Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Designed to create

You won't see many blog posts out there on exhaustion from a first person perspective. Why? Because exhaustion sucks the creativity right out of the person who is dealing with it. It sucks the energy out of us too.

I haven't written because that's where I was. I'm out of it now and can write again. So, what happened? Was I doing more? Was I not taking care of myself? Was I just lazy?

I've learned a lot about myself in the last couple months and it has been an adventure. Looking back, I realized that it wasn't just the amount of stuff I was doing that caused the exhaustion. It was the type of stuff I was doing.

My business was good, but stagnant. The volunteer work I once loved had turned from creating light shows and scenes that set the tone of a church service to scheduling people and being in charge of processes. Lots of stuff like that. Boring.

I hired a business coach to try to figure out why I was burnt out and to get help. Actually, it was our first meeting, before I even hired her, that she showed me that I was designed to create... not manage. I suddenly felt free to explore other ideas for the first time ever... because I was doing what God designed me to do.

I had been going to live music shows and posting about them so other people could find them too... but I had been viewing it as a hobby I probably shouldn't take seriously. When I realized that I had confined myself to the boredom and burnout I had been dealing with, I decided to pursue something new... something that breathed new life into me.

Suddenly, it was a business. In 6 weeks I had over 500 followers (growing every day) and local bands and venues are working with me to get their shows promoted. Three months ago I was still too scared to walk into a music venue or a bar by myself. In fact, it was just about 3 months ago that some friends were late for karaoke and I sat in the car for 20 minutes until I was sure they were inside before even getting out of my car.

Two weekends ago I saw seven bands in seven venues in two nights, but kept to myself... not letting anyone know who I am. This weekend I saw 6 different bands and walked up and introduced myself between sets. People who know me, look at me and are amazed at the differences they see.

I've never lived outside of my comfort zone so consistently or so deliberately before. 

Some may see that and think, but what does that have to do with grace? Isn't this a blog about how God's grace changed your life? 

Yes, yes it is. 

And because I'm no longer living in fear of making the wrong choice or making God angry... I know who I am, who He created me to be. The world can put all the expectations on me they want. It doesn't bother me. I can focus on the thing He created me to do. CREATE. 

I've never felt more like I was made in His image than at this moment in my life.

Grace did that for me.

God created mankind in his own image. 
Gen 1:27

By grace you have been saved through faith.
Ephesian 2:8

I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, 
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Hebrews 8:10b

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cool Enough

I once told a guy I was dating
we were only still together
because he hadn't figured out
he was too cool for me yet.
It turns out I was wrong.
I'm way cooler than I thought.
And don't tell me it isn't cool
to say cool anymore.
If it isn't,
I'll just bring it back.
I'm cool enough to do that.


More than enough

Last week I laughingly told a couple of friends about a thought that had come to me, "I am the main character in every cheesy movie about a 55-year-old-plus divorcee or widow who went out to find herself...."

I've gained a deeper understanding of my faith. Dated a couple of wildly opposite guys. Figured out I can be happy and single at the same time. Changed my hair. Lost some weight. Started working out again. Traveled. Went paragliding. Found a love of live music. Started a really fun new hobby. And I even went to a paint night regardless of the fact that I can't draw a straight line with a ruler. The change has been gradual, and isn't finished... but I'm so much more confident in myself than I've ever been.

I laughed when I shared it,"All that is left is for me to accept being single for the rest of my life and find a retirement home that will let me move in and paint sunflowers all day."

It was mostly a joke. I wasn't retiring or painting or giving up on what I want for my future. I just thought it was funny. Mostly. But not completely. I didn't exactly like identifying with women 20+ years my age... even if they were just movie characters.

It's funny how one comment can change your mindset. One friend surprised me by saying, "Well, you're way ahead. I was much older before I had that kind of confidence."

Wait. What?

My perspective of my "main character" status changed instantly. I'm not old before my time. I've been blessed with wisdom and confidence that many woman struggle to receive. I'm not ready to retire. I'm ready to live.

I went to an amazing conference this weekend with 24,000 women from around the world. If I had gone last year, I would have sat in my seat and waited patiently for sessions to begin. I probably wouldn't have wandered around offering to take group pictures of women with their cell phones. I definitely wouldn't have had the nerve to take selfies with their phones in the process! (I hope finding those pictures of me made them laugh!)

In previous years I would have enjoyed praise and worship with Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, and Cece Winans from my seat. This year I joined the pre-session dance party on Friday and then decided to join the women who were praising from right in front of the stage. It was a completely different worship experience. And guess what else... nobody thought I didn't belong up there with them.

A few months ago I was afraid to go to a bar alone, even to meet friends for karaoke or see a band. I couldn't bring myself walk up to order at a crowded bar, knowing people would know I didn't belong there. The anxiety I felt over these things was ridiculous.

I've gone to different places to see live bands several times now, and nobody has ever even given me a sideways look... much less questioned my right to be there. I've quickly come to realize that the thing that was most holding me back... was me.

All of those times I was afraid to step out because of what someone might think, I was telling myself that I wasn't good enough. I wasn't smart enough, cool enough, funny enough, pretty enough, didn't have enough rhythm... didn't have whatever it was that I thought others had. I wasn't enough.

Here's what I've had to ask myself: Who am I to think I'm not enough, when Someone already told me I am? God knows what I can do... so why should anyone else's opinion matter?

How about you? What situations do you find yourself in that you slowly back away from because you know you aren't enough to be there? Where do you not bother to give your input? How often do you see someone doing something and think, "That looks fun. I wish I could do that!"

Who are you to think you are not enough, when God already told you that you are?  

In Jeremiah 1:5, God told Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

God's words to Jeremiah tell us that God knew we were enough before we were even born. The things we perceive about ourselves have nothing to do with our ability to carry out the plans God has for us. Keep reading Jeremiah and apply what God tells him to your life. You'll see that even when you don't have confidence in you, God does.

God created you to do those good things you are afraid to do, but He won't make you do them. It's the enemy that feeds you the lies that make you shrink back and give up those things you were destined to do. Talk to that stranger. Write that book. Sing that song. Start that company. Volunteer for that position. Hug that person who looks sad. Speak up for that person who needs someone to have their back. Take some time to take care of yourself.

You'll still end up in Heaven if you don't ever learn this... but you'll enjoy your time on Earth a heck of a lot more if you do.

You are more than enough. 
You are awesome. 
You were created for this!  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Only a test

If you want to date me,
and we've talked much at all,
I've probably asked you a lot
about your interests and activities
because I want to get to know you better.
Not too long in I will send you a link
to something I wrote that I'm proud of.
It will take less than 5 minutes to read.
You don't have to love it.
You just have to read it.
This is a test...
It is only a test.

When I wrote just a month ago about a new relationship that I was really hoping would work out, I was already seeing signs it might not. That was one of them that followed soon after. I sent a link to a post that was important to me, and I explained why. He still didn't read it. It wasn't the problem, just a symptom.

I mentioned that I was worried about turning my fear of failure into a self-fulfilling prophesy. It turns out, sometimes people are just complicated and don't know how to communicate well. That's okay. I made a lot of new friends during that couple of months and that is what I'm choosing to focus on.

Right after I told him it wasn't working out, I participated in a motivational conference as a vendor. One of the speakers there said,
"You have to surround yourself with good people. 
Someone can be good, but not good for you.
You will be too much for some people... Those aren't your people."
-Ingrid Beyhl

It turns out, I am too much for some people. For the right one, I won't be. I'd rather wait a little longer for him than keep trying to make things work with someone who isn't all in. Life is too short for that.

Thankfully, in the process this last time, I met a lot of other good people. <3

I told someone else this last week that with the exception of that fact that I can't seem to find a man who isn't a jerk, doesn't need rescued, or isn't some combination of the two... my life is pretty great right now. I'm pretty happy with how things are going. My bills are paid and work is flowing well. I need to find more time to write, but I'm working on that too. Most importantly, I know who I am. I may forget sometimes, but only for a moment. Then I remind myself, dust myself off, and keep going...

I'll be sharing my previous post as a speech at my next Toastmasters' meeting. I'm really looking forward to it! If you aren't familiar with Toastmasters, feel free to ask! It a great thing to be involved with!

I don't have anything life-changing or ultra-encouraging to share this time, but sometimes a post like this gets things out and opens the floodgates for something more meaningful. Sometimes I write things like this that I think nobody will get anything from and I hear later how much it touched someone in an unexpected way. 

One of the ways I remind myself who I am, is by reading this to myself... also, I have this new shirt I love that says FEARLESS on it... definitely working on being that more often. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Not a command, a promise

She stood in one place staring at the ground, 
wishing her glare alone would be enough 
to make a hole open up and swallow her. 
At that moment, she knew death was certain anyway. 
It wasn't death she was trying to avoid. 
It was the public humiliation.

The men holding her called out for the religious teacher
as if they actually cared about what she had done or his opinion.
"Teacher, this woman has been caught..."
She knew she was being made a example of
for some other purpose. It didn't matter.
"in the act of adultery."
Too humiliated to even cry,
She could feel her soul crumbling within her.

"The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such women..." 
Such women, the words sunk in. 
They might as well have called her garbage.
Even if they had let her live, she would be an outcast,
considered good for only one thing.
She was broken, and ready to die.
"So what do you say?" 

She waited an eternity for his answer.
At one point, she raised her gaze just a bit
half expecting to see a stone hurtling towards her.
Instead, she saw the teacher bent towards the ground,
writing in the dirt with his fingers
as they continued to badger him for an answer.

When he finally spoke, his voice rocked her to her core.
"Let him who is without sin among you 
be the first to throw a stone at her." 
and at that moment, she felt the faintest strain of hope.

The teacher continued to write in the dirt
as confusion swirled within her. 
What was he saying? It made no sense. 
She knew she had done wrong,
she knew the punishment that was coming.
she knew she deserved it.

But the men holding her there, began letting go.
They started walking away... one at a time.

She was still watching him write in the dirt
when he suddenly looked up and caught her gaze.
Without breaking eye contact, he stood up.

"Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?" 

"No one, Lord." 

And Jesus said, 
          "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." 

~John 8:3-11 

Those last five words always stuck in my throat.

"Go and sin no more."

Many hear those words as a commandment. Sure you are forgiven, but God still expects you to work hard to keep up your end of the bargain, right?

That's what I believed.

I had heard it preached so many times... and I just knew I couldn't do it. So I didn't. Every time I did something I knew was wrong, the guilt/shame spiral that followed led me right back to the thing that I knew was hurting me. But I also knew I deserved it. I was shackling myself to those hurtful things, letting them define me and who I was.

The day that Jesus broke those chains for me by showing me how much He loved me, without any conditions or caveats on my behavior, was the best day of my life. That's why I identify with this story. I was never an adulteress by conventional standards, but lust, envy, pride, and more definitely had a hold on me... and I was never truly free until I found out that He didn't condemn me for those things. 

I believe the woman above felt the words the same way Jesus meant them for all of us on that day. "I don't condemn you for being human. I don't look down on you for not being perfect. I am not mad at you for what you've done. I love you. And because of that, I know you can do better."

And hearing those words, she straightened her shoulders and started the walk towards home. Not as a woman full of shame who would be doomed to repeat her mistakes because she called herself by the title those men had given her, but as someone who had a newfound freedom, knowing that nobody condemned her.

You see, "Go and sin no more" is too often taught as a command from God for excellence, when it's really meant as a statement of our freedom in Christ. When we know who we are, and what He thinks of us, it gives us the power and motivation to overcome those labels we used to put on ourselves, the ones that became chains that bound us.

Abusers, addicts, and adulterers alike can find freedom when they understand that Jesus doesn't condemn them for their struggle. I know I did. And it's not, as some people claim, the freedom to continue to sin as much as we want. It's the freedom to walk away from those things, knowing we are no longer defined by them. And, if we falter along the way, the freedom to get back up, dust ourselves off, and walk with our head still held high... because none of it changes who we are in Christ or what God sees when He looks at us.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
~Romans 8:1

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
~John 8:36

Catching up

I've been at a stand-still when it comes to writing lately. There have been a lot of big changes in my life. I just never know where to start, so I decided to try with a quick recap...

Over the last couple of months one relationship ended, or changed tracks really. He is an amazing person, and I hope we'll always be friends. I look forward to seeing where he lets God take him in the future.

I went on two trips out of state, both fantastic for their own reasons. In Nashville, the girls and I fed and ministered to the homeless, both on our own and with the help of a homeless ministry there. It was a wonderful couple of days. Then, in California, I enjoyed time with my brother, saw a couple of plays (one he was in), spent time on the beach, and pushed through a huge fear to have an awe-inspiring experience.

Another relationship began. And, while I'm excited to see what happens with this great guy, I'm constantly vacillating between, taking it one day at a time... and trying not to make the thought, "this guy is absolutely going to break my heart" a self-fulfilling prophesy. I might be worse at this relationship thing than I thought.

It's not unusual for me to have a handful of unfinished blog posts at any one time, but I think I have record number right now. All of those things above are blog worthy. I just haven't known where to start. So I guess this is it. 

Some days I wonder if writing is really my calling or not. I start to think that maybe I'm not supposed to be in ministry in any big way... just the smaller ways that God works through me in daily life. But then I remember how I told Him that if He gave me a story, I wouldn't stop sharing it... and frankly, the story just keeps getting better and better. 

I know better than to think I would be happy not writing. I know better than to think I would be happy letting my story quietly fade away. I know better than to think I'll ever be happy if I'm not making a difference with someone, somewhere... 

Being open and honest about my life in the hopes that it helps other people is scary sometimes. But when I think about it... so is the alternative.

If I'm not doing the things I was created to do, being the person I know I am, then what am I really doing at all? 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord. 
Psalms 40:2-3

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thirty years

For thirty years I believed 
saying a prayer when I was five 
only meant I was going to Heaven someday. 

For thirty years I believed
God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden
because He was angry with them.

For thirty years I believed 
if I didn't act right, 
God would punish me too.

For thirty years I believed
if I didn't forgive others
God wouldn't forgive me.

For thirty years I believed 
if I followed the Bible as a rule book for Christians,
God would believe I loved Him. 

For thirty years I believed 
if I did what He said, 
God might answer some of my prayers. 

Thirty years is a long time 
to be bound by something 
that was meant to set me free.

Thirty years is a long time to believe lies.

I don't believe anyone intentionally lied to me. There are lots of reasons I didn't understand the truth. But to find out I spent thirty years bound by something that was supposed to bring me freedom is crazy!

In the last two years I've learned more about what I stepped into when I prayed that prayer at five than in all my previous thirty years combined. 

The funny thing about discovering the freedom I have in Christ is the realization that I've always had it. Jesus unlocked the prison doors a long time ago... but I had to walk out... and until recently, I didn't know how... or what was waiting for me outside of the prison.  

We hear these verses all the time, but if we don't really understand what Jesus did at the cross, we can't really understand what they mean for us.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. 
Romans 8:11

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will 
do the same works I have done, and even greater works, 
John 14:12

If I had really understood those verses, if hadn't just said them all the time without thinking about what they really mean, if I had really known what I had by the Grace of God... how would my life have been different?

I could think about that for days, but the truth is this: what really matters is what is happening right now. What am I doing TODAY with the freedom and power I've been given? That's what is important.

Today I'm finally living the life God planned for me. I don't necessarily mean He planned out each step and decision along my way... I mean I am living without fear. I have all of my needs met through Him and I'm excited about letting others know they can have it too. 

God is not mad at you, not even a little bit. You are perfect. You are redeemed. You are holy. You are the light of the world. You are a work of divine craftsmanship. You are healed. You are prosperous. You are the righteousness of God. You are loved more than you could ever imagine. You are free.

I know because I am too.

So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.
John 8:36

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What Grace doesn't do

When you've been taught your whole life that you walk the line or end up in hell, it's easy to be skeptical of a crazy thing called Grace. Many people are. And do some who don't really understand it, try to abuse it? Of course! But that's not the purpose of Grace. In the end, God looks on the heart... and I know Who mine belongs to.

"But, Kindall, if Grace really covers everything, past, present, and future... then you have the freedom to sin and get away with it! That's wrong!"

I know it can be confusing. Heck, I argued it too when I found out what a gift I really had in Grace! Here's the truth about my newfound freedom...

Grace doesn't give me the freedom to sin.

Grace gives me the freedom to break out of my old patterns, habits, and beliefs about myself and live in a way that pleases God, not because I'm scared He is going to punish me, but because I am so overwhelmed by the fact that He didn't... because of His love for me. <3

Grace doesn't give me the freedom to intentionally fall.

Grace gives me the freedom, when I fall, to stand up, dust myself off, and move forward without the self-loathing that I used to feel every time I messed up... which was all the time.

Grace doesn't give me the freedom to be nonchalant about God's Word.

Grace gives new meaning to the words "repent and confess" and makes them a part of my everyday life as I turn towards Jesus in every situation and say the same things He says about me. (He says some pretty awesome things about all of us!)

Grace doesn't give me the freedom to look down on others.

Grace shows me how others are hurting and what I can do to help. It breaks my heart for the things that break His heart. It is hard to understand grace and watch someone suffer without it.

Some would say that, as a believer in Grace, I have the freedom to do anything I want... but because of Grace, all I want to do is change people's lives the way mine has been changed, by the love of Jesus.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 
By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 

Romans 6:1-4

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mondays are not the problem

I don't hate Mondays. I just can't.

I love my job and the fact that God lets me make people's lives better in the variety of ways He does. I love that I can provide for my family. I love that I have a decent place to live and enough food that I can say things like, "I should exercise more or eat less."

Am I super excited about getting up at 5:30am tomorrow? No. Am I energized when considering every aspect of my upcoming work week? No.

But I am so blessed... blessed more than I could ever write here. I know who I am... and who I am doesn't hate any day that I wake up alive and have the ability to praise the Lord for everything I get to do.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

Saturday, May 20, 2017

He was just walking

His gait was a little off-kilter, that's what caught my eye first.

While the three buttons on his shirt that he did use were lined up correctly, the way it hung on him, almost sideways, gave the impression that he had randomly buttoned just enough to keep it on. His wavy silver hair probably would have come close to reaching his chin if it wasn't wildly bouncing upwards. And his eyes, though open, didn't really look as if they were registering anything they were seeing.

He was walking towards me on the sidewalk, but it was a busy day, a busy sidewalk downtown. He wasn't actually walking towards me. He was just walking. 

I got in my car and drove away in the opposite direction. Six blocks down the road, I turned into the parking garage where the ATM line forms and waited my turn. A few minutes later I was making my deposit.

My ATM usually takes just about anything I try to deposit, but occasionally it will refuse to take a check with a corner bent or a bill with too many wrinkles. This time, it spit a perfectly crisp $20 bill out at me. I just stuck it in my purse rather than fight with the machine.

As I put the car in drive, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye walking across the parking garage in my direction. I knew before I looked because of his gait, but I still was shocked to see the same man walking towards me again. Well, not walking towards me. It was an area of town where the homeless are prone to wander. He was just walking.

Still, seeing him in two different places so closely together stirred up a little bit of fear and I put my foot on the gas and moved away from him as quickly as possible. I wasn't a block away when I felt guilty. It was the first hot day this year and he was likely thirsty. What was I scared of?

Unfortunately, I was stuck in busy traffic that took me onto the bridge over the Illinois River and couldn't turn around.

At the bottom of the bridge I ran into the gas station. I bought a bottle of cold water and set it next to the snacks I had packed for myself in my front seat before I went back over the bridge in the hopes of finding him.

As I reached the top of the bridge, I saw him. He was walking towards me on the bridge. Well, not walking towards me. He was just on the bridge, on the sidewalk, walking. But I couldn't stop without causing a major accident... so I kept going.

A glance at the clock in my car told me the interview with a prospective employee was in 35 minutes. I hoped I had enough time to get around the block, back over the bridge, and wait for him to make it over and still get to my appointment.

Starting up the bridge for the third time in several minutes I saw him still walking. Then, he turned towards the railing and stopped, looking out over the river. My heart leaped in my chest as he leaned over the low bridge railing ever so slightly, and my mind started to race.

I went back and forth between trying to talk to him telepathically to praying to God...“Don't jump. Please don't jump. I have water and food. I'm sorry I took off earlier. God, please don't let him jump. I'm helping now. Sir, please just keep walking over the bridge.” I kept going, even when he was again out of my sight and while finding a place to park near the bottom of the bridge.

Straining my eyes the direction he was coming from, I eventually saw his head pop up over the edge of the bridge and I let out a huge sign of relief. I could tell it was him by the distinctive bob his gait gave him. Then more and more of him became clear as he drew closer.

I got out of the car, “Sir, would you like some water?”

He nodded and walked towards me. “That's a long walk over that bridge!” He said.

“Yeah, it's pretty hot today! What's your name?”

“Reese. Like the candy.”

I handed him the water along with some snacks, a card that told him Jesus loves him, and the bill that the ATM had rejected.

“These are for you. I'll be praying for you Reese.”

He looked at the bill, surprised, before expressing his gratitude and started to walk away. A few steps later he paused and said, “My last name is Stillwell, so God knows you mean me.”

“He knows!” I assured him.

Then, he did something that completely shocked me. He walked back over the bridge into the town he had just left. He hadn't just been walking, down a busy sidewalk, through a parking garage, across the bridge. He really had been walking towards me all along.I wish I had told him, “Do you need proof that God knows your name, Reese? He set you on a path to me three different times and made sure I had cash in hand to help you out. God knows you.”

If I see Reese again, I'll tell him.

In the meantime, I can tell you. God knows you too. He loves you. And when it seems like nothing is going right and all you are doing is wandering around, keep your eyes open. Because either He is putting people in your path, or turning your path towards His people. 

Either way, He is trying to help. He knows what you need. He knows your name.

I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands. 
Isaiah 49:16 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The light at the end of the tunnel

I've watched him struggle both for and against independence.
Sometimes my heart broke for him.
Sometimes I was angry at him.
Each step was so. slow. and. deliberate.
"Just do it!" I'd think. "It's not that hard."
A couple of times I even said it out loud.
And while I never doubted he could do it,
   I often knew he wasn't ready.

Then one day this spring, after a breakthrough of mythic proportions,
he looked at me, with tears in his eyes and said,
Ben changed my life long before we dated.
It's exciting to walk with him as he
changes his own. I love this guy. <3
"I'm going to be okay."
"I have a future."
"I've never believed that before."
     and my heart stopped in my chest.
I still can hardly type those words without tearing up.

All those times I was frustrated to tears,
all those times I pushed him and he shut down,
all those times I tried to talk about the future
and he said he didn't know what he wanted from life...

It wasn't indecisiveness or him being wishy washy.
It certainly wasn't about us.
     He literally did not believe he had a future.
     He couldn't see it.

When you are in a tunnel with no light at the end,
     how far do you keep walking before you just stop?
Ten years? Twenty? More?

I'm so proud of how hard he fought,
even those times I didn't know if I could much longer.
I'm so proud of how he is continuing to fight,
     to be the man he knows God created him to be,
to turn that 'head knowledge' he's been acquiring for years
about exactly what Jesus thinks of him
     into the 'heart knowledge' he needs to move forward 
with hope into the abundant future we've all been promised.

While the scale isn't always as grand, everyone struggles with this on some level. There is almost always an area of our lives where we don't have a vision for the future. Maybe it's an area of your life that you don't even know exists yet.

Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, people perish."

The lack of vision can affect someone on a large scale, or it can affect a certain aspect of their lives. A person with no vision for personal finances, will see their finances fall apart.  A person with no vision for their business, will never see it grow. A person with no vision for their relationships with their family will see those relationships start to wither away.

The enemy works overtime to keep us from having vision, from seeing the light at the end of our tunnels. It's not that the light isn't there... he can't turn it off, he can only distract us from seeing it. And of all the the things Satan is good at, distraction is at the top of the list.

When it comes to vision for our future, there are a lot of ways to keep us distracted... pain, sickness, stress, and drama are just a few. One of his favorite ways to distract us is to try to convince us we are someone different than who God says we are.
Knowing who you are in Christ is the MOST important part of keeping Satan from distracting you, because while we may be temporarily distracted from seeing the Truth, the Truth hasn't changed.

Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

When you start to feel hopeless, and you can't find the light, and you
don't know how to fight... don't just remind yourself who God says you are... remind Satan that you know who you are... So that the God of hope can fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Writers write

I don't know how
I got to the point
where I feel like
whatever I write
has to be so
profound, perfect, moving.

Even now I'm
counting syllables
on one hand and
looking for deeper
meaning in them
from a different view.

Really, I know
writing is what God
called me to do.
So why do I think
stories I tell
must conform in some way?

Nothing I write
seems worth asking for
your time to read it.
But I'll publish
this and hope that it
sparks my brain in
the place I need to write.

Writers write so
that is what I'll do.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I can do it myself

The kind of pride that says, "I can do it myself." often makes life more difficult. But, when the "it" in question is something that only God can do, the results can be devastating... not only to the person trying to take over, but those around them as well.

The story of Moses has been my favorite since I was a toddler. When I was four I saved my banana peel from lunch and glued it to my coloring paper where the water and the reeds had already been drawn. I was devastated when my mom threw it away. 

I remember, nearly a decade later, hearing about people using clear shellac to make fruits and veggies last for decorative purposes and thinking to myself, “That's what Mom should have done with my banana peel baby Moses boat. Darn her!" I was still mad. (I'm mostly over it now, just in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, we know that Moses was born and adopted into the house of Pharaoh. He grew up knowing that he was Hebrew, basically raised by his own birth family. At some point while growing up, Moses became aware that he was their promised deliverer. Knowing that, he no doubt knew that God had set out a specific time frame for the delivering of His people. In Genesis 15:13, God told Abraham that his descendants would be delivered in 400 years.

Yet, when Moses came upon a Hebrew being mistreated by an Egyptian, Moses killed the Egyptian. According to Acts 7:23 he did it in the hopes of being recognized as their deliverer.

Why? Because He believed it was time to to start the process. He was their deliverer, right? They may not know it yet, but they would see it when they realized what happened. He expected to be able to do what He wanted, when He wanted, in his own strength and have his people fall at his feet, thankful.

It was the next day when Moses realized that things had not gone as he had planned... and he hightailed it out of town. Exodus 12:40 says that it was exactly 430 years before they were delivered. That is including Moses's 40 years in the desert. His own pride cost the Hebrews an additional 30 years of slavery.

I personally know that God did not want me to be homeless. It was never His plan and neither were any of the things that led up to our homelessness. But, I knew His promises. I knew that He wanted to provide for the kids and I. I knew that He didn't want me to be single the rest of my life. I knew that God promised to give me the desires of my heart... so I set out after them, in my own strength. I thought I should have been able to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and God's promises would back me up.

By the time I realized that things weren't going to go exactly as planned for me, I was stuck. It took
surrendering to Him to get me out of where I was. If I had not humbled myself and surrendered to God, He wouldn't have been able to build my business underneath me without me trying to take the reins and continue to do things myself. A quick look at the past has proven that doing this never works out well. My pride cost my kids years of putting up with men who were not good for us and six months of homelessness, among other things.

In both of these cases, the "I can do it myself" pride cost people big. Moses and I both thought we knew what God wanted for us and decided to help move His plans along.

As tired as I've become over the years of hearing the words, "It's all in God's timing." I do see that there are some things that can't be rushed. 

I've learned that the secret to living a fulfilling life when you don't yet have all you want is to enjoy the journey on your way there instead of speeding ahead towards your destination. God will fulfill His promises for you. If you watch carefully, you'll find out that watching HOW He does so is more exciting than receiving the actual thing you are waiting for.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.
Exodus 14:14

Only by pride comes contention, with the well advised there is wisdom.
Proverbs 13:10

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Valentine's Day

I originally wrote this last Valentine's Day, but I never published it. As I was re-reading it I realized it is still something I want to share. So, here goes.

Whether I am your sister or your sister-in-Christ I want you to know that I care about you. I've made a lot of bad choices in my life. While I can't change them, I hope that, occasionally, some of my mistakes are lessons for more than just me.  

I still don't always get it right, but thankfully I have grace to get me through. God is good... all the time. 

Know that wherever you are today, I have been there before. Broken-hearted? Perfectly content being single? Dating an abuser? Happily married? I've been there. What is different now is that I used to let my relationship status on any given day define who I was.

Nearly six years ago, a long term relationship I was in ended abruptly. Devastated, I chose self-destructive ways to deal with it... although I didn't see those ways as self-destructive at the time.

The next four years were rough. Even when I chose to show hope and happiness on the outside, inside I was a self-loathing mess. I desperately wanted someone to show me that I wasn't as easily cast aside as a few key men in my life had made it seem.

I believed I only needed one man to prove it to me. Surely in all of the men in all of the world, there was one... but one after another they let me down.

By 2015, life in general had begun to turn around. God had rescued me from my own bad choices, and I credited Him with that fully... but spiritually I was fading. I honestly believed that God didn't care if I was happy.

Then, something wonderful happened. At what I thought was just going to be a regular coaching session, God spoke to me. As I talked to my coach, and he asked me why I reacted to this one way and that another, I started to see that every decision I was making was wrapped up in my self worth... and I didn't know what that was. 

I had begged God over and over through the years to show me my worth. I had 
read great stories where others came to understand theirs through one perfect moment or divine appointment. I didn't know why He wouldn't tell me mine... but I had formed some ideas. They were wrong.

Two years ago, God showed me how all of those I times I begged Him to show me that I was worth something, He had been trying... But I would ask Him and then look to people for my answer. I had done again and again.

That's when I asked Him to help me break that cycle. He showed me that the people I was looking to were "just people" and my thoughts about myself should have nothing to do with how they view me.

While I know you won't understand your worth until you are ready to understand... I have to share this with you. So that you know why it is so important to me that you know who you are in God's eyes... not who you are in the eyes of another person.

Whether it is Valentine's Day, Christmas, New Years Eve, or Thursday afternoon... Please remember that there is nothing in a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates that tells you your worth. No ring on your finger or marriage license means you are worth more or less than anyone else in this world. No amount of respect or lack-thereof from someone else changes who you are.

No man or woman in your bed with an arm around you can show you how strong you are or how loved you are or how amazing you were created to be.

Only One can do that... your Creator.

Here is what God sees when He thinks of you... read it out loud to yourself. Faith is voice activated. When you say it out loud, you believe it.