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Until His voice is louder

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“Whose voice is loudest in your life?” -Sadie Robertson

“You failed again.”

“Not good enough.”

“Yep. Told you they were right. Nothing redeeming in that one.”

“No one cares. No one is listening. Where is your God now?”

“Mmmmhmmmm. You messed up good this time. He isn’t coming to save you.”

Imperfect. Failure. Incompetent. Naive. Ineffective.

The voices that drown out the loving words of my Father, are the ones of criticism and contempt. These take residence in my head. Mess with my deepest insecurities and doubts. And, after they do, then Satan has done his job. Had me believing all the lies he and others have told me.

But, this is the thing about the devil:

“He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” John 8:44, MSG

And, the Liar fills our heads with them, too. Our homes. Our hearts. Our relationships.

I don’t want the loudest voice occupying space in my head to be the one that tells me how horrible I am. How unloved and unworthy I am. I don’t want the one occupying space in my home, my relationships to be the author of destruction.

I want the voice that speaks the loudest to me. The one that drowns out all the nonsense and lies of the world to be words of encouragement.

I don’t want the words that are the loudest to be reminding me every time I fall (because I do…flat on my face!)…but, to remind me of all the times I have gotten back up, and to gently pick me up when I don’t feel like I can go on, because that voice gives strength.

But, how do I push away those other voices-those dirty, lying, abusive, no good to me voices?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Stay in His word. Armed with His truth!

Just as Jesus was as he walked with Satan in the wilderness. Even the King of Kings wasn’t immune to the incessant, lying schemes of the enemy (Luke 4:1-13)

When Jesus needed sustenance, the devil used his voice to attempt to diminish God’s ability to provide: “Come on, Jesus. Can’t you provide your own bread if you are so great?” (v. 3)

When Jesus was suffering, hurt, broken, ready to give up…he offered him a way out; not once, but twice. “Come on, Jesus. Don’t you want all of this? This kingdom before you instead of that cross?” Jesus listened to God’s voice (v. 6-7).

“Come on, Jesus. Just jump and give up already! Your God will save you, won’t he?” (v. 9-11). But, Jesus once again listened to God. Each time rebuking the devil with God’s voice. He will be my provider. He will meet my needs. He is my one and only God. I will not test him.

Our critics. Our naysayers. The insecurities the devil knows so well…because he does. He knows them. Those negative thoughts cannot become the loudest voices in our heads.

The voice that needs to shout above all the lies that Satan attempts to throw at us while we walk in the wilderness needs to be our Father’s. The one that reminds us we are not failures, we are worthy. We are not imperfect, we are wonderfully made. We are not incompetent, we are qualified through Him; made powerful through His strength.

When the devil tries to tell us anything different, we shout the truth. When the devil tries to convince us to give up, we remember God’s word that encourages us to persevere. We make His voice the only one allowed to have permanent residency in our head.

Until His voice is the loudest!

 

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Posted by on June 3, 2018 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Oneself

 

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It’s OK…He gets me

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I’m fully known, and loved by you. You won’t let go, no matter what I do.  -Tauren Wells, “Known”  

I have been blessed to have some fantastic friends who have been placed in my life. The kind that just seem to get me. Who know what I need at just the right time. And, give without being asked when I need it the most.

The tribe who sends silly pics to get me through the hard days at work. Surprises you with coffee and chocolate for an even tougher Wednesday evening, because they know how hard the first “shift” was, and they know this one may just kill ya.

The ones who send the “Hey, you were placed on my heart today, and I was just checking on you,” text. The one you get at the moment when…well, your heart was breaking just a little.

The ones who know what you are going to say before you say it (and stop you from saying it). Who you can give “that look” to from across the room, and they know just what it means (and make sure to remind you to “fix that face.”).

The man who comes home with your favorite candy because he knows, he just knows it’s been a hard day, and you could use just a little “joy.”

And, God bless the ones who utter the words: “Girl, you look down. You need a hug.” Because, they can see it in your face, and they want to carry your burden.

Yes, I am blessed with some amazing friends.

But, there are still times when I wrestle the darkness, and I feel alone. When I feel people don’t get certain parts of me.

The parts that hold in tangled emotions that if shared, I fear these people who have my back, would turn theirs and leave. The passions about which I feel so deep. The desires and the burdens of my heart. The reasons why I don’t just simply give up on some folks. The reasons why I cry…a lot. Why I am angry, and want to run away screaming.

So, instead…I just hide. I hide these things from those who love me. Because, I think they couldn’t possibly get me.

And, the truth is…sometimes they won’t. But God does. He knows me. He gets me.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and you know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. Psalm 139:1-2

He knows our anger. He knows our bitterness. Our hidden sorrows. Hurts. Passions. Desires. Those things we just don’t think we can explain to other people, and He gets us.

Even in our deepest, darkest, weepiest moods…the kicking, screaming, fighting, and crying ones. He gets us. Just like a blessed friend, He knows exactly when we need a reminder that we are loved, and sends a note slipping from the crevices of a Bible. A note, saved, but long forgotten.

Just like coffee from a friend. Chocolate from my man. Or a hug from my beloved coworker.

He gets you. Even if you think no one else does. He knows you. All of you, and He loves you just the same.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Mom: One beautiful, slimy, mess

Mom: One beautiful, slimy, mess

I have a confession when it comes to the idea of the “perfect” mom. It has to do with my kitchen. Well, let me be honest, the downstairs portion of my house. The parts of the house that people can see.

See, I have this deep hatred of slime-making. For about 4 months this summer and fall my kitchen became a slime-making factory. Which means that glue, Tide, and glitter stuck to my counter and floor for 4 solid months. It also meant that my kitchen, the first part of my house that people saw when they walked in, was a mess. My counters looked like the dough boy had taken a poo, and Tinkerbell had blessed it. The stuff just would not come up. I eventually banned the slime, so my kitchen could be “perfect” again. So people could think I had my stuff together. So they could think I knew how to take care of my household. That I was the “perfect” mom. Had a Neat. Tidy. Well organized. Spotless. Glueless. Glitterless kitchen. “Perfect.”

My outward appearance could once again measure up to the standards that others deemed appropriate. That others decided made great mom material.

Here is the thing about outward appearances: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Since I banned slime those months ago, I have been put through some fires. Those fires have made me become more present, and more cognizant of what makes me who I am, and less worried about who others think I should be. More focused instead on who God has made me to be. It has also made me more observant of the high expectations the world places on others. The expectations that have nothing to do with what God measures.

I noticed something this weekend as I spent time with my family at the local carnival. Without spending time through the lens of my phone for once, I spent time observing those around me. In line for one of the rides was one mom whose look was unconventional. She had piercings in her ears, in her nose, in her eyebrows. Her hair was shaved on the sides, with long braids adorning the hair she decided to leave. Her child had a shaved, poofy mohawk, and she held another child in her arms. Her appearance didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me were the looks she got. She wasn’t an inattentive mom. She was lovingly sharing a snow cone with the kid she was kissing and holding in her arms. She had her other child securely beside her in a wagon. She never took her eyes off her children. She was like any mom enjoying a Friday night out with her man and their kids. What bothered me were the stares. Like she could not be a mom and look this way.

So, then I wondered, what about me? Pink hair. Nose ring. Tattoos. Mom. Grandma, too. Guess, this isn’t what we should look like.

Or what about the kids that didn’t happen to have parents there. Oh my gosh the shame. You mean they were not being helicoptered all night? You mean they were being treated like we lived in the 80s? Where in the world were those parents? No wonder they were scurrying around, hitting each other on the heads with inflatable hammers, and running around pretending to swim with donut swim tubes. It must be their lack of home training. And I must lack it too since I chuckled, and remembered being a kid. Before life got too heavy. Remembered being a kid. One who had clear boundaries at home. Who wasn’t allowed to jump on furniture. Who definitely got in trouble if I dared to hit my brother with anything, even something inflatable. But would do it every chance I got if my mom wasn’t looking.

 

But, as I chuckled. I saw at least five more snicker.

So. What about me? The same goofy kid about 30 years ago? What about my kids who swing unsupervised in the park, while yes…mom may spend some time on her phone? Because, well…she wants a bit of a break. And, just doesn’t want to swing today. What about my kids who wrestle on the floor, sometimes have to be reminded not to run out in traffic, and still forget that sand should never be thrown on another families beach towel? Guess we deserve a snicker, too.

My kids thankfully don’t care about my tattoos. They don’t even think twice when I come home with pink hair or a nose ring. And because of this they don’t think twice when they see these things or any difference in someone else either. And, that is great. What they need is a mom who understands that life is messy. And the new mom in our lives, the one raising our grandson, needs this message, too. That we don’t need to be neatly pressed, and perfect all the time to be beautiful and relevant. That sometimes we just need to get in the kitchen and let them make slime.

And, I did just that a week ago with 5 preteen girls. Yes, I lifted the slime ban. And for once I didn’t fuss about the mess. I didn’t constantly go behind them and wipe up the counters, and a week later I am still wiping up cornstarch off my floor, and I don’t even care.

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 I don’t want my kids to see me stressing over the state of my kitchen. I want them to embrace mine and their differences. The ways in which God made them perfect. I want them to see me laughing in the kitchen as their friends tear it up making slime. I don’t want them to worry that someone is going to comment in the Starbucks line that they are too young for coffee. I want them to be happy that their mom treated them to something special that day. And, I never want my daughter to lose the passion she utters when she tells me and the rest of us: “Who cares! Who cares what anyone else thinks!”

It’s OK if our life is a little slimy. If our kitchen is a little messy. If you can’t eat off your floors. If the laundry has been sitting on your bed, unfolded for days. If your youngest is the loudest one in children’s church, and you are the pastor. If you have pink hair, short hair, long hair, nose rings, or like no jewels.

Whatever the differences. Whatever the preferences. However God made you. However God made me. I want my kids to remember I was present. I was laughing. I was completely imperfect and OK with it. Because, God knows I am perfect, and that I am the perfect mom for them.

And he made you the perfect mom, grandmother, wife, aunt, daughter, niece, and mentor, too.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! Psalm 139:14, MSG

Go! Embrace and be present in your slimy, yet perfectly imperfect marvelously made mess today!

 
 

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When prayers turn to screams

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I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted to heaven, but my soul was not comforted. Psalm 77:1-2

There are times when life is seamless. When all the chips fall into place, and all the requests uttered to our Father are granted. Each day feels like a smooth sail into the Promised Land.

But, there are those other times when that sailboat begins to take a turn into stormy seas.  Each day is more like swimming in a raging current without a life vest. The ride is bumpy. You are pretty sure you are going to drown, and there seems to be no one coming to rescue you.

I have had too many of these moments. The desperately keeping myself from drowning clutching to a useless life vest moments.

It is in these moments I want to scream at God. Sometimes in my choked-out, sobbing prayers…I actually do. I scream out in anger, because I feel like He has left me. I scream out in pain, because I don’t understand why I am constantly the one who is hurt for doing His will. I scream out in confusion, because I thought I did what He had asked.

My cries often sound a lot like this:

If you are so loving, and you care so much, Lord…why are you leaving me here like this? Why are you letting me stay here in this storm saying nothing?

I want to believe He can make something out of this mess. That from the screams, the sobs, the hurt, ache, and pain. All that makes life bumpy, that something beautiful can grow.

My God, My God, Why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:1-3

I’m David in hiding when my storms rage. I’m filled with tangled emotions, moving between praise and cursing. Moving between surrender and wanting to give up.

But, the good news? The great news? Is that God can handle all these emotions.

Because, let’s face it. This world can’t. If I am being honest, our feelings and emotions as Christians scare others. Messy people scare us. We praise over our woes, and give pat answers, instead of digging trenches and sitting with someone else in their messy place. We, as flawed humans, just can’t handle our all over the place messes. So, we leave those messes in the storm clinging to a life vest. Steer clear. Either don’t express any emotion, or leave the ones who do feeling lonely.

We are all messes. Dealing with life’s many storms. Hoping someone will throw us a life vest.

God can handle us at our screaming worst. He hears us when our prayers are nothing but choking sobs.

He offers us grace even when we may be angry at him. Throwing us a vest while the storms rage. Encouraging us to hold on a while longer, even when we become to much for the world to handle.

He will hear us. Even when our prayers turn to angry, sobbing screams.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Mercy

 

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Handing out Hearts

Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.
Wally Lamb, She’s Come Undone

I wrote this a few years ago, yet it is so relevant in these current days. Whether a milkshake, a pink Starburst, a snack, or a simple mint…when handed out with no other purpose but to simply show love, it can make all the difference.

Coffee with a Shot of Faith

But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. Jeremiah 17:10

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Love. That one word is important to most everyone. We all want to love, to be loved, to be shown love. And, oh…the pure bliss of hearing those three little words-I love you.

But, sometimes those words don’t come. Those three little words are not always easy to say, and my little monster continues to show me with his inability to use his own words-that love is not a word at all.

Love can be as simple as being handed a small pink Starburst.

See, my little monster is not the greatest with words. Well, actually, he is great with them, but only when it comes to sharks, Legos, or what is playing on Animal Planet. The words that require an expression of feeling or emotion don’t come so easy to him. No, sometimes when emotions take over he…

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Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

He didn’t “deserve” it either…

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“Does it really even pay to be nice?”

This is how the conversation started with a fellow, empathetic friend of mine. Going over the many times we have felt like doormats in the last few months. You know what doormats are, right? They get stepped on. That’s what we had felt like. We had given and given and given. Opened our hearts and like a doormat felt walked on, stepped on, and worn out.

“I mean, this being like Jesus stuff is hard. I just don’t deserve to be constantly treated like dirt.”

However, I am pretty sure Jesus didn’t either.

I don’t claim to be Jesus. But, I am called to be like him.

I can’t feed 5,000 with two fish and five loaves, but I have fed the hungry…and received nothing more than a grunt in return.

I haven’t raised a man from the dead, but I have tried my hardest to bring dry bones back to life…and been spat on.

I have tried to teach others that true love offers forgiveness and grace. Looks at people as more than their imperfections, mistakes, and flaws…and been ridiculed for being too “soft.” Not “hard” enough on them.

I may not be the man who walked on water. But, I have jumped in some earthly fires hoping to save some lost sheep. Felt like I have only been burned, and wondered why I was the one forsaken.

This being like Jesus stuff is hard.

He was despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care. Isaiah 53:3

My methods, teachings, and practices may be questioned by the authorities just as the Pharisees questioned the teachings of Jesus.

I may wander the wilderness or the desert, and be tempted to give up on God by the cunning schemes of the devil.

I may have people abandon me in my time of despair, or sell me out for their personal glory.

I may be scoffed at. Mocked. My outstretched hands reached out in love may be rejected each and every time. I may suffer in His name. Just so others can see His light.

And, I may not deserve it. I may deserve better.

But, I didn’t shed blood for a sinner like me. I scoffed at the one who did. Mocked him. Turned from him. Sinned against the one who gave His Son for me. I didn’t deserve His love.

Yet Jesus gave it all.

He suffered again and again. Knowing it may never be given in return.

Yes, this being like Jesus stuff is hard. But, if he could bleed and die so I can know what perfect love feels like, then I can take a couple grunts. Some criticism. Some abandonment. Some rejection. Some tears. Some suffering.

He felt it all. He gave it all. He deserves it all in return.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in Grace, Like Jesus Does

 

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His masterpiece

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

It’s another day down. Another day when I wake up, put on my “game face,” which means I bathed myself in prayer, opened up His Word, put on my battle gear, and vowed that I would stand against the attack from the enemy every step of the way.

But, I have to admit. I have been in a season when that enemy has been hounding me. He has been whispering lie after lie after lie. And…on those days when I pray, and I am ready to fight, that is when his voice gets louder.

See, he tells me I am useless. That I am not reaching anyone. That this light I hope is shining through the darkness is only burning out. He tells me that no one is listening. Really cares to hear what I have to say. It goes in one ear and out the other. I will never make a difference. That the cycles of despair and defeat will repeat themselves. My God will never use me to make a difference.

When the lies he starts to tell me don’t work, he uses people to try to convince me I am unworthy. Broken. Bruised. Damaged. Not capable. Until I start to believe all of it.

But, God? He tells me something different.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I was sculpted from nothing into something.     Psalm 139: 14, 15 MSG

He has made me.

Yes, I do have bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes. But, God has pieced this masterpiece together. There are hills and valleys that tell stories of triumphs and despair. Battles I have fought and won; and many more lost.

Yet, those bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes all tell the stories of those battles. The hills climbed to reach those triumphs, and the valleys where I often wallowed in defeat. Those scars, blemishes, and imperfections…those are the ones seen and picked apart by the outside world.

Thankfully, like any masterpiece I was crafted by my maker. Who believes I am altogether flawless.

Who placed those hills and valleys just where they are so they can be a testimony.

Who healed the wounds. The bruises. But left the scars and blemishes.

And, like a masterpiece counts me as priceless. Worth an exorbitant price.

Worthy enough to die for!

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in You Make All Things New

 

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