my kids to get something for me (that I could probably get if I reached just a little tiny bit) so that I don’t have to move my body at all. Super lazy! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that is totally needed, especially after a very long, hard day with school and the kids. I get it! But, sometimes it is the sum of being a lazy slug.

In those times, I am reminded of how I am not doing my body or brain any favors by being a couch potato. In those times, I think about God’s purpose for my life. Is it to be comfortable? Did he create me, give me this life with these people so that I can lay back and slide through life comfortably without having to lift a finger? I don’t think that is his plan.

I have never met an athlete that doesn’t push their body to the limit in order to get better. Or a successful writer that hasn’t had to stretch their minds in order to improve their writing. There is not one person that has truly succeeded in their field without stepping outside their comfort zone in one aspect or another. It is plain and simple that people do not grow, get better, reach more people without being uncomfortable first. Growth doesn’t happen on the couch.

As I read through the Bible, over and over again I see people stepping out of their comfort zones in order to obey God. Moses went from a super comfortable living situation in a palace to living in the desert for 40 years. Instead of marrying someone he knew and loved, Hosea married a prostitute that cheated on him numerous times. Jonah, although hesitating the entire time, traveled to a place he definitely didn’t want to go in order to obey God. None of things seem comfortable to me, yet all of them were required by God. So, is God concerned with my level of comfort? Or is it my level of obedience?

I think, coming from an American viewpoint, we have gotten a little off track when it comes to following Jesus. I am reading a book by Jennie Allen (she is just an amazing woman of God and you can buy her book if you click on the title of it!!) called Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul. In this book she talked about Jesus being radical; that following and obeying Jesus is radical. She discusses that somewhere along the lines, we have come to believe that once we give our lives to Christ, life should be easy; in that we pray to God to show us what to do and then think that the easiest possible answer that pops up must be the one from God. This my friends, is not true. Our lives are not going to be easy! Read the Bible if you want proof, lol!

Now, before I get people yelling about how it says that God wants to prosper us and give us hope, let me tell you, yes! Absolutely God wants the best for you. But, I think that what we think is the best for us (or the most comfortable) is often times not what God thinks is best for us or for his kingdom. Often times, in order to receive the best version of our life from God, we have to obey; even the uncomfortable requests.

Jesus also said that we will have trouble in this world. Not if we will, but that we will. But listen, that is ok! Trouble is everywhere. Sin is everywhere, we are not exempt from that. However, God already won. We don’t have to worry about winning that war. That is the best news, isn’t it? Even in our personal struggles or the troubles of the world, God is with us and he has won. All we have to do is lean into him. Even in death, we win!

So, when it comes to my personal comfort, I don’t know that God is too concerned about it. God did tell us to rest; please remember to rest, it is vital to life, but our level of comfort is another story all together. Growth does not come from comfort. If you want to dig deeper, stretch your mind, grow in your walk with God, become better than you were yesterday, get out of your comfort zone and into the world. Spread the love of Jesus the way he did.

 

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Being Relevant in Babylon

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There is no doubt that our current country is very similar to that of ancient Babylon. Everywhere you look there are different opportunities to overindulge, advocate for sin and be instantly gratified beyond what you should be. It seems that our country puts a whole lot of emphasis on sin and whole lot less on everything else. What I mean to say is that sin, all different types, is placed on a pedestal instead of knocked to the ground. Now, this causes some concerns.

A friend of mine and I have been studying the book of Daniel with the Bible study by Beth Moore. We have only gotten through a couple of weeks, but they have been very thought-provoking weeks! (I highly recommend this study, you can purchase the entire kit for a small group from this link: Beth Moore Daniel Study ) One of the very first things that we learned in the study is that Daniel was one of very many that were taken from their home and brought to Babylon. Now, I am unsure of how many the “very many” consisted of, but it is very clear that only four of these people remained named in the story today: Daniel, Meshach, Abednego and Shadrach. Why? What made these four people different from all the other boys that were taken and brought to Babylon? The answer is simple. They did not put sin on a pedestal. They chose not to defile themselves. Even in a world that was completely tempting, completely open to them, everything available that they could have wanted, they chose God. Don’t get me wrong here, I am a dirty sinner. Always have been and, unfortunately, always will be. That is not what I am getting at here. What this story brought to mind is that those four men became relevant in Babylon without having to give into the culture around them. This is the idea that I have been struggling with.

We all sin. Jesus died for those sins. We are all loved. We are called to love God. We are called to love one another. There is no question to me about that. The question is simply, even though we are called to love one another, where is the line between loving and enabling? Between loving and assimilating to the culture around us? Between loving and becoming irrelevant? I know that there will be the “but we are told to love, period.” Yes, absolutely. Love, not enable. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you are going to allow them to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want because it makes them happy or feel good. For example, Let’s say a man and a woman get married. They love each other. They want to see the other person happy. However, just because those are the truths, it doesn’t mean that the husband would allow the wife to sleep with other men because that made her happy. Chances are, there would be arguments, dysfunction and eventually divorce. Love is not enabling; love is not advocating for sin. Jesus met a woman at a well, a pretty well-known story. In short, he forgave her of her sins and she was extremely excited about this. She ran into the city and told everyone about Jesus.  Jesus did not say to her “Hey, I love, go ahead and keep sinning”. No. He told her to sin no more because he loved her. 

Listen, we can not be relevant in our Babylon if we continually advocate and condone the sin around us. We can love one another without being a stumbling block to those around us. I recently listened to a message from Andy Stanley. The series is called Happy (you can listen to the whole series here: www.happyseries.org). In the last message of the series, he spoke of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What hit me the most was his reiteration of what the Bible says about the fruit of the spirit. “Against these things, there is no law”. That is awesome, my friends. We can love one another by striving to have the fruit of the spirit. We can love one another by loving God first. He will give us the discernment; the boundary line not to cross. He will show us how to love without assimilating to the culture we live in. When we love God first, we become relevant in our Babylon.

How do you remain relevant in your Babylon? How do you love?

 

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It’s Not About Me

Selflessness has been the ongoing theme of lifeWorshipping-_art lately. When I first started attending our church, I was out on a mission to “help” other people. I know that sounds like a good goal, but little did I realize that it was a selfish goal.

Did you know that you need to learn in order to teach? Sounds pretty straight forward.  I mean, if you sat down and thought about something that you would like to do, you first need to learn the ins and outs of everything, right? But, maybe you thought you already knew. Maybe, just maybe, there was enough pride poking into your life that you thought there was not much else to learn. Maybe you thought that it would be so awesome to be the “leader” of something that it kind of became just about leading. There was no research involved, no prayer really, just taking the reigns and hoping for the best. For the spotlight.

That is where I have continually fumbled. This life, although enjoyed by me, is NOT about me. Recently, a friend of mine was told that she was going through a tough time in life because God was testing her. That is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the Christian world. I don’t like it. I don’t believe it. I think that God is teaching us, not testing us. We tend to think that if the same situation happens again and again in our lives, God is testing us and we are failing. But in reality, I think that God is teaching us and we keep missing the point. The only reason I bring this up is because, although I really thought I knew what I supposed to be doing, it never seemed to go quite right. When I thought I was helping someone, I realized that I wasn’t equipped or I was ill-equipped. Either way, I needed to LEARN.

This past Sunday, the sermon was about selflessness. The Bible study that I am working in is about selflessness. Just about every conversation lately has led to the topic of selflessness. So, here I am talking about, you guessed it, selflessness! I am learning that maybe I could be a leader in some kind of plan of God’s, but maybe not. I am learning that I need to learn. My prayer is that I am filled everyday with new knowledge that will help me to help other people. I prayer that I am filled with new knowledge that helps me to be selfless.

Let’s face it, who needs another selfish person that just craves the spotlight?

Growth

 

I met with a group of wonderful women the other night. Every time we meet, we go through some questions that are supposed to make us dig deep into conversation. One of the questions stood out to me this time. It asked “In what area of your life do you want to see growth?”. At first, I couldn’t answer, not because there wasn’t an answer but because so many came racing through my mind; getting in shape, being healthier, reading more, spending more quality family time, etc. But then there it was. My marriage.

For so long, I have (actually my husband and I both have) been putting a lot, if not all, of our energy into our children. We plan their curriculum and activities. We make sure that they eat healthier foods. We take the time to read, play and teach them. We go on outings that are meant for mainly their enjoyment. The list could go on for days! Now, all of these things are good. All of these things are meaningful to create productive, loving, empathetic human beings. However, there is a thin line between putting our children above our marriage and putting our marriage first. We crossed that line and now it is time to recover.

We went on a second honeymoon not too long ago which allowed us to reconnect on a whole new level. We were able to just be man and wife, best friends and lovers. That trip was wonderful! For one, we were both happier and for another, we were able to be on the same page for everything that we did. This new-found connection has shown me that I am not just a mom, my husband isn’t just a dad but we are two people who started a family and then added children to it. Meaning, we were married first, then our children were added onto our already established family. So, we need to treat it that way!

I have been reading a great devotional that discusses how to raise children in a Godly manner. One thing that the author touched on was putting marriage first. Evidently there is an order in the household: God, marriage, children. Now, when we put our marriage above our children, we are only doing good because it benefits us in obvious ways but it also benefits the kiddos because they feel secure, they have a model of what marriage should look like and they learn how to put other people first. All of that sounds pretty good to me. So, God, then marriage, then children it is!

This question of growth in my life, without a doubt, has brought me to the realization that my children are not the center of the universe and they shouldn’t be. It has brought me the realization that my husband is one wonderful man who I fall in love with every day. It has brought me the realization that although I struggle hourly with day-to-day life in general, I have a partner, best friend and confidant that I need to put first. I need to put our marriage first, not just for me but for my husband and my children. That is where I choose to grow today.

Good Friday Projects for Kids

There are a lot of brilliant kid friendly projects out there, especially on Pinterest land. While I was searching for some fun things to do for Good Friday, I found two great hands-on activities. Both are unique ways of explaining the events of Good Friday!

The first one that we found awe-inspiring is a simple “experiment” to show the littles what happened when Jesus died on the cross. You will need:

  • a glass plate
  • a shiny penny
  • some colored water (we used water tinted with a tad of soy sauce)
  • a candle
  • matches or a lighter
  • a glass cup

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Place the penny on the plate and explain that the penny represents all of us. Then slowly pour the colored water over the penny until there is enough that covers the penny. Explain that the colored water represents sin and that we were all covered in it.

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Next, put the candle on the plate with the water surrounding it and light the candle. Explain that the candle represents Jesus and the lit flame is his life.

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After the candle has warmed the air around enough (about 5 seconds), cover the lit candle with the glass cup explaining that the glass represents the crucifixion. Doing this will cause the flame to go out and create a vacuum sucking up the water around the candle. Explain that once Jesus died, all of our sins were taken away.

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The kids LOVED this one and they kept taking turns putting the glass over the candle to see the water get sucked up!

The second project we did today was a watercolor resistant painting of the cross. You will need:

  • White paper
  • White Crayons
  • Watercolor paint
  • Water
  • Paint brushes

Before the kids get started painting, take each paper and draw a cross with white crayon. Press pretty hard otherwise it doesn’t show up well after painting it.

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After you are done with drawing the crosses, let the kids come to the table. I didn’t tell my kiddos what the mystery drawing was so that they had to uncover it! You should have the paper (with the crosses already drawn), paint, brushes and water set up for them.

Let them sit down and paint their paper to discover the secret message! It is a fun way to discuss Good Friday even further.

Hope you enjoy your day and if you celebrate, Happy Easter! If not, happy weekend!