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Category Archives: On Purpose

“Feeding” a different beast

This past summer I spent the entirety of my time off in a period of self-care and healing. Working on and loving who God had created me to be. Part of that was understanding just how much I was loved. Through that process, I spent a lot of time in His Word, writing down a number of verses that spoke to my identity in Christ.

Thirty-one verses from God to remind me how awesome I was. That I could flip back to on those days when I didn’t feel so awesome.

But had I? Had I used them?

For about 2 weeks now there has been this on-going battle in my home over social media, whether or not to let the middle have Instagram to be exact. In the same 2 week span I’ve listened to parents who have struggled with setting limits with their own children over media usage, watched kids seek attention in negative ways, and even discussed the ways in which social media makes them “look good.”

Then yesterday in my own journal I wrote this:

I’ve been very distracted lately, Lord. It’s been hard to find my center. I’ve been distracted by people. By work. By media. By the news. And when I sit alone in this chair, I can’t filter it all out, and I get discouraged by what I have seen and heard all day. It’s hard to feel like I am succeeding in Your Wisdom when I am distracted by all that looks anything but kind, but instead looks ugly and dark. 

No, I hadn’t flipped back to those pages. I had scrolled through Pinterest looking for all the right words to make myself feel better when I felt ripped apart by mean ones. Vented on Facebook about crappy people, and the need to be more kind, but had I sought truth from His Word? Had I looked to Him to remind myself whose I was? No. I was distracted by my feed. And when I wasn’t distracted by those voices and trying to feed my soul with feel good videos, I was distracted by all the stories of evil lurking in the world. Discouraged all over again.

I can’t make media go away. It’s here to stay. It’s getting into the hands of kids at younger and younger ages.

But I can choose not to be distracted. Not to reach for it to validate what I may be feeling in the moment. Instead of reaching for His truth or calling out to Him.

I can set the example at least in my own home with my daughter. And, yes…maybe even for others. Because whether they want to admit it or not. They are watching. And what message do I want to send? That love comes from Him? Or how many likes, hits, streaks (whatever), retweets I get on a given post?

That every time I have an issue or have something to say it needs to be shared? Without consequence? That is why I write. To remember. But not everything is Facebook worthy. Not everything needs to be said out loud. Or should be posted for the world to see.

I want girls to know their worth cannot be measured by the number of likes they get on a picture. That life is also unfiltered, unaltered, completely messy, and not usually a highlight reel. That bodies come in all sizes. Even “pint-sized…,” like me. And most of us, yeh, we don’t “wake up like this.” I want boys to know that they are more than a rating scale. That God thinks they are a perfect ten. Even the ones that don’t fit in anywhere right now. That it is OK, more than OK to be nice. To be a gentleman. To stand up for a woman (or a boy) being treated badly. That’s the kind of man I would want in my corner!

That is what I will be sharing from now on.

Unfiltered. Some days with no makeup on. Some days in my pjs. Maybe days my face will be tear-soaked. There will be highlights and lowlights. It will not be perfect. It will be flawed. Guaranteed.

But fearfully and wonderfully made. Molded and made new. Loved by God in all its mess.

Just like you.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, On Purpose

 

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Blessings in the midst of weeds

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So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Dandelions. Those wispy flowers that can grow in the most unlikely of places. One which most see as only a common pest. A weed. Yet, to another a sign of joy and happiness in the dark and dreary mountain of obstacles in our way. A blessing for the one who chooses to stop and take in its overlooked beauty.

The dandelion is also said to be a symbol of perseverance. However, often in the midst of walking in the gardens we nourish as ministers of His word, we may lose sight of the beauty before us. All we see are the weeds.

Sometimes in the middle of doing, planning, and being the hands and feet we are called to be as ministers of His love and grace, it can be hard to see the lives and people who have been touched by it. Instead it seems all we have encountered is one more battle, uphill climb, or discouragement after another.

Enough to want to give up.

In my role as a children’s pastor, the fruit of all the seeds planted weekly can be tough to see peeking through that soil. When you can see the flowers sprouting physically before your eyes, having fun, smiling, and reciting verses and stories taught to them over the years, there are also times when it is difficult to see through the weeds of disobedience, disconnect, and complacency that plagues this garden, too. The weeds that grow around carefully planned lessons and programs to hopefully encourage them to engage and draw closer to God, seem to only grow taller among criticism, “should have done this that ways, and “could have done that betters.”

Some days it is hard to see the blessing over the weeds. Some days you start to desperately look for an exit. But, you continue to say “yes.” Be obedient, anyway.

And, I continued to be obedient to Him as I made calls, texts, and emails to schedule gift delivery again this year for our annual participation in the Angel Tree ministry. As I watched all the gifts trickle in. Saw them all pretty and wrapped in front of the tree. Ready to bless families of those behind bars. I began to see the weeds again. The calls not returned. The preparation. The work. The late nights. The discouragement of those who just couldn’t offer redemption. Planting seeds of love and grace I was certain I would never see bloom.

The weeds grew taller. I wanted to give up. Maybe even not sign-up next year. I couldn’t see through the weeds, and I needed an exit.

Some blessings can’t be seen over those weeds. But, you get up. Show up, because He says to. You continue to say “yes.” To be obedient.

You work in that garden once again, and finally you see it. The blessing. In the flesh. Standing before you. Blessing you.

As I reached for the gifts for those who had come to take them home to their children, I realized what stood in front of me was what I would have missed if I had stopped being obedient. If I had let the weeds stop me from doing His will.

Here was the gentleman we had been showing hope. Here was the woman we had been blessing through it all. Whose kids we reached out to each year. Blessing me.

Thank God He removed those weeds.

So, if you two happen to be reading this. Thanks for being obedient. For bringing encouragement to a minister who was deeply discouraged. For reminding me that His light and grace does shine through all those weeds in this garden. That redemption is real and standing here right before us.

You are the blessing in those weeds. Thanks for reminding me of the reason I continue to say “yes.”

So, to anyone stuck in a garden you have sowed, over and over. Unable to see your harvest because the weeds of doubt, insecurity, envy, and fatigue are too tall-I pray this Christmas you will be given a dandelion of hope among those weeds. That you are blessed by something or someone that helps you see past the muck. That encourages you to continue to say “yes” to God. To continue, even when you want to give up.

And, if you have been blessed by someone-return it. Show them the grace, love and hope given to you. Bursting forth among all those weeds.

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back-given back with bonus and blessing. Luke 6:38, MSG

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in On Purpose

 

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Keep on keeping on…

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past, and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.                                                                                                                                                             Philippians 3:13-14

Lately, life has been an uphill climb. Each climb up the path God has purposed for me has led to a face to face battle with some unexpected and unwelcome boulder.

Usually, these burdens come along once the climb becomes too smooth. Seems too easy. When all those pieces finally get put together, and everything has fallen into place. We get complacent. And we think all is good.

Not so these days.

One day it is the boulder of rejection. Hurt. Doubt and lack of faith in what God has called me to do. In my emotions, I want to quickly turn away and run back down that hill. Yell that they are all right. That I am not good enough. That I don’t know what I am doing. That God really did call some kind of dummy.

But, instead…I get back up. I climb the next hill. Keep on keeping on, as our youth pastor frequently says. I repeat these words as I climb that hill once again that God has purposed just for me.

And, then…here we go again! Another boulder. This time-pain. Crippling pain. Want to stay in bed all day pain. Ready to crawl under a table and cry out in defeat pain.

But, I remember my purpose. I remember my call. And, I get back up. Climb the next hill. Keep on keeping on.

Until another one comes. The next boulder. Knocking me down. Until I am helpless. Literally can’t breathe. I am ready to wave the white flag of defeat. Tell God that I just give up. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t get back up. I am tired of being knocked down.

I am worn out. I am hurt. I am dead tired. I just want my bed, and some sleep. Someone to believe in me. Have faith in me. I don’t want anymore boulders in my way.

I am done.

I know I need to lift my eyes up. But, I’m too weak, life just won’t let up. And, I know that you can give me rest. So, I cry out with all that I have left. (Worn, Tenth Avenue North)

And so I cry out. My God! My God! Why do you continue to allow these things to happen to me? When will things get easier? When will I sleep again? When will you remove these obstacles? Why have you forsaken me!

What a baby!

Didn’t Jesus cry out similar words to the same God? Sure, he did. Yet, he also climbed that hill. Carried a much larger boulder than I ever will. Suffered pain I could never imagine, and gave ALL of himself for ALL of His people.

So, certainly I can get out of bed tomorrow and once again keep on keeping on. And, maybe instead of seeing only boulders in my way, I can praise God for the morning sunrise that greets me as I wearily drive to work.

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For the kids that can look at mommy and know that for just tonight, mommy really needs a moment of peace and harmony.

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Maybe this morning, the climb will be easier than yesterday or maybe it won’t, but I won’t be alone on that climb.

So God,

Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. I want to know a song can rise, from the ashes of a broken life. And all that’s dead inside can be reborn, cause I’m worn. (Worn, Tenth Avenue North)

That’s my prayer. That I continue on this journey you have chosen for me, even though it may be one rocky climb. Lord, help me to see that you can mend all the brokenness that comes from all the shattered bits of my heart these boulders leave. I pray that I remain faithful in moving forward despite these boulders daily, and continue to keep on keeping on.

And, let us run the race with endurance God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in On Purpose

 

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That Brick Wall Was Meant to Be Climbed

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I am sure you have had one of those periods in life. When you are skating along and everything seems to be going great. You feel confident in the direction in which the Lord has you moving. Then-BAM! WHACK! You slam right into the makings of a brick wall. Or two.

A wall of defeat, maybe.

Maybe it’s a wall of criticism. Or self-doubt.

Hurt. Grief. Loneliness. Sin.

Regardless of what that brick wall may be, it begins to slowly tear away at any progress you have made. Making you feel that instead of moving ahead, you are now starting to move backwards.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

This is what I had been doing. I had been letting Him lead me. Allowing Him to show me the path. I had a renewed sense of passion. Of purpose. I had a vision, and a plan I felt in my heart was truly His.

And then…it happened. I hit that wall and started staring at all the bricks that stood in front of me. The bricks that wanted to prevent me from staying the course.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. John 10:10

And, that’s what he tried to do.

See, all those bricks of defeat, criticism, self-doubt, hurt, grief, and loneliness are all the bricks that the devil tries to throw at you when you are headed in the right direction. The bricks that make up the wall that Satan tries to erect in your path to veer you off God’s chosen course.

With each roadblock, there is a brick on the wall which reads what Satan wants me so desperately to believe…

You are not good enough. You are not making a difference. You are not getting through to them.

Turn around. It’s too hard for you.

God has left you. You will never make it past this point now.

Just give up. You don’t have any other choice.

But, when those walls start looming in front of us, we do have a choice. We can give into Satan’s lies, or we can hold our heads high. Climb over those obstacles. Keep moving. Know that God has not left us. That He guides each and every step of our course.

With His strength and favor we can climb those walls. Chip away at those bricks. Move forward and keep going, no matter what obstacles lie before us, so that we can reach the glorious destination he has charted for each of us.

For the Lord, your God, will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you or abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in On Purpose

 

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What if Love is the Purpose?

“The clearer we capture the vision of our new identity in Jesus Christ, the more we realize that our deepest needs for security, significance, and satisfaction are met in Him and not in people, possessions, or positions.” -Derwin Gray, Limitless Life

I have shared previously how I have struggled on several occasions with my purpose at work. While I know that I am called to a different mission at some point in time, I find it hard to wrap my mind around the purpose for this current mission. While I continue to “make tents” for a living, I struggle with my attitude, with my ability to give Him the glory for everything in a given day, and to sometimes even seek His guidance in the midst of my tent building. Instead, I have one thing on my mind…

“Do we think God has given us the jobs we have simply to make money, pay off debt, and buy more stuff?” 

Honestly? Yes…

As I sat the other day sulking because I had been chewed up and spit out over something beyond my control? Yes, I am counting down the days until my next pay check. That reward that says this “tent building” means something. Some days my only mission is to get through 6 hours of work, so I can clock out, go home, and well…get a paycheck!

All while contemplating the purpose in it all. A purpose in what I do each day. A purpose to get me out of bed each morning. A purpose to get me through another day.

Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

Until I realize I already have one.

To be His child. To be His prophet. His Ambassador.

My purpose then is not in what I do, but how I do it.

Do I hide behind my office door hoping to cut myself off from the world? Do I sit and sulk because on any particular day I just don’t want to be in this particular place? Do I get instantly offended or angry over every little thing I consider to be a slight?

Or, do I show the love that God has shown me to others? To those at work? To those I meet in the hallways? Those that stop at my office door? Those that may be behind the computer screen of an angry email?

My purpose is to be loved by God and show this unconditional love, not only to myself, but to others.

“As ambassadors of Jesus, we see the entirety of our lives as His platform in which His kingdom is spread to every corner of the planet.”

As I thought all day about how to answer that one email, I remembered who I would be representing-Christ.

The one who endured far more condemnation and harsh words than could ever be spewed in a simple email.

Who loved me. Who died for me. Who calls me to be His Ambassador. Nothing more.

So today…in this place, my sole purpose was to simply be this: Love.

To send love and kindness across the lines of an email server to someone who needed it more than me.

And, that’s a reward no paycheck could ever replace.

 

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Loving Others, On Purpose, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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So That My Pain Would Be No More

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2

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Why, Lord? So many times we ask this question when we are trying to make sense of our circumstances. We ask God why he would allow His children to suffer with pain, sorrow, and strife. I mean, the word says we have been made new. That the old is gone, and the new has come, so shouldn’t that be true for our struggles? Once we give our lives to Christ, shouldn’t EVERYTHING be shiny and new?

Unfortunately, this is often what we tend to believe as we begin our spiritual path with Christ, and I speak from my own experience here. We expect everything to be rosy once we become believers. Once we take communion. Once we get baptized.

And, I will admit. I still question God today. Why does he allow us to endure pain? For someone who has dealt with chronic pain for almost 20 years, I have asked this question frequently. I have had test after test, taken countless medications, and tried “holistic” treatments all in an effort to make my body “new” again. And, as I thought I was one step closer to finally getting some relief for the pain that has slowly been getting worse, I stumbled across a roadblock. A phone call from my doctor indicating my procedure would not be covered, had me questioning God’s purpose in all this pain once again.

“Why then does my suffering continue? Why is this wound incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.” Jeremiah 15:18

And I felt just like Jeremiah. I felt like he was in no way helping me out here, providing a little relief, or assisting in making me “new.” Just like Jeremiah, I questioned God. Why? Is this how you want me to live my life? Is this how you want me to endure each day? Unable to sit comfortably through six measly hours of work? Unable to bend over a dishwasher? 

Then, I remembered what it really meant to be made new, after reading this from the book Living So That by Wendy Blight:

At the moment of our salvation, we, too, like Christ, die and are buried. But ours is a spiritual rather than a physical death. Our sin nature, our “old self,” dies with Christ. And just as Jesus was raised from the dead into new life, we, too, are raised from spiritual death to a new spiritual life.

A new spiritual life. Not a new life without pain. Not a new life without struggle. Not a new life without enduring sorrow and strife.

This “new” life also came at a price. A price that was far more painful than chronic back pain (despite, what I may feel when I bend over the dishwasher)

I certainly have never had to endure the pain of a beating.

I have never had to endure the pain of nail-pierced hands and feet.

While my pain may be piercing, I certainly don’t know the pain of being pierced in the side.

While my pain may be unbearable, it could never measure up to the pain of wearing a crown of thorns.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorry or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

So, in my pain I will remember the one who suffered immeasurable and indescribable pain for me. Who suffered pain so that one day I would be free from mine. So that my pain would be no more.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in On Purpose, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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