When I feel like I do it all wrong

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Prov 16:3 KJV)

This is Proverbs 16:3 as I first learned it, a younger me. I read it from a heart wanting so much to learn how to establish my thoughts. I copied it down and chewed and chewed on it’s words. And I was confused. I wanted so much to learn more about what it looked like practically.

The last few weeks the words keeps rolling back through my mind trying to take a seat there. They show up when I make decisions that I regret, when I decide to go and end up wishing I would have stayed, when I hit publish and end up wishing I hadn’t, when I don’t say anything, and end up wishing I had. They show up, Spirit bidding listen to the secret, the secret to established thoughts and fruitful plans.    

“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” Prov 16:3 AMPC

In practice, it’s true. When I commit it to the Lord before I take that step, I’m at peace and I am free to move on with my day. When I don’t, I am afraid – wondering what I could have changed, wondering if I should have done it at all. When I commit my steps to Him, He gives me confidence to live them knowing that He is the One living through me. When I don’t commit my steps I have fear.

Am I committing the decisions I am making right now? Am I bringing my plans to Him before I do them? Or am I living from my own fleshly wisdom in which I will never have true confidence?

May we take the next step of our day bringing it to the One who has the power to make our thoughts agreeable and our plans successful. May we confidently trust the One who tells us He is able to shine His light through our broken bodies.

This is Day 18 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

That Scary Next Step

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I’ve made one big step chasing a dream in my heart. Step taken, I look at how big the step in front of me is… I want to shrink. I want to ask myself why I ever took the first step to begin with. Is this really something I was made for? Was this the way I was supposed to go? Is it even possible for a person who struggles with insecurities like I do to travel this path? Is me doing this a joke?

The words of the day identified the fear in me so well…

“Fear says I’m going the wrong way. Doubt says I won’t find it at all. But hope? Hope says, Wait. It’s just a little farther. You are not alone and this is not just your idea.”

Emily P. Freeman talks about the art that comes out of us in a million little ways, the art of who God made us to be, the things God made us to do. She talks of traveling the paths to let that art come out of us.

“I am uncovering it, a piece at a time. The work is finished somewhere invisible. My task is to uncover it, to find it…”

She inspires me to trust that He already has the art waiting for me, to trust that He is the One putting the steps in front of me, that He is able to live through me to take the next step.

“I take hands filled with hope and ideas, clasp them together, muddy. Sometimes what comes out is a mess. Other times, it fits like velvet on skin. Somehow, the whole process is art but it doesn’t come from me. Not exactly, anyway.”

The mess of me must allow the art to come through and at the same time stand aside, because there is a greater Artist at work. The art that pours through this mess in me, might be most visible in the peeling back of that mess… Most gladly therefore, will I glory in these weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

May we rebuke the fear in every imperfection. May we let our own mess point us to the hope, to the One who has allowed every imperfection with the purpose of giving us the gift to live His art into the world.

This is Day 17 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

How Babies Might Hold the Biggest Secret to Life

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Seeing Liesel express her needs is something so free and beautiful. She has a boldness to express herself that I do not.

I’ve been thinking on 1 Peter 2 this morning… “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk…” It was part of Nano’s lesson in class a few weeks ago.

He taught on Matthew 15 and the lady who asked for the “crumbs” from Jesus. The application of that story never made more sense to me than it did after hearing Nano teach on it. I’ve been wanting to hold on to this thought and explore it more, the pleading for crumbs, the little things that Jesus gives and letting those little things work through our hearts as He creates a big picture of love in us one little piece at a time.

Longing for spiritual milk as a baby longs for milk, chasing after the crumbs we can get from the Lord… maybe it’s saying that there’s value in pouring over the simple pieces of truth we find, the simple steps of faith in front of us, the simple prayers and words of worship that we can give Him. This longing for milk… it’s connected to tasting the Lord’s goodness.

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3) Maybe it’s in savoring the crumbs from Jesus that we taste His goodness the most.

“…if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” It’s in this, tasting His goodness… the more we taste how good God is, the more we know how valuable we are.

“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (Verse 5 and 9) When we taste His goodness and know ourselves to be valued, it is there that we offer acceptable sacrifices. It is there that we proclaim the excellencies of His grace, because it is there that we most know it ourselves.

Becoming like babies and being willing to drink the milk, that is where we live most freely. Laura C. Robb talked on her blog this week about looking for something big when God is offering the small things right in front of us. And maybe this is what He needs me to hear today, that maybe the biggest secret to living free is in opening my hands to the crumbs from His table. Opening hands to the crumbs will look different with every moment and maybe for me now it looks like being willing to pray the simple prayers, and simple words of worship.

Maybe babies hold the biggest secret after all. They have the simplest, most child-like longings, yet they express themselves the most freely. Maybe when I am most like my little Liesel, maybe there I will be most confident to trust the Spirit living through me.

This is Day 14 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

How God is Bold and Free to Shepherd His Children

Bible study fellowship today was on the Revelation letters to the churches. So needed. Studied Ephesus and Smyrna this week, on rekindling love and persevering in suffering.

The statement was made by the leader today: “Has your love for Jesus become secondary to what you do for Jesus?” (Marsha Holmes) I need to be asked this question every day.

It’s tempting to measure myself by the things I do, because my works are what I can see. Those are the tangible things. But I can’t measure my love and sometimes it’s hard to pursue something when it isn’t easy to see your progress. I obsess with seeing my own progress now, when in fact Jesus is offering rewards much greater and much more motivating than what I look for…

“To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7) It’s so wonderful to have a God who realizes how much I need reminders of the reward at the end of the race. He has compassion on my human need for extra encouragement. I’m so glad He’s not anything like me – I debate over whether I should offer my daughter an incentive because I don’t want to be seen as a bribing mother. But in His Word, He boldly tells me about the reward. It’s refreshing to be shepherded by a God who is free of all my human inconsistencies. He doesn’t debate over whether it would be too forward to remind me to love Him. He doesn’t hesitate to show Himself to me as the God I need in my moment. (Like Jesus introduced Himself differently to each of the seven churches. He knew exactly what each one of them needed from Him.) He comes to me offering exactly what my soul needs.

May we be reminded of the greatness of our God who Fathers us unhindered by all we are limited by. He finds me where I am, the God I need, and reminds me to rekindle the love for Him that my soul desperately longs to know.

This is Day 13 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Truth to hold in times we want to hide

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“Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

Today I’m telling you how I am blessed by Aliza Latta’s blog post: A prayer for the timid and terrified

My humanity keeps repeating itself and my fear comes right along with it. Even if you removed my fear, I know after some length of time I’d simply rip out the stitches from where you unfastened it, and shove it right back inside of me. (Aliza Latta – Choose Brave)

These words I read this morning express the feelings of my weekend so well.

Yesterday, at church I listened to words about guilt and sin that won’t leave, and I thought about my own fear, my own shy. Shy habits have been built into my thoughts with my repeated practice. Sometimes I look at the confident and wonder where they came from that they have so much freedom. But my Nano reminds me that confidence is something that is grown into, not something that people are born with.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Confidence can be grown into, because with repeated practice truth can renew shy habits. Aliza’s prayer reminds me of God’s truth.

I do this so often: asking you to take my burdens, and you do. And then I yank them back and clutch them tighter than before. I trust my burdens and fears more than I trust you. Why is this? Why do I convince myself they’re comfortable?

You are not comfortable. But when I search my heart I know I would never be satisfied with serving a comfortable God. (Aliza Latta – Choose Brave)

Comfortable. It describes the place that provides the greatest ease.

When I chase shy, when I hide, this is God’s truth I have to hold: Though living in my shy fears might be the easiest place, easy is not what my soul longs for. When I choose easy, I am refusing to experience the beauty of what happens when I trust the Spirit moving through me.

May I listen to truth in the moments I’m tempted to fear and shy away. May I live confident in the joy that His presence in me brings.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

This is Day 12 in 31 Days of Listening.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Words for Insecurities

I read this today. I so needed to hear it…

Were you made on purpose? Is there a unique blend of interests, desire, wisdom, quirks, insecurities, and loves that are within you? Can we agree those things are not a coincidence?

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit of God, the same one who moved over the surface of the waters and moved out of heaven onto the surface of the land, has also moved into you, to take up residence in the innermost seat of your personality? (Emily P. Freeman – A Million Little Ways)

It made me want to read Romans eight. The Message paraphrase of this passage really is beautiful and I think it explains the Spirit in us so well.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. 

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (Romans 8:5-11 MSG)

I hadn’t read this whole passage in the Message before tonight. It makes me want to cry. It’s often that I forget the truth and look at myself. May my mistakes there be something to glory in though (2 Cor. 12:9-10). His grace is perfect in my weakness, even in this. May He use my weaknesses. And may I look to the One inside me, and let the Person He’s trying to be in me come out.

This is Day 9 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The Balancing Act

Yesterday was full and the writing I had planned didn’t happen. Yesterday, I was frustrated with the fullness of the day. I didn’t take time to hear the blessings. I was on a mind rant, a bad attitude, mad at anyone and everyone who ever said you could have an organized home and life with a newborn and a toddler in the house. In imaginary land, I was accusing them all because they had to be lying to me.

Today I’ve been thinking on Proverbs 31 and two blog posts that both sort of touched on yesterdays struggles and attitudes.

The first post put into words a little bit of the balance my soul longs for.

“A clean house might help your soul breathe, but a clean house doesn’t give you value.” The cleanliness of my house usually takes the back burner. When my house is clean, it’s usually always because I’ve neglected the people in my life and focused too much on clean. So, I tend to try to lean on that idea that a clean house doesn’t give me value, and prioritize everything else above clean, but sometimes I put it so low on the priority list that life feels out of balance. I forget that a clean house helps the soul of those who live in it. And I can’t figure out how to pull the great balancing act between relationships and responsibilities. Maybe this all speaks to more than just my house.

Proverbs 31… it’s such a perfect description of a woman. Certainly, the Proverbs woman doesn’t label housekeeping as a low priority, and keeps her house while managing to put the truest value on relationships. She looks to have it all together and it feels like an unattainable standard.

I read this today (another article) that helped it make better sense. Another lady who felt the same way about that passage…

I have… come to realize that this passage is not the description of a woman who has had it all together from the start, but of a woman who has grown in character and spiritual maturity through life’s experiences. Wisdom is not just timeless; it takes time.

I like her words. And maybe this is a piece of what He’s telling me. Simple things… knowing that wisdom takes time, trusting that He is providing the things I need to grow in wisdom, being earnest in prayer, asking for wisdom… maybe these things are my simple call for the present.

And tonight I read these words, that help me hear more.

Maybe you have certain ideas about what it means to do your thing the right way… but you are stuck in a pattern of defeat… In the midst of all your try-hard effort to do love right, you are missing out on loving well. Are you allowing your own expectations to hinder you from freely expressing yourself? Is your idea of the right way keeping you from your best way? Are you too distracted to show up?  (Emily P. Freeman – A Million Little Ways)

Her words make me realize that I look too much at my own self. I think I’m the one who has to do it. I try to do the balancing act, looking at my own feet, looking at all the reason I could have to fear. I’m like Peter looking at the waves tossing at my feet. 

I pray I live free, trusting He’s already done the balancing act for me. Knowing that while I can’t, He can. There I am free, and there, while I still can’t balance it myself, He can live it through me and that is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for. May He live in me.

This is Day 8 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Hurdles to Free Living and the Strength that Makes them Small

Learning to confidently be who God made you to be is hard when you live in a world of people who are messed up just like you.

We do it to each other. We make it hard for each other to live freely when we assume the things we don’t know, when we lack communication, build invisible walls and forget that we are people who need each other.

Jesus experienced it. He knew the Pharisees thoughts assuming the worst about His words of forgiveness. (Matthew 9) He was judged, thought the worst of. He lived it for us, lived the life our soul deeply longs to be rid of. And He offers us His own life.

There is strength in knowing He lived the struggles we live, strength in knowing He has given us His own joy.

When all the cares of this body and this world weigh us down, we are given a hope in that. It’s simple, but it’s the deep truth we long for, the key that blows the door open and lets the Spirit shine through. For those burdened times and all the time, the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Neh. 8:10)

When I make that a part of me, the sin that stands to face me doesn’t look so big. When I take those words to heart, knowing the day is near, I can live in this glorious truth: His joy will soon shatter every evil thing and I will live with no hindrances to keep me from glorying in His goodness forever. 

This is Day 5 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Freely Living the Story

Dear reader,

I’m really enjoying having you as a kind of accountability in my life right now. Knowing that you may be there reading this gives me an extra reminder to look for the blessings the Lord wants to give me. Having this place to share it makes me so excited to listen for the grace-giving words in my day. Thank you so much for reading, for letting me have a place to share grace.

Today God made grace large in my life in the words of Revelation 1:

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Pssst… I’m attending Bible Study Fellowship’s study on Revelation this year so if I talk about Revelation a lot, now you know why. Just thought I’d let you know. :)

“The revelation of Jesus Christ… Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near… To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” (portions of Rev. 1 ESV)

I get concerned about doing all of it right… you know what I mean? I want to have my priorities straight. I want to do my Bible study right. I want to talk to God the right way. I want to live wife and mother right. And if I feel like I might not be doing it right, sometimes instead of bringing it to God and stepping into the next moment He has for me, I sit there on top of insufficiency and sink into all she wants to tell me.

But… Revelation tells me to hear and keep the things it tells me, (verse 3) to take them to heart as the NIV says. And maybe when I take something to heart, I make it a part of me where it starts to affect my thoughts and actions.

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds.”

When I make that a part of me, when I let my mind live there, I realize that my life, my story is perhaps like a sentence, or even a word, inside a much bigger story. I am privileged to be a part of the story, and I’m not insufficient if my life doesn’t tell the whole story. I wasn’t meant to tell the whole story.

I am an image bearer. (Gen. 1:27) I am a member of His body, (Eph. 5:30) but I am not His whole body. His church bears His image together, not separately.

Jesus came to free me from my sin. (verse 5) He makes me a priest to the Father. (verse 6) And as I make this a part of me, I am blessed. Because though I am broken, He gives me sacred purpose. But He makes me free inside that purpose… This is what freedom is: while on our own we are not enough, in Him we are safe from insufficiency.

Last night my daughter was nervous about staying in her room alone. When I told her that Jesus can make her safe, she held on to that word safe so tightly saying it again and again. We are people that crave safe, because that is what we were made for.

You, me… Son, Daughter of the King, let us live in the safety of knowing that He has made us His. Even though we mess up, He will never let us lessen the greatness of the story. He is coming and this story is bigger and better than our own lives. May we live freely in the piece of the story He gave us to play.

This is Day 3 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The Conflict of Boldness

Liz Curtis Higgs promotion of her new book, It’s Good to be Queen, caught my attention on twitter. She talked about boldness, and I think the reason it stood out was because I’ve been feeling funny about that word lately, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on the reason. So, of course, I had to watch her video about being bold.

When Liz spoke of her speaking encounter it struck me, that she found that out of 600 women she was speaking too, only 3 raised their hands admitting a desire to be bold. And I wonder if I would have raised my hand. Boldness can feel like such a tricky thing. And Liz’s words are helping me understand the conflict in my own heart.

Liz spoke of the two kinds of boldness. As a person saved by grace, I can live a boldness that comes from the Lord, but I can also live a boldness that comes from my own sinful flesh.

When Liz asked the women she spoke with why (as it seemed) they didn’t want to be bold, they gave answers saying they didn’t want to come across too forward. They didn’t want to make too much of themselves.

And I think as Liz spoke out on this, she identified a fear in my own heart. The reason it’s hard to live in the boldness of Jesus is because I’m afraid people will misunderstand my motives. I’m afraid that people will think I’m living out of the boldness of my own flesh.

It’s easy to justify living in this kind of fear because I can simply tell myself that I’m being humble, but often that’s not the truth at all, and in fact I’m living in fear of what Jesus put on my heart to do. Instead of being humble, I’m avoiding the risk of having people think that I’m not humble.

Perhaps the best ways that the boldness of Jesus will be lived out in me may come out with pieces of my own fleshly motives. And perhaps God is reminding me that the only way I can let His light come through me is by relying on Him in prayer and faith.  

Today I’m challenged to live in prayer and listen to the Spirit. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7 NIV) Children of God, may we live in the boldness of the Spirit inside us, embracing the freedom that the Spirit provides from our own flesh. May we live boldness like We Are Found. (Phil. 3:9)

This is Day 2 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.